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.
26 Nov 2020
I took the day off my day job to do my accounts—or at least do enough bookkeeping to send them to my accountant. I hate doing the books. I woke up late, tired and with a headache and decided to bunk off for a walk around Cliftonwood, Clifton Village and Clifton instead, taking in a couple of good coffees along the way. Thanks, Foliage Café, and Twelve for the flat whites.
I'd like someone to dedicate me a bench once I'm dead
13 Dec 2020
A long walk around Cliftonwood and Clifton with my friend Lisa, taking in some of the 12 Days of Christmas display at Queens Parade, picking up a take-away coffee from Pinkmans of Park Street, and poking our heads up against the glass of SS Peter and Paul Catholic Cathedral.
One day I'll get back up there.
06 Jan 2021
The International Grotto Directory website says:
Prince’s Lane might have been one of the original ancient tracks from Hotwells to Clifton, in the Avon Gorge. The site later formed part of Rownham Woods which comprised some thirteen acres. By the end of the 18th century and the early 19th century, the Society of Merchant Venturers granted to Samuel Powell a building lease, for The Colonnade (1786), St. Vincent’s Parade (1790), Prince’s Buildings (1796), and Rock House. Rock House is generally considered to be the oldest surviving building associated with the Hotwell (see Chapter 20). John Power conveyed part of the woods to William Watts for the construction of Windsor Terrace (1790-1808).
The above development of the Avon Gorge cleared Rownham Woods, and created a triangle of land on the north side of the gorge, that became enclosed as a result, by Mansion Houses, whose garden walls all entered on to Prince’s Lane. The Lane started at the bottom of the gorge, at the base rock of Windsor Terrace, and came out half way up Sion Hill. It is clearly shown as a public footpath, dotted with trees, in Ashmead’s map of 1828. Some of the gardens were quite steep in parts and therefore, had to be terraced, because of the gradient of the gorge.
I've passed Prince's Lane literally thousands of times in my life, every time I've walked past the Avon Gorge Hotel, which itself started (in 1898) as the Grand Clifton Spa and Hydropathic Institution and pumped water up from the Hot Well for its hydropathic treatments. I've never actually ventured down it until today, or at least nothing like as far down it as I did this afternoon—I may have poked my head around the back of the hotel to see the original pump rooms at some point in the past.
This was a great wander, though it does very much feel like a private road, and frankly I may have been pushing my luck a bit by winding my way between the astoundingly big back gardens of the houses of some presumably very wealthy Cliftonites, but I felt vaguely justified in exploring the history of one of the oldest footpaths in my part of Bristol...
10 Jan 2021
Went for a wander with my friend Lisa—the current lockdown rules seem to be that one local walk for exercise per day with a maximum of one person not in one's "bubble" is fine—up to the University of Bristol area right at the edge of my one-mile perimeter to see the Jeppe Hein Mirror Maze, among other things. On the way we mused about Merchant Venturers, the slave and tobacco trades, and dating in the time of Covid.
Presumably if you try to cut the grass using a lawn mower that weighs more than a quarter-ton per square metre it risks falling through the roof and into the reservoir...
02 Feb 2021
I needed to get away from my desk at lunchtime, and I saw a little segment of path in Greville Smyth Park that needed knocking off my "to walk down" list, so that gave me a target. Sadly Hopper Coffee's little Piaggio Ape wasn't there to sell me a coffee. I hope Rich is all right, not seen him so far this year.
Anyway, a fairly uneventful walk. They're putting new boundary fencing up around Hotwell Primary School (I wandered down Albermarle Row to see what the pneumatic drilling was about), the house on Granby Hill that's been covered in scaffolding and swaddled in protective sheeting has finally been revealed in its cleaned and refurbished form, and they were doing something to the flyover that leads up from the end of the Portway/Hotwell Road to the Plimsoll Bridge. Nothing much else to report.
I think this may be the first time I've been able to walk through this gate; normally it's the gate at the bottom of the Plimsoll Bridge spiral stairs that's open. Hopefully this is to reduce the impact of that pinch-point while we're meant to be keeping 2 metres apart, and it'll stay open for the duration.
25 Mar 2021
I was honestly just about to do the homework from my oh-so-thrilling ITIL course when my friends Sarah and Vik asked me if I'd like to come out for a wander down the towpath with them. I enjoyed the company, the evening light and the delicate clouds.
I went out simply wanting to knock off the very last little unwalked section of Clanage Road, over by Bower Ashton, which has been annoying me for a while as it's quite close by and I've walked the other bits of it several times. So, my plan was to nip over to Greville Smyth Park via a slightly unusual route to wander Clanage Road and tick it off.
Along the way, though, I inevitably got a bit distracted. I took a few photos of Stork House, a grand Hotwell Road building that's recently been done up a bit (I imagine it's student lets, though I'm not sure) and which I found a reference to in a book about the Port Railway and Pier the other week, and also tried to match up a historical photo of Hotwells before the Cumberland Basin Flyover System laid it waste, which included some interesting markers I'll have to do a bit more digging into...
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...)
The Babcock International Group do... things. According to their website, they're a "leading provider of critical, complex engineering services which support national defence, save lives and protect communities." That sounded a little euphemistic to me, and Wikipedia is a bit more revealing, calling them an "aerospace, defence and nuclear engineering services company". I have no idea what they get up to in Bower Ashton.