A birthday trip to Bristol.

Sunday 16 September 2018 – Bristol.

Staring out of the hotel window, I waited for something to happen. Street walkers, workers or cleaners, a homeless person looking for somewhere to rest weary feet, maybe students heading home, something. Maybe even a passing bus, or better still one that stops to disgorge a wobbly drunk or a hurried worker returning home.

But no; nothing, nada, not a thing. So here is a picture of a bus stop at night with nothing happening. I do like the photo though.

It is Saturday night; late evening to be honest, we are tired and full from a long day and an excellent pre-birthday meal, and we are in Clifton, Bristol. Nothing happening out the window, good. Perhaps a full night of sleeping ahead!

This morning we were up early as I drove us and a car load of Charlie’s possessions down to Exeter as he prepares to start his third year of university. Charlie had made his way down earlier in the week which was convenient as the car was chocker with his stuff and he would have been strapped to the roof, or vice-versa.

It is my birthday on Monday, so we decided to break the trip to Exeter up with a night in Bristol, and have a birthday meal there. I love Bristol, but in a different way to how I love Edinburgh. My experience of Edinburgh is hotels, clean streets, old buildings, nice restaurants, wine and whisky. My Bristol experience is the complete opposite. Staying with my daughter, Meliesha in over-full shared houses in run down suburbs, cans of Polish lager, street art, loud dance music, mad conversations over shared vegetarian meals and drinking in student pubs.

On the way to Bristol we took a side trip to lunch with Meliesha, and her boyfriend in a small off the beaten-track pub near the M5. For the life of me I cannot remember where it was. It was good to see Meliesha again. She has been in Ireland and is soon back to Spain. Oh, the life she leads.

El and I took a hotel in Clifton, away from the city centre and club districts, a bit more genteel than Stokes Croft; and close to the wonderful suspension bridge. I was hoping it would be quiet, but it wasn’t really. There was not full night of sleeping ahead.

We arrived mid afternoon and took a walk to the bridge. Built in 1864 it spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, it is a magnificent thing and a big tourist draw. There were a lot of people there. We took a walk around Clifton village, which we both particularly liked. It is resolutely middle class, there is no graffiti and street art here, no huddled street drinkers, except in the village street fair, where beers were expensive.

As it was my birthday weekend El had booked us dinner in the Clifton Lido Restaurant. The restaurant is in the local outdoor swimming pool. All that was available was an early evening booking so there were still a number of people swimming below us as we ate, which was quite relaxing; for me anyway, I wasn’t swimming. The restaurant is fabulous, the food was interesting and lovely, great wine range and the service was outstanding; all represented in the price on the menu, it is not cheap. I hardly ever recommend places in posts, but I do recommend The Lido. It was a wonderful birthday meal, thanks El 🙂

After dinner we walked back to the bridge to allow food to settle before heading back to the room, where i didn’t sleep due to noisy people on the street, and then the paper thin walls in the hotel as the late night folk came home at 3. Oh well…

On Sunday morning we had breakfast in one of the local Clifton cafes, which was almost as good as dinner; there is some fantastic eating to be had in Clifton, and Bristol. We were not in any rush to head back to London so walked down from Clifton into Bristol itself.

I wanted to have a walk through Stokes Croft to look for some of the street art that was there, I was a little surprised at how run down Stokes Croft looked early on a Sunday morning. It seemed to be a worse than I remember. There were a lot of homeless an street drinkers out, not that I am blaming them for their predicament, nor for the states of the street. I was just shocked at the numbers. Things are worse here than I thought; Brexit surprises me less when I leave the shelter of my London bubble, I can see why people want change. Though Bristol was a staunch ‘remain’ city.

I took a photo of on old piece of Phlegm street art, he is still my favourite.

We walked down and around through the city centre aiming for M Shed, one of Bristol’s museums. There was an exhibition of Bristol music, which I thought was excellent, though they didn’t mention one of my current favourite bands, Spectres, who are Bristol residents, which surprised me a bit as they have some notoriety and should be locally known, and celebrated.

Another good weekend away. I love this country xx

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
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