21 Nov 2020
A rather more wide-ranging weekend wander with Sarah and Vik, taking in some mock Tudor bits of Bedmo (I should note that I've subsequently been corrected to "Bemmie", but I'm an outsider and have been calling it "Bedmo" for short for decades...), a chunk of Ashton, a path up Rownham Hill called Dead Badger's Bottom(!), The Ashton Court estate, a bit of the UWE campus at Bower Ashton, and some of the Festival Way path.
06 Dec 2020
I wasn't really feeling it when I set out today, on my first car-assisted wander. By the time I'd parked on Alma Vale Road in Clifton it was just starting to rain and I picked my way about in quite a desultory way. It felt strange, as I was very familiar with the area because I'd walked through it hundreds of times when I worked at the top of Whiteladies Road, and used to walk up the hill from Hotwells and through Clifton to get there, and back again, every day.
Then a complete coincidence seemed to make the change I'd been hoping for. I was standing taking a photo of Christ in the front garden of All Saints church when a couple of people walked out of the front door. I got talking with a lady I took to be part of the ministerial team, who invited me to come in and look around—something I'd always wanted to do on the morning commute. (I think we connected a bit when I recognised the name John Piper, who did the amazing windows—I learned about him while I was at Warwick, through his connections to Coventry Cathedral.
I left with much more of a spring in my step, wandered around the area a bit more, finally working out that the tennis courts I used to pass every morning are those of Clifton Lawn Tennis Club, and finally grabbing an excellent Hungarian sausage hot dog from the Budapest Cafe. I feel a lot better now than I did before I went out.
I went to have a peep at the giant sinkhole that's opened up in Canynge Square—ironically, having recently discovered the gardens were public I'd had the (triangular!) square on my list to re-visit for a few days, but now there's no entrance to the gardens due to the danger. The area was well fenced-off for safety, but I tried to get a couple of photos from behind the barriers.
I also explored the area around Camp Road, an real melange of architectures, one of the most mixed-up areas I've seen in Clifton, in fact, and confirmed my friend Claire's suspicion that an earlier snap of a sign from Manilla Road was in fact for a fire hydrant. Nice.
16 Jan 2021
A raggedy wander with my friend Lisa, picking up a few stray streets and venturing only briefly onto Whiteladies Road, where it was too damn busy, given the current pandemic. We retreated fairly quickly. Found a couple of interesting back alleys, and got a very pointed "can I help you?" from a man who was working in his garage in one of the rather run-down garage areas behind some posh houses, and clearly didn't want us just wandering around there.
Lisa and I both like the word "emporium".
I went to get my first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine today. Handily, the vaccination centre was Clifton College Prep School in Northcote road, next to Bristol Zoo, a road that's just within my 1-mile range that I hadn't visited before.
I parked up near Ladies Mile and tried to find a few of the tracks marked on the map I'm using, but couldn't see most of them. Whether that's just because they've disappeared over time, or with the recent lack of use or waterlogging from the 24 hours of rain we just had, I'm not sure. It was a pretty fruitless search, anyway.
The vaccine shot was virtually the same setup as when I got my winter flu jab back in November, except for the venue. I snapped a couple of pictures of the school while I was there, but I was in and out in five minutes, and you probably don't want to linger around a vaccination centre, I suppose.
Instead I wandered around the compact block of the Zoo, now sadly scheduled for closure. By coincidence I finished E H Young's Chatterton Square this morning: set in Clifton (fictionalised as "Upper Radstowe") near the Zoo, the occasional roars of the lions that can be heard by the residents of the square (Canynge Square in real life) form part of the background of the novel. The book's set in 1938 (though written and published post-war, in 1947). It seems a shame that the incongruous sounds of the jungle will no longer be heard from 2022. All I heard today were some exotic birds and, I think, some monkeys.
I was told not to drive for fifteen minutes following the jab, so I wandered out of my area up to the top of Upper Belgrave Road to check out an interesting factoid I'd read while looking into the history of the reservoir at Oakfield Road, that the site of 46 Upper Belgrave Road was a bungalow, shorter than the adjacent houses, and owned by Bristol Water, kept specifically low so that the pump man at Oakfield Road could see the standpipe for the Downs Reservoir (presumably by or on the water tower on the Downs) and turn the pump off when it started overflowing. Sadly I couldn't confirm it. There is one particularly low house on that stretch, but it's number 44, and though small, it's two-storey, not a bungalow, so nothing really seems to quite fit in with the tale.
I'm writing this about nine hours after getting the jab, by the way, and haven't noticed any ill effects at all. My arm's not even sore, as it usually would be after the normal flu jab. In twelve weeks I should get an appointment to get the second dose.
I think the big place on the left is the Bristol Dental Anaesthetic Clinic and that the round modern thing in the middle is part of the Old Vic Theatre School.
I headed to Bedminster to do a crossword with my support bubble today. On the way I delved into a couple of bits of Hotwells history, first of all snapping a "now" shot to go with a historical photo of Holy Trinity I happened across recently, and second of all to snap the Britannia Buildings.
The Britannia Buildings are a little strip of offices on a corner of the Hotwell Road. They've mostly been the headquarters of a cleaning company for years, but I've often wondered what this distinctive curve of offices, its ground floor standing proudly out from the upper floors, used to be. Well, after my last wander, where I poked about the landing stage just down the road, I found out! Researching the paddleboat company P&A Campbell I came across this nugget in The A-Z of Curious Bristol, by Maurice Fells (£):
The firm of P & A Campbell was the main steamer operator in the Bristol Channel, with its local headquarters in offices close to the Hotwells pier and overlooking the harbour at the Cumberland Basin. Campbell's named their offices Britannia Buildings, after one of the ships in their White Funnel Fleet.
So! Turns out the Britannia Buildings were named after a paddle steamer—you can see some pictures of Britannia here.
In related news, I've now bought three of Maurice Fells' local history books, and they were hand-delivered by the author on Sunday, a half-hour after I ordered them online (through a message exchange on Nextdoor!) Not even Amazon Prime has managed to deliver me anything that quickly...
"I'd like to buy an owl, please." "We don't sell owls." "Someone told me you did." "Who?" "See! I just heard one!"
16 Mar 2021
I wanted a nice simple lunch-hour walk that took me past a cafe today, and I managed to find the perfect road to knock off my list of targets to do it. Situated just off Jacobs Wells Road, right next to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, John Carr's Terrace, and Rosebery terrace above it, which I'd completely forgotten existed, are a little cul-de-sac that many Bristolians will have wandered past a thousand times without ever seeing.
There's a reason it's next to QEH:
Known traditionally as "The City School", Queen Elizabeth's Hospital was founded by the will of affluent merchant John Carr in 1586, gaining its first royal charter in 1590.
John Carr's terrace itself isn't much to write home about, architecturally, but I like the secluded feel of it, and I really liked Rosebery Terrace with its little houses, commanding position and friendly, slightly tumbledown feel.
On the way home I popped into Foliage Cafe for a coffee and a very pleasant nutella and banana pastry, then walked home past the refurbishment of the old Thali Cafe into a new and interesting clinic...
Among other things in its colourful history, the former Brandon Methodist Church was, for a while, the Japan Arts Centre, which probably explains this detail from its tympanum. I remember walking past when it had big adverts outside for martial arts. They used to teach Judo, Aikido and Karate, I think.
16 Apr 2021
Another day, another quick dash out for a coffee. I did at least try to take a different route from normal, especially on the way back, where I yet again got a bit lost in the strange paths, flyovers and underpasses that make up the odd maze of pedestrian "infrastructure" among the concrete jungle between the west of Greville Smyth and my neck of the woods in Hotwells. I swear one day I'll take a turn I've not tried before and end up being gored by a Bristolian minotaur.
I'd heard there was going to be something of a wild party in Greville Smyth to mark the end of lockdown. It seems it may be the start of a regular thing, with a dance festival bringing 8,000 people to the park. I imagine I'll be able to hear it from my place, and therefore safely avoid it.
I'm afraid that this is a bit of a badly-curated wander, where I mostly just popped out to find out a little of the history of Underfall Yard and poke around the various open workshops, and, in hindsight, really didn't take pictures in any kind of coherent order. So there's a lot of pictures, but they don't really tell the story that, in hindsight, I seem to have been trying to tell, of the unusual electrical substation in Avon Crescent, the Bristol Electricity that predates the National Grid but is still in use, the history of the hydraulic power house... It's a bit of a mess.
But I suppose sometimes these wanders—always chronologically presented in the order I walked and took photos—simply will sometimes be a bit of a mess. Let's hope you still get something out of it, anyway...
Along with the older belt-driven machinery there's some electric bits & pieces. I thought this might be where the "Bristol Electricity"—the 360V special supply from the substation—was used, but apparently not.