Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Bristol diary - part 4. Wandering star

...I keep on walking.  It's around the next corner.

Ah, the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge! 

I'm enthralled by Brunel's elegant structure. It's currently undergoing work; on my side here the brickwork is draped in green tarpaulin and scaffolding and I can't seem to get a great photo - but never mind, just seeing it is enough.  I think it's beautiful.

The drama of the Avon Gorge makes me feel momentarily breathless for the second time today.  And everything else around here, big and small, is a joy to witness: the water, the views, the wild flowers, a friendly cat even (what's it doing up here?) and a blaze of fluorescent yellow as some miniature hi-vis jackets gather in the distance, worn by a troop of tiny schoolchildren.  (Either that or it's a gang of vertically-challenged scaffolders.)

I stop walking and just look for a while.  My camera seems redundant.

On the way back I get lost – I was going to say 'slightly' lost, but surely you're either lost or you're not?! - and meander the tranquil residential roads of Clifton (I think) in completely the wrong direction(s), not that it really matters.  I have the navigational prowess of a concussed butterfly.

But once I get back on track (the friendly couple who are pruning a tree and whom I ask for advice suggest I keep the sun on my right hand side, and it works) I recognise Queen's Road.

Here I stop off at the Royal West of England Academy of Art but it's being refurbished, so there's only one small room of drawings on show. Still, I enjoy them... as well as coffee and a slice of cake (orange and frangipane, since you ask).

I've been out for nearly four hours and decide to head back to the harbourside.  Outside the Arnolfini Gallery (also being refurbished - it's not my week!) I'm approached by three men, mid-thirties probably. Two with beards (of course, seeing as nearly every man in his thirties has a beard), one clean-shaven with floppy hair. They have intelligent faces, friendly smiles and, hmm...  a film camera and sound equipment...

Don't know what gets into me when I travel alone but it seems I'm up for anything. Well, almost.

So I say “Yes!” to their proposition (but “No!” to being filmed whilst doing it...)


  1. Great pics and tales C.
    Swiss Adam

  2. Glad you like the bridge. I used to cycle over it, then down the hill to college, in my first degree year. It was fantastic, but he ride back was a lot less amusing. I eventually moved south of the river and did the journey at water level instead.

    Did you know that the bridge was built from second hand parts after Brunel's original extravagant, faux Egyptian design was turned down by the City Fathers for being too pricey? Actually, I think their stinginess was justified, and the simple, elegant alternative looks like it was always meant to be that way. Got to love the cock-up theory of history.

    Apparently, suicides were more frequent during the period when it was painted red too.

    1. Hi Hugh, I didn't know that about the bridge, thanks - that's really interesting, and I agree, it looks just right the way it is (I can't imagine a fancy faux Egyptian design there somehow!) Weird about the suicides too...

      I envy you your college years there. What a great backdrop to your studies.

  3. The navigational prowess of a concussed butterfly - brilliant!

  4. You certainly covered some turf. We are very proud of the bridge and old Brunel. Aimlessly wandering the streets of Clifton is something I have done many times.

    1. So you should be proud... I loved it.
      It's nice to think we've no doubt walked the same streets SB!

  5. Much as I'm enjoying your wonderful photos and also enjoy taking my own, you're quite right, sometimes the camera is redundant. I've often spent precious minutes squinting through the viewfinder, clicking and clicking again and yet still failing to capture what is, in essence, an uncapturable scene. Then I suddenly realise that perhaps instead of trying to photograph it, I should take a moment to really just LOOK.
    Unfortunately, I went too far the other way for a while in the early Noughties, deciding that I wasn't going to take any more photos and instead really try to appreciate and take in everything I saw on my travels. The result being that all I have to show for that whole period are a bunch of muddled, half forgotten memories. I try to strike a balance these days.
    This series just gets better and better C. Very inspiring.

    1. Ah but all of the photos of yours that I have seen have been superb - you have a natural talent for capturing those scenes, even if you don't realise it!
      But yes, the camera is a filter and sometimes an obstacle, sometimes you just have to look and commit to memory... however, as you say, it's good to get a balance - if nothing else even a not very good photo can trigger the memory of the reality for oneself!


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