01 Jan 2021
I wandered along the gorge today and found the entrance to the disused Portnalls Number 1 railway tunnel of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier. The door was unlocked, but as soon as I opened it I felt a sense of current habitation and decided discretion was the best option. There's a lot of people homeless in Bristol at the moment, and they don't need disturbing. For the same reason, I've omitted posting some pictures of a little encampment somewhat off the beaten track of the new Zig Zag, where I reversed direction as soon as I realised I'd come across a current habitation of some sort.
Up in Clifton it took me a little while to work out that the picture of the Promenade I was trying to reproduce was taken from the viewpoint I'd thought, it was just that the Alderman's fountain was moved from the top of Bridge Valley Road to the other side of the promenade in 1987, so trying to use it as my initial landmark wasn't very helpful!
Finally I swung past the Society of Merchant Venturers, who presumably still own most of Clifton, having bought the entire manor, including Clifton Down, in 1676, and I imagine aren't in much danger of running out of money. That's true to their motto: indocilis pauperiem pati is apparently from the Odes of Horace, and translates as "will not learn to endure poverty"...
02 Nov 2020
I've taken a lot of photos of Royal York Crescent over the years. This time I walked right to the dead-end bit at the far west corner and found a plaque to the Empress of the French. Call me hard to impress, but among the scientists, novelists, architects and artists whose plaques litter the rest of the area, that seems quite minor claim to fame.
And in between times were the Napoleonic Wars, which probably explains the desire for a barracks.
03 Nov 2020
A very local exploration today, but there are still bits of the near field that I never need to walk down, so it didn't take me long to find somewhere I haven't been in a decade or more, the little enclave of smaller Victorian houses around Oldfield Road and Sandford Road. I'd really like to live in one of those houses, but I doubt I could afford it.
Scarborough and Whitby, right? Despite being a goth at heart, I've still never been to Whitby.
09 Nov 2020
I like The Paragon as a terrace, especially the bowed porches. On the other side of the road, a house attic has a stone lion surrounded by rocaille leaves, according to its listing.
I also love the detail of the arrows in the wrought iron of The Mall's balconies. Today I discovered Westfield place, a road I'd never encountered that runs up to the rear of the Coronation Tap. (It's a famous local cider pub, but I've only been in a couple of times. I'm more of a beer man.)
I'm not entirely clear how a Bristolian called Marjorie Watson-Williams ends up moving to Paris, changing her name to Paule Vézelay, and becoming a famous painter of the abstract school, but it must have been quite a fun ride, surely...
She returned to Bristol when war broke out and apparently spent the first few years in Rodney Place.
...but I always forget they're closed on Monday and Tuesday.
12 Nov 2020
My goal is walk down every public road within a mile of me; sometimes it's not easy to tell what's public. I've passed the turning for Cornwallis Grove a thousand times, but never had a reason to venture down it, and although the street signs at the end seem to be council-deployed and I didn't spot any "private" signs, it's a gated road and definitely feels private.
Gathering all the white middle-class privilege I could muster, I wandered down and was rewarded with the sight of a Victorian pump, a statue of Jesus, and from the end of the road, a view of a private garden that once belonged to a private girls' school.
The Cornwallis House history page says:
In the early 20th century the house, together with Grove House, became a Catholic school, St Joseph’s High School for Girls. The Congregation of La Retraite took over the school in 1924, with the nuns living in Grove House while the schoolrooms were in Cornwallis House. The headmistress was Mother St Paul de la Croix (Sister Paula Yerby). By the 1970s La Retraite High School had around 700 pupils.
It closed in 1982 and the building was bought by Pearce Homes Ltd (now part of Crest Nicholson) who developed it into 21 flats. Grove House next door was bought by the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, and was later converted into flats in 2007.
Among other things, she designed the Cenotaph on Bristol's Centre.
14 Nov 2020
A snap from home, not from the walk. I'm currently reading this, inspired by an earlier walk. It seemed appropriate to get a reasonably historical copy; this one's from 1949, the year EH Young died, at the age of 69, only a couple of years after it was first published.
16 Nov 2020
A quick lunchtime jaunt to Dowry Square, which is very close to me but, being effectively a cul-de-sac as well as a square, I've probably only circumnavigated a couple of times in the last couple of decades.
The Bristol Hotwell was, of course, much smaller than the neighbouring spa of Bath, and it was in no sense a rival but rather a supplementary cure, for many people combined visits to the two resorts. After 1785 the Hotwell imitated Bath by appointing a Master of Ceremonies, "William Pennington Esquire," who wore a gold medallion strung on a blue ribbon to emphasise the dignity of his office. In order to preserve decorum in the public entertainments he issued the following regulations:
In which our intrepid hero levels up.
Quite a line-up. I'm afraid to say I've only read the obvious writer here; I've just popped Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber on my "to-read" list to try and make up for that, but it's quite a long list right now.
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.
Gosh. I had no idea why it's called the White City Allotments, but apparently:
Bristol International Exhibition opened in May 1914 promising to be 'a place of pleasure and delight', celebrating 'the resourcefulness and progress of Great Britain and her Dominions'. 32 acres in Ashton Gate were transformed by palaces and pavilions. It quickly became known as the ‘White City’ because of the plaster used on the temporary buildings.