10 Nov 2020
I went to grab a coffee from Imagine That's little horsebox by the marina, completely forgetting that they don't open on Monday or Tuesday. On the plus side, on the way back I was in time to watch the Plimsoll Bridge swinging for a tidy little yacht.
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.
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.
The first hint that this house is a little different.
24 Jan 2021
I started this wander with my "support bubble" Sarah and Vik, after Sarah texted me to say "SNOW!" We parted ways on the towpath and I headed up into the bit of Leigh Woods that's not actually the woods—the village-like part in between Leigh Woods and Ashton Court, where I'd noticed on a map a church I'd not seen before. I found St Mary the Virgin and quite a few other things I'd never experienced, despite having walked nearby them many, many times over many years, including a castellated Victorian water tower that's been turned into a house...
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!"
20 Mar 2021
My friend Lisa was meeting another friend for a walk near the suspension bridge, so we fitted in a quick harbourside loop from my place first. We discussed gardening (we're both envious of the gardening skills of the Pooles Wharf residents; we can just about keep herbs alive, whereas they're growing heartily-fruiting lemon trees outdoors in England along with everything from bonsai to magnolias), cafes, work and architecture, among other things.
There's a lot of pretty amazing gardening goes on on the harbourside stretch between the Pump House and the Grain Barge.
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.
When I was working at NatWest and livinng in Redland I'd often walk through here on the way to and from work. Back then this was an excellent fish & chip shop. Now it's Ahh Toots, who make amazing cakes. They used to be in St Nick's Market—Tam from Ahh Toots took over the Sourdough Cafe from a friend of mine.
The building itself is fascinating: Part of St Bartholomew's Hospital, a medieval almshouse founded in 1240, It's also been home to two schools that are still going elsehwere in Bristol: QEH—Queen Elizabeth's Hospital—which now occupies a Victorian gothic revival pile on Jacobs Wells Road, and Bristol Grammar School, whose "modern" (Victorian gothic perpendicular) building is between Park Row and the main University of Bristol campus, and which by coincidence I'm going to explore tomorrow...
I bumped into my friend Lisa in town during yesterday's wander, and we decided to have a wander today, too. We managed quite a long ramble, starting up through Clifton and nipping down Park Row to investigate the two tower blocks I'd noticed popping up behind Park Street yesterday, then took in a few roads I'd not managed to get to before, including cutting through the grounds of Bristol Grammar School.
They do a good flat white, and they keep the place perfectly tidy. Nice.
07 Apr 2021
Unusually for my recent lunchtime coffee trips, I managed to find a new road to walk down: Caledonia Mews, which has a little entrance off Princess Victoria Street and runs between it and Caledonia Place. I've noticed it before a couple of times—if you look up from Princess Victoria Street you can see some of it, standing tall above the low buildings on the street itself—but until last night I'd not set foot in it, I think.
As well as focusing on this charming little mews, I looked in on the demolished site of the old WH Smith, and spotted what I think is part of the now-private-houses St Vincent Rocks Hotel that I'd not really noticed before, tucked away between Sion Lane and Sion Hill.
Or have I just not noticed it before, or forgotten about it? I like it, anyway.
10 Apr 2021
There's a bit of Southville that I've been meaning to get to for some time, where the streets seem to take some strong inspiration from London. There's a Camden Road that crosses with an Islington Road, and a Dalston Road, even an Edgeware Road. For me these names are more evocative than the rather more exotic names I passed by to get there—Sydney Row or Hanover Place, say, because I've actually been to the places in London. The last time I was in Islington I saw Monkey Swallows the Universe play at The Angel, and I can't think of Camden without remembering a gondola trip with my friend Tara where a cheery youth played Beatles music for us on a saz...
I really liked this little area, with its mostly well-kept pretty houses and hints here and there of the creative side of the residents. It's arty and down-to-earth at the same time, and I wouldn't mind living there, I think.
On the way there I got the chance to walk through Underfall Yard for the first time in a while, and on the way back I had my first take-away hot food for many months, grabbing some crispy fried squid from the excellent Woky Ko at Wapping Wharf.
I'd already ordered my crispy fried squid.