28 Oct 2020
Popped out for a coffee in Greville Smyth park, and got a view of the Andy Council work on the side of the Ashton Avenue sewage pumping station on the way back.
Pretty sure I'd never been up these steps before in my life.
Andy Council's work definitely improves the look of the Ashton Avenue Sewage Pumping Station.
A long ramble, starting with trying to find the Hot Well of Hotwells and leading up the side of the Avon Gorge to the Downs and then through Clifton for coffee.
When it was this wet I used to nip off the path before this point and head onto the main path around the Downs. But it's been a long time since I've been jogging and I was in waterproof boots this time.
There've been quite a lot of outdoor exercise classes on display during the pandemic, as you'd imagine.
Exactly what you'd call something that wasn't actually a wall and wasn't next to the sea.
In full flow. The flat top of the water to the left of the overflowing rim sits above a semicircular-profile concrete trough that's designed to calm the water and channel it into the fairly calm wide flow you see here to reduce the erosion it would otherwise cause.
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.
The Downs are an amazing resource for Bristol, but you can't really do them justice with a photograph, especially on a dreary, waterlogged day.
...spot for a picnic, then?
Socail distancing is quite easy as long as you don't mind getting muddy.
This is a ventilation shaft for the Clifton Down Tunnel. The railway tunnel was opened in 1877, and is still in use. According to this page (which might've been put together by my friend Rob, by the looks of it!): this ventilation shaft used to be topped with crenellations, and also:
Clifton Down Tunnel is 1751 yards long. Halfway along its length there is an opening into a cave that exits half way up the cliffside of the Avon Gorge.
...so that's quite fascinating. I think it also used to connect to the Bristol Port Railway and Pier tunnel that I found in the Avon Gorge on another wander.
EDIT TO ADD (14 Oct 2021): I'm just reading Colin Maggs' The Bristol Port Railway and Pier (Oakwood Press, 1975) and the tunnel was indeed built for the Clifton Extension Railway, which linked the Bristol Port Railway line with the rest of the national network. It sounds like quite a feat of engineering, including the use of a diamond boring machine invented by Major Beaumont, MP: "Cutting facets of black diamonds were fixed round the end of a steel tube to form a kind of auger. This tube was rapidly revolved by compressed air and advanced so that its diamond points came into contact with the rock and water forced through the tube washed away grit and kept the tube cool."
31 Mar 2021
Not a literal run, but I didn't hang about, as I had a job interview to get to (I was an interviewer, not the interviewee, but you still have to be there on time...) Along the way to pick up a lunchtime coffee I mostly seemed to take photos of the high tide, though I also came across a bit of outreach work for small spiny mammals...
A new appearance in Greville Smyth park.
The enclosure seems to be there to keep some daffodils safe, but that sounds too much like overkill to be true.
"...struggle with dehydration, especially when it's hot or very dry. Leaving out a shallow bowl of water can make all the difference. Can park uses keep this bowl topped up to help wildlife?"
Hopper Coffee. Apparently Rich Just Couldn't this morning.
I noticed I'd missed a bit of Circular Road and Ladies Mile, and it was a nice evening for a sunset wander up to Clifton. There was something I recorded along the way, not photographically but in video.
Bristol Zoo, the world's oldest provincial zoo, has recently decided to close its Clifton site after 185 years of occupation, which means that the sounds of wild animals will no longer drift incongruously through this leafy Georgian area. They're moving everything up to their existing second site, The Wild Place Project near Cribbs Causeway. As I was wandering the Downs, I heard some fierce roaring noises, so I decided to see if I could get a little closer while they were still going on and record a sound that's soon to disappear.
I don't have a way yet to put video directly on this site, so here's a link to the video of my attempt to catch a bit of the zoo noises that I just popped on YouTube. It's sad that this might be the last time I hear such noises in Clifton.
The Very Special Wildflower Meadow hasn't got any flower in it yet, that I could see. But I suppose it's only April.
It's prettier from a distance.
The more I research it, the more I find that Hotwells had far better transport links back in Victorian and Edwardian times than it has today. Along with buses that went to more useful places than the City Centre, there were trams, the funicular up to Clifton, the landing stage for paddle steamer services and two railway stations all within easy walking distance of me.
Today I took a day off work as preparation for doing the bookkeeping for my tax return1, and took a wander along to the site of what would have been my nearest station, Hotwells (or Clifton, as it started out in life), nestled in the shadow of the suspension bridge, the Bristol terminus of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier.
From there I wandered down the Portway, following the original line, until I got to the area around Sneyd Park Junction, where the tunnel from the slightly later Clifton Extension Railway joined up with this originally-isolated BPR line. Then I headed up to Clifton through the "goat gully" at Walcombe Slade, seeing the few above-ground bits of evidence of the tunnel (which is still in regular use) along the way.
It was a lovely day, and a good walk, and it was interesting to daydream of the times when I could have walked a few minutes from my flat down to Dowry Parade, caught a short tram ride to Hotwells Stations, and then headed from there to Avonmouth, perhaps even to board a transatlantic passenger service. The completion of the Clifton Extension Railway that linked the Avonmouth station with Temple Meads made relatively direct transatlantic travel from London via Bristol possible, with passengers travelling up from Paddington to Temple Meads, on to Avonmouth on the Clifton Extension Railway and Port Railway and Pier line, then perhaps catching a Cambpell's paddle steamer—which sometimes acted as tenders for large steamers—to a larger ship that was headed out for Canada, say.
1 I've learned that the best approach is to take two days off and deliberately do something that's not my bookkeeping on the first day, as otherwise I just inevitably end up procrastinating and feeling guilty on the first day no matter what. I have an odd brain, but at least I'm learning strategies for dealing with its strange ways as I get older...
2 Information mostly gleaned from Colin Maggs' The Bristol Port Railway & Pier and the Clifton Extension Railway, The Oakwood Press, 1975.
And from the top of the slade we emerge onto the wide open space of Clifton Down.
13 Nov 2020
A quick trip with the aim of finding a better way to Greville Smyth park and a good coffee. Sadly I was stymied yet again with the former—it turns out that you do apparently have to take a strange loop around the houses (or at least around the roads) to get to Greville Smyth any way other than my normal route, unless you're prepared to vault some railings. It may be that the disused steps from where the skater kids hang out to the flyover above might once have led to a shorter route, but it's hard to tell. The geography in the area has always confused me.
It lies, as far as I can tell.
30 Oct 2020
Something of a misty start took me around the viewpoint at the end of Spike Island and then on to try to find a new way into Greville Smyth Park. I got lost.
This sign alleges that this underpass leads to Greville Smyth Park. From the Hotwells direction it basically leads back where you came from, or onto a four-lane flyover with no place to cross.
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.
A month after I took this picture, a 40-foot sinkhole opened up inside the square's garden, along the edge of this side of the square, apparently into vaulted chambers below. Makes you wonder exactly what was built below Canynge Square and why! Maybe it's where the Merchant Venturers sacrificed the poor to Cthulu...
03 Dec 2020
I love the isolation of Cliftonwood -- the geography of it, with its solid boundary of Clifton Vale to the west and Jacob's Wells Road to the east mean that you tend not to be in Cliftonwood unless you've got a reason to be there. It's not a cut-through to anywhere, at least not from side-to-side, and you can only really exit to the south on foot.
I sense that I'd be happy living in Cliftonwood -- like my bit of Hotwells, it's a quiet little area with a sort of quirky feel to it. Plus it contributes the colourful houses that are the backdrop of about half of all Bristol postcards ever made :)
I found the "secret" garden especially interesting, just for the fact that it really does feel quite secret, despite the obvious name on the gate. I've lived a half-mile from it for twenty years and I don't think I've ever noticed it before, despite exploring the area a few times.
We're all meant to be staying indoors. Why are the car parks full?
I got curious about Bioinduction's sign down on the Hotwell Road once. According to the company's website theire mission is to "develop a precisely targetted brain pacemaker that offers new hope for the millions of sufferers... To revolutionise the treatment of cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases where there is no effective drug therapy available today."
Apparently Gnodal "was a computer networking company headquartered in Bristol, UK. The company designed and sold network switches for datacenter, high-performance computing and high-frequency trading environments"