48 hours in Bristol, England

I’m a huge advocate of trying out new places as often as possible, but there’s also something very comforting about returning to a city you know and love. I lived in Bristol for around ten months in 2011, and some of my closest friends still live there, so I try and make it back there whenever I can – last weekend being my most recent visit.

When I lived in this lovely city, I worked in a demanding job that involved 10-11 hour days, and I spent every moment I wasn’t working propping up a bar with my colleagues or playing drinking games with my housemates (oh, the folly of youth!) The result? I didn’t take advantage of my time in the city at ALL. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to rectify this on subsequent visits.

If you have 48 hours to spend in beautiful Bristol, here are some of the city’s highlights.

The Bridge: See one of world-famous engineer Brunel’s masterpieces and admire incredible views of the Avon Gorge and Bristol City at the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a steep walk up Clifton’s many hills to get to the bridge (seriously, I could feel it in my calves the next day), but it’s well worth it. The bridge is an iconic Bristol landmark, a great place to get photos and it’s also quite romantic, with a secluded bench off to one side that we immediately decided would be the perfect place for a proposal.Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

The Nightlife: As a city with a large student population, Bristol has a diverse nightlife. There are a variety of lively bars along the harbourside, as well as more intimate, upmarket spots on Whiteladies Road. For shots of every flavour imaginable (including chilli!) head to Vodka Revolution. If you’re young enough to think a massive nightclub with very loud music and lots of sweaty bodies sounds like fun, check out Pryzm.

For live music, check out the Stag and Hound to hear local bands, or Mr. Wolf’s for an alternative/Indie vibe. My personal favourite spot is Seamus O’Donnells, a tiny little Irish pub run by a charming gay couple on St. Nicholas’ Street (What can I say? I’m a cliché).

Image via heikoworld.com

Image via heikoworld.com

The Food: My resident Bristolian friends tell me that the culinary scene has massively improved recently, and if my weekend was anything to go by, they’re absolutely right. Saturday was spent having afternoon tea at Brown’s in Clifton, including dainty sandwiches, warm scones and a variety of tasty treats. The salted caramel profiterole was the highlight for me, but it was all delicious! Sunday lunch was spent at Steak of the Art on the harbourside (not suitable for vegetarians!) The graffiti and decor are colourful and urban, and the food is consistently tasty and well priced. For standard pub grub at affordable prices, check out Molloy’s on Baldwin Street or the Bay Horse. imageThe Shopping: Cabot Circus in central Bristol is a fab open air shopping centre, with a good mixture of big brands at House of Fraser, high street shops and cute cafes. The centre leads on to Broadmead, a pedestrian shopping area and it’s close to both Debenhams and Primark. If you’ve got deep pockets, there are all sorts of boutiques in Clifton. The biggest shopping centre is probably Cribb’s Causeway, but it’s a bus ride out of the city and it’s probably not worth it on a short trip.Cabot Circus, Bristol

The Sights: There are beautiful buildings all over Bristol – from catching a train at Temple Meads to watching skateboarders in front of the cathedral at College Green, you can hardly throw a stone in Bristol without hitting an architectural masterpiece. Stroll along the harbourside, or even explore the city from the water -there are several cool boat tours on offer. The world’s best bangers and mash is sold at St. Nick’s Market alongside all sorts of knickknacks.Temple Meads, Bristol

10 top things to see and do in Bristol

1. Bristol Zoo is worth a visit – I once saw a gorilla there raise its new-born to present it to us, just like Mufasa does with Simba in the Lion King

2. Have a drink on the terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel, which has stunning views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a glamorous spot, and less effort than walking all the way up as described above!

3. Check out what’s on at the Hippodrome, Bristol’s theatre. Mamma Mia was on last weekend, so we gave that a miss as we had already seen it (Yes, we’re cool!)

4. Keep an eye out for graffiti by Banksy dotted around the city

5. Place your bets – Bristol’s Rainbow Casino has become a hugely popular spot for poker, roulette and blackjack

6. Book a karaoke room at Kobe Karaoke and blast out the tunes with your friends (Warning: I have memories of doing just that at a work-do that still make my stomach turn with embarassment!)

7. If you’re visiting in summer, try to time it to coincide with the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Booking a hot air balloon ride is massively expensive (around £180 per person), but it’s still cool to walk around the festival while the sky is dotted with colourful balloons

8. If you’ve got extra time, take a half-day trip to Bath or Cheltenham, both very pretty towns that are very accessible from Bristol

9. See an exhibition at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Last weekend, we visited a free exhibition on death, which was both morbid and fascinating

10. Jump onboard the S.S. Great Britain, one of Bristol’s most popular tourist attractions.

Have you visited Bristol? Did you love it as much as I do? If you’re visiting soon, what have you got planned?

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Not Your Average Friday Night

Burlesque. Asian girls that are boys. Music. A midget. Champagne. Cabaret. Thai food. Acrobatics.

In all fairness, what more could you ask for a Friday evening’s entertainment? The Lady Boys of Bangkok is an evening of fun and frolicks featuring, you guessed it, Thai lady boys.

I’m not going to lie, we weren’t quite sure what to expect going in. At 24 squid a ticket we had high hopes, though the male contingent looked nervously around the largely female queue ‘there doesn’t seem to be a lot of men here’. Would we see any lumps, bumps or bulges? Would we think they were attractive? Would it be entertaining? Would it be very sexual?

The show did not disappoint. Displaying varying degrees of femininity, the Lady Boys took to the stage with classic performances of YMCA, Tina Turner and references to pop culture favourites Corrie, The Sound of Music and Sister Act. Combining this with the theatre that is Lady Gaga and a very literal rendition of Rihanna’s S and M made for a thoroughly lively performance.

Elements of comedy broke up the performance nicely, with the exception of some well handled if unexpected technical issues towards the end of the first half! The inevitable but ever-amusing moments of audience participation had every man in the place shrinking back in their chairs, lest they be brought upon stage, half-stripped and given a lap dance by a Lady Boy [scared they’d enjoy it too much, I expect!]

The most impressive act of the night for me was by one of the male performers. He arrives on stage, which has a newly acquired pole. Oh, a male pole dancer, you think, wonder what this will be like. Instead, he puts on this athletic, acrobatic feat that I can’t even put into words. I’m sorry – you had to be there for this part. But picture this, he did completely horizontal chin ups on the vertical pole. That’s upper body strength!

If you were wondering about my questions above – no, we didn’t spot any lumps, bumps or bulges. Some of the performers had masculine looking jaw bones, eye brows and thighs in my opinion but despite some very risque moves we didn’t see any you-know-whats! Some of the performers I would swear down were women, and very attractive ones at that. The performance was suggestive and fun but not overly sexual!

And yes, we were very, very entertained!

Making memories – my British bucket list!

It’s easy to fall in to habits. Some good. Some bad. Some simply apathetic.

You get home in the evening after a long day at work and all you want to do is grab a bit of dinner and watch Corrie… the weekend rolls round and all you want to do is have a few drinks and chill. We’re all guilty of it!

When I lived in the United Arab Emirates I somehow managed to go almost three years without going up Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – despite passing it on numerous occasions. I was always too busy or had something else on or couldn’t afford it. I regret that. It’s like those memes that get passed around say – you regret what you don’t do more than what you do.

So here I am in England. Only across the water from home really yet with so much to explore! But unless I start making real plans and following through on them, the same thing is likely to happen again. How to go about this? A Bucket List for my time here in England. Summer is coming, the Euros and the Olympics are on, it’s an exciting time to be here!

So – you guys tell me – what is the best way to spend my time? Here are some of the things I’m thinking about but I’ll need your suggestions!

Matthew Street, Liverpool: I was well in to college by the time I realised how

Imagemuch I loved the Beatles. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood I’m in; happy, sad, lonely, just wanna dance, in love, out of love – there is a Beatles song that will encapsulate it. The idea of visiting the Cavern Club where they played in the early days genuinely excites me, walking the streets where those four boys walked – definitely Number One on this ol’ list of mine!

London: I tried to make this one more specific but I can’t. I want to see a show in the West End, stroll Imagethrough Covent Garden and explore Piccadilly Circus. I want to shop London-style. I want to get a picture inside an old-school red telephone box. I want to go to an underground club where acts play before htey get discovered and forget their humble beginnings. I want to picnic in Hyde Park and go to Hamley’s Toy shop. Heck I want to go full-tourist on this one, camera round the neck on an open bus tour, saluting the changing of the guards! Hmmm, I think London’s going to require more than one trip!

Cornwall: We Irish are only getting used to holidaying-at-home again since the recession, but
Imagethe Brits have always been fans of it and from what colleagues have told me, there’s good reason why. Cornwall comes most highly recommended, with apparent fun-for-all-the-family as well as a decent nightlife for us young’uns. And LOOK, it’s so pretty! Could that not be somewhere in the Mediterranean? Just a couple of hours away, I’m dying to get down here for a weekend over summer for a change of scenery and some fun and frolicks!
I guess that’s it for now!
As I said, England’s an exciting place to be at the moment. Exploring it has to be top priority. Where else do you fine people think I should go and what else should I do?

Adventuring at Bristol Zoo

Today was such a great day.

Housemates and I have decided that we should probably do slightly more productive things with our weekends than consume massive quantities of alcohol and then recovering  from doing so.

So, this weekend we went to the zoo. It was loads of fun; we walked for hours, cooed at the cute animals, shuddered at the reptile house and found an aerial playground [but were too late to play. Major sadface.]

Best picture of the days is of Papa Gorilla

 

But we also had a lot of fun sticking our heads in cutouts –

Good, clean fun!

Occupy Bristol quotes

Yesterday I visited the Occupy Bristol campsite to interview some protesters for work. Some of them had insightful, interesting things to say about the movement which will duly be recorded in tomorrow’s article for The Fresh Outlook. These are some of the other things that were said.

Asked if the Occupy movement has an educational aspect “People do get learnt a lot of stuff down here”

Asked about the low ratio of women to men “We’re not queer!”

Intermittently “Are you recording this? Are you wearing a wire? I think she’s wearing a wire lads” [I open my jacket to show that I am not, in fact, wearing a wire] “Yeah but she keeps asking questions in this way like it’s an interview or something”

Shortly after “You’ve got nice boobs. She has though, she’s got nice boobs”

Asked if it’s true that only two tents are occupied at night “That’s bullshit man”

Asked for surnames to print in the article “Could you not use my surname. I just don’t like people being able to “google” me.”

Asked about the camps dry policy [several protesters are holding beers] “Yeah… that’s a tough one to implement all the time” And drugs? “Drugs is zero tolerance. Absolute zero tolerance. Well, weed kind of makes everyone fight less and just chill out, so we kind of turn a blind eye to that”

When talking about twitter “I’d tweet you, alright”

On leaving “Give us a hug… yeah, I knew she had nice boobs”

Urban Tiger, Hidden Erection

Urban Tiger

A sneaky visit to a strip club

During my recent trip to England, we found cause for celebration when one of the group got some good career news. Us ladies got dressed up in maxi’s and dolled ourselves up, and the boys spruced themselves up nicely too.

Off we went for a very classy meal on a boat, with stunning views all around. Beautiful food, a bottle of rosé sparkling wine and a few cocktails later we found an Irish bar we had been told about and had a few more beverages. So far, so good – keeping it classy!

The place closed a bit early so we went on our way looking for a club. After walking for about 25 minutes [approximately 23.5 minutes too long for D and I] and not finding a club, we decided to venture into ‘Urban Tiger’, a gentleman’s club.

Ground rules at the door “no touching the ladies, obviously, and no using mobile phones, you can come outside to use them” and £5 later, in we went.

The ground floor was quite small, just a bar and a few booths and about nine semi-naked ladies ambling around to cater for the four or five customers that had been in there prior to us [it was a Monday night after all].

On a pole in the corner, they took turns every 15 minutes or so to “display their talents”, and they danced too. They were shit hot. Beautiful bodies, in spite of their itty bitty titties and boy were they able to climb that pole.

Easy to know it was my first time as I gasped when the first one took off her top and continued to dance in just a tiny black thong. That’s what happens in a gentleman’s club? My word.

We had just managed to get the round in when two dancers popped up for a chat, a dark skinned girl in her early twenties whose name I didn’t catch and an older white girl called Jess.

Five minutes later, a couple of the boys disappeared behind the mysterious curtain – one who needed little encouragement, the other we peer-pressured into it. They returned within five minutes looking like two very satisfied customers, and of course, my curiosity was piqued.

#myfirstlapdance

When one of the first dancers came back for another little “chat”, I was easily persuaded to go for a dance, and one of the previous satisfied customers joined me.

I was nervous going in; what exactly was going to happen? Where was I supposed to look? What was I supposed to do? Not to worry, Jess was happy to take the lead. We had had a bit of a chat outside and I knew that she was 30 and had been dancing for 6 years. We exchanged ideas about tattoos. Having made friends with her a little bit the next part was weird.

Jess grinded all over me, rubbed her very soft boobies in my face and all over me, crawled sexily on the floor in front of me and gave me a view of her behind that most of us haven’t displayed so readily since we were in pampers. I’m not gonna lie, I was seriously turned on.

I am 100% straight, I love me some two-backed beast action, but she was so sexy, so overt in her sexuality and so good at what she did I was enthralled. I think I had a smile as big as the boys did on my face coming back.

Not once in the club did I get the sense that these girls were being exploited. They were British, they seemed to be having a good time and they were definitely making good money. I was also totally impressed by the athleticism required to dance up on that pole. Overall, we had a good time and it was quite the experience.

Strippers are real people

Leaving the club we saw one of the dancers in gym clothes going to get a kebab. It was very strange. You just don’t imagine the girls in club as being quite real. I imagine that’s part of the point. I was left with some lingering questions.

-Do these girls mother’s know what they do?

-Do they have boyfriends? What do they think?

-As mentioned, Jess is 30 – surely that’s nearly retirement age for a lap dancer – where does she go from here?

-Do they have pension plans?

Would you go to a strip club with your other half?

We had a couple amongst out group, the male half of which spent the night studiously looking at the bar instead of at the pole. A wise man he was. But I think if I went in with a guy I was seeing I would get a couple’s dance for us.

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