We're staying in the Holiday Inn, Bristol at the Stokes Croft (St James Barton) roundabout tonight. Check-in isn't until 3 pm so we're wandering the (rather poor) neighbourhood first.
Hilarious so far. The area (the bearpit in the plaza in the centre of the roundabout) has been occupied by anti-austerity protesters and dossers. Everything is covered in graffiti. There is parkour and a woman sitting in lotus position on the asphalt shouting random stuff to passers-by. We hasten on.
We visit the nearby St James Priory cafe. Hipster-friendly but the toilets have MI6-style key-code pads (the code is printed on your receipt). Keeps the dossers out.
|I had lost my receipt but a kind woman gives us hers. |
I fail by misreading C9367Z as C93672; who knows
why Clare's attempt (above) doesn't work.
We watch carefully as it keeps one in every two customers out too. As both Clare and myself fail, we resort to tailgating.
We decide to move on to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. It's the start of term at Bristol University, hard to traverse the pavement at the top of Park Street for registering students.
|I particularly liked this Xenomorph at Bristol Art Gallery|
2. In Which We Check-In to the Bristol Holiday Inn
Meanwhile our hotel has had a partial aircon failure. We have been moved to an inferior room at a discount. Oh, and for similar dosser-related reasons the lifts only work via an elaborate protocol with the keycard. After abject failure we call the reception woman to tutor us.
The Chinese restaurant that's so highly recommended - adjacent to the bearpit - had its steel shutters down when we passed earlier. The metal was covered in graffiti and the place looked like a garage on a derelict estate.
By half past six when we decide to eat, it's opened to reveal a classic Chinese restaurant frontage. They can't do much about the area, though. Clare whispers that we should look inside first to see if they have tablecloths.
|The Mayflower: a highly-recommended Chinese restaurant|
|Bristol has world-class graffiti|
|Inside it is a jewel - a large Chinese contingent vouches for authenticity|
|Pictured as we left - the Mayflower is to the right; there is a homeless man|
in a tent somewhere off-picture.
The food is truly excellent.
3. In Which We Visit A Pub I Last Attended 49 Years Ago
|The Christmas Steps|
The progressive headmaster of Bristol Grammar School arranged weekly lectures for sixth formers back in 1968. We all trooped down to the Big Hall where an invited speaker would broaden our minds. Some of us had an alternative vision, however. The 17 year old me - with some equally-bohemian friends - would instead migrate to the Christmas Steps pub for an hour of underage drinking.
My favourite drink was a pint of Brown and Bitter. Only later did I discover that this traditional Bristol mix used the bottle of Brown Ale to disguise adulterated Bitter. Apparently I was insulting the Publican every time I ordered it.
No matter. Eventually the headmaster took a roll-call and we were all exposed. Most were caned, but I escaped as I was about to leave school. I was merely interrogated as to why I had done it. I replied that having opened an opportunity for choice, it was naive of the school authorities to imagine that some people wouldn't exercise it.
I hope they were pleased with this adolescent insight.
4. The Next Day Where We Visit Whitchurch
|Whitchurch Garden Centre (!?)|
|Little Red Riding Hood and an animated Beaver|
On the way back to Wells this morning, with Clare needing a bag of mulch, we stopped at the Whitchurch Garden Centre (we had not visited before). The vista above greeted us .. .