Monday, 23 December 2013

Bristol Day-Trip

Hello, hello, poor neglected blog!  Three months is a long time between posts, so now that I'm sort of on Christmas vacation, I will try to catch you up on my Michaelmas adventures - DPhil strategies that mostly seemed to work and trip pictures - as well as the standard end-of-the-year "Best Books" post (which I can't write yet because I'm still reading!) and goals for 2014 (namely: Submit Thesis).

The best way to slide back into blog posting is to share some pretty pictures, so I'll start with shots from our November anniversary day-trip to Bristol, which was great fun.

Upon arriving in Bristol, we headed to the furthest afield site we were interested in: the suspension bridge at Clifton, designed by good old Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  (Actually, there's a bit of a Brunel theme to the whole trip.)  We walked across half the bridge.  Apparently there are great trails on the other side of the Avon gorge but we didn't have enough time to explore them.  Next time, perhaps.

We checked out the bridge from the hill the Clifton Observatory sits on.  As you can see, the observatory was all fenced off, so we couldn't explore inside.  Alas.

Then we headed down through Clifton to the harbour, passing delightful (and very expensive) row houses along the way.

We made a point of popping into one particular courtyard to see the blue plaque on the building where Thomas Beddoes had his Pneumatic Institute in the late eighteenth century.  Tim wrote his MA thesis on Beddoes, who was also a Clifton doctor.

Bristol's harbour was rather lovely and housed, in permanent dry dock, Brunel's S.S. Great Britain, which you can tour inside and out after a great deal of restoration work.  The ship was the first to combine an iron hull with a screw-driven propellor.  In the 1930s, it was scuttled off the coast of the Falkland islands, but in 1970 the ship was raised and floated back to Bristol, where it had originally been built and launched.  As you can see, the hull has taken quite a beating from being immersed in salt water for decades, so it is now kept in very dry conditions to keep the iron from rusting any quicker than it needs to.  The interior is set up to resemble the ship's days as an immigrant ship to Australia.

Bristol Cathedral.  We met a very friendly verger on the way in, whose wife was Canadian.  We knew he must be connected to Canada because it was Remembrance Day and he was wearing a Canadian poppy, rather than a British one, and had secured it using a little Canada flag label pin.

 This is Cabot Tower, a lovely Victorian folly, built to honour John Cabot, who set out to explore what is know Canada from Bristol.  We got a lovely, misty view of the city from the first viewing platform.  I'm glad we didn't go to the top of the tower, because the stairs we did climb made my knees rather unhappy as it was.
 Then we followed that up by going down the Christmas Steps, a nice shopping street, and came upon this medieval almshouse.
 We saw this bomb-damaged church on the way back to the train station.  Because of its harbour, Bristol was a prime target for Nazi bombs during the Second World War, making the fifth most heavily bombed city in the country.
And to end our Brunel-themed trip, here is the Brunel-designed train station.

We also very quickly popped into John Wesley's first-ever Methodist chapel, but I don't have a picture of it!  I will check with Tim to see if he took a photo on his phone.