Friday, September 12, 2008

Bristol between seasons

With son and daughter-in-law away on holiday, we planned to use their Bristol home as a base for a few days of cultural saturation. It didn't turn out quite as we expected but we had a good time and here are a few pictures from the visit.

We arrived on Monday afternoon in heavy rain. Afte
r a whole summer of practice, we knew there was little point in waiting for the rain to stop so we donned raincoats and went for a walk, intending to finish up at a restaurant for dinner. We plodded and splashed our way to the top of Two Mile Hill but no open restaurant did we find, so we turned around and splashed our way down again. Then we spotted a Chinese Take Away with these friendly figures inviting us inside.
Lin, the charming owner, introduced us to the Lucky Cat and served us the very best take-away meal.It wasn't quite the evening we had anticipated but we were saturated and we experienced something of a different culture.
On Tuesday the rain was torrential rather than heavy. We headed for the harbour, planning to view the modern art in the Arnolfini, to visit SS Great Britain and Explore @Bristol. My googling had suggested that all of these venues were closed to the public for the week but my husband was convinced that I must be mistaken. I wasn't. We had arrived between seasons, the very week when new exhibitions and activities were being put in place ready for the autumn.

Walking along the rain-washed quay, we spotted this gloomy figure. It was John Cabot, probably contemplating his own frustrated journey in 1496, when he was forced to abandon his expedition and return to Bristol. A year later, he set off in his small ship, the Matthew and 'discovered' North America. This replica of the Matthew was built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of his voyage in 1997.

Alongside the Matthew in the floating harbour was the eco-friendly trimaran, Earthrace.

Both vessels are 78 feet long, one uses renewable fuel in the form of biodiesel and the other depends on the wind.

500 years ago it might have taken two years to circumnavigate the world in a ship like the Matthew, Earthrace has just set a new record of 60 days.
Wet but undefeated, we walked to the nearby Shakespeare Tavern. Built around 1725 as a merchant's house, it has been a tavern since 1775. It boasts some beautiful stairs and panelling and
this doorway into the road behind the inn. Who knows what was out there in the eighteenth century?
Wednesday was dry and even sunny so we went to Bath. More on that tomorrow.


  1. Sorry you had a damp time in Bristol. I'm a Scot by birth but have lived here 30 years. I think it takes time to yield up its charms. We live on the outskirts now but during the last year with DD and DS in the city centre, I've been rediscovering the vibe of the new waterfront and exploring places I'd forgotten existed - St. Nicholas'market, Clifton Village, the University area - all have a distinctive (and slighty unBritish!) atmosphere. A bit of sun helps of course! Enjoy Bath - a fine place in any weather if you can escape the crowds.AliB

  2. We usually have a very good time in Bristol but happened on a 'dead' cultural week on this occasion, with dreadful weather to boot. I had planned to visit St Nicholas market, having read about the exhibition on your blog but the rain defeated us. We may return to see something of the Festival of Ideas and maybe a concert at Colston Hall.

  3. How fun to journey to Bristol via your photos and descriptions. The figure of John Cabot reminds me of similar works I have seen in Washington DC and in Richmond, Virginia. Carolyn

  4. Nice photos, M! I seem to recall that Bristol museum, up at Clifton, is very interesting.

  5. Do you mean the museum showing how the suspension bridge was built, Cath? I have been to that and walked across the bridge but not on this visit - far too much wind and rain.

  6. I don't think so, Maureen. It's the big museum in the shopping street that leads up to Clifton. I forget the name of it as it's 30 years or more since we lived up that way. I know the year of Hubby's heart by-pass (2001) we stopped there and had a delicious lunch before heading to the hospital. Funny the things you remember.

  7. I don't think I know the one you mention, Cath. I've been in the City Museum and Art Gallery and the Georgian Museum. I'll go on a proper museum hunt on my next visit.


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