Your Total Guide To community

Retirement at 25 years old

Total Guide to Bristol had the amazing opportunity to live for 24 hours in The Chocolate Quarter which is a luxury retirement community with fantastic facilities in Keynsham brought to us by St Monica Trust. The buildings were originally home to the Fry’s Chocolate Factory built in 1922 and have lovingly been refurbished into apartments and care facilities. They have expertly blended a taste of the past with modern living.

There are many facilities available to the residents and some open to the public too! Some of these facilities include an art studio, wood workshop, cinema, gym, sauna, spa, hairdresser/barber, fitness classes, games clubs and the list goes on!

There are currently 2 restaurants on site; B Block and Somer Dining. Both are accessible to the residents, their families, locals and to the public! We sat for lunch in Somer Dining and the food was an excellent price for the quality that was served. We tried the burger and the special which was duck, to then be followed by summer pudding and sticky toffee pudding. This was a great way to start our retirement.

After lunch we had a tour of the apartments which have built in tools which you may not need now but in future can be accessed such as wider corridors and rooms, emergency buttons and cords and more! The staff at The Chocolate Quarter are patient and friendly and any support you need before and during living there they are more than happy to help. We also met with a couple who have been living in the apartments since they were first available to buy. St Monica's Trust held a focus group before the development and consultated with their target audience. This focus group helped design how the apartments would look and what they would need to make sure they felt safe and secure as well as maintaining their independence. 

Following the tour, we spent a few hours in the art studio. There were 2 activities lined up for us, the first was to take part in “The Big Draw 2019”. The theme is “Autumn Forests” and if you’d like to take part then follow this link to find out when and how. I had no idea my business partner was so artistic! He grabbed the paint and paintbrush and just went with the flow and painted a very large tree. I sat pen in hand with a mental block, which I am sure most would, so the artist in residence saw the blank page in front of me and suggested ideas and brought a book over to give me inspiration. It then suddenly clicked so I grabbed the brightest colours I could find and off I went. When I finished the first picture, I just wanted to do more so created another piece. They were then ready to be contributed to The Big Draw Project!

After creating our masterpieces we worked with another artist that used clay as his medium. In the blink of an eye he had created a bowl out of a lump of clay. Now it was our turn. We took our places behind the wheel and Lukasz was a complete natural and made a rather impressive looking bowl! Mine was a little wonky but who cares – I had made my first ever bowl! The bowls will be put in the kiln and glazed and hopefully ready in 2 weeks time.
The art studio is available to residents to drop in and to the public (for a small fee) and has the resident artists available to help support, teach and offer supplies. As well as the studio, there is also a woodwork workshop which has all the equipment needed for your project. Other activities available to the community include a cinema, games clubs and fitness classes for varying abilities.

In the evening we went for dinner in B Block where they often hold comedy events and jazz nights. B Block serve freshly made, stone baked pizzas; they put their unique twist on the toppings and I can not get over how tasty dinner was! I had buttermilk chicken and pancetta with garlic bread and I only wish I could eat it every day! We also had a garlic bread and oyster mushroom pizza which instead of tomato sauce had a garlic and cheese base.

After such a large meal we head up to the care unit where we were staying in, had a hot chocolate and went to bed. The unit was available to us as it is opening to its new residents the first week of September. The rooms were large with an en suite bathroom, kitted out with a tv, bed, chair, wardrobe, dressing table and a hoist so the resident can access all areas of the room and bathroom. With the door closed and locked up for the night, I couldn’t hear any noise from the communal area so it felt like it was personal my space. The communal area was huge with many comfortable chairs, dining area, kitchen and balcony access.

The following morning we went to B Block for breakfast where the food was simple, affordable and very filling. Overall our eating experience was excellent and would encourage anyone to go and try both of the restaurants for any meal of the day.

Overall it was an amazing experience and if that is what retirement looks like then personally I cannot wait!

If you or someone you know would like more information then follow this link.


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