Lyra: Bristol Poetry Festival has gone digital for the first time ever this year. A packed programme of online events, workshops, screenings, slams and more on the theme of reconnection is in full swing, ending on Sunday evening.

Festival Poet Beth Calverley has kindly found time between events to pen this week’s #FoodFriday post for us, featuring homemade treats, toasties in the park and G&T on tap.

Poet Beth Calverley with her Poetry Machine, holding a yellow umbrella

Image credit - Oh Magazine and Amanda Thomas

Looking back at lockdown food...

During lockdown, when we could meet with friends and family in outdoor spaces, I found emotional nourishment in homemade picnics. 

A flask of my mum's delicious stew in the middle of a wintery Victoria Park, a tin of flapjacks baked by my friend in a clearing in Leigh Woods, steak cooked by my stepdad on the firepit on Christmas Eve, a carrot cake made by my brother before a stormy walk in the countryside... these are just a few delicious moments that come to mind when I think of the past year's heart-warming, hand-mottling outdoor meet-ups!

I would also love to highlight some take-away treasures that kept my partner and I going while pubs were closed.

The Bristol Loaf in Bedminster – perfect for a cake, box of fruit and veg, picnic items or (you guessed it!) a loaf of fresh bread. I particularly recommend the sausage rolls and wholemeal sourdough.

The orange van in Victoria Park that serves doorstop toasties and coffees. The person who works in the van always seems to be calm, even if there is a queue of people waiting – an example of how to cope with work pressure! I recommend the cheese and mushroom toastie and the deluxe hot chocolate (it comes with a topping of smarties!).

Wraps from Biblos on Gaol Steps – we have spent many restful date nights walking by the Harbourside, letting the ripples and lights lap the week's stresses away, with enormous halloumi wraps to keep our hands warm.

Looking forward...

I'm looking forward to returning to the Bristol Gin Distillery for gin and tonic on tap, delicious burgers and fries, and some of the grooviest playlists of any place I've eaten at in Bristol! 

I'm also looking forward to festival food and pub roasts by the fire, which I haven't had a chance to sample in too long.

Even though I'm super excited that pubs and cafes are opening again, I love that outdoor picnics and adventures took centre-stage while we couldn't meet indoors. I hope to keep a healthy serving of fresh air included in gatherings with family and friends well into the future.

About Lyra - Bristol Poetry Festival

As part of this month's residency as Festival Poet for Lyra - Bristol Poetry Festival, Beth has been co-creating poetry with local community groups about what outdoor spaces mean to them and what they need. People across Bristol are invited to write and share their own poetry about outdoor spaces with the hashtag #BristolWriteOutside.

Book your free ticket for Beth's performance at Lyra - Bristol Poetry Festival here.

About the author

Beth Calverley is a poet, creative coach and founder of The Poetry Machine. She collaborates with places of work, learning, care and play, helping people to express their thoughts and feelings. Beth is Poet in Residence at University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS FT and was published in These Are The Hands, the NHS anthology. She was a 2020 Bristol Life Awards Arts Finalist. Beth has worked with BBC, ITV, Sky, Oh Magazine and many more. Her collection, Brave Faces & Other Smiles, launched in December with Verve Poetry Press.

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Lyra: Bristol Poetry Festival
Poetry & Literature
Lyra Poetry Festival

Lyra Festival will take place from 14th - 25th April and include events, readings, writing workshops, panel discussions, a lecture, a film screening, and a poetry slam.