Sunday, 29 September 2013

Making Sunday special

Today was our last day in Bristol and we certainly made it another special day. It started with a lung-bursting walk - climb more like - to the rarefied heights of Clifton where the affluent Georgian merchants who built the city's fortune built their elegant houses up and away from the noisy, drunken, dangerous docklands that had created their wealth.
Today's Clifton is still home of the affluent elite, paying top whack prices for tiny terraced houses to live amidst the trendy restaurants, boutiques, bars and bespoke kitchen companies (I've never seen so many of these in a couple of streets).
But the thrills of Clifton for the visitor like us are the spectacular views over the Avon Gorge and, of course, a walk across Brunel's iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge.
How strange that his most famous achievement and Bristol's landmark feature was a commercial disaster in its day and only completed after his death and some 30 years after he designed it.
The Bridge was built in the spirit of the great Victorian age of enterprise and engineering but its prime purpose was so that those wealthy Clifton-ites could cross the river without having to descend among the riff-raff in the city below.

The fabulous Ambling Band - a still photo can't convey the energy
But if the morning was fascinating, the afternoon was a delight. We had, it turned out, happened into Bristol on one of its monthly 'Make Sunday Special' days when large parts of the city centre are closed to traffic and opened to street performers, bands, kiddies' entertainments, food and craft stalls and much more – including armchairs on the streets to watch the shows! On a sunny Sunday it was alive and buzzing. The brilliant Ambling Band, a kind of New Orleans jazz band on LSD (look 'em up on You Tube ) were our favourite.
Teaching the crowds African dancing
Street chess matches
Top marks to Bristol Council for setting up these events - another object lesson in how to bring people back to our dying city centres. People were there in thousands, having fun - and spending money.
It was a great, great end to our time there. We are very sad to be leaving the city: the last time we felt this way about departing was leaving Liverpool after a similarly magnificent stay.
"Will you be coming back," the Henham lock-keeper asked as we left. You bet!


  1. I told you that you would enjoy THE BRIDGE. Now where?

  2. Looking forward to seeing pictures of Harry in the estuary and then safe into the Gloucester canal. Hope you got the de-compressors freed off for the river!