Speak to me of Spring

Bristol’s incredible Floating Harbour has many faces.  Just downstream from Bristol Bridge lie Castle Park and the haunting ruins of St. Peter’s Church.  On the night of 24th November, 1940, this area was almost completely destroyed in the first major bombing raid on Bristol of the Second World War.  These days it’s a place for strolling and letting your cares drift away.

The church is no longer accessible to the public, but I was delighted to find, wrapped around it, a tiny physics garden.  Magnolia, fraying tulips and iris, all vernal creations if ever I saw one.

I often manage to link to Paula because Thursday’s Special, isn’t it?  Her version of Spring is exquisite.  But I’m very mean with Ailsa.  Let her take you for a walk in the Garden this week.

Jo’s Monday walk : Bristol Blues!

The last time I was in Bristol was to see the highly spectacular Balloon Festival.  It had been my first visit to the city and I was quite keen to take an introductory walking tour.  Due to the volume of people in Bristol for the festival, in glorious August weather, the tour had been cancelled.  Little did I know then that I would have another opportunity.  But this time was very different.  The sky was an unrelenting grey, rather matching my disconsolate mood, and my weekend seemed to be unravelling around me.

You see, I had made a surprise visit for an 80th birthday party.  I flew into Bristol at 8 in the morning, and had the whole day ahead of me.  I had planned to spend it with my lovely friend, Gilly.  Not only was Gilly sadly unable to meet me, but I had neglected to bring with me a vital contact number.  I had no means of getting to the party.

Leaving Bristol bus station, I wandered into the city, trying to formulate a plan.  As so often, my camera came to my rescue and I started to observe my surroundings.  Bristol is well known as the birth place of Banksy and the wave of street art that took Bristol by storm in the 1980s.

I’m always ambivalent about street art.  Some, I hate.  Some, I love.  In this case it was a welcome distraction, highlighting good and bad in the city.  I especially felt for the semi-derelict St. John on the Wall church, on Broad Street.  Posters on the rusted grills covering the windows advertised for volunteers to enable the church to continue to be opened to visitors.  600 years of history hidden from view.

I was hopeful that the Tourist Information office might come to my rescue.  The battery on my ancient cell phone was fading fast and I needed somewhere that I might connect to the Internet. The phone number I needed was on Messenger.  At 9.30 on a Saturday morning the TI was still closed, but I had a map from my previous trip.  The Central Library appeared to be just behind the Watershed, where I now stood.   A spark of hope propelled me in that direction.

The sky maintained a dreary grey as I bypassed Millennium Square with its lofty wheel.  Bristol Science Centre held promise of an interesting haven from the cold, which I might need later. Crossing over the road I headed uphill towards the Cathedral spires.  The Abbey Gatehouse provided a welcoming entrance to the Cathedral grounds and the adjoining library.

10am was opening time for the library.  I turned my gaze upon the grand countenance of the City Hall buildings on College Green.

City Hall is a grade II listed building, the seat of local government in Bristol since 1956.  I had paid it scant attention on my last visit, when rain had driven me to the bosom of the Cathedral. I still had time in hand for a swift return to the lovely cloisters.

At 10 o’ clock precisely, the doors to the Central Library admitted me.  I was totally astounded at what I found inside.

Opened in 1906, the grade 1 listed Central Library was built on land adjacent to the gatehouse of St. Augustine’s Abbey, or Bristol Cathedral. Charles Holden, the architect, has created an Edwardian building that filled me with reverence.  Quietly I mounted the sweeping stairs, from the marbled entrance to the reference library.  Chandeliers dangled from the vaulted glass ceiling, between 2 tiers of galleries crammed with books. The history of Bristol was all around me.

To my enormous relief, there was an alcove where I could plug in my phone, and in a little while had found the number I needed.  There was a temptation to stay cocooned in the library, but it was time to set forth.  I had thought I might visit the botanic gardens at the University of Bristol, but the weather was still unsettled.  The TI was now open, of course, and there were leaflets outside proposing a number of walks.  Banksy perhaps? Just as I was contemplating coffee, I realised that the 11 o’clock walk that I had missed on my previous visit was all set to go. It was meant to be…

The funny thing was that my historic walking tour retraced many of my steps.  Back to Millennium Square, where we discussed Bristol and shipping, overlooked by the globe-shaped Planetarium.  Up to the Cathedral and College Green, this time with highly informative Ken, who covered the slave trade, imports of tea and Fry’s Chocolate factory.  Dates were affixed to the many beautiful architectural details.  While I very much enjoyed having company, one thing of significance did happen.  I had seen an illustration of a Banksy entitled ‘Well Hung Lover’, about which I was curious, but had no idea where to find it.  Would you believe that it was barely two steps from where I had been previously, that morning?

At the junction of College Green with Park Street.  You might have noticed that a watery sunshine was beginning to brighten the skies, and my spirits lifted like the prancing unicorn on the top of City Hall.

The tour continued past the huge old warehouses where Bristol Sherry used to be stored, down to St. Augustine’s Parade and the art deco Hippodrome Theatre, beloved of Cary Grant.  Back to the Floating Harbour and the incredible story of how the river was diverted to ensure that Bristol’s life force, trade and shipping, could continue to prosper.

Huge Queen Square next, and it’s grand Georgian houses.  The Bristol Riots took place here in 1831 and almost 100 of the buildings were burned to the ground.  They’re a feisty lot, Bristolians.  As we looked towards the Bristol Old Vic theatre, currently undergoing renovation, a tribe of Norsemen and their ladies stomped past.

Past the Welsh Backs, and a wonderful jazz pub, ‘The Old Duke’, honky tonk music tripping off the keys.  Our tour ended at St. Nicholas Market, where you can purchase almost anything your heart desires in the lovely old Exchange building, or outside on the busy street.

It was definitely time to take the weight off my feet and I found the perfect venue,  The Cosy Club.  Yet another grade II listed building, and a former bank, the ceilings romped with art and the music had my toes tapping.  A comfortable banquette was my resting place for the next couple of hours. And then it was time to head for the party!

I hope you enjoyed my wanderings in Bristol.  So did I, after a bad start.  If you saw my Six word Saturday you’ll know how the party went.

Definitely time for a cuppa, isn’t it?  I have some wonderful walks to share with you, again. Many thanks to all of you who take part, and to you comfy armchair types too.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’d love it if you could.

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What a privilege to be joined by Tish AND a gardening legend from our past!

Tulips’ Last Hurrah And A Gardening Legend

And if anyone can put a beautiful post together, it’s Debbie :

A Flowering Island

Wander back in time with Drake :

Historical flashback

Nice to see old traditions still observed, but with a modern twist.  Thanks, Lady Lee!

Maypole- raising

What’s Jackie up to this week?

Day 5- So Cal- Solvang 

And where would we be without Woolly?  Still serious this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk18-Anzac-Day-2

Enjoy the gentlest of ‘potter arounds’, with Susan :

Walking Small 

And a sequence of reminiscences and beautiful wistfulness, with Meg :

One tree beach

Eurobodalla beaches : One Tree Beach (the north end)

Delighted to be tiptoeing through the bluebells with Elaine.  Today I’ll be bluebell-ing in Durham, weather permitting :

Bluebell time

While Eunice shows us England’s green and pleasant land in all its beauty :

A woodland walk

My lovely friend, Cathy, is walking marathons around Japan, making the most of her time there :

From Tokyo station to the Imperial Palace Outer Gardens, topped off by a beer garden in Hibiya

That’s all for now, folks!  Hopefully I’m off to count bluebells this morning.  Have yourselves a great week!

Six word Saturday

A tale of two birthday cakes!

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In case you wondered just where I was flying off to last week, I can now reveal all.  It was to a surprise birthday party.  My friend of many years, Joan, had no idea that a party was planned, and even less that I would be there.  I almost didn’t make it because I forgot to take her daughter’s phone number with me.  I couldn’t phone Joan, and spoil the surprise, and I had no idea how to find the house.  Thoughts of wandering around the outskirts of Bristol, asking ‘does anyone know Belinda…?’  Fortunately resourcefulness won and I ended up in Bristol’s very beautiful Central Library, accessing the Internet.  For once, technology was my friend.

After all that, some celebrating was called for, and celebrate we did.  A party last Saturday evening, and a family affair on Monday, which was Joan’s actual birthday.  Two cakes!  I think you’ll agree, it was a Momentous occasion?  And one I simply had to share with you, in just a few more than Six Words.  Thank you Paula, and Debbie, for being such lovely hostesses and providing the stage, and thanks also to Joan and her family, for being the stars of the show. Happy Saturday, everyone!

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Confined

Paula’s Thursday’s Special is full of wonderful images this week.  Life around here has been exceptionally busy and, scrolling back through myriads of photos, I chanced upon the above.  To me, it says ‘confined’, within those windows.  How about you?  I’d better explain that I was at the Sage, Gateshead, attending a song and dance show entitled ‘Remembering Fred’.  Astaire and Rogers always put a twinkle in my eye.  Quite a few people were confined, very happily, in the theatre that night, along with reflections of the Millennium and Tyne bridges.

I think this is a good fit for Dawn’s Lingering Look at Windows too.  I’m hoping Paula won’t mind.

Jo’s Monday walk : Odeleite, a beautiful disaster!

From one extreme to another, last week’s gentle look at village life to this week’s biting off more than you can comfortably chew.  Does this look like a promising start- the cemetery wall in Odeleite?  It was all downhill from here- a seemingly endless set of concrete steps, and yes, I did stop to wonder how I’d find the energy to climb back up them.  But all’s well that ends well, isn’t it?  There was a seat awaiting my return.

Odeleite is such a pretty village, as you can see, though not a little steep.  That morning I was surprised to find a skirmish of bikers, clad in leathers and revving their engines on a narrow terrace.  Much preferring the tranquil life, I moved on.

The first mistake was to follow an inviting sign.  My partner in crime has a nose for these things, so he tells me.  My mistake was to follow him.

The goat did try to warn us!  The water course looked very inviting, and with a picnic I could have lingered, but we had our walking heads on.

Now I have to confess that if things don’t go my way, I can get a little grouchy.  As we climbed the hill, away from the village and leaving the water far behind, I niggled a bit.  After all, we had set out to walk beside the water.  Or at least, I had!  But my persuasive other half insisted that route PR5 was exactly what we needed, and would bring us back to the river, in a loop.

A rock pool or two spliced through the charcoal stone and everywhere rock roses waved and bobbed at our passing.  Hard to stay grumpy in surroundings like this.  After half an hour of dips and rises, we came to a village called Alcaria, where things began to look promising.  It’s well known I can be won over by a glass, or two!

Tucked down a back street, casa do pasto Alberto’s had a couple of outside tables. Unfortunately it was Sunday lunchtime, and inside was heaving with locals, tucking in.  We managed a chunk of gooey meringue apiece, before sadly moving on.  We were about to make our next mistake. The choice was a 2km return to Odeleite or to continue on the PR5.  Blame the wine, if you like, but I found myself agreeing to the latter.

Did you notice that the sign said PR4?  Somewhere along the way we had left our PR5 behind. As we approached the river, a field full of sheep tinkled their bells at us.  We knew that we would have to cross the river to reach Odeleite, but where was the nearest bridge?

Some way distant, of course.  With great relief, we finally crossed a road bridge.  The sign read Foz de Odeleite.  Familiar territory!  At least, I recognised the restaurant.  Still quite a way to go to our destination, but the sky was blue and the scenery beautiful.  And I was following my river!

Over on the far bank we spotted the sheep we had passed earlier.  A tempting tumble of apples by a deserted farmhouse…  if I took one, would a dog race out, barking?  With serenity all around us, it was a shock to the system to find that trouble was lurking, just ahead.

A ford that we really hadn’t bargained for, and quite deep.  Retracing our steps was unthinkable, so it was off with the shoes and a slow, steady wade across, holding hands.  On the far side a Portuguese family watched, the small boy busy amusing himself.  Stones and rivers go together, don’t they, but he stopped play, open-mouthed, to watch our progress.

We dried off, and a sign pointed us directly towards Odeleite.  What could be easier?  Smiling cheerfully at the family, away we went.  Along with the cistus and lavender, tiny blue iris winked shyly at us.

Tired but hopeful, there was yet one more twist in store.  Always observant, my partner had realised that the river was flowing in the ‘wrong’ direction.  Increasingly doubtful, he wanted to go back, ‘just to be sure’.  Abandoning whatever good sense I had left, I returned with him to where the bewildered Portuguese family, fortunately, still remained.  Halting language, gestures and smiles confirmed what I already suspected.  We had been on the right track, and had to retrace our steps.

Eventually, we did make it back to Odeleite, after 6 hours of walking and at least 16km.  As we came into the village, it was immediately obvious the mistake we had made.  Isn’t it always?  We had started out in completely the wrong direction.  The walk we were ‘following’, Terras da Ordem, from the Walking Trails in the Algarve book, gave 2 choices of starting place.  Maybe we’d have been better off with the other! At least we didn’t have to climb those woeful steps.

If you’re feeling brave and want to try it, you need to scroll almost to the end of the website, to page 140.  And in fairness to the better half, we were at the junction of 2 rivers, as the map will show. Confusion all round!

Thanks folks, for following my weary feet.  Sometimes it’s not such a good idea.  I will struggle to respond to you today because very last minute plans mean that I am in Bristol as you read this.  I hope to have WiFi at some point, and if all else fails I’ll be home again late Tuesday. If I haven’t shared your walk this week, it’ll be here next Monday.  Kettle on now, and feet up, my happy band of armchair walkers!

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Becky, the laugh was on us!  One of these days we’ll walk together and I won’t get lost!

Nightingales in the Pomegranate Trees

Bavaria is so pretty, isn’t it?  Lady Lee spent a few days there :

Bamberg – The Changing Seasons

Jackie’s still battling the elements and having fun in California :

Day 3 So Cal- Monterey and Area

Woolly shows his serious side with an Anzac Day post :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk17-Anzac-Day

While Drake has fun with a broken bus in Lancashire :

Wanna be free

Meg keeps me well supplied with beautiful beaches.  Tread carefully on this one!

Eurobodalla beaches : Plantation Point

It remains to say that I hope you had a great weekend, Bank Holiday or otherwise.  Words will struggle to describe mine.

 

Six word Saturday

Flying south again- but not Algarve!

The Brecon Beacons, in case you wondered, but it’s not really a clue.  An unexpected invitation has me up, up and away, dizzy in the clouds, this weekend.  All will be revealed later.  I’m sorry, Debbie, but I won’t be able to link to your six words because I’ve scheduled this, and my Monday walk.  There’s no excuse for not getting out and about on a Bank Holiday, is there? I just need to say that, for anyone thinking of linking a walk to me, if I don’t already have it then I’ll have to save it for the following week.  Us busy people, you know!  Humble apologies!

This is the new bridge into Liverpool.  Looks good, doesn’t it?  Maybe it will be finished next time I fly that way.  Have a great weekend, all!

Wanderlust

Easing out of the clouds and circling round.  Where am I?  Many of you will know the landscape that I sometimes call home.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  The big question.  Can I bear to settle there?  A wanderer for most of my life.

David asks what gives you the Wanderlust.  I’d love to get close to that kangaroo of his.