Monday 22 February 2016

Green Areas and Open Spaces

Hi all! Today I am going to write about some of the green areas (Southampton has a lot!) available around the area for anyone interested in fitness, sunshine and friends/ family fun! Southampton is a coastal city which is also brimming with patches of green. Southampton Common is probably the closest one to the University and is only a five minute walk away from Avenue Campus. In the summer, the Common is always full of people practicing sports, having picnics with their families/ friends or just relaxing in the sun. Even during winter, one can see determined people running and keeping fit there. The Common is home to the Cowherds pub and has a children's play area, making it a nice spot for a family day out. The venue is also the host of the recent but very popular Common People Festival which takes place during a weekend filled with fun and music in late May. And at 44 pounds for the entire weekend (students), it makes it an extremely affordable Festival ticket.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Big Attraction- St Mary's Stadium

St Mary's in Southampton is the home Stadium of Premier League Club, Southampton F.C., or as they are also known 'The Saints', since 2001. It has a mighty capacity of 32,505 spectators and with its colossal architecture it is the largest football Stadium in the South of England, excluding London. They have If you are a fan of football, or the saints, it is definitely worth a visit as you can go watch the white and red stripes playing in their own home. If you aren't so keen on football, the atmosphere and the excitement of a live match might be fun in their own right! It is only about twenty minutes from the town centre/ WestQuay by bus. Tickets can be a little pricey, but they have concessionary tickets for people aged between 17-21. Also worth noting that drinks and food there might be a little pricey so taking a packed lunch for your day out might be a very good idea.

Big Attraction: WestQuay

Today I will present some facts about one of Southampton's main tourist destinations, which happens to be the South Coast's premier retail destination too. The shopping mall has a whopping 800,000 square feet total area and is the home of major retailers such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Zara, Apple, amongst many others. It has a food court with popular restaurants such as Nando's and Wagamama's. It is situated near the docks, in the centre of town and only a short walk away from IKEA, which also attracts myriads of shoppers. WestQuay also hosts events such as the Student Sessions event, which student can, by presenting their student ID, benefit of really good sales from their favourite retailers, watch live music and receive many freebies. I would recommend it to any prospective students reading this, it is a very fun event and you will get a chance to socialise with other students, so it is worth keeping an eye out for these events as they are definitely worth it. In addition, WestQuay is on its way of getting an extension primarily for a wider diversity of leisure. It will be called Watermark WestQuay and it is a 70 million pounds investment due for completion in 2016 and there are plans for more shops, cafés, restaurants, a luxury cinema and housing to flank a public plaza overlooking the beautiful medieval town walls.

Review: Wild Lime Restaurant and Bar

One of today's reviews (I will post three in total)features a pretty restaurant situated in Portswood, called Wild Lime. Although the restaurant's aesthetics invite the diner in, the food and the food service disappoints. Each and every time I have been there I have gone in with high expectations. The clean, open inside of the restaurant is inviting and the shabby chic décor is charming. They always have quizzes and other events on which is good for people in the area to gather there and socialise. However, even though the front of the restaurant informs the customer that the establishment they are about to go in is a Bar as well as a Kitchen, it does not perform as the latter very well. First of all, the food takes very long to come, so if you are ever in a rush to grab your grub, this isn't the ideal place to go to. Second of all, the staff doesn't seem to be very informed about the Kitchen's working hours or availability of certain meals. It seems almost as if the Kitchen is a completely detached place that hasn't got much connection to the main Bar and seating area. Last time I went to The Wild Lime, my friend asked for a roasted vegetable and halloumi wrap. After waiting a while for the food, the waitress informed her that she has only brought the wrap with the vegetables and not the halloumi. The reason for this was because apparently some people have confused the salty cheese with chicken before, therefore the restaurant had decided they would ask customers whether they in fact wanted the cheese and knew precisely what the food was. Now, my friend was only informed about this upon the arrival of her food, not before, as they should have done. The waitress asked her if she wanted the halloumi (after informing her of the distinction between halloumi and chicken), after the wrap was served in front of her. My friend answered that indeed she wanted the cheese. After a long while after, after my friend had finished her meal (the food would have gone cold otherwise), a separate plate of halloumi arrived. In my opinion that is just absurd. The staff should have questioned my friend immediately after she placed the order for the meal, not after bringing the wrap. Furthermore, even if they had done that, and asked her after serving the wrap with the vegetables, they should have brought her halloumi very shortly after she said she wanted it. The fact that it took even a longer while for the star of the dish, the halloumi to grace her plate, than the rest did, is unacceptable. In addition to this instance, I have gone to the Wild Lime a handful of other times to eat, because of some event or another I went to with friends, such as Christmas dinner, etc. I have found that the food time and time again is very boring, overpriced and taking extremely long to come to the table. I would recommend that if you decide to go to the restaurant you do so for the Bar, not the Kitchen as it is likely to disappoint.

Saturday 6 February 2016

University of Southampton cinema - Review

Hello All! Today I thought I would review a venue at the University of Southampton, therefore this will be of most value to prospective students or students who have never tried this venue out before, since to access this venue you must have a student ID. Today I will be talking about the Student-run University cinema. The University cinema and the students running it definitely deserve praise. The cinema not only is cheap, with students paying a mere three pounds to watch the latest releases, but it is also very well run and organised. One can pre-order tickets through the SUSU website, logging on with your student ID and password and choosing the section 'Box Office' of the website. There one can find the schedule for showings and there are usually movies on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, sometimes more than one movie showing on each day. One can expect the latest releases being shown in the Uni cinema as well as some hidden gems or past successes being shown from time to time. There really is a movie to suit every need and like. It is a good idea to pre-order tickets for viewings that are very popular as demand is high and I have once made the mistake of arriving in the day to get tickets for a popular viewing only to encounter a queue so long that it ran outside the SUSU building (Student's Union building on campus). However, that is not to say that one can't show up on the day of the screening or just before it and get ticket, I have done that many times and got tickets myself. Only the extremely popular screenings such as 'The Hunger Games' final movie for example, will demand the purchase of tickets well before it is due to be shown at the University cinema. The great thing about the University cinema is that you really do get bang for your buck, since the University cinema shows movies shortly after they come out in the more popular cinemas in town such as Odeon, but for half the price. They also schedule marathons of popular movies which can last an entire day and you can see the scheduling for these marathons on the SUSU website under 'Box Office' if and when they are on. In addition, the University cinema also has free viewings from time to time, if you are a prospective student it is worth going to one of free screenings they have during Fresher's Week. In my opinion, the University cinema is also really great in my own experience because you get a sense that other students are there for the same reason as you: to find entertainment. Therefore, when a movie is funny, everyone tends to laugh, loudly and proudly. In the past, I have found that going to bigger cinemas like Odeon to watch a comedy film, I would feel the desire to laugh out loud but would feel to self conscious to do so because no one else would. That is the completely opposite case from the atmosphere of the University cinema, therefore, if you have found yourself in the same position as me, I would definitely recommend you give the University cinema a try.

Friday 5 February 2016

Junk - Night Club Review

Today I thought I would talk about a venue which isn't for dining. Today I will talk about the best club in Southampton. Don't take it from me, it has been awarded DJ Mag's award in 2013 for 'Best Small Club'. With Junk at the heart of the Southampton city centre there is no need to go to the busy London if what you are looking for is a remarkable clubbing night! The club has nights to suit music every need, from house to drum and bass to pop and indie rock, the club has everything. There is even a whole night dedicated to the singer Beyoncé and for anyone interested, the event takes place next week on 12/02/2016. Tickets must be purchased online and you can find the link to the event by accessing their facebook page and selecting the event. Junk often brings in many renowned artists, from Ben Pearce to Radio One's DJ Annie Mac. The club is guaranteed to deliver in quality of sound as their speakers are of the best possible quality. Although a bit on the small side, the club embraces this feature and it provides a grungy and cool atmosphere. There are two rooms, a main one and a downstairs room in which the DJ's usually play the latest R&B hits. One small downside to the club (I said I will strive to give my absolute honest opinion in every post I make on this blog) is the prices of their drinks which can indeed be a bit pricey, especially on a student budget. However, there are ways to work around that and save a little to go on a night out at Junk and it is well worth it. I will post another review tomorrow, so keep posted and have a nice friday evening!

Thursday 4 February 2016

Mango - Restaurant Review

Hello all! Since yesterday I wrote a review about my favourite restaurant in Southampton, I feel it is appropriate that today I talk a little about my second favourite: Mango. Mango (I will be reviewing the one in the centre of Southampton) is a Thai Tapas Bar and restaurant and it is some of the most delicious food available in Southampton. When you hear the name 'Tapas', little portions of Spanish food come to mind and to have a Thai Tapas Restaurant is a brilliant innovation on the concept of Tapas. First of all, it is the perfect restaurant to go if you love sharing food and trying a little bit of everything by doing so. Second of all, you also have the option of ordering a full meal for yourself (for those of us who don't like sharing so much) and they have a selection of stir-fries, soups, salads and noodles guaranteed to suit every like. The wide selection means that I spent a while trying to decide what I was going to order, because everything sounded absolutely delicious. I finally ordered a soup to help cure my cold and it did the perfect job. On the side I had tempura vegetables and I received a wide selection of mushrooms, peppers, courgettes and cauliflower which was all scrumptious. There was some sweet and chilli sauce on the side of my tempura vegetables which gave it a nice touch and the sauce itself was also very scrumptious. Which brings me to my favourite part: dessert. I ordered a salted caramel and brownie tort and although that sounds extremely indulgent, it was just right. It wasn't excessively sweet, the brownie filling of the tort was rich and dark, which contrasted nicely with the more sweet caramel on the top. The coconut ice cream scoop on the side was my favourite part. I am a fan of coconut ice cream and Mango Tapas Restaurant's coconut ice cream was gorgeous. I will also add that the selection of alcoholic drinks was also very affordable and I shared a happy hour deal with the friend I had lunch with and the raspberry cocktail we ordered was tangy and delightful. I will also add that the service was excellent and the attentive service provided by their waiters and waitresses made for a great customer experience. Additionally, the atmosphere was very agreeable. It reminded me of being in a calm temple, with little Buddha statues and tropical plants placed adequately in the modest restaurant. I have been there many times but always in the afternoon, so I will comment on the type of lighting they had for that time of the day. The lighting was dim and appropriate for the etherial ambiance. The music was soothing and provided a nice backdrop for conversation to take place. The prices overall I found to be affordable and for any students reading, I believe you will find that to if you decide to go to Mango Thai Tapas Bar and Restaurant. It would make for a great location to go for Valentines Day which is fast approaching but it would be wise to call in and book in advance as spaces there are limited. Overall, I would greatly recommend this restaurant and bar for anyone visiting Southampton or who lives in the city but has never been there before. It is located just five minutes away from WestQuay which is good news for anyone wishing to take a lunch break from a day of shopping and who doesn't really like the crowded eating spots in the dining court of the shopping mall. This is all for today and I will post another review of Southampton spot tomorrow, I hope you are all having a great day.