Monthly Archives: July 2013

Didn’t You Do Well

Possibly the most perfect cup of coffee this year.


Park Row, Bristol

A few coffees in July

Black Coffee at Hart’s Bakery


Sometimes Hart’s Bakery is the best thing about travel.



Coming back from holiday

#0022 The remains of a triple caramel frappucino

Here is where we were, it was a lovely place and we have a rather wonderful time – I forgot to take pictures of the coffees






A Tuesday, last day before work


I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to spend four days a week with my daughter.




“Now it’s early. It’s early in the morning. Early in the morning and I ain’t got nothing but the blues.”

– Five Guys Named Moe (best musical I’ve seen)

17 July 2013

Thursday’s coffee has far to go





Coffee that got thrown out


The coffee had been opened at least two-three weeks and it tasted of nothing so I threw it out after a quick taste. I like the picture though.


Coffee at Wallfish Bistro


Most pleasant coffee. No soy milk on their first day but as they told me, they are happy to take suggestions.
A small piece on their breakfast which I thoroughly enjoyed.


Coffee in Clifton


Second coffee of the day at a Clifton playground where I ran into another mum who was at my antenatal class. We met for breakfast with M’s dad before he left for a few days.


(For consistency and flow 23-July-2013)

Coffee on the way to work


Golden Girls, knitting and a soy white mocha.



This is the knitting I’ve been obsessing over (free pattern):






Coffee at work





Saturday morning coffee


Early to bed, early to rise and all that. This coffee preceded a day around Bristol starting on Whiteladies at River Cottage for breakfast and ending up at the Stable for pizza and cider. There was much rain in between and three hours spent at the Bristol Old Vic where M had a nap.


Morning coffee






At the Harbour Festival


A surprisingly wonderful Harbour Festival this year and here’s our last stop – at Cafe Gusto on the Harbourside for two machiattos (one with soy). M got to play with the toys. The paint on her face resembled a tiger for a while.

I was terrified of taking her out among hundreds-of-thousands of people but the rain drove most away luckily and her dad had a good plan for avoiding most of the crowds. We actually visited a fair few of the permanent non-festival things such as the M Shed, the Youth Hostel and Gusto (plus the Gromits at Aardman).


Morning coffee with the winning cup


M and I both won cups from the Clipper stand. You had to spin a wheel which had a one in five chance of landing at the right spot. Mersina was so happy to have won something that as soon as we got home she demanded to drink her juice from it. This morning her cup held my coffee at about 6 in the morning.


Second coffee of the day


My first coffee at Boston Tea Party was curdled so I took it back. My next one came with the information that the first was too hot which is why it curdled. I didn’t bother taking it back after discovering it too had become clumpy and lumpy. I just removed about a third of it and drank the rest. Not the most pleasant experience.

I ate my porridge while staring over at Starbucks across the way – there would have been perfect soy milk and porridge there but I chose to go independent instead. Good for Bristol but not for my taste.


Breakfast at Wallfish Bistro in Clifton


Two days ago, I had some black-looking thick and ugly mushrooms on toast at River Cottage Cafe. They were most unpleasant to look at with the grimy streaks they left on my place and weren’t exactly exploding with flavour. A week before that I had been served the most beautiful looking girolles on toast served with herby butter and arranged like little flowers around and top of a slice of sourdough.

The Wallfish in Clifton may only have started serving brunch for the first time last weekend but they were certainly miles ahead of the River Cottage on service and flavour. They were perhaps a little overenthusiastic with the drinks menu which I was handed as I walked in and all the cocktails listed on the breakfast menu are a bit daunting for 10am but nevertheless, I have become a big fan of their breakfasts.

Their baked beans are home-made and taste authentically country-farm (probably). They were lovely and smokey and have bits of bacon. I ordered them for my daughter but she was not impressed as they tasted nothing like Heinz.

I did wonder about the freshness of our bread as the delivery came in from Jo’s Bakery on Gloucester Road after we had been served but it was toasted and sourdough so I wasn’t surprised at needing a knife to cut it, it tasted ok. The water jug looked like a fish and glugged when you poured in a most pleasing way. I liked it. I’ll be back.


The list of Bristol books so far, whittling down to 32

Updated: 2014-05-21 In pursuit of the best Bristol novel ever written the first stage is finding as many Bristol novels as possible. Then there will be a selection and then the tournament.

The list of Bristol Novels


  1. Ames, Laurel – Castaway
  2. Archer, Jeffrey – Only Time Will Tell
  3. Barnes, Julian – The Sense of An Ending
  4. Benatar, Stephen – Wish Her Safe at Home
  5. Bouzane, Lillian – In the Hands of the Living God (1999)
  6. Boyce, Lucienne – To the Fair Land (2012)
  7. Brown, Chris – Guilty Tiger , Bovver – It’s the 1970s. The hair is shaved, the music is funky and the football is violent – very, very violent. (Recommended as one of the best Bristol novels by Richard Jones from Tangent Publishing.)
  8. Burgess, Melvyn – Smack (or Junk) In this award-winning but controversial novel Burgess tells the moving story of two runaway teens who turn to a life of squatting and anarchism, ultimately falling into the dark embrace of heroin addiction.
  9. Burney, Fanny – Evelina
  10. Butler Hallett , Michelle – Deluded Your Sailors
  11. Butler, Paul – Cupids
  12. Byrne, Eugene – Things Unborn (2001).
  13. Carter, Angela – ‘The Bristol Trilogy’ (link):Shadow Dance (1966), Several Perceptions (1968) and Love (1971) – Locarno Ballroom. “The Bristol Trilogy”, Angela Carter In Shadow Dance (1966), Several Perceptions (1968) and Love (1971) Angela Carter offers a stylish look at the sinister underside of Bristol in the Swinging Sixties.
  14. Carver, Caroline – Gone Without Trace (2007)
  15. Clarke, Roz and Hall, Joanne – Colinthology (Ed.)
  16. Cusk, Rachel – Arlington Park (2010) See review by the Spider’s Library. Cribbs Causeway, a well off suburb.
  17. Douglas, Louise – In Her Shadow
  18. Dunn, Matt – The Accidental Proposal
  19. English, Lucy – Selfish People (1998).
  20. Ferguson, Patricia – Peripheral Vision; the Midwife’s Daughter ?
  21. Filer, Nathan – The Shock of the Fall – Read, excellent. Kingsdown, Jamaica Street and Cheltenham Road.
  22. Flood, C.J. – Infinite Sky (2013)
  23. Freeman, Anna – The Fair Fight (2014)
  24. Godwin, John – Children of the Wave
  25. Gregory, Philippa – A Respectable Trade (1995). The devastating consequences of the slave trade are explored through the powerful but impossible attraction of well-born Frances and her slave, Mehuru.
  26. Tessa Hadley – Clever Girl (Trip Fiction)
  27. Hall, Joanne (ed) – Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion (2014)
  28. Hall, M.R. – The Coroner (Jenny Cooper 1) (2009) Jenny Cooper, newly appointed as Coroner for the Severn Vale, is plunged headfirst into a trail of murder, corruption and dark secrets. One of the first pages includes a quote from a fictional Bristol Evening Post.
  29. Hardy, Jules – Altered Land
  30. Harvey, Colin – Future Bristol (Ed.)
  31. Harvey, Colin – Dark Spires (Ed.)
  32. Hayder, Mo – Wolf; Skin; Gone; Ritual – A novel that leads you into the darkest recesses of Bristol’s underworld, where an ancient evil lurks, an evil that feeds on the blood – and flesh – of others – you’ll definitely need a strong stomach for this one! (– Bristol Libraries);
  33. Johnson, Jeannie (pseudonym of Lizzie Lane) – A Penny for Tomorrow (2003).
  34. Le Carre, John – Our Game [Totterdown, BTM]
  35. Lane, Lizzie – Wartime Brides(2012) The war is over…but for three very different Bristol women anxiously awaiting their loved ones return, the story is only just beginning. “Wartime Brides” offers a fascinating insight into post-war family life.
  36. Lee, Jonathan – Who is Mr Satoshi (2010)
  37. Lewis,Robert – The Last Llanelli Train (2005) Robin Llewellyn is a private eye. More or less. Part time really, while he gets on with the full-time job of drinking himself to death on the mean streets of Bristol. He’s one step away from the gutter when he gets one last case.
  38. Lewis, Susan – The Choice
  39. Manson, Mike – Where’s My Money
  40. Marshall, Emma (1830-1899) – wrote hundreds of romantic historical novels, many based on Bristol characters and events – inc. Bristol Bells (the story of Chatterton), Under the Mendips, In Colston’s Days and Bristol Diamonds
  41. Mason, Sarah – Playing James
  42. Maughan, Tim – Paintwork (2011)
  43. Mayhew, Daniel – Life and How to Live it (2004).
  44. McNeill, Fergus – Eye Contact (2012) –Knife Edge (2013?) and a third in the series  (being?) published 2014 The body of a young woman is found at Severn Beach in this gripping debut novel – but how can you trace a killer who strikes with no motive?
  45. Moate, Jari – Paradise Now
  46. Mitchell, Diane – Tainted Legacy
  47. Moggach, Deborah – These Foolish Things, You must be sisters (1982 – set in Bristol Uni)
  48. Myles, Josephine – Pole Star
  49. Nichols, David – Starter for Ten (2004) (see comment for possible elimination) –  ‘And the novel’s setting – is it Bristol? “Some scenes imply Bristol. For instance, there’s a scene where he carries dumbells up a steep hill; that might Suggest Bristol, but some people think it is Exeter. I didn’t want to make up a city, like Rummidge in David Lodge’s campus novels, so I avoided naming it. But there are bits of St Michael’s Hill in there and bits of Park Street.” ‘
  50. Nicholson, Christopher – The Elephant Keeper
  51. O’Brien, Maureen – Dead Innocent
  52. Prowse, Philip – Bristol Murder
  53. Random, Bert – Spannered (Feeder Road)
  54. Rowbotham, Michael – Shatter
  55. Sheers, Owen – Pink Mist
  56. Smith, Zadie – Hanwell in Hell (Park Stret)
  57. Smollett, Tobias – The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
  58. Steen,Marguerite – The Sun Is My Undoing (1941)
  59. Stevenson, Robert Louis – Treasure Island
  60. Trewavas, Ed – Shawnie (2006). Set in Knowle West and based on his experiences as a social worker, Trewavas’s highly controversial novel is grim, unrelenting and deeply unsettling.
  61. Wakling, Chris – The Devil’s Mask It’s 1835, and Bristol has put the dark days of the slave trade behind it. Or has it? A routine investigation leads young lawyer Inigo Bright into a web of murder, corruption and intrigue.
  62. White, Tony – Missorts Volume II
  63. Wright, M.P. – Heartman
  64. Young, E.H. – The Misses Mallett (1922). William – A Novel (). One of a series of novels set in “Radstowe”, based on the Clifton area of Bristol, “William” is a sharply observed period novel about English family life set in post-WW I England.

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Bristol book tournament

In Progress: last updated 09 August, 2013 07.58am
And the best ever Bristol novel is … (the list so far)

LA Weekly have been running a 32-book tournament to discover the best LA novel ever written and it got me thinking about the best Bristol book and how to find it.

Bristol has a long and fascinating association with literature but it seems to be one of the less celebrated cultural aspects of the city. Treasure Island was purported to have been written just around the corner from where the Bristol Old Vic set its production two years ago. Allen Lane (1902-1970), the found of Penguin Books was Bristol-born and educated and there are many more well-known and lots not-so-known works that bring life to characters and places.

There’s a list on Goodreads about books based in Bristol but there are only 10 on it including Jeffrey Archer and something about a pole dancer. To be fair there’s also Julian Barnes’ peculiarly-reviewed A sense of an ending and Smack by Malvin Burgess.

Not much fodder for a tournament however.

Bristol Reads offer their own slightly more literary selection which includes Philippa Gregory and Eugene Byrne

The Last Llanelli Train by Robert Lewis sounds fascinating (2005). It features an alcoholic private detective specialising in the seedier side
of his trade, this noir crime-fiction novel is set amid the squalor and splendour of Bristol.

I had assumed the criteria for a Bristol novel would have to include a Bristol setting but there are other links to Bristol : Julie Burchill is a Journalist and novelist born in Bristol and I don’t know whether any of her books are set here. There’s also Jules Hardy, winner of the WHSmith Fresh Talent Award in 2002.

A list of Bristol novels from Bristol Reads

Eugene Byrne Things Unborn (2001).
E H Young The Misses Mallett (1922).
Marguerite Steen The Sun Is My Undoing (1941)
Philippa Gregory A Respectable Trade (1995).
Lucy English Selfish People (1998).
Lillian Bouzane In the Hands of the Living God (1999)
Jeannie Johnson A Penny for Tomorrow (2003).
Daniel Mayhew Life and How to Live it (2004).
Robert Lewis The Last Llanelli Train (2005)
Ed Trewavas Shawnie (2006).
Caroline Carver Gone Without Trace (2007)

A list of Bristol books from Twitter and blogs

Austen, Jane – Northanger Abbey (1818) (Blaize Castle is destination for an abortive expedition in Northanger Abbey)
Brown, Chris – Guilty Tiger
Cusk, Rachel – Arlington Park (2010)
Dickens, Charles – Pickwick Papers (1836)
Flood, C.J. – Infinite Sky (2013)
Godwin, John – Children of the Wave
Hall, M.R. – The Coroner (Jenny Cooper 1) (2009)
Lee, Jonathan – Who is Mr Satoshi (2010)
Maughan, Tim – Paintwork (2011)
Nichols, David – Starter for Ten (2004)
Smollett, Tobias – The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Some additions from blogger Nose in a Book.

Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
Dead Innocent by Maureen O’Brien
Future Bristol edited by Colin Harvey
Manson, Mike – Where’s My Money
The Sun is my Undoing by Marguerite Steen

Nathan Filer :

Missorts – a location-based work by app and writing;

A list of Bristol books from Bristol publishers

Redcliffe Press

I’ve contacted the following:

Akeman Press – publishers of books about Bath but they may know of some Bristol novels as they are regional specialists;

Bristol Short Story Prize – they read many Bristol stories.

A list of Bristol books from Bristol libraries

Local history books for sale at the library – scroll down – link

A list of Bristol books from Bristol Bookshops


A list of Bristol from Bristol higher education institutions

University of Bristol
City of Bristol College

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Books from authors living in Bristol

Burchill, Julie
Dunmore, Helen – author of 11 novels
Hardy, Jules
Harvey, Deborah
James, Amanda – A Stitch in Time
Powell, Gareth L.
Wakling, Chris

The Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group – blog

There are all the authors from the Bristol Short Story Anthologies –
Volume 4

  • Brandt, Ruth
  • Bullock, Emily
  • Bunting, Timothy
  • Burton, Ian
  • Fairweather, John
  • Govinden, Niven
  • Gramich, Eluned
  • Lever, Naomi
  • Lewis, Laura
  • Mazzini, Miha

Volume 5

  • Arnold, John
  • Bardsley, Lewis
  • Bokkers, Catherine
  • Boyle, Lizzie
  • Conran, Alys
  • Durrant, Neil
  • Hood, Kerry
  • Richards, Ian

Coffee with Maya #0020

My coffee is in front of Maya, daughter of artist Luke Jerram, and now a pixelated sculpture at Bristol Temple Meads. The piece is made up of more than 5,000 photographic scans made into pixelated cubes.


I shared my attempt to find the little girl yesterday with Bristol Culture.

Morning coffee #0019


I drank my coffee while my daughter watched Mike the Knight* on Cbeebies. The show is on for about seven minutes. I also made toast for both of us, washed some dishes, made the coffee and then sat down to check my email. By then she’d finished with Mike and we were on to the Wiggles and Wallace and Gromit.

23 July, 2013

*Mike the Knight says practise is very important. I agree.

Coffee at Painswick #0018

The Exedra at Painswick Rococo Garden

Today’s first coffee was in a hotel at the picturesque and quaint town of Painswick. In a garden, overlooking the Cotswolds, I poured black coffee from a small white jug into my white china cup. My two-year-old daughter was not happy at having to take second place to the men I was talking to. They were running through a crib sheet of things to look out for on my visit to the Rococo Gardens for a spot of secret filming. We had to pause until M’s auntie and cousin arrived to watch her as she was too upset.

I didn’t take a picture but see above, I visited the Exedra at the Rococo Garden a little later.

My second coffee was drunk at home. Made in the percolator and served with condensed milk. Every other train on the Cross Country service from Bristol Temple Meads through Birmingham seemed to have been delayed or cancelled and it’d been the hottest day of the year.

M and I were out of the house from 7.30ish until after 4pm. It was a very hot, sticky and long day. When we got home, we dropped everything near the front door and got into a cool bath for about an hour.

After barely getting dressed we sat down and relaxed. The cup of coffee was a bit of a sigh after a tiring day.

Percolated. With condensed milk.


White coffee on a Sunday #0016


This Sunday was a busy one as I sorted out paperwork that went back years. It took hours but it was very satisfactory.

21 July, 2013

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Countdown City is the sequel to the Edgar-Award winning Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters (see review here). With 77 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with the earth, Detective Hank Palace is out of a job. The Concord police force now operates under the auspices of the US Justice Department, and Hank’s days of solving crimes are over, until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband. Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace – an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone.

With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees. Is the conspiracy from his previous investigation actually real and happening, and is Cavatone part of it? Or is he one of the growing band of survivalists? How do plans to attack a US Navy Base fit into his disappearance, if at all? And how do you mount an investigation in a country under martial law, where there are food and water riots, where an undermanned police force does not bother to investigate the soaring crime rate but simply tries to keep as many people alive as possible so they can die at a later date, and where the most popular saying is “Who’s Counting?” – because, of course, everyone is.

Winters’ style is as practical and detailed in the second novel as he is in the first and yet he allows some touching bits of humanity to come through without resorting to melodrama and hysteria. The end of the world may be unimaginable to most without horror but here is a great work which envisages how day-to-day life would still be lived and how social interactions might in turn stay the same while in entirely different contexts. It’s a scary view of a situation which sounds very real.

I was critical of the way the love interest was introduced and dealt with in the first novel and this feeling has followed me to the second one as well. That was the only part that didn’t read particularly well and it’s not because of the setting. I think it’s a weakness of Winters’ but this is the only part that I don’t get along with. I’m looking forward to the third book (once I finish this second one).

countdown city

£9.99 by Quirk Publishing, Published July 16, 2013.