We had made arrangements to go to Bristol. Shane had made a booking at the harbour for three nights. It is the most expensive mooring we have had but we had high hopes for a good time. I had contacted an ex colleague living in Bristol to warn her we were near there and she had contacted another in Wales (both ex colleagues of mine but from a long way back when I worked in the same office in Fife) and now she was coming to Bristol too. It was a long time since we had been to Bristol and we have never come by boat. It had rained heavily on the previous days but the forecast was good for the time we were booked. On the way we had a tricky mooring (a veritable boat in the Willows), at Saltford, but a nice drink at the “Bird In Hand”. Then some very heavy gates needing three people to push and a lock that asked you to phone ahead to check it was okay to go on. Shane found all well, so we proceeded to Bristol.
We weren’t allocated a particular mooring, but found a spot near SS Great Britain and a pub called Harbour hub. The ship’s distinctive masts served as an easy landmark for getting back to base and the hub was to become our regular haunt for liquid refreshment. We had a stroll round the harbour area. Massive locks and many bridges, old and new, point to its importance as a port in the past and a lively modern area for recreation in the present.
It wasn’t long before Margaret, Bristol resident, dropped by for tea and blethers (and hot chillies). Later Tracey arrived from Abergavenny bringing her friend Dave and Welsh cakes so more tea and blethers ensued until Margaret offered us a round at The Harbour Hub as a toast to a fine time to Bristol. We felt very welcomed.
Tracey was overnighting with us. Shane had a video chat in the afternoon with some of his ex colleagues – all retired but much more recently worked together than Tracey and me and Margaret have done, so we had a leisurely morning and after lunch Tracey and I headed for a bit of sight seeing and a catch up. Shane had told me the golden horse I had pointed out while driving in was probably a unicorn as he had seen one. We soon saw there were many unicorns including on the City Halls (or Council House as it used to be called).
It was a hot day and bookshop browsing was cooling, but the gallery cafe was beckoning for a seat. There I had the first of a sparkling iced earl grey tea. The conversation was sparkling too – we chatted until closing time. We didn’t go through the gallery but knew we had a gallery plan for next day. We took in Banksies on the way there and back so architecture and art were duly appreciated.
Dave had recommended the cafe and it was a welcome cool seat. He joined us for a quick rustle up for tea and I was thoroughly flattered to have my hastily rustled up Ras el hanout veg with couscous be declared like being in Morocco, where he had in fact been several times. Thanks also to Margaret Dave has infectious enthusiasm and I soon gathered he lives his life with a “Carpe Diem” attitude. He recommended a gallery exhibition and sezed the chance to share a tandem ride (apparently his life’s ambition) and Shane was only too keen to take the chance to give that a whirl and forego the gallery option. A plan for the next day was hatched.
The next morning Margaret arrived aboard, with a large selection of wool as she was having a clear out and had heard I was knitting every day in August. I have greatly added to my stash. Then Shane took us cruising round the harbour with Margaret as tour guide to the highlights. What a glorious day we had for it too, sunglasses, hats and suncrea were all out. The golden horse, Margaret told us was a unicorn whose golden horn was often taken. The other unicorns didn’t seem to suffer this way. So now I am right that I did not see a golden unicorn, just a horse and Shane was right that it was probably a unicorn.
Back at our mooring we went in search of lunch and Margaret’s local knowledge also brought us to a fantastic spot hidden down an alleyway, The Folk House. Dave met us there then Shane and he set off on a new out of town adventure and Margaret Tracey and I took in two galleries and exhibitions with textiles as the art medium and women and refugees as the artists, weaving their heritage into their work and using art as therapy. One wasin the basement of the RWA, called Making The City Home and the other was over three floors at the Arnolfini gallery and was called Threads. We all enjoyed the varied collection having many different artists, and the touching reflections on missing an old home and making a new home.
From there we agreed a sit-down and refreshment was in order. We found a harbour side spot serving mocktails, The New Moon On The Quay. Margaret had had work the day before and next day but remarked that this felt like being retired. It is exactly what being retired is.
Dave and Shane contacted us and they had had a great afternoon and were drinking peach beers at The Harbour hub. After fond farewells, Shane and I went there for a bite to eat and drink and reflect on what a tonic the company and entertainments of Bristol had been. We had arrived in a dull day and had nothing but warmth ever since arriving. Mind you I hadn’t got much more knitting done, just fitting in a couple of rows per day. I advanced a little through the crown. There were too many other textile and social distractions in Bristol.