(Sorry no links in this one as I’m posting from a friend’s computer in Germany and have to jump in a car in 5 mins)

My maternal grandmother grew up in England, and went to school for a time in Bristol, not too far from her parents’ home in Bridgwater, Somerset. Nearly six years ago, after returning from my three week trip to Uganda, I spent several days with my great-aunt and great-uncle in Taunton, Somerset, and got a chance to visit Bridgwater and pass by the house in which Granny lived on Castle Street.

My boss during my internship, Fraser, lives in Bristol and invited me to work from his house there for a few days after our mountain biking weekend, so I could have a look around. Of course I had to try and see if I could visit some of the places Granny would have been over 80 years ago. I got my mother to ask Granny a bunch of questions about her time spent in Bristol, without letting on that I was actually there. I then set about town looking for a bunch of stuff she spoke of, using Google Earth and Google Maps and the various references and names Granny gave my mother. I was really surprised at how much of it I could find.

First, though, a funny photo for my friends. 13 years of primary and secondary school with a majority of students being Filipino, I thought some of my friends might appreciate this. It’s some sort of candy bar from Spain that was in Fraser’s house. So now you can buy and eat Filipinos for less than a Euro.

One thing that wouldn’t have been around when Granny was in Bristol: Banksies. This one, a relatively old piece of street art by the world famous Bristolian, who now lives in London, is quite high up on the side of the building. It ‘just appeared’ one day:

There was an old bike in Fraser’s garage, so I spent half an hour adjusting and fixing it, then off I went to explore Bristol by bike.

Here’s a somewhat strange building in the Clifton Downs, a nice semi-wilderness area of Bristol near the River Avon:

Looking East, South, and West from the cliffs above the river:

Granny told Mom that she went to a school called Felixstowe School which was in a large house right next to the Mayor’s house. Google Maps told me that the Mayor’s house was in the Zoo grounds, which was wrong. It also told me there was a Felixstowe Cottage located a few blocks from there. As it turns out, there is no Felixstowe Cottage on the street that Google Maps lists, but there IS a Felixstowe House on the next street, which happens to be right next door to the Mayor’s mansion. I find it quite impressive that, despite Granny’s 99 years of age, her memory is more reliable than Google Maps.

This is one of the buildings the school used to own. It’s now something private, not sure what. The other attached house was also part of the school and is now a fancy building for a bank.

The Mayor’s mansion is the building on the left. The one on the right is the old Felixstowe School.

Granny said she used to cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge to go to a church she liked in Leigh Woods, so I decided to find it. The Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by the very well known (at least in Britain) architect/engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It’s now 144 years old and still carries tonnes of traffic and people across every day.

The view from the North end of the bridge, looking West. I bet I could convince many Vancouverites that this is somewhere near the Upper Levels or similar.

The bridge is undergoing some maintenance; as far as I can tell it’s just repaving the deck. Looking South:

Looking back North:

Looking back North, on the West side of the bridge. Check out the tunnel that comes out of the rocks. I haven’t yet taken the time to find out what the deal is with that, but it sure looks neat!

Looking North:

When I got across the bridge, I cycled up a side road and found the only Anglican church in Leigh Woods: St Mary the Virgin. Near as I can tell, this must be the church that Granny would have attended all those years ago, as it did exist at that time. It’s in a really nice area, which actually felt to me a bit like Bowen Island.

I then went off to look for a cycle trail through the woods to take me down to the river’s edge. A few blocks along, I spotted this awesomecool roof:

Down at the river’s edge, while I was looking at my map and deciding where I was, I saw this:

Turning about 120 degrees, this was the view on the other side of the trail: a bridge for the old decommissioned railway:

And behind the bridge, in the forest, oldschool stone walls to channel water under the bridge and into the river:

Looking East from the same spot:

I then cycled East on the trail along the edge of the river, in the direction of the suspension bridge. This is a proper sized tree growing out of the side of a retaining wall for the old rail line:

I was standing on top of these cliffs when I took the first three photos of the river, at the start of this post:

Not sure why I find this funny, but it is:

Read the story, it’s neat:

Looking East toward the bridge that I had crossed earlier:

The cycle trail:

My poor attempt to make a panorama shot of the bridge’s underside by stitching together three photos taken from direcly beneath the South end:

East of the bridge, still on the South shore of the river, looking North:

Eventually I returned to the city centre. This replica boat, the Mathew, is on display there. Apparently it used to sail to the Americas, but it’s pretty small.

Old school loading crane:

There was a dragon boat race as I passed by, so I watched. Team 2 won I think.

This crazy boat caught my attention. The sign on the stone wall just left of the bow says “No Mooring”

And that was my Bristol adventure!

2 thoughts on “Bristol

  1. So your Granny didn’t know you were in Bristol? Has she seen the pictures yet?

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