2015 in travel

As 2015 trundles to a soggy end in the UK what better time to look back on some of the fun travel stories of the year. Continue reading


Bristol’s cat pub goes viral…but there are other places to drink

The Bag o’ Nails pub in Bristol has changed its name to The Cat Pub. Nah, not really, just joking. But it wouldn’t be a surprise after a story about the cats that live in the pub went viral this week.

It is a cracking pub and not just because of its feline residents. The Bag o’ Nails hits the sweet spot in the Venn diagram of all my favourite things in pubs:

  • cats
  • Trivial Pursuit sets from the 1970s
  • pork pies
  • snarky staff
  • proper cider.

But Bristol has lots of lovely pubs that also cater for these very specific drinking needs.


Ironworks, Broad St

I am not a dog fan but I make an exception for the scruffy little critter (I don’t even know what breed it is) at the Ironworks. It’s quite cute. For a dog.


Inn on the Green, Filton Rd

Fancy winner a freezer full of meat without demonstrating any skill or talent? Of course you do. So trek up Gloucester Rd and take part in the weekly (I think) meat raffle. There’s also a pub quiz but to be honest that feels like hard work.

Bar snacks

Star and Dove, St Luke’s Rd

The scotch eggs and sausage rolls are regularly used by Totterdown residents to lure north Bristolians south of the river.


7 Stars, Thomas Lane

The staff can be gruff at first but the no tolerance approach to pub dickheads makes them my favourites.


The Apple, Welsh Back

Strong cider on a boat. Need I say more?

10 travel writing clichés to avoid

Travel writing is hard. Choosing the best words to describe a place, journey or experience takes skill.

Unfortunately, lots of writers fall back on crappy clichés when they are stuck.

This isn’t fun for readers. In fact, it’s really boring.

Here are 10 words or phases to avoid:

  1. Hidden gem
  2. City of contrasts
  3. Action-packed
  4. Diverse / exotic / multicultural
  5. Whistle stop tour
  6. Off the beaten track
  7. Up and coming
  8. Pristine / deserted / unspoilt beaches
  9. Thrill seekers
  10. People watching

Which travel clichés annoy you?

Frome: It’s not as bad as it used to be

Frome town centre

I find it difficult to write about my hometown.

As a child I hated it. There was nothing to do. I worked hard at school so that I could leave.

Now Frome is trendy. It has quirky secondhand shops! A mediocre festival! Flat whites! All things I like.

But you know what, I still hate it.

The changes mean that people “relocate” to Frome but send their kids to the good school in the next town.

There’s a monthly independent market but hardly any of the stalls are run by local businesses.

Lifestyle journalists go on about Frome’s celebrity residents (Pearl Lowe for a while, one of the McGann brothers) but don’t bother to research how to say ‘Frome’. ‘There’s no place like Frome’ is a rubbish headline regardless of pronunciation.

There’s a monthly independent market but hardly any of the stalls are run by local businesses.

But here’s the predictable twist to my rant: despite reducing me a West Country Holden Caulfield, I love Frome very much.

I am not sure if any of the following recommendations are of interest to visitors or whether I have written a nostalgic trip through my childhood but I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading

High SFP sun cream review

The UK is enjoying its annual 3-day ‘heat wave’ so now is an opportune time to review high SPF sun creams.

In case you are concerned about my level of expertise on this subject, let me reassure you:

I am pale. And ginger.

I don’t tan. I burn.

There is no one better qualified to talk you through the exciting world of sun protection.

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Ilfracombe superlatives quiz

Ilfracombe in Devon is a big on superlatives. All of the tourist information I read before my weekend visit was full of the kind of language that would make Roy Castle and the rest of the Record Breakers team hot-foot it down to North Devon.

In homage to the marketers of Ilfracombe, this post highlights the best things the town has to offer. But incase you think that’s a bit boring, I’ve made some of them up. Can you spot which ones?

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