03 Dec 2021
On my last wander, to Bower Ashton, I was intending to knock Blackmoors Lane off my list "to-do" list, but got a bit diverted. I also took a little look into the history of the Gridiron, once a cheaper alternative to dry dock that was nestled just south of North Entrance Lock.
Today I had to go to send a parcel off somewhere, so I decided on going to the North Street Post Office via Blackmoors Lane. I didn't have much intention of anything else, but as luck would have it I walked out both at low tide and also as some lockkeepers seemed to be having a bit of a training session, and one of the more senior people was (a) happy to answer a few random questions on the Gridiron and (b) actually knew a lot about it, as Gridiron maintenance had been one of his jobs, more than twenty years ago...
Interesting to see a flatscreen TV left out in the traditional "please take this away for free" place, even if it is only a little Alba.
01 Feb 2021
I just wanted to get some exercise, really, so I set out to knock off the lower bit of Jacobs Wells Road that I'd not managed to walk up yet. I set the new signboard that the community association had had erected as my destination, after reading about it on their blog.
As it turned out, I couldn't even read it, as the building that houses the actual Jacob's Well had water flooding out onto the pavement. I wonder if it was actual Jacob's Well water? Have the soles of my walking shoes been mystically blessed now?
You can't see much of the flood in the photos I snapped, but I did shoot a little video, too. Ed on Twitter said:
I spoke to the seller at the time with a view to buying it - I mentioned an old friend who grew up nearby remembers it flooding regularly. He swore blind my friend was wrong.
06 Feb 2021
A lovely walk in the early spring sunshine with my friend Lisa. We headed directly for Jacobs Wells Road, to start off around the scene of one of our earlier walks, but this time took in Jacobs Wells from QEH upward, stopping to snap some photos of a Bear With Me, some interesting areas between Park Street and Brandon Hill including a peculiarly quiet enclave with a ruined old build I'd never found before, then crossed the Centre to grab take-away pies from Pieminister (I had the Heidi Pie) and head back to my place down the harbourside.
Possibly named for the hatchets of the men working in Clifton Wood
I got interested in Bristol's medieval water supplies after poking around near Jacobs Wells Road and Brandon Hill. It was during that research I found out about a pipe that's still there today, and, as far as I know, still actually functioning, that was originally commissioned by Carmelite monks in the 13th century. They wanted a supply of spring water from Brandon Hill to their priory on the site of what's now the Bristol Beacon—Colston Hall, as-was. It was created around 1267, and later, in 1376, extended generously with an extra "feather" pipe to St John's On The Wall, giving the pipework its modern name of "St John's Conduit".
St John's on the Wall is still there, guarding the remaining city gate at the end of Broad Street, and the outlet tap area was recently refurbished. It doesn't run continuously now, like it did when I first moved to Bristol and worked at the end of Broad Street, in the Everard Building, but I believe the pipe still functions. One day I'd like to see that tap running...
There are a few links on the web about the pipe, but by far the best thing to do is to watch this short and fascinating 1970s TV documentary called The Hidden Source, which has some footage of the actual pipe and also lots of fantastic general footage of Bristol in the seventies.
On my walk today I was actually just going to the building society in town, but I decided to trace some of the route of the Carmelite pipe, including visiting streets it runs under, like Park Street, Christmas Street, and, of course, Pipe Lane. I also went a bit out of my way to check out St James' Priory, the oldest building in Bristol, seeing as it was just around the corner from the building society.
There are far too many pictures from this walk, and my feet are now quite sore, because it was a long one. But I enjoyed it.
06 Jul 2021
I really only took the GPS and camera on a "just in case" basis, as I knew I was only going for a coffee in Greville Smyth Park along a well-trodden path this lunchtime. Still, I saw a few new things along the way, so I figured it was worth uploading the handful of photos I took...
31 Jul 2021
At the end of July I went to have a look around some of the private gardens opened up by the annual Green Squares and Secret Gardens event. Sadly it was compressed into a single day this year, for various Covid-related reasons, it seems, so I didn't get to poke around too many places. I went to:
And snapped a few things in between, too. It was a lovely day—a bit too hot, if anything—and it was interesting to get into a few places I'd only ever seen from the outside, especially The Paragon and Cornwallis gardens, which are the least visible to passing strangers of all of them.
I recently indulged myself by buying a little piece of history. I've mentioned Samuel Loxton and featured and linked to his drawings before, often in the eminently browsable Loxton Collection albums that Bristol Libraries has on Flickr. So when I saw a Loxton drawing of Hotwells pop up on eBay, I decided to get myself a little treat.
I don't think there's any Loxton drawing that features the road I actually live in—it's not very visible from anywhere else, not being one of these Clifton terraces that's perched at the top of a hill, or anything like that, and it's invisible in most views of the area. However, this Loxton drawing, Hotwells, Looking across the river from near the Clifton Bridge station, is probably the closest near-miss I've seen.
I decided to wander out one morning and see if I could reproduce the picture, and also take a photo or two of what's now become of the Clifton Bridge Station, which is still just about discernible in places.
(Then on an even stranger whim I decided to check out a possible little cut-through from Cumberland Road to the harbourside I'd been eyeing up on my commute to work, so walked to Wapping Wharf for a croissant via this potential new route, but that bit's not quite as interesting...)
Must pop in next weekend.
Bower Ashton is an interesting little area just south of the river from me—in fact, the Rownham Ferry used to take people over from Hotwells to Bower Ashton, operating from at least the twelfth century to around the 1930s.
It's a strangely contradictory little area, with a cluster of old and new houses sandwiched in between the busy A-roads and significantly more industrial area of Ashton and the bucolic country estate of Ashton court roughly east to west, and also between Somerset and Bristol, north to south.
I've been around here before, mostly poking around Bower Ashton's arguably most well-known bit, the Arts faculty campus of the University of the West of England, but I'd missed at least Parklands Road and Blackmoors Lane, so I initially planned just to nip across briefly and wander down each in turn. On a whim, though, I texted my friends Sarah and Vik in case they were out and about, and ended up diverting to the Tobacco Factory Sunday market first, to grab a quick flat white with them, extending my journey a fair bit.
To start with, though, I nipped to a much more local destination, to see something that you can't actually see at all, the Gridiron...
(I also used this wander as a test of the cameras in my new phone. I finally upgraded after a few years, and the new one has extra, separate wide and telephoto lenses compared to the paltry single lens on my old phone. Gawd. I remember when speed-dial was the latest innovation in phones...)
I'm not sure I've ever walked or even driven past the Ashton before, and it's only a mile away from me—in fact, my mile radius line divides it roughly in half. Tripadvisor suggests that its solid 3-star review average is made up of people having either one-star or five-star experiences, which is sometimes the hallmark of a great place that's happy to be rude to idiots...
Maybe this is the place to have a celebratory meal when I finally decide I've actually walked all the roads within my mile...
03 Jun 2022
I managed to go for a wander a while ago that was meant to finish off a little tangle of paths in Leigh Woods, or at the very least finish off my wandering of the Purple Path there. And I managed to miss doing either of those things through some kind of navigational incompetence.
Today I woke up with a bit of a headache, feeling a bit knackered as soon as I dragged myself out of bed, but at least with the energy to realise that I'd be better off (a) going for a walk in what looked likely to be the last of the Jubilee weekend sunshine than (b) moping around the flat until it started raining, at which point I could mope more thoroughly.
I had a look at my map, considered going to Ashton Court, but remembered that there was a music festival there today, and instead found these little leftovers of Leigh Woods and decided to have one more try at walking them.
It's quite the commentary. But then if someone believes they can have their life turned around by a fly-posting stranger, perhaps a warning is a reasonable addendum.
08 Aug 2021
This was a wide-ranging wander. I started off crossing the river to Bedminster, to walk a single little cul-de-sac, Hardy Avenue, that I'd managed to miss on at least one previous walk. Then, pausing only to explore a few back alleyways, I headed for a few destinations related mostly by the Hughes family, who I've been researching a little as part of background for a possible novel, as several of them were involved in the Stella Matutina.
However, mostly it's the artistic side of the family I wanted to explore today, as that's where most of their public history lies (as you might expect, there's often not much in the public record about the workings of an occult organisation.) First I visited College Green, where the façade of the Catch 22 Fish & Chip shop still bears the work of Catherine Edith Hughes. Then I wandered up to the top of Park Street to pop into the Clifton Arts Club's annual exhibition, as Catherine, her half-brother Donald, his wife Hope and at least two other Hugheses were members. Donald was chairman for 40 solid years; Hope was Secretary for eight, and Ellard and Margaret Hughes, two more Hughes siblings, were members along with Catherine.
Finally I walked home with a small diversion to Berkeley Square, to confirm the location of Donald Hughes's house by checking for a particular plaque by the front door.
I must admit I'm not entirely sure where all this research is really leading me, but I'm finding it quite interesting to bump across the faint lines of history that link the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1888, to modern, quotidian Bristol.