I was born on a Thursday and the saying has been true to an extent, I’ve had far to go at just over 15 thousand kilometres. This next move is only 700 metres down the road but the thought is a melancholy one. I’ve only ever known Bristol from a location near the top of the Christmas Steps and the bottom of St.Michael’s Hill and I’m not sure I want to say goodbye just yet.
I look back on my first day in Bristol (25 June 2005) and am impressed at how typical of the city it turned out to be. My then boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel parallel to King’s St, had our first food at the Falafel King overlooking the Bordeaux Quay, enjoyed the company at dinner (though not the food) at Tantric Jazz and then walked up both sets of Christmas Steps to have a late nightcap at Roxy’s at the bottom of St.Michael’s Hill.
That was the first day and it quietly encapsulated the next few years. My life revolved around the Clifton Triangle for a while and then moved on to a commute from Bristol Temple Meads. The evenings at Borders drinking vanilla lattes and studying became early morning runs through the arches on Broad St, slowing down just past Bristol Bridge and walking on to the station.
There were very few instances that I didn’t go down the Christmas Steps in the morning and climb up them past the fish and chips shop in the evening. Some of the memorable times were when it snowed in Bristol and my detour took me past the fountains and on to Baldwin St.
While this little area was a stable location for me, it also took quite a while to grow into a healthy appreciation of the wider area. It took two years to find out about the Clifton suspension bridge and I didn’t discover Gloucester Rd until the summer after that. My longest walk was to the Waitrose at Henleaze and luckily one opened up at the Triangle so I didn’t have to make that excursion again.
Roxy’s closed down and is now a coffee shop named Delight. No more over-priced beer in that dark little room with the occasional serving of chips (at least for now). The Sugar Loaves has changed name and management and the sushi take away place is a flower shop. There is a Caffe Gusto just opposite the BRI and a private Medical Centre next to that. There have been many changes but the atmosphere feels the same.
The move isn’t very far but it takes me away from the Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams and into the tweeting embrace of Labour MP Kerry McCarthy (@KerryMP), a move away from the shadow minister of higher education and a little closer to someone better known for their communication style than their policies. The change is strangely apt and like @KerryMP I hope I manage to stick around for more than a few months.
As for the Christmas Steps, I was sad to leave and thought I would miss the Arts Quarter until it started to snow on 21 December 2009. As I made my way to the train station I followed the familiar path down the steps and found myself sliding down the first few ungritted and icy ones. The physical pain was slightly worse than the heartache and as I stomped off down towards Colston Hall I thought that maybe I wouldn’t be so sorry after all. I was actually a little glad to fall down and walk away from one of the oldest and most charming parts of Bristol, it makes for a better story.