Winchester Life Hacks

I love a good Life Hack…you know, those handy tips and quick fixes that save time and energy. Sometimes it’s the simplest tricks that make the biggest difference. Things like rolling your clothes instead of folding them when packing for a holiday – you can get so much more in and there are far fewer creases!

lifehack

I started thinking about some of my favourites tips and tricks for life in Winchester. After a few years of living here, you start to build up your own secret knowledge bank of how to make the most of the city. So here are a few of my favourites…

St Giles Hill – Avoiding the hike

b40b02d0c62711e2868f22000a1f97ea_7
Views from the top of this panoramic spot in the city are beautiful, you can see out across much of Winchester. I personally love a trip up to the top of St. Giles Hill, however there’s no denying it’s extremely steep in places! The climb can require a certain amount of effort, which is itself rewarding, but if you’re feeling a little lazy or pressed for time, there are a few less strenuous routes you can take. My preferred one is to simply use the footbridge by the Chesil Street Multi-storey Car Park. This cuts the journey and the effort required right down, getting you to the top in no time.

Black Bottle – Make the most of your credit

black-boy-012
Who doesn’t love a trip to the Black Bottle now and again? Winchester’s unique wine vending machine venue is a great place to try different wines and relax with friends. After visiting, I often found I was left with odd small amounts of credit on my Black Bottle card, little did I know you can actually drink every last drop of your credit! Even if you don’t have enough left for a glass of your chosen wine, put your card in anyway and you’ll be rewarded with an equivalent amount of wine (this can work quite well if you pick one of the less pricey wines!). Is it just me who was excited to discover this? And am I the only one who didn’t know about it?

Bombay Sapphire Distillery – No need to drive

Screenshot_20170712-192758
Want to do the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery experience out at Laverstoke Mill but don’t want drive and miss out on all the gin? Don’t be fooled by it’s rural location, there are a few public transport options from Winchester. You can catch the 86 bus, which stops in Overton, from there it’s about half an hour walk from the distillery (or there are shuttle services available). Alternatively, if you can hop on the direct train to Micheldever, there’s a shuttle service running to the distillery too – offering you a perfect, gin filled day out, with no-one having to miss out on the fun.

Christmas market – avoid the crush

Screenshot_20170712-193453
I love Winchester’s Christmas market, it’s my happy place…apparently a lot of other people feel that way too, judging by the significant queues to get in. Avoid the slow-moving squash of bodies to get into Winchester’s fabulous Christmas market by entering from the back. Make your way in via the archway at the end of College Street, where it meets with St. Swithun Street. You’ll get into the market much quicker and avoid the crowded Christmas crush (especially if you go on a week day too). Keep this one in mind for December people! I know it’s summer right now but you could familiarise yourself with the route in readiness for the festive season. There are some lovely independent shops in the area that are well worth a visit.
What have I missed? Tell me yours!
These are four Winchester Hacks that came to my mind immediately, I’m sure there’s many more I’ve missed and even some that I’m completely unaware of. I’d love to hear your tips for getting the best from our fair city, please do share yours with me.

Advertisements

Happy Valentine’s in Winchester

Well it’s been an absolute age since I’ve written a blog post, sadly when you work for yourself you can end up working ALL the time! But enough of that, I’m showing my blog some love with a love-themed post all about ways to spend this Valentine’s weekend in Winchester. Read on if you’ve not made any plans as yet, these are all ideas you can hopefully still do this weekend, some are even free too.

So you haven’t been organised and booked a table at one of Britain’s top three most romantic restaurants, The Chesil Rectory, don’t panic! Winchester is full of romance, tradition and wonderful places – there are plenty of ways to impress your other half with what the city has to offer.

St. Giles Hill 

St Giles Hill Winchesterb40b02d0c62711e2868f22000a1f97ea_7Okay so these photos were taken in summer time, however it’s still as beautiful and peaceful as ever up there. It’s definitely worth the climb. The viewpoint is a magical spot, where you can look over the whole of Winchester and reminisce about memories and places in the city. I’ve even heard of someone who actually got married up there! It’s so lovely you can see why. If you’re looking for free romance in the city, St. Giles Hill is top of the list.

The Screen Cinema

Screen Winchester

A trip to the cinema might not sound like the most original idea for Valentine’s Day, however The Screen really is a little bit special. It couldn’t really be more different to some of the big chain cinemas in my opinion! I highly recommend walking there and getting a nice bottle of wine to share with your film. Alternatively, if you have to drive they have some lovely coffees too. Choose of a few of the gourmet nibbles on offer as well and it’s a perfect occasion. There’s a few films to choose from this weekend… ’50 Shades of Grey’ is on of course but my choice would be ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ – a cracking film that will definitely be enjoyed by both men and women.

The Black Bottle 

black boy 012

Whether you’ve booked an evening meal and are looking for something fun afterwards or you just a fancy a cosy evening with some great wines, The Black Bottle can’t be beaten for something a little bit different. Discovering the different rooms and the special wines within each one is fun and finding a comfy spot to pass a few hours sampling the different varieties is just lovely. Order one of their platters to nibble on or bring a board game and while away the evening, it’s a must-do when in Winchester.

Chococo

chococco

Nothing quite says Valentine’s like chocolate does it?! Chococo is the perfect spot for a daytime date. The locally-roasted coffee is great and of course the hot chocolate menu is amazing. I particularly love the DIY Hot Chocolate, where you melt solid chocolate into hot milk, heavenly. There are plenty of yummy savoury treats on offer for anyone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth too. You can also pick up lovely locally-made Valentines gifts in Chococo – a bespoke box of chocolates featuring only your loved one’s favourites makes a very special gift.

French Fantasy

french

They say no-one does romance like the French and while a trip to Paris might not be on the cards, you’re certainly not short of French cuisine in Winchester! The Bridge Patisserie is lovely for foodie gifts and a day time date, Froggies/La Place is enjoyable any time of day and don’t forget Maison Blanc and Brasserie Blanc! On Saturday’s you’ll also usually find a lovely crepes and galette food stall in the High Street too. So whether it’s croissants, brie, macarons or French wines you fancy, you’ll find it in Winchester. There is of course Hotel du Vin, but I dare say you’d struggle to get in this weekend.

St. Catherine’s Hill

St Catherine's Hill Winchester

Another free way to enjoy Winchester this weekend and ideal if you’ve got a dog to walk too. The views and vast areas of green are well worth the hike up the hill. Whether you choose to take the steps or climb up the other side, you can’t beat it for a romantic stroll. Wrap up warm as it can get windy up there! The tree swing is fun too, I’m not sure adults are really supposed to go on it, but I have in the past and it’s still standing! Why not extend your walk along the water meadows too? Then you’ll really work up an appetite and will have to stop for a hearty pub lunch somewhere.

Kingsgate Village

391179986322771605_1404854134

This lovely little tucked away part of Winchester is just a delight to wander around and take in some of its historical charm. It’s all a little bit Hogwarts around there and features some great independent shops. I particularly like Kingsgate Books & Prints, which has some wonderful artwork depicting Winchester scenery. These make perfect gifts, especially if you met your partner in Winchester or spent your courting years there! I always like to pass the spot of the house where Jane Austen died too, she is after all, a wise woman who wrote a great deal about love and relationships. And while you’re in the area the Wykeham Arms is a nice spot for a drink too…and, fun fact: Canon Street next to the pub, was once the red light district of Winchester!

So there you have it, just a few ways to enjoy Winchester this Valentine’s Weekend. There are so many more I could recommend but I think I’ll end it here – hopefully I’ve inspired you all to get romantic and take your loved ones out this weekend! How would you spend Valentine’s Day in Winchester?

Whatever your plans, have a Happy Valentine’s Day xXx

Season’s Eatings

Firstly I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas with great food, fun, friends and family. I’ve certainly indulged to excessive levels as is traditional at this time of year.  From the festive build up, to the big day itself, to the stocking-fillers and treats under the tree have all provided me with some fabulous foodie moments, with new things to try as well as classic Christmas favourites. Here are my festive foodie highlights so far…

Ladies Christmas Drinks at the Black Bottle

People of Winchester and the surrounding areas, or anyone ever considering a visit to the historic capital of England, I cannot stress to you how much of a must-do the Black Bottle is – it’s quite simply unique and always a very good evening. My friends and I started our evening in the ever popular Black Boy, but it seemed everyone else in Winchester had the same idea! And so with many of  my best girl-friends now being deserters of Winchester (off making their fortunes in London) – I suggested a move to the Black Bottle – having realised most of them would have never experienced it. I have to say it was perfect as always, with its usual relaxed, but special atmosphere and of course some very interesting wines – my friends loved it (as I knew they would) and a splendid evening was had by all.

Team Christmas lunch at The Bush in  Ovington

I’d always heard good things about this pub and so was very pleased to be going there for a Christmas lunch. I chose a totally non-traditional main course (not wanting to spoil my desire for my Dad’s famous roast in the next few days) and opted for a Mature Cheddar and potato pie with cauliflower cream. As a serious cheese lover I was intrigued by this dish and it didn’t disappoint – in fact it was delicious and although it looked huge, I managed to demolish it all.

Perfect Pressies!

On to some of the great foodie gifts I got this year from friends and family…

As anyone who has ever accompanied me to the cinema knows, I absolutely adore popcorn, so I was delighted to receive  a box of Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn for Christmas. The box contained a whole variety of assorted flavours from Classic Caramel to the more interesting Cheddar, Sweet Topping and Savoury Seasoning (oddly more-ish!) – needless to say I am so looking forward to trying all of the flavours and purchasing a few new ones in the future. I’ve always harped on about how there should be cheesy popcorn and now there is!

I’m a Marmite lover no doubt about it and over the years have been bought and enjoyed quite a few of the foodie Marmite spin-offs, from Champagne Infused Marmite for Valentine’s Day to lovely little mini Marmite cheeses – but I wasn’t expecting to receive two bars of  Very Peculiar Milk Chocolate Infused with Marmite! It claims to be a ‘Perplexing Treat that Bewilders the taste buds’ and I don’t think there could actually be a better choice of words for this latest Marmite inspired invention…it’s very difficult to describe the experience. The chocolate bar has a Marmite aroma from the beginning which adds a strangeness before you even taste the chocolate, which is sweet and creamy with a savoury overtone – I instantly went in for a second mouthful, but then a Marmite after taste kicks in – truly peculiar, but recommended for Marmite fans.

I must also give a big shout out to my sister’s homemade cranberry and orange infused vodka – lovely with lemonade! Of course the top-spot goes to my Dad’s roast turkey on the big day itself – although I did play a major part ensuring the bird was cooked on time…here’s me taking orders from the Christmas cooking bible …

My family’s traditional Boxing Day meal of cold meats, pickles and homemade chips is also a big win – I look forward to that as much as the big Christmas roast itself!

…Well its safe to say after all that, even my elastic waste-banded items of clothing feel tight! The New Year will hopefully feature slightly healthier foodie moments…but I’m not quite there yet – with a special, several course meal booked in for New Year’s Eve and Tom’s Birthday, I feel there will be yet more indulgences to write about and enjoy.