Somerset Garden Day

The days are warmer, the sun is out for longer and there is plenty of fun to be had in the garden. Today is Somerset Garden Day, the first garden celebration day of its kind in the UK. Whether you’re the proud owner of a window box, a terrace or a full-blown garden, today is the day for putting your feet up and enjoying the space that you own. In celebration of the day itself, myself and fellow blogger and Incredible Edible Bristol community gardener, Man vs Allotment took time out of our busy schedules to throw a little party.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t have many visitors to my plot. Although the plot itself is huge, it’s been under development for quite some time. However, with Somerset Garden Day dawning, it provided me with the perfect excuse to get some of my allotment neighbours and housemates over to the plot for some relaxing and unwinding.

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By allowing yourself the time to unwind in these places of nature, or by sitting in your terrace garden with friends, you really do feel the stresses of the week fall away. It’s been proven that spending time around plants and trees and nurturing your own garden helps with anxiety and depression, and as someone who suffers from the former, I can confirm that it really does work.

Not only did we take some time out to immerse ourselves in the allotment, I also learnt more about my allotment neighbours. Ross (Man vs Allotment) is famous on the site for featuring with his innovative pub-shed idea in Big Dreams, Small Spaces presented by Monty Don. Naturally, I had to see it and we wandered up to enjoy a beer and talk about a range of different plans and ideas. Through inviting people into your garden or allotment, you can exchange great new ideas and inspiration, and I came away exactly having achieved it.

What was also brilliant to see was the diversity between the five of us. My two housemates own a colourful terrace garden right in the noisy centre of Bristol. Yet, they surround the space with lots of different plants to create a tranquil space. Tim, one of my allotment neighbours who writes for a local community newspaper has just taken on his second half-plot on the site and we exchanged lots of ideas about gardening and garden writing. Ross, again, has some great ideas for using his space, growing hops over his pub-shed so that he can start making his own brew, as well as lots of other little quirks on his plot. Together, we were all a hive of different ideas and the whole day was a refreshing change from the norm.

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Across the county, let’s escape the stresses of the week and immerse ourselves in our slices of paradise. If you haven’t got enough plants, why not pick some fresh new colour, edibles and more from a local garden centre today?

Don’t forget to follow Somerset Garden Day on Twitter and on Instagram and tweet/take lot of photos of your garden spaces!

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youngground reviews: The Royal Navy Volunteer

You don’t need a lot of money to have a great foody time. By putting down the lunchtime meal deal and making your own food throughout the week, the weekend can be the time that you truly indulge yourself on some fine food.

Being a vegetarian, it’s a given that I only review the alternative options on menus. However, I should say that I do sit down to eat with many meat-lovers and pay close attention to their satisfaction of the meal too. Even so, I often find that a restaurant can be measured well on the innovation and the inspiration behind its alternative dishes.

Continuing my exciting (but affordable) culinary journey through Bristol and beyond, this week I’m reviewing the brilliant Sunday lunch menu at the Royal Navy Volunteer, located along the timeless King Street in Bristol.

If you’re an experienced Bristolian, or you visit regularly, you’ll know that the city is full of innovative, inspiring and beautiful food. Every corner holds a new foody treasure and King Street is no exception.

As soon as you arrive into the Royal Navy Volunteer you get a sense of true pub authenticity. The Volley’s interior is deceptively large: each little corner is full of life – and this is particularly true on a Sunday. Across Bristol, people arrive at the quaint pub to sample its roasts. They know as I, too, found out that the pub’s roast has garnered quite a reputation.

As a vegetarian, I often judge the quality of a menu on its options. Although I’m quite satisfied with a spread of vegetables, I do enjoy something a little more filling to compliment them. The Volley menu did not disappoint on this occasion, and I chose the intriguing option of a lentil roast served with the classic trimmings.  My Sunday lunch buddy, who is 100% carnivore, chose the lamb roast.

I felt a very strange sensation when the food arrived, one that I haven’t felt for quite some time. More often than not, when I go for a roast I find that the plate can often lack the colours and the flavours of its meat counterpart. Yet, here I was presented with food that filled, and almost spilled, off of the plate. More importantly, the entire thing was soaked in a rich gravy; something that many other vegetarian roasts miss.

Then, with knife and fork in hand, another strange-but-brilliant sensation overcame me: I was lost in this bounty of delicious food and had no clue where to start. However, once I’d worked out that the crispy potatoes would be my first destination, I devoured them quickly. Roast potatoes are easy to make but difficult to make well. As I crunched my way through the crisp, beautifully textured skins and into the glorious fluffy middles, I felt complete.

Looking over at my Sunday lunch buddy’s choice, the lamb roast itself was so large that it could’ve been put on its own plate. Again, the bed of vegetables was cooked to perfection and the whole thing looked straight out of an advert.

Onto the vegetarian lentil roast, and the passion that had gone into creating this soft, meaty, wonderfully flavoured meal won me over immediately. In fact, every element from the spongy Yorkshire pudding to the freshly steamed kale and the depth of flavours noted in the gravy created a meal that truly celebrated the end of the week.

The Royal Navy Volunteer isn’t just an innovative restaurant, of course. As a rustic and authentic pub, the Volunteer celebrates the Bristol craft ale scene, offering a wide selection of different beers which round off any roast or other meal perfectly. I enjoyed a dark porter with my food. With this palette of hops combined with the smoky flavours of the lentils and the rich gravy, I had a few moments in food heaven.

If you really want to round off your week with a Sunday roast, I urge you to pay The Royal Navy Volunteer a visit. Sit yourself down in the warm, immerse yourself in the food and forget about the working week ahead.