I JUST spent the weekend in Bristol, Clifton to be precise. I was over for the balloon festival, staying with a friend in one of the many, beautiful Georgian terraces which adorn the hills around the area.

We were sat outside, basking in the early evening sunshine when the first batch of silent orbs appeared over the trees. Excited for more, we dashed over to the park, just below the suspension bridge, for a better view and were not disappointed. Graceful, majestic, powerful, they stopped the crowds and the chatter, filling the sky with strangely colourful fruits, dangling out of reach but not out of mind.

On the way back, we stopped in at the Portcullis pub on Wellington Terrace for a quick pint. Quick, it turned out not to be. We were greeted with a row of beers stabbing the bar, none of which I had encountered before (I know I must get out more) Dawkins Bristol Best, Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Scarborough Paper Tiger, Cotswold Wheat Beer, it went on, and on. I opted for a Nottingham Centurion Porter, seriously old school and rarely available outside of, well Nottingham. It was an absolute delight and brought back such great memories, that’s the great joy of tastes and flavours.

Sunday morning, we decided on the obligatory brunch, it’s an urban thing and once again we were not lacking in choice. The Mockingbird in Alma Vale Road delivered ‘Biscuits and gravy’, a southern USA experience, not a million miles away from eggs Benedict, but with a bit more punch. Then on to Swoon on College Green for an out of body experience of the best, actually the best ice cream I have ever tasted. Chocolate sorbet, not really a sorbet and definitely heavy on the chocolate, I forgot to ask if they deliver to Salisbury.

Back in the kitchen, I’m trying out new dishes this week, primarily fish. There are some great recipes from Nathan Outlaw, too many, I’m going for poached plaice, late summer vegetable nage and orange oil. Then we’re off to Fishguard, Pembrokeshire at the weekend, on a family holiday. To be honest the fish part of Fishguard I’ve always found a bit lacking.

I’m cooking black squid paella, in squid ink with green peppers and a lemon and parsley gremolata. That should go down well with a bunch of friends on the quayside, super easy, massively tasty and guaranteed to turn your teeth black momentarily, so a bit of a laugh as well.

Happy days!