No. 15: Bristol

After 2 hours headed west on a train, Bristol happened.

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This time I was catching up with my girlfriend who drove down early on the Friday with our lovely little pup (just neutered, understandably less fond of us!).

We spent this weekend with her wonderful family – her mum had kindly arranged for us all to stay in a dog friendly hotel – it was a treat to have the snowboarding crew back together – I fell over less this time

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Bristol is about 107 miles from London and can be reached in 2 hours from Paddington station or 2 and a half hours in the car – both are pretty straight forward.

The city borders North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and hosts a number of cultural and historical features that draw in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year – many of which also chose this weekend for a visit!!

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The city is beautiful, we chose to walk down towards the old harbour – the sun was out so I officially announced it t-shirt weather as we wound down past the afternoon drinkers and the bands that were playing by the river.

The old harbour hosts plenty of pretty boats and features the original steam-powered cranes and other dockyard equipment that loomed over us as we paced in and out of their shadows – a nice touch was a steam train that was (slowly) trundling people from one end of the harbour to the other, complete with uniformed conductors.

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Some of our group went off to see the SS Great Britain, an imposing retired passenger ship that is dry docked in the old harbour – they weren’t dog friendly and I think the pup was too annoyed at his recent loss to pretend to be our guide-dog, so we branched off and carried on exploring.

Crossing one bridge, I noticed a number of padlocks with love messages written on them that were attached to the railings – mostly, I think this is a bit of a tacky way to officiate romantic feelings, but I can definitely appreciate Tracy and Phil’s eternal dedication to this particular chain of budget-friendly homeware shops.

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From here, we cut up to Cabot tower – which sits at the top of Brandon Hill in a public park – I was busy complaining about having to pay to walk up a 105 foot tower, when I noticed that there was no admissions gate or attendant… because there was no charge to climb the tower – it is free – a free attraction – Complimentary/Gratis/Unrecompensed – FREE (and dogs are allowed)

The platform at the top gives you 360 degree, expansive views over the city…

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To round off the day, we stopped in at Za Za Bazaar – an all you can eat buffet, serving global food and inspired by asian night markets, with big neon signs and endless opportunities to indulge gluttony.

There’s an amazing competitiveness that comes out in people when they are presented with buffets – all forms of tactics come into play when the race to demolish one plate more than your fellow competitors/diners gets into full swing.

5 plates, 2 ice creams and a teary attempt at some jelly later, I limped out of the food hall and headed back to the car, which felt like it sagged in the middle when we all piled in.

Back at the hotel the pup watched me grunt over to, and collapse on, the bed – throwing me a look that said one thing, and attached itself to my identity like an old rusted padlock to a bridge:

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