Back in Bristol

Right here we go again, my first travel blog post of 2018. And although we now nearly two months in I’ll wish you a happy new year anyway. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

The recent half-term holiday saw us back in Bristol at the Caravan & Motorhome Club site at Baltic Wharf. We really loved both the city and the site last year and wanted to go back whilst it is still open. The threat of closure still hangs over it sadly

The journey west was fine, taking just a little over 4 hours although having started in bright sunshine, the rain came as we progressed along the M4. Rosie performed well as per usual although she is now starting to show her age a little and there were signs that the clutch is approaching the end of its life with the merest of  slippage whilst climbing Handcross Hill on A23. It’s a challenging climb with a tonne and a half on the back but she’s been fine since. We’ll be keeping a close eye on her though with our Easter break up north coming up in less than a month.

Our friends Neil & Dave were already on site and we met most evenings for the inevitable research expeditions. The Cottage, just a couple of minutes walk from the site has had a bit of a makeover, reflected in both the menu and bar prices. We ate there only once. The Nova Scotia just a few minutes walk further around the Harbour became a of the venue of choice for grog and grub. Excellent value meals and a great old fashioned boozer too.

The excellent Bristol Ferry service came in handy once again not least for a visit to the theatre to see Wicked, the city centre stop being just  a couple of minutes walk from the Hippodrome.  It's a lovely theatre, the seats were good (thanks Neil & Dave) and at the show was excellent.  Word of advice though, if you fancy a pre or post shown libation, the pub to the right of the theatre is a much better value than of the piano bar to the left. I speak from experience.

The weather tried to play it’s part as it was generally either bitterly cold or wet, however that didn't stop us getting out and about and a return to Portishead’s marina area was first up - and what a difference since we were last there in 2013.

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One of Patsy’s hot water pipes had split at some point, indicated by the rather soggy carpets we were greeted with on our return. Fortunately a local dealer had the necessary parts - and were open late on a Sunday afternoon too. Thanks AJM Leisure for helping us out.

The train took the strain for a trip to Gloucester Docks and whilst we could have jumped on the Bristol Ferry to get to Temple Meads station, we opted instead for the bus which, we’d discovered stopped right outside the site and deposited us across the road from the station in around 10 minutes. It’s a free service runs in a loop and continues on to the Broadmead shopping centre and into the city. Very handy but do make sure you wave it down though as we were subjected to a lecture on bus hailing etiquette on boarding….

It clearly wasn’t our day for buses. Whilst Gloucester Docks was easily walkable from the station, we’d added bus travel to the tickets for a bit of flexibility. We jumped on the  bus and soon we were on our way. To erm, Cheltenham! Note to self - if you ask for directions, it’s best to actually listen to the answer! Anyway, we got there in the end. One of many dockland redevelopments around the country it did have a nice feel to it, though clearly the adjacent Quays outlet shopping area had taken it’s toll on the city centre. We’ve seen this so many times - when will councils ever learn? The Cathedral looked fantastic though and the work they are doing in the surrounding gardens will look great when complete.

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Just a ten minute drive from the site is Bailey of Bristol caravan and motorhome manufacturers and were were treated to a fascinating tour around the factory. No pictures of inside were allowed but you do get to see me in something other than black! Big thanks to Bart for taking the time to show us around.

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A visit to Oakham Treasures came as a recommendation from friends and it didn’t disappoint. A wonderful collection of farming and retail memorabilia from times past with carefully recreated shops from an age where everything was behind the counter. A truly fascinating collection and while we certainly spent longer there than we thought we would you could easily make a day of it. Or More. The spacious and sensibly priced cafĂ© is a great excuse to refuel before, during or after your visit. Caravanners and Motorhomers may be interested in the all weather pitches with electric hook up.

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Our final excursion of the week was to the Clifton Observatory, located believe it or not, above the Clifton Suspension Bridge. For four quid you get to ascend and get a look at the Camera Obscura and descend into Giants Cave which opens out onto the Avon Gorge. The descent to the cave is steep and quite narrow and for once I was glad to not be wearing my trusty winklepickers.

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If you don’t do either though the area around the Observatory is a great place for a walk and you are still blessed with stunning views of the bridge and gorge below.

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And that was half-term over. Another great stay in a city we both really like. The Bristol Ferry service is so handy and - one bus driver aside - folks are really friendly and helpful. My desire to return again is tempered by the knowledge that there is so much more to see in the country of ours.

Right, until next time - which ain’t that far away - thanks as always for reading.

Cheers & Beers

Rich & Trev