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The Fast Track to Becoming a Local in… Dorset

Posted on 15th November 2017 by Master Removers

Beautiful landscapes and coastlines, sandy beaches, top restaurants and lively towns – Dorset has something for everyone. No wonder it’s become such a desirable location for Londoners, young families and many others.

If you’re considering moving to Dorset, here’s the lowdown on how to settle in straight away and enjoy the area like a local…

 

Coast and country

Old Harry Rocks

 

Over half of the county of Dorset consists of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so if you love the great outdoors, you’ve come to the right place.

Of course Dorset is internationally famous for the Jurassic Coast, the World Heritage Site stretching almost 100 miles from Exmouth to Studland Bay. You’ll already know the iconic Durdle Door natural arch at Lulworth (top), and perhaps Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck. You’re likely to be familiar with  the shifting pebbles of Chesil Beach, and the opportunities for fossil-hunting around Lyme Regis.

But there are plenty of lesser-known spots along the Jurassic Coast that are just as amazing. Kimmeridge Bay on the Isle of Purbeck has some of the best rockpools in the country, while Dancing Ledge is a stunning spot for sea views and strange optical illusions.

Meanwhile, inland there are heaths, vales and forests to explore, teeming with wildlife including otters and kingfishers. The Dorset countryside is famous as the heart of novelist Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. It’s peppered with Iron Age hillforts, stone circles and beautiful villages and towns, such as Sherbourne with its Abbey and two castles, or Shaftesbury with its instantly-recognisable steep cobbled street Gold Hill.

The famous Gold Hill in Shaftesbury. Image: Robert Powell via Wikimedia Commons

 

And there’s much, much more besides…

 

Beach life

The giant deckchair on Bournemouth beach

 

Best for a traditional family day at the seaside:

There are ten miles of sandy beaches at Bournemouth and Poole, while perfect swimming and sandcastle conditions make Weymouth and Swanage ever-popular seaside holiday destinations.

 

Best for beachside strolling:

A local summer treat is to hop on the Mudeford Ferry in Christchurch and cross to the unspoilt Mudeford Sandbank and Beach (home of the extraordinarily expensive beach huts). The Beach House Café serves seafood with great views over Christchurch, while the nearby Hengistbury Head is a special nature reserve with lots to explore. Start at the Visitor Centre.

Windsurfing at Kimmeridge Bay

 

 

Best for watersports:

For surfers and windsurfers Kimmeridge Bay ( ‘K-Bay’) is a local legend. Surf Steps is a great surf school at Bournemouth beach (near Boscombe pier). If you fancy trying windsurfing or paddle-boarding, head to The OTC, a purpose-built centre at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, which was the sailing venue at the 2012 Olympics.

If surfing isn’t thrilling enough for you, you can try coasteering (jumping off cliffs into the sea, basically) at several locations including Dancing Ledge with Land and Wave.

 

 

Eating out

Dorset foodies really are spoilt for choice. At the top end of the market in Sandbanks (reportedly Britain’s most expensive seaside town) is Rick Stein’s latest world-class seafood restaurant.

Lyme Regis has a fantastic dining scene and is home to HIX Oyster and Fish House. Over at Studland there’s the Pig on the Beach, which as well as being a very trendy boutique hotel is a superb restaurant. And another great, hidden away hotel with a restaurant (and a spa where you can swim under the stars) is Summer Lodge Hotel in the village of Evershot.

For an unbeatable fish soup, head to the brilliant Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock.

 

Best for knickerbocker glories:

The Bramble Café and Deli in Poundbury is the current venture of superb local chef Mat Follas (he won Masterchef in 2009) and is already becoming famous for brilliant seasonal food and that signature dessert.

 

Best for afternoon tea:

Moreton Tea Rooms in Dorchester is a local teatime legend (booking advised at weekends). Traditional Dorset cream teas in grand surroundings can be had at the Royal Bath hotel in Bournemouth and the lovely Knoll House in Studland.

 

Best fish and chips:

You can’t go wrong with a long-established, family-run chippy. Try the Marlboro Restaurant in Weymouth, Chez Fred in Westbourne, Bournemouth or the Fish Plaice in Swanage.

 

Best pubs:

The Anchor Inn at Seatown (below) regularly wins prizes as a top gastropub, while the Scott Arms at Kingston near Corfe Castle is delightfully cosy.

 

There are hundreds more, of course. The Square and Compass at Worth Matravers is a hidden gem. Try following the Dorset Pubs Facebook page for more pub crawl tips.

 

 

Shopping

 

Castlepoint just outside Bournemouth is a huge out-of-town retail park with all the national stores you need. Poole has the Dolphin Shopping Centre if you prefer to walk around indoors.

High end brands (plus good lunchtime eating) can be found in Dorchester’s Brewery Square and Westover Road in Bournemouth.

But there are also lots of great independent stores throughout the county. Sherborne, Wareham, Swanage and Lyme Regis in particular have plenty for those who like boutique shops, handmade gifts and so on.

For books, there are such venerable institutions as Gullivers in Wimborne Minster, The Bookshop in Bridport and Bookends in Christchurch.  Replayed Records in Swanage is great for second hand music.

 

Best local food shopping:

For quality local produce try The Salt Pig farm shops in Wareham and now Swanage. There are farmers’ markets all over the county – see a list here.

Other local independent food shops well worth a visit include the Dorset Chilli Shop in Bournemouth and the very long-running old-fashioned grocers Dike and Son in Stalbridge.

 

Best markets:

Dorchester Market has been running on Wednesdays since the 1860s, and there’s a car boot variant on Sundays too.

Even better is Wimborne Market and Antiques Bazaar –  a huge covered market with over 200 stalls selling something for everyone.

 

 

10 fantastic things you can only do in Dorset

 

1. Go dolphin-spotting at Durlston

Durlston Country Park is a huge National Nature Reserve with all kinds of habitats, and is one of the best places in the UK to see dolphins. Sign up to receive Dolphin Alerts here and you’ll be told when there are dolphins visiting Dorset (and whales, basking sharks and seals too!)

 

2. Gaze at Midsummer in Bournemouth

Russell-Cotes is an English Victorian gem – a house, museum and art gallery. The best-known and loved picture in the collection is the 1887 ‘Midsummer’ by Albert Joseph Moore – guaranteed to warm the cockles.

 

 

3. Discover the Blue Pool

The Blue Pool at Furzebrook near Wareham, hidden away in acres of woods and heathland, is one of Dorset’s most beautiful secrets. Great for dog walking, and there’s a nice tea room too.

 

4. Search for red squirrels at Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is in the middle of Poole Harbour, but once you step off the ferry you feel like you’re a million miles away from civilisation. Now a National Trust property, the island is full of wildlife including a healthy population of red squirrels.

 

5. Have an ice cream at Barford Farmhouse Garden

A real summertime Dorset treat is to visit Barford Farm Farmhouse Garden, close to the River Stour at White Mill and enjoy a local Barford Farm ice cream. Heaven!

 

6. Make a pilgrimage to St Mary’s Chapel

In the grounds of Lulworth Castle is St Mary’s, a Georgian chapel that’s of the most beautiful little buildings in England. And while you’re at Lulworth, head for the Doll’s House shop for some homemade fudge.

St Mary’s Chapel at Lulworth. Photo © Jo Turner (cc-by-sa/2.0)

 

7. Catch a film with at the Castle

On the subject of Lulworth Castle, a few times a year Luna Cinema show classic movies on a big outdoor screen right in front of the battlements.

 

8. A night at the theatre in Lyme Regis

The Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis is a charming, vibrant venue with gorgeous décor including a fantastic bar. Always a good night out.

 

9. Stroll amongst sculptures

Sculpture By the Lakes is a tranquil haven for art and nature lovers: a beautiful sculpture park created by Simon Gudgeon set in 26 acres of Dorset countryside.

 

10. Have breakfast with a view at Chesil Beach

The Taste Café is fast becoming one of Dorset’s favourite eateries. Go for a full English complete with Dorset black pudding – and stunning views over Chesil Beach.

The Taste Cafe at Chesil Beach. Image: Taste Cafe

 

What’s your favourite ‘local knowledge’ about Dorset? What have we missed? Let us know in the comments.
And if you’re moving to Dorset – or moving within Dorset – contact the Master Removers for a quote.

6 Amazing Properties for sale in Islington and North London

Posted on 24th October 2017 by Master Removers

North London has become very desirable in recent years, with an incredible vibrant social and foodie scene having grown up in the Islington and Camden areas, and Kings Cross undergoing a real renaissance. (Read our Fast Track to Becoming a Local in Islington and Camden here.)

It also has plenty of stunning properties, such as the six below. But even if your budget doesn’t quite cover any of these beauties, at least you can look – and dream…

 

1. Nash Villa by Regent’s Park

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John Nash (1732-1835) was the architect behind Buckingham Palace, Regent Street and the Brighton Royal Pavilion, so he knew a thing or two about beautiful buildings.

For just £15.5m you could own this stucco fronted 6-bedroom Nash Villa, set back behind electric gates on the fringe of Regent’s Park and a few minutes’ walk from the boutique shops of Primrose Hill.

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View on the Knight Frank website here.

 

 

2. An architectural masterpiece with its own spa

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‘Infinity House’ is a Grade II Listed, Georgian house in Clerkenwell with a superb 2015 three-storey extension created by the owners, who are internationally-acclaimed designers.

It has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a spa complete with pool and sauna, a cinema, three roof terraces with amazing views and an additional self-contained one-bedroom apartment. Oh, and it was shortlisted in the Sunday Times British Homes Awards 2016. A snip at £6,999,950.

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View on the Hamptons website here.

 

3. Lateral living in Barnsbury Square

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Leafy Barnsbury Square in Islington is one of the quietest in London, despite its proximity to the bustle of Upper Street and Angel.

These superb three-bedroom, three bedroom apartments with open plan living areas are the peak of ‘lateral living’ in London (i.e. they take apartments to a whole new level).

The guide price is £2,825,000 and there are 10 for sale.

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 View on the Savills website here.

 

4. Amazing interiors in Yardley Street

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If you love spectacular interior design (without the effort of doing it yourself), then how about this fabulous property in Yardley St, Clerkenwell.

The stunning, colour-exploding rooms have been carefully designed to enhance the period features of this three-bedroom Grade II Listed Georgian house. It has a large cinema room, a bright conservatory room and is very close to Exmouth Market. On at £2.15m.

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View on the Marsh and Parsons website here.

 

 

5. A room (or two) with a canal view

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Regents Canal is one of the best features of Islington, and this two-bed modern apartment has a full-width balcony overlooking it. The perfect spot for sitting and watching the world go by (very slowly).

Haggerston Station is a step away, or you can stroll down the canal to Angel. On with Purple Bricks at £715,000.

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View on Purple Bricks here.

 

 

6. An Islington garden haven

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Islington is full of lovely, peaceful garden squares, and Arlington Square is one such haven. Set on a no through road, this Grade II listed four bedroom four storey home is London townhouse living at its most desirable – very close to every conceivable North London amenity, yet very quiet.

And as well as the garden square, it has its own charming garden at the rear. Guide price of £1,895,000.

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View on the Foxtons website here.

 

Thinking of moving house? Wherever you’re moving to, the Master Removers offer careful, comprehensive removal and storage services. Find your nearest Master Remover here.

The Fast Track to Becoming a Local in… Islington and Camden

Posted on 10th October 2017 by Master Removers

If you’re moving to north London, you’ll already know that it holds some of London’s — and the UK’s — most famous attractions. Whether you’re more likely to be found at the British Museum or the Arsenal stadium, we expect you won’t need our help with those.

But London is made up of a collection of villages and everyone has their own places where they feel most at home. If you’re new to the area, or even just moving from one part of Camden or Islington to another, we’ll help you discover some of the places you might not have heard about. In an area that stretches from Clerkenwell in the south to the top of Hampstead Heath in the north, there are bound to be some that aren’t so familiar.

 

Exploring

Regent’s Canal

Exploring the Regent’s Canal is a brilliant way to find the parts of north London the locals love. The canal emerges near Angel from the Islington Tunnel. Enjoy a coffee or lunch overlooking the City Road Lock at Canal No.5. Further along, (technically just across the Hackney border) is the tiny, wonderful Towpath Cafe. It’s usually open from March to November, with fantastic fresh ingredients and famous toasted cheese sandwiches. When the shutters go up each year, it’s one of the first local signs of spring. (As is the return of Tina’s ice cream van to Highbury Fields.)

 

King’s Cross

At the other end of the canal tunnel, you can explore one of north London’s fastest-changing neighbourhoods, King’s Cross. Once run-down and downright seedy, it’s revived with new shops, businesses and restaurants, and is soon to be home to Google’s London headquarters.

Granary Square (above) is the hub of the area, next to the Regent’s Canal. In summer, children love running through the fountains; there are more than a thousand jets of water, which spray with choreographed patterns and coloured lights.  There are regular street food markets and great places to eat, such as the fabulous Dishoom and Caravan. The Lighterman pub looks out across the canal and the square.

There are some more quirky corners to discover too. The House of Illustration, founded by Sir Quentin Blake, hosts fascinating exhibitions on the art of illustration in all its forms. The Camley Street Natural Park is a small corner of wilderness in the heart of the city, and the skip garden shows what you can grow even in small urban spaces.

 

Primrose Hill

Further along the canal towpath, Camden Lock and Camden Market are better left to the crowds of tourists, but keep going and you’ll reach Primrose Hill. A staircase from the towpath brings you out onto Gloucester Avenue, right by Melrose and Morgan, a grocery and deli that will sell you hot food, a sandwich, or even a whole picnic to enjoy in the park. Just opposite is The Engineer gastropub, recently refurbished and an excellent place for a Sunday roast. Or try The Lansdowne, a short walk along the avenue. On Regent’s Park Road, the Greek restaurant Lemonia is always buzzing, family-friendly and welcoming.

Work up an appetite, or work off your lunch, by climbing to the top of Primrose Hill for one of London’s best views. Still need more exercise? One of the first places in London to popularise yoga, Triyoga, is now in a new home in Camden, a former piano warehouse.

 

Hampstead Heath

North London’s one of the most densely populated places in the country, but even here you can find some great green spaces. Hampstead Heath is the greatest of all, whether you take in the view from Parliament Hill, or brave swimming in the Ponds.  The Mixed Pond is summer-only, but the hardiest swimmers brave the Ladies’ and Mens’ Ponds all year — though you have to acclimatise. If you prefer clearer waters, try the Parliament Hill Lido, a glorious sixty-metre pool; though be warned, it’s not heated either!

 

Best of Camden and Islington

 

Best small museums

Weather not ideal for the outdoors? You could discover some of the smaller museums and galleries. At the top of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House has treasures from Vermeer and Rembrandt (above) to Gainsborough and Reynolds. (And a lovely cafe, too.)

The Freud Museum, in the psychoanalyst’s former Hampstead home, contains his original couch. In Islington, the Estorick Collection has an impressive collection of modern Italian art.

 

Best for arts and culture

Culture vultures are also spoilt for live entertainment. In north London’s small theatres, you’re likely to catch new plays — and often some big names — away from the West End. Among the best of them are Islington’s Almeida, the Hampstead Theatre in Swiss Cottage, and the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.

London’s home of dance is at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and there are regular live music gigs at the Union Chapel and the Camden Roundhouse.

For children, the magical Little Angel Theatre (below) hosts puppet shows all year round, as well as clubs and courses in puppetry for both adults and children.

 

Best for foodies

It’s a fabulous place for foodies too. Weekend farmers’ markets abound: try Parliament Hill on Saturdays or Chapel Market on Sundays. At weekday lunchtimes, Whitecross Street is bustling with street food trucks serving delicacies from around the world.

Parliament Hill Farmer’s Market. Image credit.

 

Many cuisines are to be found here: London’s oldest Italian deli, Terroni’s, opened in Clerkenwell, next to the Italian Church, in 1878, and still does a roaring trade. More recent arrivals include Austrian food at Kipferl in Camden Passage (which, just to confuse you, is in Islington) and Spanish and North African food and tapas at Moro and Morito on Exmouth Market.

Just off so-called Silicon Roundabout at Old Street, Ozone Coffee has its own roastery: watch the beans being prepared while you drink your flat white.

You’ll enjoy delicious cheeses at La Fromagerie in Highbury Park and at Pistachio and Pickle in Angel; at both, you can eat in as well as take away. Steve Hatt’s Fishmonger’s on the Essex Road is also an Islington landmark, though expect to queue on Saturday mornings.

 

Best local pubs

And if you’re exhausted by all this frantic activity, time for a pint. Locals the locals treasure include The Island Queen in Angel, The Albion, with a large pub garden for summer, and further north, The Holly Bush in Hampstead — with cosy fires in winter.

For something less traditional, try the experimental cocktails at 69 Colebrooke Row, created by mixologist Tony Conigliaro. They also run afternoon mixing masterclasses.

 

Cheers! And welcome to your new home…

 

What’s your favourite ‘insider knowledge’ about Islington, Camden and North London? What have we missed? Let us know in the comments…

Six Amazing Properties For Sale in Bristol

Posted on 2nd October 2017 by Master Removers

Bristol is well established as one of the best places to live in the UK, and has become a top destination for Londoners looking to move out of the capital. With a lively social, foodie and cultural scenes, acres of green space and a beautiful harbour, Bristol offers something for everyone. (Read our Fast Track Guide to Becoming a Local in Bristol here.)

It also has its fair share of stunning properties. And even if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to any of these six, well – at least you can dream…

 

1. Grade II listed home complete with a Wig Room

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Situated just outside Bristol in the village of Olveston is this extremely characterful Grade II listed, 16th century house. It has six bedrooms, an oak panelled entrance hall, a drawing room, a Georgian library and even a 17th century Wig Room, where a servant would have powdered gentlemen’s wigs.

The Green – a historically important residence – also has its own ornamental gardens and a magnificent Grade II listed Cider Barn and Coach House. A snip at £1.45 million.

 

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Price: £1,495,000

View on the Savills website here.

 

 

2. A thoroughly modern Montpelier house

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Situated in the trendy central area od Montpelier, this is an eco-efficient townhouse built to a high spec in 2016 by Elkins Architects.

The structure is formed from an elegantly simple combination of horizontal oak cladding and lots of glass, offering fine views over the city. There’s lots of natural light, open-plan living, a log burner, a double-garage and wine cellar. Urban living doesn’t get any cooler.

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Price: £750,000

View on The Modern House website here.

 

 

3. The ultimate property for someone who works from home

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This is a gorgeous 4-bedroom barn conversion with exposed stonework, ceiling beams and a solid oak staircase. But it also has a milking parlour converted into a vast commercial space and a modern home office with bi-folding doors opening onto views across the countryside.

It has 2.5 acres of land, a long gravel driveway flanked by fruit trees, a large paddock, a stream and hard standing for two or more boats. Oh and despite being in the little village of Hallen, it’s a short drive from the Cribbs Causeway shopping complex and Clifton.

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Price: £825,000

View on Purple Bricks here.

 

4. The ultimate party barn

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Situated in Bitton, which is handy for both Bristol and Bath, this is a fantastic 5-bed family farmhouse with an array of useful outbuildings and some 10 acres of land including a paddock and small copse.

The ‘party barn’ is amazing. Fitted with a corner bar unit it has a double height pitched roof and exposed beams ‐ and a fabulous mezzanine level at each end. French doors throw open to the inner courtyard garden, and internally it gives access to the swimming pool complex ‐ complete with heated indoor pool, and a raised spa pool. Perfect for entertaining.

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Price: £1,575,000

View on the Fine & Country website here.

 

 

5. City centre apartment…with a ballroom

It’s a flat in Bedminster, near the city centre – but not as you’d expect. This is a three bedroom, two bathroom, penthouse apartment with its own roof terrace.

What’s more, it’s located in the stunning Grade II listed Long Fox Manor, whose residents have access to 10 acres of communal gardens, a tennis court, a sauna and spa, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a fully equipped gym, a ballroom, a bar with a lounge, and a converted chapel fitted with cinema equipment.

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Price: £600,000

View the property on Haart’s website here.

 

 

6. Live like a Georgian aristocrat

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If you don’t fancy sharing your Grade II listed mansion, then Harptree Court could be the property you’ve been waiting for.

This is a magnificent Georgian country house in the Classical style with nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms, drawing room, dining room, billiards room, morning room, kitchen, sitting room and entrance hall, stables and a self-contained luxury treehouse too. Set in the beautiful Chew Valley, the 51-acre grounds include a large walled garden, spring-fed lakes, tennis court, parkland fields and woodland.

It’s been in the same family for nearly 100 years, but it can be yours for less than the cost of a flat in Mayfair.

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Cost: offers in region of £5m.

View on the Knight Frank website here.

 

 

Thinking of moving house? Whether you’re going to a mansion or a maisonette, the Master Removers offer careful, comprehensive removal and storage services. Find your nearest Master Remover here.

The Fast Track to Becoming a Local in… Bristol

Posted on 10th August 2017 by Master Removers

A lively, culturally-rich city with plenty of green space and surrounded by beautiful countryside, Bristol has long been a desirable location for young families, London-exiles and many others.

If you’re thinking of moving to Bristol from London – or anywhere else for that matter – here’s what you need to know to settle straight in and enjoy Bristol like a local…

 

Food and drink

Outside London, Bristol is arguably now the place for UK foodies. There are several Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, Wilks in Redland and Casamia in the Harbourside,  while the famous Pony and Trap is a short hop away in Chew Magna. But fabulous new restaurants and cafes are popping up all the time.

 

Best restaurant to impress guests

If you want to impress your visitors, try Wallfish Bistro in Clifton Village. There’s oysters, a superb wine list, and once upon a time it was Keith Floyd’s first bistro (there’s a blue plaque outside to prove it).

For many, many more eating out reviews and ideas, check out the Bristol Bites and Bristol Foodie websites.

 

Best place for stocking up on carbs

Hart’s Bakery, located in a Victorian railway arch under Temple Meads station, has become something of a local legend. On weekday mornings commuters queue to pick up their breakfast croissants, while at weekends you can buy the special sourdough ‘Saturday bread’, made with olives, lemon & rosemary.

There are artisan bakeries all over the city these days. Joe’s Bakery on Gloucester Road,  Baked in Totterdown and Mark’s Bread in Bedminster come highly recommended.

 

Best takeaways

Again, there’s an infinite choice. Wong’s on Denmark St won the BBC Best Chinese Takeaway in Britain award for 2017, while for unusual Indian food you can’t beat the much-loved Thali Restaurant, which dishes out reusable tiffin dishes and now has five locations around the city.

Photo © Anthony O’Neil (cc-by-sa/2.0)

 

To grab an exotic lunch while in town, take a stroll through the many colourful food stalls of St Nicholas Market (above – and to sound like a local, make sure you call it ‘St Nick’s’).

 

Best coffee shop

Bristol was ahead of the curve in the UK’s coffee-craze and there are plenty of trendy independent baristas to patronise, such as the cosy Small St Espresso, or Playground, where you can sip your artisanal caffeine while sitting on a swing.

The Lounges cafe-bars began in Bristol and there are branches all over, while Grounded is another top local chain.

 

Best pub crawl

Whiteladies Road and Gloucester Road boast fine pubs aplenty for a traditional linear pub crawl into town, but to sample the grandest drinking institutions in Bristol head for King Street.

This cobbled road by the harbour has several of the oldest and most characterful pubs in the country, including the historic Llandoger Trow, the King William Ale House (‘King Billy’) and thriving jazz venue The Old Duke. Finish off the night at Renato’s – you can munch on one of their addictively salty pizzas while rubbing shoulders with actors just in from the Old Vic theatre next door.

 

Best local tipple

Despite the name, Bath Ales are actually based in Warmley, on the east side of Bristol. They have a series of top notch pubs, chop houses and pizzerias around the city, and Gem is well-established as a favourite upmarket beer.

Of course, the traditional local tipple is cider – best drunk at the famous Corrie Tap’ in Clifton.

 

Best secret tea garden

Beese’s Riverside Bar (known universally as ‘Beese’s tea garden’) is a hidden Bristol gem. It’s only open from spring to September, and can only be accessed by a special ferry. It does great afternoon teas in the day and hosts live music at night.

 

Shopping

There are two big shopping centres with all the usual stores – Cabot Circus in the centre, and Cribbs Causeway out by the M5. But there’s much more to Bristol shopping than that…

 

Best for a day’s browsing

Described as one of the UK’s last traditional high streets, Gloucester Road hosts a large range of independent specialist shops – everything from butchers and bakers to art shops, home brew specialists and a really excellent Amnesty International secondhand bookshop – plus plenty of quality eateries and pubs.

 

Best for finding something completely different

The Guild emporium on Park Street is an utterly unique institution – somewhere between an art gallery and a department store as imagined by Lewis Carroll. It also boasts a fine cafe and a food hall full of bizarrely flavoured chocolates and unusual liqueurs.

 

Best shop to buy absolutely anything incredibly cheaply

At the other end of the ‘eccentric emporium’ spectrum is the legendary Rajani Superstore in Fishponds. All Bristolians know that if it exists, however obscure, Rajani’s will sell it – you just have to be prepared to hunt through the maze of densely-packed shelves.

 

Best shop for music lovers

Plastic Wax on Cheltenham Road is the biggest and best-loved secondhand music shop in the city, with tonnes of CDs and even more vinyl.

 

Entertainment, sport and fun

 

Best festival

Bristol has festivals galore throughout the summer months, from Vegfest to Grillstock to the huge, free Harbour Festival. But the quintessential Bristolian festival is the annual Balloon Fiesta, when if the wind’s right you can enjoy the iconic sight of some 150 hot air balloons floating across the Avon Gorge and beyond.

Best place to watch? The vast sunny terrace of the White Lion, overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

 

Best place to see wild animals

Everyone’s heard of Bristol Zoo – the oldest provincial zoo in the world – but you can now spend a day at its spin-off sister Wild Place by the M5, which has larger animals (including cheetahs and giraffes), loads for kids to do, and none of the crowds (yet).

 

Best spectator sports

Neither Bristol City nor Rovers has ever won the football league or the FA Cup in their combined histories, while the Bristol rugby union team is well-supported and financed but currently outside the Premiership.

The County Ground in Ashley Down hosts international cricket matches. The home team Gloucestershire have seen some success and floodlit Twenty20 games make for a great night out.

But Bristol does excel in women’s sports: Bristol City are in the Women’s Super League, and the Western Storm cricket team includes England captain Heather Knight amongst other top stars. Tickets are great value.

 

Best for art-lovers

The RWA and the Arnolfini are must-visits, but of course since Banksy started doing his thing the whole city is one open-air art gallery, with striking (and often brilliant) street art everywhere. Jamaica Street and Spike Island are hip artist enclaves.

 

Best for concert-goers

There’s something on every night for live music lovers – and if you’re going to a gig you’ll probably spot local hero Big Jeff. Venues are range from the Thekla (a nightclub on a boat) to the venerable Colston Hall. St George’s hosts international classical artists and there’s a large arena being (very slowly) built at Temple Meads.

Find comprehensive music listings at Headfirst Bristol here.

 

Best party nights out

Every Bristolian should brave the infamous Oompah Night at the Bierkeller at least once in their lives, while Doreen Doreen are almost certainly the best party band in the universe.

 

Free Bristolly things to do

The free M-Shed Museum down at the Floating Harbour is a great place to learn about Bristol and its history. And here are some more fun things to do that cost nothing..

 

Best free entertainment for small children

On sunny days, head down to Millennium Square (above) with their swimming cossies, slap on the Factor 50 and let them splash about in the fountains for a few hours while you sit and enjoy an ice cream.

 

Best free entertainment without kids

Take a picnic up to Trooper’s Hill in Hanham – a curious little nature reserve – for a panoramic view over the city. Ideal for watching balloons float by (and spectacular on fireworks night).

 

Best free thrill-ride

The natural rock slide at Clifton Down, made shiny by generations of Bristolian bottoms, is a semi-official bit of fun that has somehow survived modern health and safety laws.

 

Best free morbid entertainment

A stroll around the extraordinary Arnos Vale, a 45-acre Victorian Garden Cemetery that’s like a city of the dead within the city of the living.

 

Best free Christmassy thing

The beautiful St Mary Redcliffe Church has a special Christmas carol service every year when kids can dress up and be involved in the nativity story.

 

Bristol is one of the UK’s greenest cities, and there are over 400 parks and gardens, from the Downs to Vassals Park. Explore them here, and for more free ideas check out the Broke in Bristol website.

 

How to speak ‘Brizzle’

You can buy this as a T-shirt – Image credit

 

 

The ‘Bristol L’

Probably the most famous element of the city’s distinctive westcountry accent is the ‘Bristol L’, which can be added to any word ending in a vowel, though most commonly those ending in ‘a’. Thus ‘Mosquituls come from malarial areals’, and ‘I’ve a good ideawl, let’s go to Ikeal’

Other things that mark you out as a Bristolian are referring to people as ‘Me luvver’ or ‘Me babber’, to ‘Wales’ as ‘Wells’ (confusing, as there is a real Wells nearby) and pronouncing lilac as ‘li-lack’.

Other useful phrases:

  • ‘Cheers droive’ = ‘Thank you’ (to a bus driver)
  • ‘Gas head’ = Bristol Rovers fan
  • ‘Gert lush’ = Very nice
  • ‘Glider’ = cider
  • ‘Slider’ = slide (in a children’s park)
  • ‘Where’s ee to?’ = Where is it/he?

 

What’s your favourite ‘insider knowledge’ about Bristol? What have we missed? Let us know in the comments…