11 Nov 2020
I'd love to walk the Chocolate Path again at some point, but it's been closed since it started falling into the river. Still, on this wander to get a coffee I walked down a road I'd not normally use and found a door dressed up as a wall and another door that had been bricked up for real. Odd.
I also found a lovely bit of art on one of the Cumberland Piazza pillars on my way home.
16 Feb 2021
There's a dearth of my favourite coffee places on a Monday and Tuesday at the moment. Both Twelve and Imagine That are closed on Monday and Tuesday, and Rich from Hopper Coffee doesn't seem to have come back from Christmas break. Today I pushed on a bit further than normal around the harbour and got to Little Victories, the always-reliable sister cafe to Small Street Espresso, based at Wapping Wharf. Along the way I saw graffiti, my second reference to one of Bristol's twin cities in two days, and a rather sleek little boat outside Rolt's Boat Yard.
...which has arrived rather too late in my case, or at least that's how it feels.
17 Feb 2021
The long road between Clifton Road and Park Place—the little triangle of grass in front of the Pro-Cathedral, which also houses Quinton House pub, the Park Launderette and Mr Swantons Barbers—is one I've travelled a lot, as it's a nice route between my place and the top of Park Street, especially Ocado. It has many names along the way, even though it feels like just one continuous road. It's York Place, Tottenham Place, Meridian Place and Bruton Place before it finally spits you out onto Park Place.
It was Meridian Place I was interested in today, as I wanted to explore the set of steps that lead down from it in the direction of Jacobs Wells Road. Turns out they lead to Meridian Vale and Meridian Mews, and come out between the Strangers Burial Ground and the Eldon House, opposite the entrance to Bellevue Terrace. I liked the little terrace on Meridian Vale, though they probably don't get a lot of light in the front windows, what with Meridian Place and Tottenham Place towering above them.
On the way back home I popped into the little lane behind Regent Street that houses the Chesterfield Hospital, as I realised I'd neglected that up until now. It was... unexciting.
Interesting! This seems to be a modern block of student flats around the back of the old Pro-Cathedral. I knew the Pro-Cathedral was student accommodation now, but I didn't know there was a gert big block of modern block behind it, too. It's well-hidden. Or I'm not very good at noticing things. One of the two.
Apparently the site is called Cathedral Park, houses 263 students, and comprises the converted cathedral, "a modern new-build and the Upper School building."
17 Mar 2021
The other day I realised (hello, Maggie!) that my next walk would be my hundredth, and that I'd done 393.4km so far. I figured it would be nice to get to 100 walks and 400km on the same walk, so I went for a nice long harbourside wander after work, rather than dashing out at lunchtime. As it turned out, we're just coming up to the time of year where I can leave the house at 5:30 in the evening and there's still just enough light to take photos by the time I've made it around the harbourside. Though only just, and mostly because I've got a full-frame camera that's not bad in low light...
Still, the evening light made a lovely change, and some of the photos turned out to be pretty good photos per se, rather than just record shots of my walk. I'm looking forward to more evening walks like this as summer approaches.
On the way around this evening I wandered through one of the oldest bits of the city to extend my walk and snapped some interesting bits of architecture, including an NCP car park(!) and a nighttime shot of one of my favourite subjects, the clock tower at the Albion dockyard.
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.
29 Apr 2021
Another quick excursion to Canon's Marsh, tempted back by Rod & Ruby's cannoli and flat white. This time I poked around some bits of the modern flats I'd not really experienced before, mused on the old gasworks, and headed back down the Hotwell Road, spotting a re-opening gallery and finishing off at the Adam & Eve, for which some locals are currently rushing to launch a bid to turn it into a community business rather than have a developer turn it into yet-more flats.
I was in a bouncy, positive mood, helped out by Life Without Buildings' Live at the Annandale Hotel album1. Note to self, though: the album is nearly an hour long, so if you hear the encore starting and you're still halfway down the Hotwell Road, you'll probably be late back from lunch...
1 That review's well worth a read. Music journalists tend to go extra-dreamy when trying to describe Sue Tompkins. See what I mean:
She circles her limber tongue-twisters, feints, and attacks from unexpected angles, dicing and rearranging them with the superhuman brio of an anime ninja and a telegraphic sense of lexical rhythm.
I'm sure when they were getting the idea of this place past the planning committee there was probably a higher ratio of public art to wheelie bins.
I'm afraid that this is a bit of a badly-curated wander, where I mostly just popped out to find out a little of the history of Underfall Yard and poke around the various open workshops, and, in hindsight, really didn't take pictures in any kind of coherent order. So there's a lot of pictures, but they don't really tell the story that, in hindsight, I seem to have been trying to tell, of the unusual electrical substation in Avon Crescent, the Bristol Electricity that predates the National Grid but is still in use, the history of the hydraulic power house... It's a bit of a mess.
But I suppose sometimes these wanders—always chronologically presented in the order I walked and took photos—simply will sometimes be a bit of a mess. Let's hope you still get something out of it, anyway...
I've mentioned before the suggestion (apparently from Pete Wills, senior electrical engineer) that this building is haunted by the ghost of a worker who fell from the roof into the building but whose body was never found... Maybe I should have waited until Hallowe'en to feature the substation!
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.
All this and an ambulance just lurking there, too.
This is known for being something of a fragile area. Here's a picture of the earlier dangerous face being blasted away in the summer of '76, to stop it falling on the Portway. Every year the Portway is closed for a day or two to allow for a close inspection that can lead to the planning of remedial works. I'll often get a bit of notice of this, as they have to put the warning signs up quite early down in Hotwells so people can plan their alternative routes.
People know this as the "goat gully" these days, but the official name is Walcombe Slade. (So valleyish they named it twice, perhaps, as both "combe" and "slade" mean "valley".)
12 Mar 2022
There's a few tracks in Leigh Woods that lie within my mile and show up on my map but that I've not walked yet, so I decided to take one of my traditional big long walks through the woods on this nice crisp sunny morning.
For years—decades, even—I've been doing a similar route from my place, along the towpath to the far woods entrance, up the hill for a varied walk on one of the marked tracks and then across the Suspension Bridge to Clifton Village for a coffee-based reward. It's my default "long walk", really, and I almost always enjoy it. Today, at last, spring actually seemed to be springing, which made for some extra positivity...