Bristol Life: Grandaddy at The Colston Hall

It feels like ages since I last went to a gig- it’s something I fell out of love with as I found it more stressful than pleasurable. Social anxiety means crowds can be a nightmare so often it’s easier to just miss out, however when I was given the opportunity to go and see one of my favourite bands at The Colston Hall last Friday I knew I needed to push myself and go.

The band in question was Grandaddy, an indie rock band from Modesto, California who formed way back in 1992. I was introduced to them four years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since my first listen- fronted by Jason Lytle (who has also released some excellent solo work) I find the combination of clever lyrics and eclectic beats strangely soothing/ an. They push boundaries which lifts their sound to the next level- I’d love to be inside the mind of the band, creative genius in my opinion. They split as a group in 2006 but re-formed in 2012 and it’s their later releases that have impressed me the most, their new album “Last Place” especially.

I’d heard they were good live and had high hopes for the gig. I find can be a double edged sword- going in to something unknown with high expectations can often be a set up for disappointment but I’m delighted to report that this wasn’t the case and the band (despite a last minute crisis) exceeded expectations.

Their set lasted just over an hour and was a mix of their latest work and some old favourites. Lytle has a somewhat aloof stage presence and yet still manages to work the room. His voice, live, somehow manages to sound exactly like it does on the records (and this is often where I find live performances fall short) and the band clearly have good chemistry as the banter flowed between songs. They have an almost mesmerising manner about them and the set passed by in the blink of an eye leaving me wanting more and more- I could have watched them perform for hours on end.

If you’re a fan of the band and have yet to see them live then please, do, I can promise you’ll love it. I really hope that Grandaddy continue as a band and bring us albums for years to come. Like good wine they really do get better with age and I would jump at the chance to see them again.
A big thank you to The Colston Hall for making this possible, Bristol may not have any big music arenas but when you have a venue like this you really don’t mind that much! I’ll leave you with one of my favourite tracks from the band- let me know if you’re a fan and what your favourite track is.

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Re-discovering Debenhams*

During a shopping trip in to Broadmead with my mum recently we were musing over how before Cabot Circus was opened nine years ago the highlight of any retail therapy spree was undoubtedly Debenhams. Back then it was this huge, glamorous department store that we could spend hours in. We often did actually, starting with the beauty counters at the bottom and working our way up to the children’s department at the top, along with a pit stop in the restaurant. These days we often neglect to pay it a visit, tending to stick to the Cabot Circus end of the shopping area but every now and again we venture in- lured by a window display or special offer and wonder why we don’t make our visits more regular.

Not only does Debenhams stock it’s own in house brands (Red Herring was a frequent label seen in my adolescent wardrobe) there are also concessions galore- the likes of Oasis, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins. Add in to this the many designer collaborations such as H! by Henry Holland and the well stocked beauty hall with all of our favourite brands under one roof as well as the extensive range of homewares (again in-house brands, designers and well known brands alike) and you realise you really do have it all in one place.

Of course then there are the promotions, regular discount events in store and online (and often discount codes on top of that such as those found at https://www.discountpromocodes.co.uk/debenhams). I really do need to stop neglecting the shop so much and make a conscious effort to give it more custom. It’s one of the longer surviving shops on the Great British High Street, so with it fresh in my mind I’ve popped together a wish list or two to remind myself- and my readers what there is on offer.

Beauty wise I could have gone on forever as there are so many amazing looking products out there at the moment. The Urban Decay Moondust palette is a long standing fixture on my wish list, joined now by these two sets from the KVD x Toofaced sets that I’ve seen popping up on beauty blogs lately and am totally smitten with. It’s been a while since I fancied a new perfume and whilst I have no idea what it smells like (a reason to visit Debenhams next time I’m passing) I love the bottle for Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Kiss- he always produces the most beautiful packaging.
Fashion wise I am diggin’ the embroidery trend right now so this dress by Red Herring and the trainers from the Nine by Savannah Miller collection were both immediate additions to my wish list. I’m also having a backpack revival right now and this H! By Henry Holland metallic number caught my eye instantly. Lastly I’ve already made mention of my desire for a leather jacket and whilst my budget definitely doesn’t stretch to the real deal this Miss Selfridge biker style jacket is currently 30% off and a steal at just £34.30.
Whilst I was browsing I couldn’t resist putting together a little homewares wish list too (I’m seeing it as a mood board of sorts for when I move out again). It’s unashamedly girly and had to feature my dream kitchen gadget on there even if I might not get to own one for a good few years- or decades yet.
I’m feeling some serious love and a sense of nostalgia for Debenhams right now, do any shops provoke that kind of reaction for you?

Dear Debenhams, humble department store and icon of my youth, I do promise to stop neglecting you from here on out…am I forgiven?

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Monki See, Monki Do

A couple of weeks ago, having cashed in the contents of our piggy bank (saving up all of your silver coins pays off, trust me!) Mum and I headed in to Bristol for a bit of self-indulgent retail therapy. I already knew exactly where I wanted to spend my cash and made a beeline for Monki as soon as we were off of the bus- well, after a coffee stop of course.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not that Monki opened their second UK store in the fair city of Bristol. Already borderline obsessed with the brand the arrival of an actual store has ramped that up a notch and my wish list is out of control. Thankfully I managed to exercise some self restraint and left with just a couple of the many items I have my eye on- the rest I have earmarked for a Christmas money spend up!

Dress & Jumper both Monki | Boots: Long Tall Sally

I almost didn’t try this dress on. On the hanger it just looked a bit shapeless to me but I loved the print and with a bit of convincing I added it to my bundle for the changing room (and oh what changing rooms, nice job Monki!). The second I slipped this on I knew it was coming home with me, far from being the shapeless sack I had envisaged this dress drapes beautifully and I loved the midi length as well.

I also picked up this jumper which was an absolute bargain at £20. I intended both pieces to be separates but it turns out they also look pretty awesome layered up which means I’ve essentially bought three outfits for £45 as both the dress and jumper work well alone too.

I predict living in this outfit over the festive period, it’s warm and cosy and the dress has plenty of room for the inevitable festive food babies that will be occurring…the first of which is likely to be today as it’s Mum’s birthday and we’re off to an epic farm shop/restaurant for a celebratory lunch. Happy Birthday Mum!

Are there any shops that you’re currently obsessed with? I’m afraid you’re going to be seeing a lot more Monki on the blog in 2017!

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Bristol Life- Vintage Kilo Sale with Bristol Textile Recyclers

It’s been a while since I last going involved in anything happening in my home city of Bristol. I could throw out dozens of excuses about being busy with life and such but actually I’ve been struggling a lot with anxiety and doing anything outside of my social comfort zone has just been too much. Still, with a renewed motivation for life when an invite came in to attend a vintage kilo sale run by Bristol Textile Recyclers I was determined to attend, and I did. A couple of weekends ago with Mum at my side I headed in to the city to see what it was all about.
For a bit of background Bristol Textile Recyclers is a massive warehouse that diverts 20 tonnes of unwanted textiles from landfill sites each day (that’s a LOT of clothes!) They pick out the best pieces of vintage and high street garments to put to one side and once a month they open up to the public in one of their vintage kilo sales. What does a vintage kilo sale look like I hear you ask! Well, much like this…
The clothes and accessories are placed in large containers around the factory. Guests are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get digging through, placing their finds in to a bag ready to be weighed up at the end- with scales dotted around so you can weigh as you go too. There is a £1 entry fee to get in which is nothing really- especially as you could easily spend half a day there going through the goods!

Clothing is priced at £6 per kilo (cash only) which drops down to £5 per kilo if you get 10kg or more. For a rough guide you could pretty much get a skirt, top and a scarf within one kilo so it really is excellent value. Mum and I had such a good time rummaging through and came away with quite a haul at the end of the two hours we spent there. I’ve photographed a couple of my favourite finds to show you but stay tuned for more popping up on the blog soon.

I’ve pretty much lived in the quilted jacket and vintage jumper since I got them home. I did grab some dressier pieces too which I’m hoping to wear over the party season as well as some great denim. It’s worth paying close attention as there are plenty of brands around if you can find your size…lots of Levis for example and I did grab a fabulous pair only to find I’d slightly underestimated just how small they were when I got home!

This was one of the best Saturdays I’ve had in a long while and I’m planning to go to at least one more sale this side of Christmas and plenty in the new year! Bristol people check out the website and facebook to find out more about upcoming events and let me know if you plan to attend, I’m all for broadening my social horizons and actually interacting with people for once- the next sale is on Saturday 5th November.

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*Disclosure- Mum and I were guests of BTR and received free entry and a 5kg allowance each. 5kg is a LOT of clothes, we didn’t even manage it between us and came away with so much stuff! Opinions are honest and I will be attending future sales as a paying guest as it was just brilliant and an excellent chance to try something new and add something extra to my wardrobe- I’ve always loved vintage and this is such a bargainous and fun way to build up a collection.*

Review: Jamie’s Italian Bristol

Restaurant reviews are few and far between on this blog, in fact this might only be the second one I’ve done over the years. Eating out has always, up until quite recently been quite an ordeal for me thanks to so many years spent living with an eating disorder but now I’m moving steadily away from that fear there was no better time to receive an e-mailing asking if Ben and I would like to pop along to Jamie’s Italian Bristol to sample what’s on offer.
I’ve been to a Jamie’s Italian just once before (to the one in Bath) and really enjoyed it but wasn’t very adventurous in my choices. This time I decided to push myself a little bit harder and really embrace the moment. The restaurant is located on the top of Park Street in Bristol, if travelling by foot there really is no better way to work up an appetite than a trek up that hill! We arrived at 7pm to a warm welcome and a relaxed atmosphere and were seated on the second floor in a little booth near the window. The place has a warehouse/rustic vibe going on which we both really liked. The waiting staff were lovely and came over to explain the specials on offer that day and generally answer any questions we may have had whilst managing to not be too in our faces with constant interruptions.
After pursuing the menu and weighing up the options we both decided that we’d go for a starter and a main and then perhaps split a dessert (which as it happens we were simply too stuffed to do!). Although the menu doesn’t have the most extensive choice in the world the things is does offer all sounded pretty unique compared to standard Italian restaurant fare and it took us quite a while to decide!
I opted for the crab and avocado bruschetta which combined fresh crab with crunch fennel, smashed avocado with yogurt and chilli and was pretty delicious! The flavours worked really well together and the fennel added that little something extra. Ben went for the baked chestnut mushrooms which came with the curiously named “crispy music bread” which turn out to be a crispy sort of flat bread hosting the mushrooms and smoked mozzarella. As someone who always orders mushrooms if they are on a menu he was really impressed with these.
Last time I visited Jamie’s Italian I ordered just a small portion of pasta which whilst delicious (with black spaghetti and assorted sea foods) was very much a safe choice for me. This time I decided to throw caution to the wind and went for the chicken cacciatore- a piece of grilled free range chicken, a tomato sauce with black olives and vegetables served on garlic ciabatta with rocket and parmesan cheese to finish it off. This was incredible, perhaps one of my favourite meals over the last couple of years. Full of flavour with perfectly cooked chicken and tender vegetables I’m already trying to work out how to recreate this at home. Ben ordered a dish from the specials menu- a seafood linguine with a lemon butter sauce, various white fish chunks, massive prawns plus clams and mussels (which he asked to be omitted and this was not a problem at all). This looked really good, although the menu didn’t state it’d have whole tomatoes in which he really dislikes but those were picked out no problem. Ben says he really enjoyed this but he did wish there were some slightly simpler menu options available as well as he did find the menu a little bit fussy for his palate.
After demolishing that lot we were too full for dessert but the menu did look tempting with some pretty unique offerings. There are also a huge array of wines, cocktails and coffees available although as we’re quite boring we just stuck with a diet coke each!

Overall we really enjoyed our visit to Jamie’s Italian and I’m certainly looking forward to trying more dishes in the future. Let me know if you’ve been to one before and what else you’d recommend from the menu.

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P.s. apologies for the iPhone images- I’m no good at lugging my camera around! Whilst we were guests of Jamie’s Italian for the evening all thoughts and opinions are honest and genuine.