Top five personal favourite places in Bristol

I posted on my top five favourite places in Bristol over on Bristol Culture and it crossed my mind that there are lovely memories for me within other stretches and corners of Bristol that wouldn’t make sense to other people. I thought I would post these second set of favourites which are slightly more personal.

6. The street with the trees opposite the BRI

Urban, gritty Lewins Mead Upper Maudlin Street is my ultimate autumn street. I first moved to Bristol to start a PhD and I would walk along from Colston Street to the Galleries in order to buy a coffee and start my day. Grey and cinnamon and windy and rainy. This part of Bristol makes me happy.

leaves autumn

7. Starbucks in Borders on Queen Street (gone)

During a truly miserable time as a PhD student I would find the only reprieve at Starbucks in Borders where I would browse some books on Zen and then sit with a vanilla latte and write in my diary. Comfy and tasty and available late at night. Perfect for solitary nightbirds.

8. Christmas steps
I have slid down them in the snow and soared over them like starlings along with Elbow and tried to capture them in photographs without getting the light poles in the way and sat down on them and mostly climbed them. My memories of the Christmas Steps are nearly always of dark mornings heading for the train station.

9. St Michael’s Hill

The first hill that my then boyfriend and I climbed in Bristol and the one I used to climb during all stages of pregnancy to get to my midwives including an emergency rush to the hospital at 29 weeks and on the night I went into labour I walked down it while having contractions but wasn’t dilated enough to be kept there.

10. The Croft, Stokes Croft

Listening to the Random Family and the Miserable Rich in a beer-soaked room with punters who found it more fun to come in and out of the room rather than stay and listen to the music. The night was full of distractions and the people were consistently talking and one guy with long white hair reminded me of the guy from Dinosaur Jr. I walked home in the rain.

Moving on, but not so far to go.

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.

Murdoch Mysteries being filmed

Go to this post on

Yannick Bisson filming Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries was being filmed in Bristol over 3 days this long weekend). See the picture for a glimpse of Yannick standing around at the top of Christmas Steps.

Further updates later but I wanted the beginning to include a picture of something unusual and I wanted it all to start right now.

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