Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Day in Bristol: A Cute Town, Fab Raincoats & Girl Time

Last Saturday, I took a day trip down to the cute little town of Bristol, to visit Alexandra in her temporary corporate flat and hang out for the day. Her company placed her there for a few weeks, so we decided to take the Saturday to check out the town. 

We wandered the streets, checked out the town's shops, went for coffee, saw the landmark suspension bridge, and went for dinner and then wine by the harbour. Interesting fact: the town was originally called Bristow, which was an old word for Bridge. 

Highlights of the day included:

  •  The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery -- which is really well done, I think! They had sections on geology, dinosaurs,  Renaissance Art - and a beautiful tapestry that laid out the history of the town. My slideshow below has shots of the key points of the tapestry (see below). It also had a section on beautiful pianos. Every time I see a piano now, I wish I hadn't given it up ten years ago...a piece of me is longing to play again.
  • Buying a fabulous raincoat at a beautiful store called Yumi - I love it!

Sapna at the Suspension Bridge, Bristol (in Fab Raincoat)

  • Visiting the landmark suspension bridge

Alexandra at the Suspension Bridge, Bristol
  • Friska - A unique little cafe with amazing coffee and organic food
  • Having wine (which was okay) and amazing pizza at a placed called Pizza Provencale

On a side note, Alexandra may have helped me discover the UK's best credit card (I have been ranting for the last year and a half on how horrible the credits cards are here compared to my wonderful Canadian RBC Avion credit card). It seems that AMEX is the key here (although some companies don't accept it). The APRs here are ridiculous (29% is apparently an "offer" that Barclays sends me, for a horrible card with no valuable points). I'm considering either the AMEX Gold Rewards card (which seems to be the best deal, if I can convince them to give me one without being an EU citizen) or the AMEX Avios card. The  APR is 57%! Thank goodness I only use credit cards for their points, by topping them up and using them as debit cards!

Check out the slideshow of our day below!

I'm spending Easter Weekend sorting out the next steps in my life after my work contract ends in July - so a blog post on that, and possibly my UK pros/cons list, coming soon!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Girls' Weekend in the British Countryside: Tudor Homes, Wine & A Beautiful Escape

Bridge House, Rickinghall, UK
 Last weekend was a lovely escape from the city and a beautiful reunion with Alexandra and Juliet in the British countryside. We stayed in Juliet's family's home, in a tiny town called Rickinghall in Suffolk (on the border of Suffolk and Norfolk), about a 45 minute drive away from Norwich. It is from the Tudor era (yes, really!) and we learned a lot about the historic details of their beautiful, ornate home. Their home is so historic, it's listed, meaning any change or addition to it needs to be approved by the British government. 

I think the slideshow at the end of my post says its all - we spent one night and two days in this large country home, enjoying the weather on long countryside walks, playing with Paddy (the black lab) and Albert (the Schnauzer cross), eating breakfast in the family's artistic conservatory, and drinking wine by the fire. We also visited the Abbey Gardens in Bury St. Edmunds, a nearby town, and had a beautiful meal in a historic pub called The Fox Inn. On Sunday, we went to another nearby town called Hoxne and ate at the Swan pub.

Two historical points that fascinated me were the circular drawings carved in the wooden walls---these were carved in the 13th century and were thought to be powerful ways to ward off witches. We also found similar circles in the Swan pub, in Hoxne!
Circles to ward off witches!

The floorboards on the second floor of their house were made from ship's timber...and if you look closely, you can see doodles and carvings the sailors made on the ship's floor. 
Sailors' Doodles!
As we drank our wine that night, we chatted and also watched Wasteland, a moving documentary about the poorest of the poor - garbage collectors in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and their dream to make modern art from garbage pieces, which later  became an exhibition in New York art galleries. Juliet's dad's cousin was the director of this beautiful film - a must see!

Check out the slideshow below (click in the top right corner if you'd like it to move faster or slower). What a lovely weekend of drinking wine and catching up with good friends!