How one obscure Bristol back-alley runs through two millennia of history: from Romano-British settlements, to Friars, burial grounds, muggers and rudely uprooted Walnut trees.
As a child of second-hand booksellers I had ready access to books and their offshoot – bookmarks. I recently rediscovered a box filled with some that once upon a time I had hoarded.
If it is possible to be haunted by a place, then I think that I am. 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 the city have their own distinctive charm and grace, such as Park Street, while a few are simply bastards.
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 brute.
In my teens being there mattered. Having, or at least knowing about, the latest album RIGHT NOW was crucial. To my shame I was late to the Cure and late to the Smiths and countless others. But with the Sundays I got there bang on time. As soon as their first album was released in early 1990 I went out and bought it. That made them mine.
You can tell a lot about a place from the local shops.
Especially on Norwood Road.
Between the back gardens and traffic jammed streets of North London runs an extraordinary green path: Parkland Walk, once a rail line to the suburbs, now a tree-lined escape from the city, in the middle of a city.