five must haves from pergola on the roof

there are few things i will go to west london for; food and friends just happen to make that very, very short list. so, when i heard about the newest pop-up food fair on street - pergola on the roof, over atop white city's own television centre, and found a bunch of pals equally as unimpressed with the idea of travelling west, but who also understand the lengths necessary to go to to thoroughly enjoy all of the london foodies scene's spoils, well...i think you know what happened next.

and considering the menu is pretty lengthy despite there only being four traders on show, i thought i'd help you out by taste-testing  a lot of them for you, so that when you go, you can avoid the queues and go right for the winners. sound good? oh, and while we're on to passing along tips, here's a biggie: book a table. groups of six or more can reserve tables in advance, which will mean you won't have to get in the 200-deep, one-in-one-out queue snaking the length of the building outside. 

rotisserie chicken with harissa yoghurt, corriander and pickled chilli and fat skin-on chips with scratching from lecoq. we were there bang on 6:30 and the line for lecoq was non existent at that time, so we started there. seemed to make sense to five hungry girls! i'm normally a chicken wings kind of girl, but seeing as the only wings on offer were from patty and bun, a restaurant i've tried before, it made sense to try something new.

the free-range chicken was perfectly seasoned, with the slightest hint of charcoal on the outer. my faaaave. seriously, i love the taste of charcoal, so bbq-burnt meat has always been a love of mine. i was expecting the harissa and chilli to be a lot more spicy than it was, whereas actually the herby spices were perfectly complimentary, and easily set the bar too bloody high for the rest of the evening. 

if anything, there wasn't enough meat on the bones compared to the sauces atop, but those sauces just hung around as dipping sauces for the side dish: chips with scratching. omg, honestly, i don't know what i was expecting, but these chips blew my tiny mind! i love potatoes, and chips are up there as some all-time faves, but wedges i'm not usually a big fan of. these though, were cooked in the chicken oil, so were already seasoned a little saltier and tastier than normal. they were crunchy af, and with the scratching sprinkled over the top, were even meatier with ever second bite. these chips became the hero of the first course, and ones i'll not soon forget. at £4 a serve, i'd happily eat them every day. the chicken and chips: eat them.

hand dived scallop seared and served with chorizo crumb, from farm-to-table restaurant rabbit. this one's served in its own shell, after being seared on the kettle-drum bbq outside of the food truck. i'm sure everyone in the immediate area was coughing from smoke inhilation, but with such a pretty truck and such a tasty menu, i don't think there were too many complaints. plus, it's west london. people have manners, which is a nice change.

rabbit's british tapas menu was pretty hard to choose from, but in the end i will always choose seafood if it's on the menu, and i was interested to see how the sea salt and the spicy sausage worked together; let me tell you this: they work very well together. not as salty as you imagine, but definitely a fresher mouthful after the saltiness of those fat chips. the scallops: eat them.

charlie wouldn't stop talking about the courgette flowers from salt yard as apparently they're one of her favourite dishes evaaaaaaar, and because she opted to forgo them in favour of a pudding, i opted to eat one instead of a pudding. muhaha! the baby courgettes were stuffed with goats cheese, battered in tempura and deep fried, and then served with honey. honey! i mean seriously! as if that doesn't sound like the more moreish combination of flavours, ever!

so, yeah. i didn't go for a dessert in the end because after eating a full plate of courgette doused in sweet, sticky honey, i figured that was pretty much close enough. plus, the dessert options were all pretty samey, and i like to be different. the courgette flowers: eat them.

to wash it all down, the bar has a nice selection of themed cocktails alongside their house punch and a range of other happiness drinks. the yellow one - can't quite remember what it's called but it had a lot of actual ginger and lime in it, and looked like it was made to sit on the beautifully tiled bar. after three pretty filling dishes and a large glass of the rooftop punch, it was nice to get something zesty into my belly to refresh me a little bit. the yellow one: drink it.

so, i hope that's helped you pre-plan your dinner menu for when you head out to visit pergola yourself. it's only there now for about another month before it disappears as quickly as our summer sun does, so if you're up for a trek out west, i can guarantee you won't be disappointed. could anyone be though, when the roof top is serving such mykonos realness and there's enough bougainvillea to sink a ship? no. i think not.

*my meals were complimentary; all thoughts are my own*

wishlist | award winning wear

top : new look | skirt : george | shoes : new look | lippy : sephora | ring : pandora : clutch : house of fraser | diamond earrings : f. hinds | maxi dress : house of fraser

not sure if you're aware or not, but i was recently nominated and shortlisted in the thirty plus awards, under the category of "most addictive blog". i was not only totally shocked by this incredible news, but more... in disbelief more than anything. whereas a lot of awards are a bit of a popularity contest, these awards required firstly a nomination from someone (thank you, whoever you are), then a panel of judges had to verify those nominees, and whittle down a shortlist. 

there were over 4000 nominations. i can't even begin to imagine the effort it would have taken to verify all of those blogs, then judge them to decide if they fit the criteria. again, thank you to those involved in that part of the process. so, still, after all that, this little patch of angst managed to make it out into a shortlist of five, as one of the uk's most addictive blogs in the over thirties space.

that's... not a space i really ever am proud to be in, but when someone's gone to the effort of putting me forward for something, has taken the time to nominate me as their choice of blog, well... i'm hardly going to let that pass me lightly. i am still shocked, honestly. and tomorrow i will meet my competitors at the awards ceremony, nervously drink my glass (or seven) of bubbles, and awkwardly smile when mine - or someone else's name - is read out in that category. because, i'm not full of faux modesty, i am simply nervous.

i write this blog for me, no-one else. when people read it, it am elated. when people comment, i am giddy inside (despite rarely replying). when people nominate me for things that involve large groups of people who are way more into the blogging scene than i am, and put me in direct competition with people whose blogs i genuinely read myself, well, i am terrified.

i am terrified of winning. that's not to say i don't want to, or don't deserve to, but... i hate being the centre of attention (hard to believe, i know), and i have rampant social anxiety. i don't want to win, because it will be embarrassing. i don't want to win, because i will have to stand up and be seen. i don't want to win, because if i do, people will see what a fraud i am; i'm not a "get dolled up" kinda gal, but tomorrow i will have to be, and it will be obvious that i'm uncomfortable and nervous and pah!

so, i do need your thoughts and well wishes. not that i win, because truly i am grateful to have been nominated. i need your confidence. your pride. your strength to smile when i am truly a bundle of nerves. please send them to me, now. do it now. and keep your fingers crossed, just in case.

*written in collaboration with brand; all thoughts are my own*

ten top tips for summer in bristol

the great western rail

take the train. in just under two hours, you'll stay comfortable as you speed west of london on the great western railway. i was lucky enough to travel first class - a perk that's available to all with an upgrade if you so decide on the day, but book enough in advance and you can save up to a third on the standard fares. it's half the time of the coach and less stressful than the drive, so what's stopping you?

swoon worthy gelato

summer by the water can only mean one thing: ice cream. or, gelato if you prefer your dairy confectionery to be a little lighter. artisan gelato-arians swoon gelato have their very own flavour-lab on site that means mixing and making new flavours is as simple as jumping in the lab and experimenting. they use the finest and freshest locally-sourced (where possible) ingredients, and i can wholeheartedly recommend the peach and prosecco and salted caramel gelatos. ermergerrrd.

the college green

with gelato in hand, you'd be silly to not pop across the road and sit and eat it on the college green. nestled between the bristol library, the town hall and the cathedral, the green is surrounded by bike tracks and walking trails, and feels like the heart of the city. if flowers and trees and water fountains are your thing, then you'll love chilling out here on a warm summer's day - you might even spot an original banksy from the comfort of your grassy knoll.

spend locally

the bristol pound is very much a thing, and is there to encourage local economy. mainly used by local businesses, the bristol pound is the most widely used alternative currency in the uk, and - obviously, can only been used in bristol. the idea is that you use the alternative currency in local shops or at market stalls, and then those spent pounds can only be spent again with local produce suppliers and traders. it keeps the local economy strong and encourages the community the buy locally instead of from chain stores and suppliers. 

keep looking up

according to a reliable source, bristol has more georgian buildings left in it than bath, which is known for its georgian architecture. the difference being that bath has only georgian buildings left, while bristol - being a port town, lost a lot in world war two, with reconstructions and adaptions going up in their place. what's left now is a hodge podge of architecture from way back then until right up to now, and an incredibly detailed and colourful skyline. to get the full picture, remember to look up; you'll love what you see.

look back down

a ten minute walk from the college green is brandon hill park. in the oldest park in bristol, you can enjoy 360 views over the city and harbourside area, out towards clifton's famous suspension bridge. there's a play area for the kids, beautiful walking and cycle paths, a nature conservation area, and of course, the icon of bristol's skyline: cabot tower. the 105ft tower (130 steps up - i counted) tower was built in 1897 to commemorate john cabot's famous voyage from bristol to what's now north america, some 400 years earlier. it's totally free to climb, and i can't recommend doing it enough.

a cathedral city

there are a number of churches in bristol, but none more grand than it's cathedral. the grade one listed building was completed in 1140, and has changed hands many times since then; it became the seat of the bishop of bristol in 1542, and remains that way to this day. in addition to the beautiful gothic architectural features, it contains several memorials inside its stain-glassed walls, as well as a historic organ. little of the original stained glass remains, with some of it being replaced in the victorian era, and further more since the bristol blitz in world war two. the hall is preeeeetty big. go have a look.

eat all the food

one simple rule for visiting bristol: eat all the things. there are new, independent restaurants popping up across the city all the time, like pi shop, which literally opened the day before i arrived. from the same family that brough bristol michelin-starred casamia, this fancy pizzeria is nothing short of delicious. a local u.s.p.a and the one with the courgette on it (actually delicious) by the bathurst basin in the fading sun is what it's all about. or if pizza's not your thing (why are we friends?), head over to the colourful thali cafe for some banging indian street food (get the special of the day - ours was pea mint and potato filled giant roti, i mean.. stop), and get some fruity i.p.a in you.

relive history

by gum, i learned a lot in a few days. bristol is home to a number of "europe's best" museums, attractions, and relics. like s.s great britain - isambard brunel's greatest achievement, and the first passenger cruiseship to cross the atlantic. she did it in 13 days back in the 1850s, which put brunel in a fantastic position; he designed the railway and had the monopoly on the only railway west of london. he designed the ship and had the monopoly on cross-atlantic travel. he designed the suspension bridge over the avon and had the monopoly on road travel into bristol too. some would say he was a forward thinking man... i'm not normally a sea baby, but that ship is mighty impressive, and i can't recommend visiting her more. if it's a clear day, climb the mast too! though, i wouldn't. other notable learning places: the m shed, the arnolfini, the planetarium, and bristol art centre.

street art scout

bristol is well-known for it's impressive street art scene, among other colourful things. to celebrate the eclectic mix pf artists, promote a little community spirit, and show off the incredible talent from around the world, bristol plays host once a year to upfest - europe's biggest street art and graffiti festival. the urban paint festival brings upwards of 300 artists and more than 30,000 visitors to the small suburb of bedminster every year, and this year was no different! 

speaking of festivals, extra bonus tip here for you that there's always something happening around bristol in the way of festivals. the hot air balloon fiesta is coming up (140 balloons of all shapes and sizes flying over bristol at once!) in august, and the shakespeare open air festival is just about wrapping up for the summer too. there's grillstock for the foodies, and the jazz festival and let's rock (the retro festival) for the music lovers. there's slapstick, fashion, cary grant comes home weekend, craft beer, christmas markets... you name it, there's a festival for it in bristol.

seriously, these guys love a good shin dig, and i don't blame them. in a city that diverse and colourful, they really don't need much of a reason to want to show it off to their friends and neighbours across the country. i was so lucky to have a weekend full of sun to explore this pretty city in, and even some sunburn to come home with! bristol had very much on my bucket list for the longest time, and i am mighty glad i got to experience it the way i did. massive thanks to visit bristol for being incredible hosts and tour guides, and for the plethora of local businesses who stepped up to the plate and spent time showing me around and welcoming me to their city! i'll definitely be back - will you?

**thanks to great western railway for graciously supplying me with a return first-class trip to bristol so i could enjoy my weekend without fear of holiday traffic, and to doubletree by hilton for giving me a comfy bed to rest my weary head.**
**a lot of my stay was complimentary, but all thoughts are my own**