Maitreya Social, Bristol

Exeter doesn’t unfortunately offer a a budding vegetarian community, and after touring Thailand’s vegan cafes and chowing all the tempeh I could get my hands on, I was rather missing a good dosing of vegetables. Luckily enough my sister lives in Bristol with her clan, and also hoping to migrate the great seas (from Devon to Somerset) in the coming months, I thought an exploration into Bristol’s vegetarianism would also be worth the visit.

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Maitreya Social offers purely vegetarian food, with vegan options available. The menu is mainly plant based (so less of the tofu and tempeh I come to love and more vegetables on vegetables, with a glazing of some other pureed and sautéed piece of veg). The creativity of their dishes is their standpoint; the smoked aubergines with whipped tahini and date molasses were the star of the meal here. I have a soft spot for slightly burnt food (who doesn’t feel for some carcinogens here and there), and am partial to anything smoked and barbecue flavour. The glaze and pomegranates balanced out the savoury with a touch of sweet.

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We also shared the smoked cauliflower with curry dahl and pilau crackers, which was pretty tasty for a curry dish although the actual cauliflower seemed to be a little undercooked – or under smoked?

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Maitreya is worth the trip if you’re out and about in Bristol, offering tasty vegetable dishes and a casual setting, although they encourage bookings since the seating is limited with a quick turnover. Mains are all under £11 which is certainly cheaper than a sirloin. They also offer vegetarian catering in the Bristol area if you’re trying to convert your event-goers to the vegetable side of life.

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open 6pm-11.30pm Tuesday-Thursday
10am-11.30pm Friday-Saturday
10am-4pm Sunday
closed Monday
89 St Mark’s Road
Easton
Bristol
BS5 6HY

Elite Gym and Fitness, Koh Samui

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The best gym I dropped in at in Thailand was no doubt Elite Gym and Fitness on Koh Samui. The gym has two branches; Classic & Exclusive. I initially visited the Classic gym in the evening and all I can say is that it truly takes bodybuilding back to basics. Located in a warehouse, the Classic gym offers a huge variety of machines and one rack on the ground floor, with a bit of floor space and cardio equipment on the upper level. The doors were wide open and industrial fans in use although even at 7pm it was still sweltering – you hardly had to lift a finger before you started dripping. A stray cat also wandered in during my workout which I had to stop a set of tricep extensions to pet, no less!

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I honestly found the lack of air conditioning far too difficult to work out in properly, and was told by one of the girls on the counter (who was kind enough to also gave me a lift to the Fisherman’s Bay after I was done with my curls) that the Exclusive gym was fully equipped with air con. The gyms are within a twenty minute drive of each other, and the Exclusive more catered for classes and those who tend to wilt a little under the local conditions.

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Elite Gym and Fitness Exclusive caters again more towards bodybuilders but there are a few benches and one rack, and all sorts of machines, many of which I hadn’t come across before (cue my attempts to get in the seated dumbell raise machine the wrong way- the trainers found this hugely amusing and were nice enough to set me on the right path). Private cardio cubicles are also spaced out around the main workout area, just in case you’d rather no one watch your cardio face.

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The gym attracts a mix of locals and tourists, offers classes such as spinning and yoga and also has a massage service. They also sell peanut butter and oat protein shakes and preworkout, as well as ‘macro meals’ – something I thought I’d never find in Thailand – such as chicken salads or protein porridge.

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Both open 6.30am – 10pm, the Elite Gym and Fitness gyms are both amazingly equipped and you can really pick and choose whether or not to sweat out your sins with stray cats in the Classic, or be a little more pampered in the Exclusive.

Exclusive is located, ironically, on top of McDonalds on the main Chaweng road; 202 Moo 2
Classic is located near the Tesco; 9/23 Moo 6