Bristol

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.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

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!

Clifton windows, Bristol

Who'd live in a house like this? Me, please!

Who’d live in a house like this? Me, please!

I probably shouldn’t, but I never did have any willpower, and I know you’ll want one last Bristol stroll with me.  You do, don’t you?  I promise to keep it short.

The plaque, Sir Abraham Roberts, a distinguished Indian general, in case you wonered

The plaque, Sir Abraham Roberts, a distinguished Indian general, in case you wondered

We seem to be in a very genteel and affluent area of Bristol but, as I stroll, people are going about their every day, and we nod and exchange smiles.  It’s good to be here.

I am purely following my nose, and hoping that I will arrive somewhere I recognise.  I hadn’t realised that Clifton had such mighty architecture as Royal York Crescent.  Adjoining Clifton Village, it is a Grade II listed terrace of 46 houses.  Allegedly the longest terrace in Europe, building began in 1791 but was not completed until 1820.  What is indisputable is that the views from up here are far reaching.

Next, a treat for shoppers

Next, a treat for shoppers

Clifton Arcade is the very height of temptation.  Small, but perfectly formed, it has ’17 unique shops set in Victorian splendour’. Originally opened in 1878, it then fell into disrepair. Beautifully restored, you can even take a virtual tour on the link I have enclosed, and pop in for coffee at the Primrose Cafe.

I have a daughter who would adore this window

I have a daughter who would adore this window

A veritable Aladdin's cave of nostalgia

A veritable Aladdin’s cave of nostalgia

I promised to be short, so maybe this is a good time to leave you browsing.  There are modern items alongside the nostalgia.  Have fun, won’t you?  I really do need to go.

For those of you I have confused (sorry, Meg) I have a 2 week laze about in the Algarve, then am home for 6 days before gallivanting off to a wedding in Poland.  Sigh!  The things you have to do to be Restlessjo.  But first I must link to Dawn, who loves lingering at windows.

No more Bristol!  Toodle pip!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : On the Waterfront, Bristol

Harbourside in Bristol

Harbourside in Bristol

Everywhere looks better with blue skies and Bristol’s waterfront is no exception.  I thought my luck had changed on the last day of my visit, as the skies turned to steely grey and the damp stuff arrived.  But Bristol didn’t let me down.  One cappuchino and a visit to the cathedral later, a walk along the waterfront became a distinct possibility.  So, what are we waiting for?

I have to confess that the photo above was taken from on board the Bristol Packet.  Everything doesn’t always go to plan, and when I turned up for a guided walking tour of the city I was told that it had been cancelled.  ‘Too many people in the city’, due to the Balloon Festival, was the reason given.  Nothing for it but to take to the water.  No hardship there- but I digress!

Bristol’s Floating Harbour is a huge tribute to the resourcefulness of man.  In 1809, 80 acres of tidal river were impounded to begin the taming of the estuary.  Bristol had developed at the most downstream point at which it was possible to cross the River Avon, 6 miles inland.

The tidal range of the Bristol Channel is the second greatest of any in the world.  The tide can rise and fall as much as 14 metres twice a day.  This was an advantage and a disadvantage for sailing ships in the old days.  They could be carried all the way to Bristol on the current, but equally well they could be stranded in the mud when the tide turned.  Bristol merchants had to think of a way of damming the river, allowing the ships that were in the river to stay afloat.  Thus, a ‘floating harbour’.  I found a fascinating video which explains in more detail.

The cathedral is just beyond the Floating Harbour and I headed for Watershed, a good-looking building which now houses the Tourist Information Office.  A series of cafes and restaurants line the harbourside, and behind these are Bristol Aquarium and the Science Centre. Plenty to do on a rainy day, and interesting exhibits outside too.

The water feature was first to attract my attention

The water feature was first to attract my attention

But something interesting was going on in the background!

But something interesting was going on in the background!

IMG_7308

There was a solar energy project, and sculptures I rather liked too.  Black and white, for Paula.

A little damp to be a scribe!

Rather damp to be a scribe!

The sky still a little heavy, I returned to the waterfront and continued to follow it inland.  Modern and stylish apartments sit back from the promenade, interspersed with cafes and bars.

Heading around the waterfront

Heading around the waterfront

Life on a narrowboat?

Life on a narrowboat?

Beside the ruins of a former mill

Beside the ruins of a former mill

And in the background, the 'SS Great Britain'

And in the background, the ‘SS Great Britain’

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, designer of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, was one of the engineering giants of the 19th century.  At age just 27 he was chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, linking Bristol to London.  He then turned his attention to trans-Atlantic travel, and his steam ship ‘The Great Western’ crossed the ocean from Bristol to New York in 1838, a journey of 15 days.

Her successor, ‘SS Great Britain’, was the world’s first iron passenger liner.  At the time of her launch in 1843 she was the largest ship in the world, and had an innovative screw propeller in place of conventional paddle wheels.  She had a long and illustrious career, sailing the world as a passenger ship for 30 years, before converting to cargo.  Old and tired, she was finally recovered from the Falklands and returned to Bristol as a hulk in 1970.  Restoration has seen her take pride of place today as a first class visitor attraction, in the dock in which she was originally built.

'SS Great Britain'

‘SS Great Britain’ visitor centre

Maybe you remember 'On the Waterfront'

Do you remember my friend, ‘On the Waterfront’?

Junction Lock Bridge

Junction Lock Bridge leading to Cumberland Basin

Is anybody hungry?

Is anybody hungry?

I had promised myself a visit to ‘The Pump House’ when I passed it on my long walk home from the Balloon Festival.  The building housed the original hydraulic pumping system for operating the lock gates, and is a beautiful conversion.  As luck would have it the rain was starting again- the perfect excuse.

When the rain eased, I continued on towards the lock into the Avon Gorge.  The current lock was opened in 1873 and can accommodate the largest ships that can navigate the Avon.  From here it is 6 miles by water to the mouth of the river, where it joins the Severn estuary. Ahead you can see Clifton Suspension Bridge, but beyond this point a busy road runs close to the river, and it becomes less appealing to follow.

A tour boat passes through the lock

A tour boat passes through the lock

The logical thing to do, if you have the stamina, is to cross over the harbour and return along the opposite shore of the waterfront.  You could call in at the SS Great Britain or visit the Museum of Bristol in M-Shed.  The wharves here were wiped out during heavy bombing in the Blitz and this free museum tells the story of the city.

Another alternative is to catch a ferry.  There are numerous ferry stops along the river, and you can travel all the way round to Temple Meads station (another Brunel wonder) if you wish.  It was my last day in Bristol and I wanted to see a little more of Clifton Village, so I rather foolishly clambered back up the steep side of the gorge.  Maybe we’ll have time for a look at the village another day, but for now I’m going to amble back along the quay, in my watery element.

Making the most of the sunshine

Making the most of the sunshine

Now I’m back at my start point on St. Augustine’s Reach, named for the abbey church of St. Augustine (now Bristol Cathedral).  The Reach was the course of the River Frome, diverted into this man-made trench in 1247.  You will see from the Floating Harbour video that the water once continued into what is now Millenium Square and the heart of the city.  I have still to mention Pero’s Bridge (a reference to an enslaved African boy) and then our walking tour is done.

And all ends peacefully

And all ends peacefully

I expect you’re a little tired, but the good news is that I’m missing from the walks for two weeks so you can have a lovely rest.  I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at Bristol as much as I did. And now it’s surely time to put that kettle on!

walking logo

Before I go I have some more wonderful walks to share with you.  Thank you so much for all the support and encouragement I receive. If you have any walks that you would like to link up, now or in the future, the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo.  Do, please!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I think I spotted a friend on the beach at Le Havre, with thanks to Drake!

Walk on water or almost

Not quite so cheery trawling a graveyard but the company is good.  Cheers, Jude!

Discovering St. Leonards

Nobody does reflection like Suzanne!  Or Impressionism, come to that :

A walk in the gardens

You will not believe how gorgeous these shoes are in stained glass!  Thanks, Jackie!

Bata Shoe Museum

But you can believe that when Amy posts photos of Banff they are fantastic!

Monday walk : Exploring Banff Lakes

Equally beautiful, even with a hint of snow, Ruth tiptoes along a mountain path :

A Walk on Mount Wellington 

Jaspa is back this week with a South American saga :

Exploring Lima’s Historic Centre on foot

And, responding magnificently to the WP weekly challenge….  thank you, Gilly!

Things you see on a good day

Becky has shared a wonderful reminder of why I’m looking forward to the Algarve this week :

Strolling in Silves

Thanks everybody, and that just leaves me to say that bright and early on Thursday I will be heading south.  I hope to catch up with all of you before I go, and there might even be another post.  Look after yourselves, happy walking and I’ll see you soon.  While I’m gone you might like to try a Monday Escape?

Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-banner

Let’s count ‘Shauns’ in the City!

Jarsberry Ram

‘Jarsberry Ram’, at The Pump House

In my Monday walk this week we had a smile at ‘Wish ewe were here’.  Throughout the city of Bristol, for the rest of this month, 70 endearing sheep sculptures are to be found.  The Shaun in the City  trail, in aid of the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, has brought joy to young and old alike.  The detail and humour in the sculptures raises many a smile, if not a giggle!

Let me introduce you to a few more Shauns.  Just click on a photo to open the galleries.

I had gone to Bristol to watch the hot air balloon festival, in the grounds of the Ashton Court estate.  Naturally there was a Shaun overseeing the restaurant, but I had more of an eye for the lovely gardens.

Meet 'Buttercup'

Meet ‘Buttercup’

Looking back to the house

Looking back to the house

I wish now that I’d carried my ‘Shauns’ map around with me, like many of the eager-eyed children (and grandparents!) I saw.  Looking back I find that I’ve blithely walked within metres of a few of them in all ignorance.  Never mind- the show must go on!

After I left my lovely friend Viveka, I went strolling canalside.  Boats, bridges… the lure is always the same for me.  And sheep, of course.

Valentine's Bridge- isn't this a nice one?

Valentine’s Bridge- isn’t this a nice one?

Temple Meads Station was a great venue.

Are you starting to feel a little sleepy?  Not long now!  The cathedral was beautiful but I haven’t time to take you inside or we’ll never get there.  I did feel sheepish when I put my donation in the collecting box for children’s drawings of Shaun by mistake!  I expect it’ll find a good home.

'Air Fleece'

‘Air Fleece’- still raining a bit, but brighter

'on the Waterfront' I was in my element

‘On the Waterfront’ I was in my element

I have shown you only a taster of what is available to see and do in Bristol.  So what are you waiting for?  Grab a map and go!  If by any chance you can’t make it by the end of this month, Shaun will be gathering a few more friends and meeting at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol from 12-20th September.

Don’t feel hard done by if you live in our capital!  There’s a ewe-nique opportunity to see the whole flock together at Covent Garden in London, from 24-27th September.  And if all else fails, perhaps you’d like to bid for a Shaun at auction?  Go on- you know you want to! Register here.

It’s a bit grey in Hartlepool today but looking at these has made me smile.  I hope it’s done the same for you.  Don’t forget your Saturday visit to Cate with your ‘six words’.  I hope to see you on Monday, when I will be taking one more walk in Bristol before I disappear off to the Algarve for a week or two. (it will be SO peaceful while I’m gone)

6wsButton

Cabot Tower in Bristol

Cabot Tower, Bristol

Cabot Tower, Bristol

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.

It doesn't look too high, does it?

It doesn’t look too high, does it?

Just add this little bit on at the bottom

Just add this little bit on at the bottom

Rather a nice sentiment

Rather a nice sentiment

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!

One more look, and up I go!

One more look, and up I go!

That wasn't so bad, was it?

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

But I can climb higher!

But I can climb higher!

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.

And here I am!

And here I am!

The cathedral- another lovely buildong

The cathedral- another lovely building

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!

Meet 'From dusk till Shaun'

Meet ‘From dusk till 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!

Jo’s Monday walk : Clifton Suspension Bridge and Observatory

Clifton Suspension bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

You may remember in The Time of my life I wished I could be in two places at once?  I was watching the hot air balloons launch at Ashton Court in Bristol, but wishing I could be up at Clifton Suspension Bridge to see them float overhead too.  The bridge has a spectacular location at the head of the Avon Gorge and I thought I might take you there this week.

I left home on an early morning flight, bound for The Washington Hotel in Clifton.  The receptionist there very kindly pointed me in the direction of the bridge and I did what I do best- follow my nose!  I was extremely pleased to turn a corner and see before me the Avon Gorge Hotel.  It has a highly recommended sun terrace with views out over the bridge.

And towards Bristol!

And towards Bristol, in the other direction

A good place to start our walk, I think.  I had rather a surprise when I turned to look at the suspension bridge.  A sheep was keeping his watchful eye on me!

That’s put a smile on your face, hasn’t it?  And a good thing too because I should warn you, there’ll be a bit of ‘uphill’ involved in our walk today.

‘Wish Ewe were here’ is one of 70 Shauns liberally scattered around Bristol’s many attractions this Summer.  You can follow the Shaun in the City trail around Bristol until 31st August, after which the flock will be herded in the direction of Covent Garden in London. Aside from delighting adults and children alike, the sheep are raising money for charity.  I did spot quite a few, which I’ll share with you in another post, but today you might like to take a look at Viveka‘s.

A look out at the bridge and we're on our way

A look at the bridge, and we’re on our way

Turning left out of the hotel, you can see the bridge ahead.  I was a little disappointed that one pillar was swathed in white, but repairs were necessary.  Clifton Suspension Bridge was opened in 1864 and is a Grade 1 listed toll bridge, though foot passengers can cross for free.

Initially we are going to climb the hill to Clifton Observatory.  I promise you, the views are worth it!  Site of a former mill, 337 feet above the Avon Gorge, the cliff top was used as a look out post as far back as the Iron Age.  Today the building functions as a camera obscura.  William West, an artist, rented the mill as a studio and installed telescopes and the camera obscura to facilitate drawing the gorge and Leigh Woods on the opposite bank of the river.

Looking down from the Observatory to the bridge

Looking down from the Observatory to the bridge

A plant lovers paradise

A plant lover’s paradise

I think you will agree that the view is magnificent

I think you will agree that the view is magnificent

Samuel Jackson's watercolour from 1825

Samuel Jackson’s watercolour from 1825

Looking down into the gorge

Looking down into the gorge

Having gazed our fill, it’s time to head back down and cross the bridge itself for still more magnificent views.  I hope you have a head for heights?  Suspended 75 metres above the Avon Gorge, it is an awesome feat of engineering.

Looking up!

Looking up!

The Observatory seen from the bridge

The Observatory seen from the bridge

The River Avon below twists and turns into the distance

The River Avon below twists and turns into the distance

One of the things I’d hoped to do was to take a boat trip through the Avon Gorge, to see it properly from the river.  The gorge is home to many rare plants, in particular the whitebeam trees, some of which grow nowhere else in the world.  Amongst these are Bristol whitebeams, Wilmott’s, Houston’s and Leigh Woods varieties.  Rock cress and Bristol onion can be found clinging to the cliffs and in late Summer the delicate lilac flowers of Autumn Squill.

An evening visit would find the bridge beautifully illuminated, and in the dusk, Jackdaw and horseshoe bats swooping from their homes in the caves.  The Visitor Centre on the Leigh Woods side of the bridge will provide you with a full and fascinating history, and on Summer Saturdays and Sundays you can take a free tour of the bridge itself.

The supporting tower on the Leigh Woods side of the gorge

The supporting tower on the Leigh Woods side of the gorge

Looking back through the tower

Looking back through the tower

Although similar in size, the supporting towers of the bridge are not identical.  I was unable to verify this as the tower on the Clifton side was under wraps.  The visible tower stands 85 feet tall. Roller-mounted ‘saddles’ at the top of each tower allow slight movement to the chains when loads pass over the bridge.  I was amazed at how ‘solid’ the bridge felt beneath my feet, despite the fragility of its appearance.

The bridge is credited to a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but has a colourful history.  I was interested to find that its predecessor was a stone bridge, built in the 13th century, on which were built houses 5 stories high.  Wikipedia is very informative on the subject if you would like to know more.  Our little walk can be completed with a return over the bridge, and maybe lunch at the Avon Gorge Hotel with those wonderful views.  Or you might like a wander through charming Clifton Village for a wider choice.  I’m going to head down beneath the bridge for a different view, but you don’t have to follow.

The bridge in silhouette

The bridge in silhouette

Looking back up

Looking back up

I hope you enjoyed my Monday wander as much as I did.  Perhaps you can see now why I would have liked to see those hot air balloons above the bridge. Maybe another time?  For now let’s get that kettle on, relax, and put our feet up.

walking logo

Grateful thanks, as always, to my many contributors this week.  I love walking with you all and sharing your company.  For anyone wishing to join in, my Jo’s Monday walks page will give you the details if you just click on the logo.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The first two lovely ladies had to wait patiently while I was away last weekend, so please do visit :

In our topsy-turvy world- fabulous snow shots from Ruth in Tasmania- brrrrh!

A walk in the snow

And a gentle piece of reminiscence with Jill.  Stories beautifully told- don’t miss this!

The Old Custom House : a photographer’s delight

If you’d like to be transported to an Impressionist world, Drake will take you there :

Heaven on earth, a paradise

Debbie always stops to admire interesting architecture.  Take a look!

On Emerald Hill

Just what I could do with right now- a stroll in beautiful botanic gardens.  Many thanks, Anabel!

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Can I count this as my entry this week, Jude?  Only joking!  Thanks a lot, Amy!

Monday Walk : Banff Springs and Bench Series

Geoff is prone to a bit of a ramble :

In search of an identity- one walk, one dream

Planting acorns seems like a nice idea.  Find out how with Denzil :

Erezee: A breath of fresh Ardennes air

Drake tugs at my heart strings with a second walk this week :

Wondering walk in Paris

While Meg showers me with the most delicious orchids!  And that’s not all!

Gilgandra Flora Reserve

Still in Australia, Rosemay shows us just why Perth is the perfect home for her :

Our Adopted Home- Perth and South Western Australia

I’ve had some beautiful shares in the 18 months of Jo’s Monday walks but none lovelier than this. Thanks, Jude!

I promised you a rose garden

I hate for it to end in tears, but I’m afraid it rather does for Pauline and Jack!  Get well soon, sir!

Ups and downs in Brisbane

That’s it for another week!  Next week I think I’ll take you harbourside.  Don’t forget, those folks at Monday Escapes have lots to entertain you too.  But the main thing is to have a happy week ahead.  See you next time.

Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-banner

Saving the best till the last?

IMG_6965

Most of you will know that I had the most amazing time at Bristol Hot Air Balloon Festival last weekend.  I shared my best photos in The time of my life but I did want to give you a little flavour of the spectacular Nightglow and fireworks that ended the show.

My little digital really wasn’t up to the task but to my surprise my smartphone was capable, despite the wobbly, excited hands of the photographer.  Trouble is, I haven’t found a way to upload it to share with you.  Well, there’s always a way, isn’t there, so I spent some time this morning searching through YouTube.  I don’t think that this video fully captures the electric atmosphere, but maybe that was just me getting over excited.  It starts slowly and is quite long, so I would suggest you fast forward and watch snippets.  You do get to see the fireworks at the end, though, which is more than I managed.  I was taking a long walk home!  Hopefully next time I’ll be a little wiser. Still I was lucky- the event was so popular that some people were stuck in traffic and didn’t even make it.

It just remains for me to say ‘thank you Bristol’ and hope to see you again.

Have a great Saturday and don’t forget to visit Cate with your six words.

6wsButton

The time of my life!

You are about to see penguins fly!

You are about to see penguins fly!

There must be something about August!  Apart from it being the height of an English Summer and my wedding anniversary month, I seem to have some of my very best memories from then. You have no idea how ridiculously excited I was to be going to the Bristol Balloon Festival!  And I wasn’t even flying (maybe someday?)

I won’t share with you the whole saga right now.  Sufficient to say that it was a very long walk home (even by Restlessjo standards), and that the people of Bristol are some of the nicest folk I’ve ever met.  Are you ready for this?

It all starts with the moment that life is breathed into these beauties

It all starts with the moment that life is breathed into these beauties

Look Mum! I'm surrounded by balloons!

Look Mum! I’m surrounded by balloons!

Even a square one!

Even a square one!

I had arrived at the showground early, and been royally entertained with flying model aircraft and the beautiful gardens at Ashton Court- all in radiant sunshine.  But there was no doubt of the spectacle that everyone wanted to see, and excitement began to build as the teams drove out onto the field.  The baskets were tipped inelegantly on their sides and the balloons draped around them.

As the first one juddered and stammered to life, a thrill went through the crowd.  And then it was proudly erect!  Pink, white and perfect, it waited patiently while all the other balloons performed their own ballet.

Faster and faster they rose!

Faster and faster they rose!

As the baskets were righted and the excited passengers climbed in, it was the job of one man to hang on to a rope for dear life to stop the balloon plunging away.  In moments they were airborne, one after another, amid the gasps of spectators.  Necks craned and we waved as the passengers waved back.

Against a mackerel sky

Against a mackerel sky

Who could help but smile?

Who could help but smile?

And wave!

And wave!

Although the skies were clear and bright there was still some doubt as to how many balloons would be able to take off.  The occasional gust of wind across the airfield gave no real sense of how breezy it might be in the skies overhead.  But one by one they pulled away, and the excitement never faded.

A certain twosome were eagerly waiting

A certain twosome were eagerly waiting

And then there was Swatch

And then there was Swatch

Anyone know these guys?

Anyone know these guys?

Airborne at last!

Airborne at last!

Don't forget the polar bears!

Don’t forget the polar bears!

In minutes they were clear of the trees and gone, in the direction of the city and Clifton Suspension Bridge.  Part of me wished I was waiting by the bridge, but there is no guarantee in which direction they will head, air currents being vital to this.  On the field, the numbers of balloons dwindled, but I remained rapt.

Two red letter days?

Two red letter days?

But look whose turn it is next!

But look whose turn it is next!

Totally adorable!

Totally adorable!

'Balloons' was one of the last to take to the sky

‘Balloons’ was one of the last to take to the sky

And then it was over, for a little while.  Wilkinson Cup began to be deflated and the balloonists were off being collected from their respective landings.  That would be fun to see too!  Then began the wait for evening and Nightglow.

The cup takes a curtain call

The cup takes a curtain call

Without ever seeing Paula’s Guest Challenge this week, I knew that the subject was Time, and that with Debbie in the driving seat there wouldn’t be much of it to spare.  Mine is rather a large ‘snippet of time’ but a very special one, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it with me.  Please click on the links to see Debbie’s wonderful post, and Paula’s interpretation of it.  I hope I can play my part in making Thursday special.

And I musn’t forget a mention of a very special friend, whom I was lucky enough to meet in Bristol.  Viveka, this one’s for you!