Just in case you thought I’d been idle in my time in Bristol, I’m here to reassure you. I was heading into the city from Clifton, with half an eye open for Shauns, when I saw a sign for Cabot Tower. Curiosity impelled me. Though I knew little of John Cabot, I invariably make a beeline for towers as potentially good viewing points.
Situated on Brandon Hill, this 105 ft red sandstone tower was built in the 1890s, to commemorate the 400th year anniversary of Cabot sailing from Bristol to discover the country that was to become Canada. In a pretty park overlooking the city, I thought it the perfect venue for a Summer’s day.
I could hear voices inside, and from time to time a head popped out on the balcony. Nothing for it, I was going to have to mount those narrow circular stairs. No, of course there’s no lift!
John Cabot definitely appears to have been a bit of an adventurer. Christened Giovanni Caboto (1450-1500), this Italian navigator and explorer was commissioned by Henry VII, and was the first European since the Vikings to reach North America. (believed to be at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland) He spent 15 years or more in Venice, acquiring the citizenship which would enable him to engage in the maritime trade, and then sailed in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cabot seems to have got into financial difficulties in the 1480s, and left Venice, an insolvent debtor, to seek work in Spain as a civil engineer. He was involved in a couple of building projects which did not come to fruition, and then unsuccessfully sought funds for an Atlantic expedition. Persistence paid off when he moved to London, and then Bristol, as the second largest seaport in England. His first voyage in 1496 appears to have been aborted due to bad weather, but in 1497 the landing was successfully accomplished.
Time to mount a few more stairs. Narrower this time but fortunately I can soon see light above.
It seems to me a fine memorial. Savouring the day on top of the world, I reluctantly climb back down to earth. The paths wind back down through the park and I observe benches and quiet places to sit. Following a trail through the wildflower meadow, my eyes alight on a speck of distant colour. Hooray- it’s another Shaun!
Isn’t he handsome? You can meet my collection of Shauns on Saturday, but for now it’s time to join Debbie on her Look Up, Look Down challenge. Come and see. You won’t be disappointed!