blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Now in Bristol

At the Za Za Bazaar, for supper, a rather brash choose-what-you-like, all-you-can-eat place at the top of a former warehouse by one of the "basins" (old docks) in the mouth of the River Avon. The last time we were staying in Bristol (four years ago), a colleague of Chris' took us to the same restaurant, a few steps from the Marriott Royal hotel where we're staying / where the Safety-critical Systems Symposium is held. Chris has been in this hotel all day today.

We arrived yesterday and were able to check in early, spending the rest of the afternoon exploring the nearby districts on foot, in the rain; my small umbrella was useless, kept blowing inside out and poking passers by in the eye. Up the hill to the university, turning left onto Clifton Hill, till we came to the old graveyard and the hooped Birdcage Walk. You can see the Avon from the end of it, although the famous bridge is out of sight. I had a feeling we'd be able to get down to the riverfront from there, and I was right. We reached the foot of Brandon Hill and crossed over the road to the Capricorn Quay, getting a good view of the SS Great Britain permanently moored on the other bank. On past visits to Bristol, we've seen the inside of that wonderful ship, a major tourist attraction here. Thence back along the Hannover Quay to the Millenium Square, all modern developments. I had a nap in the hotel bedroom after that and then attended the Evensong service in Bristol Cathedral, where the cathedral choir sang the Smith responses, and a Howells service and anthem. It was the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne, so we had the appropriate prayers read, and I liked the choice of Psalm (Psalm 30). Best of all, I got to sing too in the hymn: All People That On Earth Do Dwell (the "old hundredth"), with an adventurous organ accompaniment, confidently played. I was a little annoyed that an otherwise very polite young cleric threw me firmly out of the cathedral before the organist had finished playing his voluntary at the end of the service. We close at six, I was told. Supper at a fish and chip shop across the road (Catch 22) where melodramatic old film posters with an oceanic theme decorated the walls.

This sunny morning I was out before breakfast to walk to Bristol Temple Meads station for breakfast before catching the train to Cardiff and a connecting train to Llandaf to visit Mum once more. The walk takes me across the footbridges and Queen Square with its large trees, elegant 18th century buildings created from the proceeds of the slave trade, and its statue of King William III.

In the evening the most prominent parts of the wharfs are floodlit, including a stately three-master, looking very romantic by moonlight.

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