Spontaneity In Bristol

**I wrote this after visiting Bristol in September 2016. I’ve just come across it now and thought I’d share our experience – we had such a fun day out!

We took the train from Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads, around a 90-minute journey, on a rainy Saturday morning. We had no agenda and decided that the day was best left to spontaneity and fate. After we consulted a map of the area, we let the kids choose which direction to roam. We wandered towards the old town, passing the Church of St Mary Redcliffe (stunning gothic architecture), we crossed Queen Square and decided to lunch at some small outdoor street food stalls at the Harbourside Market. Pizza, Thai food and many variety of over the top donuts later, it was then time for some much needed caffeine. I read that Small Street Espresso was fab so we made a B-line for it. Walking up Corn Street we came across St Nicholas Market, which reminded us of a smaller version of the Portobello market, where clothing and antiques were peddled. At the coffee house the knowledgeable barista recommended a local roaster (can’t remember the name) for our flat white and it was spot on.

There seemed to be waterways in every direction in this city and water taxis were the way to get around. We took a ferry from Castle Park to the Bristol Marina. The fresh air was invigorating as the sun started to make its way out. The kids especially enjoyed a break from walking and we managed to cover a large distance quickly this way. The ferry ride was inexpensive, a couple of pounds each. The harbourside walk lining the Kennet and Avon Canal was alive with cafés, street performers, tourists and locals alike. People watching here was spectacular. 

At the marina we admired the colourful houses of Windmill Hill opposite us before we made our way to the Albion Dockyard to find our first Banksy of the day, Girl with a Pierced Eardrum. It was large and impressive up close and we all admired the skill of the artist to have created it.

As we wandered on we saw crowds gathered and a helicopter hovering. We all agreed that we should go and check it out. It turned out that we stumbled upon the British Classic cycle race. Literally two minutes later all of the cyclists zoomed past us in a blur of excitement. What timing we had!

British Classic 2016

We popped into The M Shed museum, which is free. It was an eye pleasing display of all things Bristol. We found Banksy’s Grim Reaper inside – in the Bristol People section. Lots of fun and interactive displays throughout kept the kids, and frankly the adults, entertained. Wish I had had more time to explore that day. Everyone was hungry so we cut our time short to find an early dinner before hopping on our train home.

I loved this town. I loved that more people than not had Manic Panic hair and skin cloaked in tattoos, that there were food and drinks stalls around every corner, that people were out being active no matter their age or the hilly incline. It felt very hip, healthy and alternative. The vibe made me want for more. Maybe next time…

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