I really enjoyed our brief period living in Bristol. I made some lovely friends, I joined a netball team and I ate more brunches from independent cafes than you can shake a slice of fried halloumi at.

I missed Somerset though.

I missed the feeling of familiarity and belonging somewhere, of driving past places and thinking ‘I remember going there with Gran and Grandad when I was little.’

When I moved back to Somerset about four years ago (four years!) it felt like coming home, only better than first time around because I appreciated it more. Perhaps it’s age too, that means I enjoy all that shiz like heritage and feeling rooted in a community. I like chatting to people at the weekly farmers’ market in Taunton and buying locally produced food and drink. I like going to garden centres and drinking cups of tea.

I am living my Best Somerset Life.

Given how fond I am of all the tea drinking and local producers and what not, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was pretty excited when local tea and coffee legends Miles asked me if I fancied coming for a nose around their factory in West Somerset and helping them launch their new range of Tea Kites.

Basically they asked me to be the poster girl for local tea bags. Pretty sure that’s what happened.

Look how excited I am to be holding a box of tea!

Miles Tea Kites View Post

If you watch my Instagram stories you may have noticed a little while ago, between pictures of my cats sleeping, a few posts about Blue Coffee Box.

Coffee for me is a bit like gin. I know I like it, but 90% of the time I can’t taste the difference between one brand and another. When you hit upon something in the other 10% though, (like Sibling Gin – have you tried it?), you KNOW. It’s a class above the rest, something distinct that you have to have again.

That was how I felt when I tried the coffee from Blue Coffee Box.

blue coffee box competition

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In association with Goodfella’s

How much do you reckon you spend as a family on entertainment?

I’d probably say that we don’t spend a great deal, but then I start to add up in my head our regular cinema trips, bowling, Spotify and television subscriptions and it starts to get a bit scary. Factor in meals out (gah!) and Belle’s penchant for going to Bristol just to buy bubble tea and suddenly you begin to understand why I don’t have a great deal in the way of savings.

It has been just me and Belle at home for a while now and I think if I’m honest with myself I use things like bubble tea outings and pizza restaurants as a bit of a crutch. I know that just hanging out at home with your 40 year old cat loving mum isn’t always the MOST fun, and I know too that Belle has been having a tough time lately and that getting out of the house is a good thing for her.

It can be expensive though. And is guilt really a good reason to spend all of your disposable income on bubble tea?

A poll of 2,000 parents by frozen pizza brand Goodfella’s found that we spend a staggering £2,602 keeping our kids entertained during the course of just one year. £609 a year of this goes on meals out and during the summer holidays our total spend rises to an average of £127 a week. Desperate times and all that.

Does that sounds about right for you?

If anything I’d say that’s probably a conservative estimate for us. Take TV and films – according to the research the average monthly spend on this is just over £37. We each have a monthly cinema pass, which costs £36 for two of us, so already we are hitting the average. Add in Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky and we clearly spend too much money AND time on television.

(In our defence we do like going to the cinema, and we only need to go twice a month to mean the limitless cards save us money, so it is worth looking into if you like films.)

I guess, like most things, that it comes down to balance. Yes it’s nice to go out and have treats, but you can’t sustainably do that every day. Plus it’s just as fun sometimes to have a fun night in at home, which is exactly what Belle and I did on Saturday night.

We decided to combine three of Belle’s favourite things to show that you can have just as much fun at home on a budget. Unable to secure Finn Wolfhard for a celebrity guest appearance at short notice we settled on:

  • films
  • pizza
  • bubble tea

We had a helping hand from Goodfella’s in the form of their new Romano range of premium frozen pizzas. There are five flavours, all with a stonebaked base and generous toppings. At just £2.50 each you could save a lot of money switching that meal out for a night in with Goodfella’s.

 Goodfella's new Romano pizzas View Post

In association with Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

Seriously, where have you BEEN?? No one drinks their coffee hot anymore. That’s so 2012. Also, it’s the summer. Keep up.

Iced coffee though? I’m a big fan. I even make my own sometimes, although it’s a bit of a faff setting up the coffee machine and my homemade ice cubes always taste a little bit of fish fingers. Much better to have an expert make it for you and package it up in a handy, well designed carton.

Oh hey there Jimmy’s!

Jimmy’s iced coffee

This is their hot off the press new family. Pretty sassy yes?

I’ve been a fan of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee for a couple of years now, so I was more than happy to share my thoughts on why iced coffee is way better than hot. View Post

In association with Bella Italia. All views my own.

Although we have about 47 different Italian restaurants in Taunton, we don’t have a Bella Italia. We have been to Bella Italia in Bristol in few times, but about four or five years ago I had a slightly odd experience with some goats cheese bruschetta and I’m not sure we’ve been since.

My general impression, a few years ago, was that the food was FINE. Nothing more though.

What I’m saying is that if you’re seeing ‘Bella Italia’ and wrinkling your nose up a bit because you’re not 100% sold then I hear you. I felt exactly the same until this week.

BUT….

(And this is a big but)….

WE ARE BOTH WRONG.

I took Bee and Belle along to Bella Italia in Baldwin Street in Bristol this week to try out the new menu, which launched this month, and I honestly could not have been more impressed. Bella Italia has clearly come a long way since the goats cheese incident, and we stuffed ourselves silly (in the name of research) trying out a whole host of fantastic dishes.

Bella Italia totally exceeded my expectations and all three of us said we would definitely go back again. Every single thing we tried was delicious, plus I learnt a lot of things that I didn’t know about the restaurant and their ingredients.

Next time you’re going out for a meal, do think of Bella Italia.

Here are SEVEN reasons why:

They serve lovely cocktails

I know, this one isn’t about food, but cocktails? Come on. You know you want one.

I tried a ‘Sicilian Southside’, which is prosecco, limoncello and mint. It’s not a combination I’ve tried before but I will definitely try it again. There’s also a mocktail section on the menu – Bee had a passionfruit cooler.

Bella Italia cocktails View Post

Eating out is one of my very favourite things to do. As a family, food forms the basis of most of our outings.

‘What do you fancy doing today?’ one of us will ask another.

‘How about we go over to Wells?’ the other will suggest.

‘Shall we meet at midday? Just in time for lunch?’

And then we’ll meet and have lunch and look in a token shop or glance at Wells Cathedral so it feels like we actually HAVE had an outing, and then we go home again.

I think you get the idea.

I’m always pleased then when I get asked to try out a new restaurant, and I was SUPER pleased to get to visit Symonds at Redwood as the menu looked LUSH.

Symonds is set within Audley Redwood village, a luxury retirement village just outside Clifton in Bristol. The minute we got there I wanted to retire – the setting is beautiful and the apartments look lovely. There’s a fitness centre with loads of classes, a swimming pool, hair salon, and even a library. A library!

There’s also a bar and Symonds restaurant. It’s basically everything I need. I could picture myself at the bar mid-afternoon with a gin and tonic, hair done, library book in hand. Bliss.

Unfortunately you have to be at least 55 years old to actually live in one of the apartments, which is not that far away really, so it was basically a retirement research trip.

You do NOT have to be 55 though to visit Symonds. The bar and restaurant opened to residents at the end of last year and then to the general public in January. It’s beautifully decorated and opens out onto the gardens where you can sit in warmer weather. As well as evening meals Symonds do lunches and afternoon teas, which I’m sure would be lovely in the summer on the terrace.

Symonds restaurant Bristol review

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