Saturday, 6 August 2016

A Whale of a Time

After half a century plus of living in Bristol (give or take a few years of exile in the middle), it's always a bit of a thrill to find somewhere new to visit, especially when it's a nature reserve right in the middle of the city.  So off it was to one of the most affluent parts of the city, Snide Park.

OK, so it's Sneyd Park really. Snide Park is what we used to call it when we were kids, living on the wrong side of the B4054 Henleaze Road. The name has stuck - and so have I.

Look, you can tell it's dead posh by its oak-framed information board.  

The moment you leave gracious suburbia, you're in Bishops Knoll, once part of a mediaeval deer park and later, in the 19th century, the gardens of a (now demolished) mansion, complete with terraces, an arboretum, orchards, lawns and paddocks.  We stuck to the footpath through woodlands to get down to Bennett's Patch and White's Paddock, alongside the River Avon, being inspected all the way down by a persistent Southern Hawker

Being next to the river means it's also alongside the Portway, one of the busiest and fastest roads in the city, and the Severn Beach line - between the two, in fact, and very noisy. But I have a handy trick for dealing with that, which is to pretend the traffic is the ice-age torrent that originally carved the Gorge. That way it doesn't impinge after a while. 

Our reason for coming here was to see the whales in their new home. Well - not real ones, obviously; rather, the wicker ones designed by Cod Steaks, which graced Bristol during the city's stint as European Green Capital (back in the halycon days before our ex-Prime Minister asked a stupid question and got a very stupid answer). 

Here they are in their sea of plastic bottles in Millennium Square, exactly a year ago.

And now they are surfacing in the city's newest nature reserve. 

It's an appropriate place for them to find a home because in 1750, the ship Adventure brought back two whales, which were rendered to blubber just up the road at Sea Mills Dock. The venture into the whaling trade continued for almost 50 years.

They remind me quite a lot of the beached barges at Purton near Sharpness, which we went to see just over three years ago.
Instead of going back over the railway bridge, we walked down to the tunnel that goes under the track. 
Being a geek, I was excited to spot a brick from the old Cattybrook Brickworks near Almondsbury - one of those names I hope to fit into a poem one day. 
Then one last glimpse of the whales through the trees and home. 


  1. We loved the whales when we saw them in Bristol. We went to try and walk Finn out as he was overdue :)

    They look fab in their new spot tho, methinks we'll go and take a peek.
    It makes me think of another art installation we saw in Leigh Woods called Withdrawn by a chap called Luke Jerram. He parked a whole bunch of wee fishing boats in the woods. V cool.

    I'd really like to hear a poem with Cattybrook Brickwork s that sounds fun :)


      I loved the boats too - I got a poem out of them. x