Pigeonhouse Stream, Crox Bottom

Crox Bottom is a little park, off Hartcliffe Way, where Pigeonhouse Stream (I really love the names!) runs from the lake at the old Imperial Tobacco Factory, down to meet and run under Hartcliffe Way, and then join up with the Malago.   It’s a much bigger river than the Malago, and I don’t quite understand why it’s a tributary – but like the Malago, it’s taken underground by the Dreadnought Interceptor, a huge storm drain, so what passes out of the park is much smaller than what goes in.

I walked it with my friend Cee and her baby, on a cold-but-sunny Monday.   We’d both passed it in cars for years, and wanted to know more about it, so we parked at Imperial Park, walked down the bank along Hartcliffe Way (stopping to run across the road to see where the river comes out), and then back up along the river.  My photos are below – mouse over or click on the first one and it should pull up the slideshow – or just head to the flickr album.

Pigeonhouse Stream, Crox Bottom

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Avon Stories podcast #18: The Floating Harbour salvage auction

This week’s podcast is a mini-episode, just ten minutes long, and it’s all about the auction that’s running until 4th March 2018, on Bristol’s Floating Harbour.

Every two years the Harbour Master’s office runs a salvage auction, of boats that, for one reason or another, they need to remove from the Harbour.   They might have been abandoned; or they could have been seized as a last resource because their owners didn’t pay their Harbour fees; or in at least one case, the owner didn’t want the boat any more and rather than try to sell it himself, gave it to the Harbour Master.   There are kayaks and dinghies, sportsboats, a narrowboat and much more, in all kinds of stats of repair.  All the proceeds go into the maintenance of the Harbour, and it’s a chance to buy a boat for what’s likely to be a fraction of the usual cost.

I talked to the auctioneer, Graham Cockle, about what’s in the 2018 auction,  and more about why it’s on.  If you want to have a look at the boats yourself, even if you (think you) don’t want to buy one, the boats are on public view every Saturday and Sunday in February, from 10-4 on and around the pontoon between the Cottage Pub and the Underfall Yard.   And you can also have a look at my rainy photos of some of them, below (mouse over or click on the photo to get to the slideshow – or go directly to the flickr album).

 

Claire de Lune

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More Malago – Withywood, Manor Woods Valley and Hartcliffe Way

I am really making an effort to try to take photos every day at the moment, even if it’s just photos of my commute through the condensation-coated bus windows.

Luckily for me, I’m working in south Bristol, and, like I wrote last week, am using the opportunity to explore the Malago, when the weather’s up to it. I’d had a slip-and-slide through the mud in the little copse of woods around the Malago in the Withywood housing estate, with green shoots of bulbs and spring plants to come.

Photos here – if you mouse over or click on the first photo, it should take you to the slideshow, or at least the flickr album.

Exploring the Malago, Withywood

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Spring tide, February 2018

Today was the highest tide of the month, one of the highest of the year (11.5m!) and I pulled myself of out bed to get to the very end of the Harbour, by the Entrance Lock, for 9:20 and the high point.   I know that doesn’t sound like much, but on a grey, dreich Saturday in February, it’s a big deal.  Especially with the Chocolate Path closed.  Especially in the rain.  But wow, I’m glad I did!

Clifton Suspension Bridge, spring tide

Cumberland Basin, high tide

River, refelctions

When I got to the river, it was still, that moment of balance that I love, and wish I could find in myself.  It’s always a rush to get as many shots as possible in that time, and I was cursing because I’d once again forgotten the cameras I wanted to bring, spare film etc.   But it was lovely.  I lay on the edge of the Harbour, putting an underwater camera in the river (it’s so much better doing that in summer) and watched the way the misty rainclouds moved through the trees.

I think my favourite part was standing on the Entrance Lock gate, and watching the water move.  By this time the tide had turned, and the water, which had flooded over the top of the lock gate, was rushing back out to re-join the river, bringing clouds of silt.  I only had my phone to take films, but this makes me very happy:

The clouds of silt always look so magical, and I could have watched this for days.  I walked on around the Harbour, and had other adventures too – but those will be in my next podcast…

 

Moon-watching

Yesterday was the last day of January, and the special-blue-blood-moon, or whatever the hashtag is.  I’d loved it all the way home, running across roads to try (fail) to take photos – so when I got home, I persuaded Vik we should go and see if we could see what it looked like over the river.

It was COLD, the water choppy in the wind, and dark, with the moonlight rippling on the wavelets.  High tide, coming up to spring tide tomorrow, and apparently the highest tide of the year.  With all the recent rain, the Entrance Lock gates were open, and the Cumberland Basin so full.  We walked through Greville Smyth Park in the dark, feeling for the path with our feet, to the very end of the Harbour to look at the water.  Of course it made me miss the Chocolate Path more than ever, and that is always going to cast a pall on any river walk – but I’m really happy I did this, instead of just collapse on the sofa.

I’m waiting for my film photos to come back, though not hopefully, as 100iso on a point & shoot without a tripod is not the best way to take photos in the dark (…) but here are three from my mobile phone, lit by the streetlight.   I loved how the collapsing piers by the Entrance Lock became islands in the water, and how easy it was to forget how incredibly deep the river was.

The collapsing piers, like islands at high tide

Public art, collapsing pier

Night Avon, high tide

Avon Stories Podcast #17: The Underfall Yard and its balancing acts

The Underfall Yard sits at the western end of Bristol’s Floating Harbour, a cluster of Victorian redbrick buildings, reminding us of the Harbour’s industrial history.   Over the last few years, more and more of it has been opened up, from the Visitors Centre to providing new walking routes around the end of the docks.  It can seem a bit chaotic, full of skips, piles of wood and metal, with whatever’s been dragged out of the Harbour recently – but that, to me, is part of its charm.

I’ve loved getting to see more of it during the Docks Heritage Weekend, Bristol Harbour Festival and Doors Open Days, but I always want to know more – and I was delighted when Sarah Murray, the Underfall Yard Trust‘s Community, Learning & Volunteering Manager, took me on a bespoke tour.

You can join us, as Sarah showed me some of the backstage and hidden sides of the Yard, including the Sluice Room, Engine Shed and Visitor Centre, and told me about the history of how the Yard came to be, and has changed over time, as well as showing me some of her favourite things.

A lot of our conversation was about the different ways the Yard’s work involves balancing.  It has an important role in keeping the Harbour level, protecting the City from flooding, but there are other day-to-day balancing acts, between being a Heritage site and the base of the Harbour Master and Docks Engineers; hosting tourists and businesses with very physical work; being open for commuters, walkers and joggers, while needing to close for safety reasons; and wanting to attract a good number of visitors, but not too many.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how to run a site as a living, working space, while showing off the heritage aspects, ever since.

I took some photos of things we talked about – they’re mostly January photos, grey and dull, with a few others I’ve taken over the last few years (mouse over or click on the photo to get to the slideshow)

Underfall Yard

For more information about the Underfall Yard, head to their website – and follow their excellent instagram and twitter, for day-to-day glimpses into the Yard and their work.   There’s a lot of information there, about their history, events that they run, visits for schools and colleges and other groups – as well as how to volunteer at the Yard, in different roles.

If you want to know more about boat building at the Yard, I have a mini-podcast with John Raymond-Barker of RB Boatbuilding, with photos of what it’s like inside The Big Shed, over here.

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You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up for all the future podcasts via the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud to make sure you hear all the future stories.  You can also follow the project on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the rivers and water in Bristol.

 

Looking for the Malago (January explorations)

I’m temping at the moment, which I do from time to time, and always try to use it as an opportunity to explore, especially places I don’t usually go.  Of course, it’s hard to do that in January, when it’s murky in the mornings, usually dark when I’m walking home, and it’s been raining almost every lunch time.  But I have had the opportunity to look for the River Malago, and that’s been fantastic.

I’ve walked along the Bedminster parts of the Malago so many times, and back in October, I walked the stretch through Manor Valley Woods for the first time, and I’ve always wanted to look for the source of the river in the Dundry hills, so I’m really happy to be looking for the river in different places.  I have some January Malago photos – not great pictures, but ones infused with memories for me.

This is the place that the Malago leaves the woods on the Dundry, and enters the city:

Malago plank bridge

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