A birthday trip to Bristol.

Sunday 16 September 2018 – Bristol.

Staring out of the hotel window, I waited for something to happen. Street walkers, workers or cleaners, a homeless person looking for somewhere to rest weary feet, maybe students heading home, something. Maybe even a passing bus, or better still one that stops to disgorge a wobbly drunk or a hurried worker returning home.

But no; nothing, nada, not a thing. So here is a picture of a bus stop at night with nothing happening. I do like the photo though.

It is Saturday night; late evening to be honest, we are tired and full from a long day and an excellent pre-birthday meal, and we are in Clifton, Bristol. Nothing happening out the window, good. Perhaps a full night of sleeping ahead!

This morning we were up early as I drove us and a car load of Charlie’s possessions down to Exeter as he prepares to start his third year of university. Charlie had made his way down earlier in the week which was convenient as the car was chocker with his stuff and he would have been strapped to the roof, or vice-versa.

It is my birthday on Monday, so we decided to break the trip to Exeter up with a night in Bristol, and have a birthday meal there. I love Bristol, but in a different way to how I love Edinburgh. My experience of Edinburgh is hotels, clean streets, old buildings, nice restaurants, wine and whisky. My Bristol experience is the complete opposite. Staying with my daughter, Meliesha in over-full shared houses in run down suburbs, cans of Polish lager, street art, loud dance music, mad conversations over shared vegetarian meals and drinking in student pubs.

On the way to Bristol we took a side trip to lunch with Meliesha, and her boyfriend in a small off the beaten-track pub near the M5. For the life of me I cannot remember where it was. It was good to see Meliesha again. She has been in Ireland and is soon back to Spain. Oh, the life she leads.

El and I took a hotel in Clifton, away from the city centre and club districts, a bit more genteel than Stokes Croft; and close to the wonderful suspension bridge. I was hoping it would be quiet, but it wasn’t really. There was not full night of sleeping ahead.

We arrived mid afternoon and took a walk to the bridge. Built in 1864 it spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, it is a magnificent thing and a big tourist draw. There were a lot of people there. We took a walk around Clifton village, which we both particularly liked. It is resolutely middle class, there is no graffiti and street art here, no huddled street drinkers, except in the village street fair, where beers were expensive.

As it was my birthday weekend El had booked us dinner in the Clifton Lido Restaurant. The restaurant is in the local outdoor swimming pool. All that was available was an early evening booking so there were still a number of people swimming below us as we ate, which was quite relaxing; for me anyway, I wasn’t swimming. The restaurant is fabulous, the food was interesting and lovely, great wine range and the service was outstanding; all represented in the price on the menu, it is not cheap. I hardly ever recommend places in posts, but I do recommend The Lido. It was a wonderful birthday meal, thanks El 🙂

After dinner we walked back to the bridge to allow food to settle before heading back to the room, where i didn’t sleep due to noisy people on the street, and then the paper thin walls in the hotel as the late night folk came home at 3. Oh well…

On Sunday morning we had breakfast in one of the local Clifton cafes, which was almost as good as dinner; there is some fantastic eating to be had in Clifton, and Bristol. We were not in any rush to head back to London so walked down from Clifton into Bristol itself.

I wanted to have a walk through Stokes Croft to look for some of the street art that was there, I was a little surprised at how run down Stokes Croft looked early on a Sunday morning. It seemed to be a worse than I remember. There were a lot of homeless an street drinkers out, not that I am blaming them for their predicament, nor for the states of the street. I was just shocked at the numbers. Things are worse here than I thought; Brexit surprises me less when I leave the shelter of my London bubble, I can see why people want change. Though Bristol was a staunch ‘remain’ city.

I took a photo of on old piece of Phlegm street art, he is still my favourite.

We walked down and around through the city centre aiming for M Shed, one of Bristol’s museums. There was an exhibition of Bristol music, which I thought was excellent, though they didn’t mention one of my current favourite bands, Spectres, who are Bristol residents, which surprised me a bit as they have some notoriety and should be locally known, and celebrated.

Another good weekend away. I love this country xx

A week of it

Sunday 03 March 2013 – Bristol and London

With my departure from London looming I seem to have become incredibly busy all of a sudden. The ‘things to do’ list seems to grow longer and longer as the time to do them grows shorter and I remember all the things I need to take with me when I travel to rather more tropical climes.

Shorts and t-shirts seem more appropriate in 30+ degree Sri Lanka than the jeans, jackets and scarves that I have here in London Bridge so I took a trip to Dartford to swap winter clothes for summer and catch up with my uncle for a wee while.

On the good news front my lovely daughter Meliesha arrived home from three months travelling in India with her partner – so I took a trip down to Bristol on Tuesday to see them both. They are between homes at the moment and dossing on a friends couch while they hunt for a flat so I ended up staying the night in a ‘cheap’ hotel. It was ab fab to see them both, looking so well and brown and relaxed. As always it was a great time in Bristol and I will miss her when I leave, just as I miss my sons Dom and Aiden now.

The view of the Bear Pit from my hotel stairwell.

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My current favourite street artist is Phlegm, from Sheffield in England, I really like his characters and the level of detail in them, each unique. He has painted a wall in Tangalla in Sri Lanka and I am going to try and find it when I am there. It was great to just come across a wall of his in Bristol’s Stokes Croft.

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Mel, who hates having her photo taken and will hate this even more, sorry!

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Back in London, on Thursday El and I went to see an exhibition of portraits from the photographer David Bailey, he is mainly known for his fashion photography and for images of the rich and famous, however this exhibition focused on some of the work he did in the 60’s in the east end of London where he was brought up. It was really good and I am always amazed at the quality of these old images, especially when we spend so much time these days ‘pixel peeping’ digital images at 400% magnification to look for flaws…

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The exhibition was in the William Morris Gallery in Walthemstow, east London so after the gallery we took a walk around the old part of town; with buildings dating back to the time when it was a small village on the edge of Epping Forest. It constantly, and pleasantly, surprises me that in the middle of so many of these suburbs and suburban towns there is an enclave of ancient and well preserved buildings, with some of them trying to record and maintain the history of the area, just very cool.

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Saturday was a visit to another photo exhibition, I cannot believe how much good quality free art is available in London – if you know where to look of course ! There was an exhibition of work from Norman Parkinson at the National Theatre. Parkinson is a fashion/society photographer who has worked in the industry for decades. There were some great images from across his career, including from the sixties music scene. This is a recent photo of him.

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From the exhibition El and I walked a bit of the South Bank

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Finally, crossing the Thames to the city side. I have had a look for this bridge leg a few times, it is well known as the final resting place for skateboards that get broken at the South Bank skate park.

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Ever since I arrived in England I have been pondering the purchase of a new camera and have had a look at a variety of options as well as brief thoughts about buying an underwater housing to go with a new camera. After a lot of reading on the complexities of underwater photography plus the price tag on a housing I decided to give up on that idea. However, I still wanted a new camera and had been looking at the Panasonic Lumix GX1 – an upgrade on my travel camera the GF1. They were on special so I decided today was the day and dragged El up towards Oxford St so I could go shopping. On the way as we passed through the back of Denmark St I spotted a small Space Invader on a building, these are quite rare and seemingly hard to find, so it was cool to find one.

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This was followed by finding a Stik on the back of a building though I was unable to get a clean shot as access was fenced off.

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And then another Space Invader – wahoo 🙂 I love it when I unexpectedly come across some street art!

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This is my new purchase, the GX1, it looks and feels similar to my GF1 but works totally differently, it took me ages to work out how to change the aperture in manual mode, and I still had to Google it.

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I have supported Arsenal Football Club for many years and this year they are playing average at best. Sunday was a season defining game against north London arch rivals Tottenham Hostpsur so I decided I would walk up to Islington – Arsenal homeland, and find a pub to watch the game in. It is not a huge walk from London Bridge, maybe one and half hours – but it does pass through part of Shoreditch so I was looking for opportunities to try the new camera as well.

A bit of the past, present and future. I really like the ‘Gherkin’ it is not as cool as the Shard, but still a dramatic building in the downtown business heart of London.

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I walked past the Village Underground building to see the completed wall that Thierry Noir and Stik were painting a few days ago – I wonder how long this wall will last before a new piece is painted on it ?

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Thierry had also completed the pieces on the front of the building as well.

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As I walked up Great Eastern Rd towards Islington and I found this large Stik on a car park wall, I am getting quite a good collection of Stiks. Admittedly they all look kind of the same, but I still like finding them around the place.

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And round the back of the car park I saw these guys finishing off a piece, I do not know who they are though and they were too far away to talk too, but it looks great and I think it is fabulous that some property owners allow, or even commission, artists to paint their walls.

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And finally this on a window in City Rd. Possibly the last bit of street art I will see in London this time round, I really like it though.

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I made it up to Islington well before the game started so bought a paper – The Observer, and found a seat in a pub for a pint and some lunch. I really like The Observer, a great Sunday read. I will really miss quality English newspapers when I leave – and yes I can read them on line but it is not the same, browsing a paper is the just best way to keep informed on all the random bits of news that I never pick up on on-line.

Anyway, I won’t say anything more about the game other than I and the rest of the jam packed pub left disappointed.

To all the people who read my blog, this message on the back of a sign in Soho Square, says it best.

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I have just ‘discovered’ embedding links to other places on the web. I always knew they were there, just have never used them, something I now regret. So very useful.

Fifty !

Day 257, Monday 17 September 2012, Bristol

Yay (not) I am fifty years old today!

Though, I will confess that, to my utter surprise I am not actually bothered by it at all. I have been dreading this anniversary for a while now, not so much the turning fifty, more the – what will I do to celebrate the end of half a century of life. I have realised I am not alone away from home, and that even home is not that far away, so have not been overly worried about it recently.

From the start of “first birthday” (A private joke sorry ! ) last Tuesday when I had dinner with extended family in Essex I have had a great week that has seen me doing many of the things I love, seeing bands, doing an awesome run and hanging out with lovely, wonderful people.

I was up early, disgusting ! 7:30, earlier enough to make Richard a cup of tea before he went to work as I made my own coffee. But it was all worth it, Skype session with my mum, my boys Dom and Aiden and my sister and her family in NZ. It was very nice to see everyone and such a great start to my day and over the next couple of hours I had a couple of Skype sessions, lovely.

Once I had made the effort to haul my butt out of bed I went down to a new laundromat up in Stokes Croft. I am going to say it was not like anything I had experienced before !

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Wifi, coffee, nice food as well as laundry. Fantastic, almost worth doing on a birthday!

After the laundromat I met Meliesha at St Nicks market in town for lunch, though after a bacon sarnie as a late breakfast i wasn’t up to much more than a very nice berry smoothie. We wandered the market a bit and Meliesha bought me a t-shirt for my birthday before going back to work. I then bought another t-shirt of the album cover from the Descendants great old punk LP “everything sucks”, is 50 to old to wear an everything sucks t-shirt ?

After lunch I walked past this guy with the longest window cleaning pole I have ever seen !

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Down to Nelson St for the street art. I was pretty disappointed to be honest, firstly because some of the great art from lat year has been painted over and I was expecting new walls to be painted in the festival this year and secondly because the standard of art was not as good (IMHO of course).

The art below is not all from Nelson St.

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I wandered around Bristol for a while before heading back to Mels place for a rest prior to going out for dinner. Mel and Richard and a few of their friends are going to take me to a Moroccan restaurant in Easton, about a 15 minute walk away. We had a couple of beers before we left and one on the way and picked up some cheap red at the local offie. Dinner was great, food was excellent and I had a lot of fun. After dinner some of us stopped for some bad darts a closing pub on the way back to Mels, where we had a cup of tea or two, ate some chocolates and talked way too late !

It was a fabbo day, full of good things and I had a nice birthday. Great to spend time again with Mel and Richard and as always enjoyed time with their friends too.

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes.

Heres to the next decade ! Cheers

 

 

 

Bristol – one cool city

Day 159/160/161, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday 11/12/13 June 2012, Bristol

I spent three full days staying with Mel in Bristol, Mel worked on the Tuesday and left for a festival late afternoon on Wednesday, but we had a day and a half together which was great. The weather was average for most of my time there, a touch of sun on Wednesday morning mean we got out to have a big breakie in a cafe in the sun, but most of the time it was cloudy and drizzly.

Everyone in Mels flat works so it was another big lie in for me as Mel is not exactly known for early starts. Mel’s Spanish flat mate Jess made us a great Spanish omelette for breakfast, and then Mel and I went walkies. I wanted to get a couple of clothing items and a hydration pack in case I decided to get in a longish run while Mal and Tom are out on the trail.

I must say, even though the weather was less than average – it was raining, that Bristol is still a nice city, even in the more run down sections like St Pauls where Mel lives. There is a good mix of new and old buildings and really old buildings, parts of the cathedral have been there since the 1100s ! But what I really liked about Bristol was the street art, the council have allowed artists to paint a number of walls and some of the work is massive and a lot of it is beautiful – I took loads of pictures over a couple of days. There is also some quite good graffiti and slogans as well, especially around the Stokes Croft area where the riots were last year – outside Mels old flat, in the BBC footage of the riots you can see Mel and her friends sitting on the roof of their house. I have posted seperately about the stree art, but here ar my two favourites. This one is massive, two-three stories high !IMG 0774

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Mel showed me all around the main parts of Bristol including the markets at St Nicholas’s I was tempted to buy a hoodie there, expensive and quite cool, but want something basic while I am in Cornwall anyway. There was an awesome record shop in the market – all it sold was punk and metal! And the coming gigs, awesome – and I am not going to be there for any of them. Next time I come to Bristol I will tie it in with a good show.

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We visited St Mary RedCliffe church, a sign inside the door said daily services had been held here for over 800 years. (I so LOVE this old stuff)

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An effigy of Sir Robert Berkely from the early 1200’s.

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For lunch on Monday we went to the Hatchet Inn, open since 1606 – wowsers. I had half a pint of Doom Bar ale – not bad…

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Bristol Alms houses, founded in 1483.

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We wandered back to Mels and then took a marathon walk up to the Sportsman Bar so I could watch England play France in the football, we got there just after kick off so there was no seating free. At half time we decided to go another of Mels old flats that was quite close by and watch the second half there with some of friends. We grabbed four assorted polish beers – the cheapest in Bristol and watched footie, ate curry and talked crap for a few hours. I met a load more of Mels friends, most of the DJ’s in the Jungle Syndicate – they are all into dance music here and Bristol has a big scene. It was a good night, a nice bunch of people, Mel has always made really good friends and they welcomed me into the group which was most cool.

Mel worked Tuesday so I got up late and just went on more walkabouts in Bristol, I took a lot more street art photos and walked up to the museum for lunch. I got a bit lost a couple of times and then remembered Google maps on my phone !!

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I had a walk around Bristol Cathedral, this chapel was built in 1220!

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The grave of Abbot William Hunt from 1441.IMG 0869

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Richard was making one his famous curries for dinner, so there was a very full flat at dinner time, another fun time with Mel and her friends. The large shared dinner seems to be the in thing here, which is great for an active social life, but I would not cope with all those late nights!

Wednesday Mel and Richard were off to work at a festival a few hours away so were leaving town mid afternoon. I was staying one more night which was cool. Mel and I were up and out the door for 9.00 and went for a walk in some glorious – though sporadic sun shine, we stopped up the Gloucester Rd for an expensive big breakie in the sun then shopped a bit before heading back to hers she could pack.

It was sad to see Mel and Richard leave, but I am so pleased to have been able to see her a few days and have some fun. Once they had gone I walked up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge about an hours walk away. The bridge is over the River Avon and was most impressive !

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This old uni building was for sale, I was quite tempted : ) If only, it is next to the bridge and would have a monster view over Bristol city.IMG 0886

I was very fortunate to get invited to one of Mel’s friends place for dinner with some other people, which was incredibly nice of them and again I had a good time, and couple of drinks : ) a couple of her friends worked in Chamonix in the French alps, (where in my fantasy world I will get a job doing something completely unrelated to computers.) they have given some contacts there, and one of their friends has said I can possibly stay at their place as well and I have his number – how cool is that !!! very cool I think.

My baby girl and I

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