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5 months ago by Sam Tooke
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We're off to Bristol! Imagine my excitement after the team earned another hard-earned break away in the UK after putting in a huge shift and smashing our team targets for Q3.

This time, we've decided to swap the sunny beaches of Barcelona and city landscapes of Lisbon for something a little closer to home, and where better than a place teeming with fun things to do and a buzzing nightlife to boot.

Sadly, the west country couldn't provide us with some of the brilliant weather we'd had over the last few months in the UK but it is October, and we knew we'd signed up for a different vibe!

How it all played out

Being one of the few members of the team not based in London, I packed my things and headed on a 7:00am train to London to meet the rest of the gang at London Paddington for a quick breakfast and then journey onwards via Great Western railway.

The journey (as always) was packed full of excitement, jokes being cracked left right & centre and some glorious views of the countryside and Bath (a place everyone agreed upon that was beautiful to look at, especially the ones that had been to visit before).

Arrival into Bristol Temple Meads, a short walk down the road and straight into our first pub for a quick drink, a cider was definitely in order as you know, when in Rome.

A further walk off to the hotel for the night really gave us a showcase of what Bristol is about, the river flowing through the city centre, friendly locals out having a coffee, record shops filled with old Vinyls that my old man could dig through for hours, and of course, incredible graffiti plastered over every surface the local street artists could get their hands on.

Once settled into our hotel, we all decided to walk over to St Nicholas Market which for anyone wanting to visit Bristol, I highly recommend.

Tons of options for food, all freshly cooked with lines of people patiently waiting for a quality lunch.

Personally, I went with a British staple, a steak and ale pie with mash from Pieminster which was just what was needed to fuel a big day out.

Then it was off to an Irish bar (I know... classic) for a quick one before the days main event, bowling.

I chose a Greek lager to the ridicule of the rest of the team having opted not to go for a Guinness but it hit the spot all the same.

Shoutout Seamus O'Donnels for the hospitality and for putting a right grin on my face with their very own "two-can" decoration inside the pub (two cans of alcohol dressed up like the Guinness Toucan inside a birdcage).

From there it was off to Roxy, a wicked entertainment centre with tons of activities to do so I'll keep them to a short list here -

  • Bowling, there was some unbelievable ability on show here from the team, for better or worse. We had a tight game across the board in the first round with a 133, 124 and 119 being achieved but for the second round, I'm not sure if it was over-confidence, booze starting to take effect or something else in the air but the three leaders had started to slow and the underdogs brought their scores back for a very decent game.

Highlight - James Lyon almost rifling the ball halfway down the lane before it even touched the woodwork on most of his throws

  • Pool, now here was where the real skill differences started to show. After a couple of games of standard 1v1 we settled on a 6 man game of Killer around one table with Hussain and Dani being on the table alongside for their professional debuts. The Royal Rumble that commenced on table 2 however, resulted in many shots of Rum having to be sank after many of us were swiftly knocked out , one by one with Matt Bolshaw being deemed the victor of both games we played.

Lowlight - Getting slaughtered by Matt and James Johnson in a 2v2 game and attempting to lay the blame on my partner Alex Kirk, when really, I struggled to put anything away after my first ball

  • Shuffleboarding, with JJ laying out the rules to everyone (multiple times) myself and Alex Swain engaged in an hour-long battle which culminated in him knocking my disk off the edge to deny my win and instead win the game himself in the final round of the bo5. I was a bit ratty after that one.

After short trip back to the hotel for a shower, change and chill out time, we headed off for one final drink before the restaurant called The Ox.

Down the steps we went into an old basement bank vault which has been transformed into a beautiful steak house.

Seriously good food and quality company to boot, I shared a massive tomahawk with Hussain which we both agreed was well worth the price alongside many glasses of red wine.

Service was great and my highlight was watching Matt ask multiple different waiters if he could have a fried egg with his meal which to his dismay, was denied multiple times.

It was then off for the evening drinks, we decided on Dirty Martini just next door as we tried to enter a supposed hidden bar which was fronted as a Library, however nobody came to the door when we rang the bell and I'm sure of it myself that it was actually just a little library and someone had false information about the place.

A few cocktails later and things started to become a bit blurry as we then headed back to drop a few people off at the hotel, myself included, to end the night whilst some of the others powered on.

In the morning we all filtered down to the hotel lobby for some breakfast, always interesting to see how some can finish off a full English after a big night out whereas I could only stomach a few croissants and a glass of what we concluded was "what someone from another planet would imagine apple juice tasted like".

Some headed off early as they had to get children from school back in London, others wandered around aimlessly looking for lost items from the night before, but it was definitely nearing the time to go back.

Another short walk around the city to see if we could kill a few hours, this was succeed with some records being bought, Dani went off to see the suspension bridge and I sat down in a bar with JJ, Alex Swain and Alex Kirk for a stomach settler and an attempt to recount everything from the night before.

Kirky left first, ambling down the road with a suitcase in tow, ready to catch a train for a wedding elsewhere the next day whereas the rest of us went off to Temple Meads for a long train ride home filled with dishevelled looks, "do you remember when" comments from last night and half eaten subway sandwiches on the table.

Overall, a quality trip with the team, crammed with quotable moments and hilarity that will definitely be remembered for time to come.

I sat down on my final train out from London back to home and couldn't think of anything better than my own bed!

All in all - Recruitment can be hard but these events make it all worth it, I can't wait for the next one.