Monday, 14 March 2016

TUDOR HOUSES AND ORANGE SCOUSES- Bristol, Shrewsbury and Liverpool

A fellow Fruitarian had offered us a home in Bristol for a few days, so we set off on a bus that traveled via London and fortuitously toured us around all the major sights of the city- Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tower of London, London Bridge to name a few! Then on to Bristol and a warm welcome in our friend's house in the multicultural neighborhood of Easton, complete with two mosques, a Sikh temple, and shops and restaurants from many nations. We spent the next few days exploring what was actually a surprisingly vibrant city with an edgy, alternative feel. A bit rough around the edges, but that's what we love! The highlights were the colorful street art (see more on that later), an ancient church with free choral singing, Sunday lunch at a character filled old pub, meeting our friend's many arty friends, watching the all important Six Nations rugby match on TV, discovering the joys of a snood, visiting our friend's amazing allotment (although not much growing this time of year), and visiting the incredibly lavish Bristol cathedral.

One of many ethnic shops in Easton, Bristol

Church window, Bristol

Tomb inside Bristol Cathedral

Stunning interior, Bristol Cathedral

Modern stained glass windows, Bristol Cathedral

Protected by angels, Bristol Cathedral

A rainy morning was spent at the harbour area, where we learnt (at the great museum there) that Bristonians are fiery and independent people with a history of rioting, rebelling and boycotting. Whether it was about women's rights, gay rights, taxes, slavery or unions, they sure didn't take any crap! They even have their own pound, which is legal tender in Bristol!

Bristol harbour

Their own currency, Bristol

A special trip was made to Brunel's great Clifton Bridge, linking the swanky suburb of Clifton over the River Avon to Bristol, to photograph marvelous views in the surprisingly forested area, walk across the bridge, slide down slippery rocks with the kids, and view the camera obscura- the only one of it's kind in Britain (or one of two, depending what you read!), it being a weird, giant kind of fish eye lens which projected the view of outside onto a table in a dark room.

Beautiful Clifton Bridge, Bristol

View over Bristol

Another stunning view of Clifton Bridge, Bristol
Sliding down smooth rocks, Clifton bridge, Bristol

* Famous Bristonians- Banksy, Massive Attack and, randomly, Cary Grant!

From the urban vibe of Bristol, our next stop at another friend from Thailand's home was quite a contrast. They live in an old blacksmith's house, inside the still working yard, on a rural road about 20 minutes from the town of Shrewsbury, near the Welsh border. We loved the atmosphere of their tiny old cottage and the surrounds, and any welcome that includes a pair of slippers each is pretty great in our books! The hospitality continued with homemade damson gin, and a delicious ale bought especially for Richard at the local pub, and yummy, warming food by the fire.

Local ales and homemade damson gin

Shed, near Shrewsbury

Friend's cottage, near Shrewsbury

Rich enjoying charity shopping, near Shrewsbury

Apparently Downton Abbey makes wine now!

A day was spent exploring the area, with a stop at a house that our friends are currently renovating, and a quick tour around the gorgeous Tudor town of Shrewsbury, birth place of Darwin and so full of ancient charm. Sal loved it so much here, and we will have to return for a repeat visit to see more.

Any excuse!

Tudor detail, Shrewsbury

Close up Tudor style, Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury street

Decorative pipe work, Shrewsbury

Particularly lovely Tudor building, Shrewsbury

Romeo and Juliet at Shrewsbury Castle

Looking down on the street, Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury views

Equally enjoyable was a drive to tiny village of Ironbridge, and a few hours wander around as the light was fading. The bridge here was so pretty, and we were surprised to find out it's the oldest iron bridge in the world! We loved the cute cottages winding up the hill, and the forested walks on either side of the river. Although it's probably more enchanting in Summer (most things would be), we were happy to see it during a quiet time without the bus loads of tourists.

Gorgeous Ironbridge village, winding up the hill

Old days river crossing in coracle boat, Ironbridge

First iron bridge in the world
Ironbridge as the light faded

We were very fortunate our friends were driving by our next destination, and offered us a lift to Runcorn. They dropped us a pub where we met another mad Fruitopian friend, who had found us a room with so much lovely hot water we found it hard to get out of the bath that night! Runcorn is a somewhat scruffy satellite town where, in our friend's words, "All of the scum of Liverpool were moved out to live". It had a few nice old buildings, lovely canal area and riverside walks and yet another bridge- quite bizarre, as it looked like an almost exact replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but this one was actually built first!

Look familiar?

We trained it to Liverpool and spent a long day enjoying most of the touristy areas. The Albert Docks area was very nicely renovated to leave most of the old warehouse buildings and charm, and we had to choose one of many museums to visit. It was a wise choice- the Maritime Museum, with a floor about customs history and practices, another about ship travel to Australia and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, and yet another about the Titanic (a Liverpool owned ship).
Of course, Liverpool is justifiably proud of it's most famous export, The Beatles, and there are signs of them everywhere around the city, and various tours for the tourists. Their airport is even called Liverpool John Lennon International Airport, and its logo is "Above Us Only Skies"!

Weirdly huge Beatles, Liverpool

We were very disappointed to find the boats crossing the Mersey River to be not running, and therefore not being able to be annoying tourists singing "Ferry 'cross The Mersey" on board.
The other highlight of Liverpool was the two completely contrasting cathedrals at either end of town. The Catholic one (nick named Paddy's wigwam, due to the tent like shape), was a bizarre 60's style creation, complete with psychedelic Jesus paintings inside. Unfortunately a somber Easter service was going on when we visited, so we didn't feel we could explore too much. The Church of England competitor was a simple, yet traditionally magnificent building, the longest cathedral in the world with the biggest organ, and surprisingly late built in the early 20th century.

Liverpool Cathedral

Unusual detail on Liverpool Cathedral

Stained glass, Liverpool Cathedral

Inside the 60's style Paddy's Wigwam, Liverpool

Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

Two strange things in Liverpool:
1.So many women were dressed in skin tight clothes, caked in make up an inch thick with their skin a weird orange colour, presumably from fake tan. Never saw that in Cambridge, or anywhere else come to think of it!
2. The accents are so ludicrously strong! Sal hadn't had that much trouble understanding people in the UK since she first arrived in Scotland! She just smiled and tried to be polite when a man in a pub kept going on about the sausage on her plate.

Statue, Liverpool

Most memorable experience in Liverpool/Runcorn was a day and a night on board our friend's boat moored in Fiddler's Boat Yard, some distance from other lifeforms. We loved the boat, but the undertaking would have a whole lot more pleasant had we decided to go in Summer- sleeping on a boat, on the water, in sleeping bags in Winter was not a smart idea! But the walk admiring the barges along the canals was pleasant, and we were glad we did it in the end!!

Fiddler's Boat Yard, Runcorn

Walking the canal, Runcorn

Barges in canal, Runcorn

On board friend's boat, Fiddler's Boat Yard

Then it was time to return to Cambridge, but the bus trip back was anything but smooth, with a massive traffic jam on the motorway from Liverpool, and a missed bus in London as a result, but 14 hours later, we finally made it back, finished up Richard's redtape at long last, and organized and finalized our plans for the next part of the adventure- Portugal and Spain.........

Ha ha!! (Easily amused)

Us and snood, Clifton Bridge, Bristol

1 comment:

  1. Those small river boats looked really cozy places. This is contrast to the grand cathedral effect and mesmerizing impact of stained glass on mind. So many facets to place. Insightful