Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Great Filoxenia Barbecue - A Unique Greek Dining Experience

During our stay at the Filoxenia hotel in Rhodes, we enjoyed many sumptuous meals at the restaurant and bar on site. The food was of a high standard and very reasonable in terms of price, especially compared to other eateries at the heart of the island's tourist traps such as the centre of old Rhodes town. However the highlight of our dining experience was the famous Filoxenia barbecue, which for the local villages of Paradisi and Theologos is considered quite an event. For holiday makers whose period of stay includes the weekend it is an entertaining and sumptuous dining event.

Filoxenia Hotel - Paradisi (Tholos), Rhodes

The  Filoxenia Hotel is a family run resort conveniently located on the main coastal highway of Rhodes, and right in the middle of the famous Valley of  Butterflies.  It consists of apartments catering for a variety of travellers and tourists, with single  and double bed apartments. Should you wish to visit the island with kids and kin in tow, Filoxenia has special family rooms available.  It is only a couple of miles away from Rhodes Airport and six or seven miles from Rhodes town which easy to get to by bus or taxi.

It was difficult to get a proper first impression of the room as we had arrived at 11.30 at night, tired from the flight and very cranky. Although it very much challenged our notions of what we normally expect from hotel accommodation, we noticed immediately it was clean and the bed was comfortable. With refreshed eyes and clearer heads we were able to render a much fairer judgement of the room.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Vampires Rock The Bristol Hippodrome

I confess that up until the time I was presented with the tickets by my partner, I had never heard of Vampires Rock, and certainly didn't appreciate the strong cult following of this fun filled rock musical that has grown since it began in 2004.  So on a coldish Sunday evening (7th November 2011) my partner and I made our way to the Bristol Hippodrome with reserved anticipation as to what we could expect from what we assumed to be largely a low key and unheard of production.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Crowdsourcing A Song For Christmas

Once again it looks like the X-Factor stable could be facing competition for that much coveted spot in the UK charts, the Christmas number one, thanks to the first crowdsourced Christmas song. Actor and musician Matt Berry has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to help record a song for Christmas to which anybody can contribute. The call is being launched in conjunction with Absolute Radio, of which  Berry is one of its most popular presenters with all proceeds going to charity.

Fans of hit UK comedy shows IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh will be familiar with Matt Berry. Since graduating from Nottingham Trent University in 1997, the Bedfordshire born performer has  worked with the likes of Steve Coogan, Peter Serefinowicz, and Sarah Silverman, as well as released three albums. He is currently a radio presenter for the London based station and is known as the voice of Absolute Radio. 

Berry wrote the music and lyrics for "A Christmas Song", components of which are available for download. Anyone who wishes to contribute to the song can do so by downloading the components from the Absolute Radio website. You can contribute by singing a line or two of the song (lyrics are available) and is open to groups, individuals, and even choirs. If you are adept with a musical instrument such as the guitar, drums or can even bang spoons in time, then cues are available for you to add in a strum of the guitar string or a banging of the drum. You can film yourself singing and even throw in a dance routine. Participants are encouraged to be as creative and have as much fun as possible.
Christmas is about being inclusive, sharing and selfless, much like this song. My aim is to release a Christmas single that a whole bunch of people, young and old, can say they were part of. - Matt Berry
Once received, the submissions will be reviewed and excerpts will be included in the finished song and accompanying video which will be available on itunes from 4th December 2011. All proceeds from the sale of the song will go to Shelter, a UK based homelessness and housing charity that help those who face the prospect of losing their homes at Christmas.

If you want to be part of this fun musical experience then click here to select and download a segment for recording. Details of how to upload your recording along with terms and conditions can be found here.  

Image Credit; Abi Skipp

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Crowdsourced Media Site Lets Authors Award Prizes

ViewsHound, a user generated content site attributes its success through incorporating crowdsourcing in the search for high quality articles, awarding cash prizes to its community of authors. Now the media site has taken its use of crowdsourcing to the next phase by allowing authors to decide on how best to award the cash prizes.

Based in the UK's capital, ViewsHound was launched in May 2011 and invites authors to compete for daily cash prizes up to $120 by simply submitting an article. ViewsHound accepts commentaries and opinion-based posts covering a wide variety of topics such as politics, business, art and culture, travel, sport, and technology. Registration is free, and articles are subject to human editorial and plagerism checks, unlike other user generated content sites. 
We see huge potential in crowdsourcing as a means of revolutionizing journalism by bringing in a whole new style of writing and reporting. We’re always looking for ways to involve our users in what we do, and this new prize will further help us to identify and showcase the very best writing on the web - Ian Howlett, Editor in Chief, ViewsHound
ViewsHound prides itself in maximising benefits for its community of writers. In addition to the $120 prize awarded to winning authors, contributors can earn 50% of the site's advertising revenue. The latest development will see a further $10 per day up for grabs with the introduction of the Authors Prize. Even if no prizes are won contributors can benefit from ViewsHound's intensive promotional efforts to further expand its increasing readership. Anyone who contributes and publishes an article can link the piece to their own site or blog thus benefiting from ViewsHound's traffic.

So whether it is simply a hobby or a platform from which to launch a writing career, if you are interested in becoming a contributor then visit the site for more details.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Assilah Gives Bristol a Taste of Morocco

On various occasions the route home from work for me and my partner takes us along (or more accurately, up) the Wells Road. At some  point we would pass this shop front with varnished wood panelling, middle eastern style arches in the windows and in big bold white letters "Assilah - Moroccan Bistro" clearly visible as you pass. It always seemed busy and something about its quaint charm always prompted the odd remark along the lines of "We really should go in there one night". So on Wednesday night (22nd June) we arranged to meet up with friends and give the bistro a try.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Casting The Gallery's View on The M Shed Bristol's Newest Attraction

After nearly 5 years in development at a cost close to £25 million the much anticipated M Shed (previously known as the Museum of Bristol) will open it's doors to the public on Friday 17th June 2011. For those who are not aware, the new museum, designed to showcase exhibits and pieces charting the history of living in Bristol, sits within the framework of what used to be the Bristol Industrial Museum located on the city's historic, working docklands. I was privileged to be invited to M Shed for a sneak preview of some of the exhibits and features on show.

The new museum has a distinctively modern feel overall, with any traces of the old industrial museum completely absent. The staircase in the centre of the main hall as you enter seems to almost be suspended in mid air which can be both quite daunting and fascinating.

Here is what M Shed's website has to say about the new museum;
M Shed will explore the city’s history from prehistoric times to the 21st century. Stories about the city and its people have been discovered through working with experts and communities across the city – a process that will continue for the life of the museum.
So essentially this is the story of Bristol through the eyes of the people. What  I was not expecting was the emotional connection I would feel as I made my way from one display to another. The picture below is a display of old notices and literature of local events which might seem like just a collection of trivial memorabilia, especially to those not familiar with the city. The stand out piece for me is the poster advertising the Bristol Harbour Regatta, which took place in July 1980 and what makes this exhibit so special is that I remember attending this particular event.

I was ten years old and the day was an absolute scorcher when my parents brought me down to the harbour. I would stand as close to the edge of the dock as possible to watch the speedboat racing, before getting an Adam Ant style white line across my face and playing on the trampolines. I went home very hot, very tired but so excited I never wanted the day to the end. The regatta, better known today as the Bristol Harbourside Festival, was just as much of an exciting international event back then as it is today. To get a real "then and now" feeling of significant events in the city, made all the more real by personal memories was exciting and surreal.

For many Bristolians like me who have lived much of their lives in the city the M Shed promises a veritable trip down memory lane, such as the one I have recited. Other displays include memorabilia from Wills' Tobacco and Leaf UK (manufacturers of Elizabeth Shaw chocolates and one of my former employers). It examines Bristol life at every aspect from trade (including the city's darker aspects such as the slave trade), to everyday working life. It also looks at Bristolians leisure activities, passions and interests. Whether you love the cinema, music or sports there is something for everyone to peruse.

The M Shed's goal however is as much about celebrating as well as examining life in Bristol. There is plenty of focus on the diverse population that has enriched the city's cultural face, which it displays with a seamless flow. There are stories told by people and accompanying exhibits hailing from different races, nations and religions yet they all blend together as one.

As mentioned earlier the M Shed is also about the city's history of which there is an abundance. Glimpses of exhibits which highlight the city's marine history and innovative aviation influences grace the gallery (look out for a Concorde exhaust) but what is most fascinating is a look at Bristol's history of protest.  A montage of images depicting demonstrations and protests through the ages can be viewed featuring the nobility's protest against the slave trade by boycotting sugar to the birth of the women's suffrage movement, gay rights activism and so on.

There are many other displays, features, interactive panels all of which help to engage and inform any visitor about our amazing city. Some highlights include the Bristol Postcard Project, the affectionately named Bristologon, and many quality photographic portraits and models of the city's landmarks. If there is one slight drawback is that M Shed might mean more to those who have lived in the city for a time than passing visitors. Those who remember the old industrial museum might feel a sense of loss as they enter the now unrecogniseable M Shed but could also experience a new wave of nostalgia. For me it has at times been as much a personal journey as a glimpse of the city's past.

Friday, 3 June 2011

More Blends Join Elite Starbucks Reserve Line Up

It is a safe assumption to make that my excitement at the news of Starbucks launching their reserve blend was akin to that of a giddy schoolboy rushing to the tuck shop. This childlike enthusiasm was fairly well contained in my previous post in which I offered all of you my feelings about this latest venture. Try to imagine my reaction then when my friendly neighbourhood barista at the Bristol Bridge Starbucks informed me of two more blends joining the ranks one of which hailed from the mother of all coffee growing nations; Columbia.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Botanist - Contemporary City Dining or Posh Pub Grub?

The Botonist situated at Berkeley Square Bristol (former home of Bar Ha Ha), which opened on Friday 8th April, bills itself as a pub. However  as my family and I stepped inside we were greeted with a very spacious modern bar. With it's laminated pine floor, airy feel, and a bar that appears exceptionally well stocked you get a sense that it is a mission to redefine the pub for the 21st Century. All semantics aside however, we were greeted by warm welcomes and smiling faces and invited to have drinks in the bar whilst they ensured our table was ready.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Starbucks Reserve; A Decadent Winner

Anyone who knows me personally and/or follows me on Twitter will know this since it is brazenly highlighted on my profile; I love coffee, the stronger the better and please leave out the milk and sugar as I long to savour the lovely roast flavour of what is the finest nectar of all beverages. I especially enjoy trying as many blends as possible and the more bizarre or unique the bean/blend tend to set my coffee antenna alight. So try to imagine my giddy excitement levels hitting the roof when I stepped into my local Starbucks at Bristol Bridge and was invited to take part in a new and rare coffee experience - the Starbucks Reserve.