In my mental landscape, Bristol is a city of hills, not towers. Although, one local tower – the Purdown Transmitter, or BT Tower loomed large in my imagination. Not least because it looked more like some kind of alien space station, than a building that belonged at the north eastern edge of 1980s Bristol.
There’s a painting in the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery that I can’t say I exactly liked as a child, but it fascinated me and has haunted me a little ever since.
The day Bristol Museum and Art Gallery’s Chinese Room disappeared, was the day I first realised that places, like people, can change. It came as something of a shock.
For a long time it didn’t have a name. It was just the lane that ran along the back of Mum and Dad’s bookshop…Eventually, I was to discover that there was a lot more to this old city route than I could possibly have imagined.
Is it possible to be haunted by a place? I think that I may be. In this case it is Ashley Vale in Bristol – an exceptional urban oasis caught between the tracks, containing allotments, woods, hilltops and a pub next door to a farm.
Brandon Hill aside, other hills in Bristol have their own distinctively languid charm and grace, such as Park Street, while a few are simply brutes.
One of these is the short and abrupt St Michael’s Hill, stretching from Upper Maudlin Street to Cotham. The lower slopes are dotted with attractive iron street furniture, step-work and historic buildings – including the pretty Colston Alms Houses – but don’t let these architectural gewgaws deceive you – it’s a bastard.
A new way to go behind the scenes of some of Bristol’s most historic buildings.
Landscapes, imagined and remembered, have always played a central role in literature.
The fascinating relationship between writers and the British landscape is currently explored in a new exhibition at The British Library: Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands. Here are some thoughts it inspired.
Once upon a time a young woman opened a bookshop…
As a teenager in the eighties my hometown seemed blessed with a surprising variety of record shops, but I always saw Revolver as the one true emporium of cool.
We knew it wasn’t ours – considered it on loan,
sliver of old wild earth made common ground,
swallowed by city, only partially digested,
an accidental place, become essential.