Saturday, 19 February 2011

Weekend in Bristol: Exploring Bristol

It was still dark when I first woke after the ball, shaky and tired in a strange bed. As I lay, wondering what time it was, I heard church bells chime in the distance. 7. I fell asleep again and awoke fairly rested a little after nine, at which point it was time to get ready for Mass. I went to Zina's church, St Mary on the Quay, and after church Zina's dad drove us up to Clifton. We had a delightful lunch at The Lion, a pub which overlooks the Bristol Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge.

After a long and leisurely lunch we wandered towards the train station. This walk was expertly planned to enable us to stop at all the worthwhile tourist sites. Our first stop was the Cabot Tower, which marks where the Brandon Hill For was (on top of a very steep hill). It is the site of a major civil war battle (alas, the roundheads won) and gives a beautiful view of Bristol and the surrounding countryside.

From there we walked to the Bristol Museum. We had scarcely begun our climb to the art gallery when Zina paused and said, "oh yes, this is one of my favorite paintings here". I turned and exclaimed, for hanging a few feet away on the wall was La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Little did I expect to see one of my favorite paintings hanging in a museum in Bristol! It was so much larger than I expected, and darker, and so beautiful... We then continued up to the gallery where I saw some paintings I recognized (The Flight into Egypt; Les Adieux) and some there were new and fantastic (a naturalist-based Noah's Ark; The Reading of the Will; The Pillar of Light). Then a tour of the rest of the museum, including a gypsy caravan and a stuffed settee of badgers.

From the museum we went to Bristol Cathedral (built pre-reformation). A service was in progress so we walked down to the waterfront and had a drink, watching the swans and the tall ships (Bristol was a major port during the slave trade). Then back to the church. Evensong was still in progress, but we were allowed in to listen to the last bit of the homily and sing the closing hymn. It was beautiful.

Zina went to school at the Cathedral School, and sang in the choir, so after the service came introductions and a tour of the church. Then we walked to another church, St Mary Redcliffe, where our friend Pippa went to school. A quick tour of the church which, being built closer to this modern age, reminded me of the cathedral churches in Canada, and then off to the train station and back to Cambridge.


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