Storm damage to the Castle Park fig tree

Tonight I’m sitting on my sofa listening to the wind howl and rain strafe my window, and it’s making me remember the storm on 31st July, and what it did to the Castle Park fig tree.

There are a number of fig trees along the Avon, the Floating Harbour and even along the River Malago as they run through the middle of Bristol, brought into the city through trade from the Mediterranean, and they’re all thought to be seeded by accident, whether from fruit dropped off boats, or seeds brought in as ballast that floated down the river, catching hold in cracks in the harbour walls.

There are at least two fig trees in Castle Park, and the huge one, opposite the old brewery, is one of my very favourite trees in the city.  It’s thought to be the oldest of the figs, maybe helped to grow from the hot water that was let out of the brewery into the Harbour.  It’s visible in historic photos going right back to the beginning of the twentieth century, over 100 years ago – here are a couple of photos from Know Your Place, showing the fig trees in the walls in 1905, in the  1920s and in 1930 – and a very different image, after the neighbourhood that used to stand in the Park that was destroyed in the World War II bombing, and left the site devastated in 1951.

I love it in every season, and it’s something I look at every time I walk through the park.  I’ll always try to pinch the leaves between my fingers to get that gorgeous aroma.  Figs take two years to ripen, and it’s not yet warm enough for these ones to last through the winter to get fully ripe (yet), but I’ve used the leaves to infuse in custard to make deliciously figgy ice cream.

So when I heard that half of it had been pulled out of the wall by that July storm, I was devastated.  On 2nd August, Vik and I went to see what had become of it.  I took some photos of what we saw – mouse/swipe over the first picture for a slideshow, or click through to the album.

Harbour Master, fig tree

For a comparison, check out the size of what it looked like back in April, before the leaves came out:

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The Avon Valley walk around rivers of east Bristol

I really enjoyed the Bristol Walk Fest, and the last walk we went on was completely fantastic, one I’ve seen in the past, and wanted to do:  the Avon Valley Walk, run by Susan and Rob Acton-Campbell of the Friends of Troopers Hill.  It sold out very fast, but Vik and I put our names down on the waiting list, and were lucky enough to get places.  I have to admit, that when we were on the bus on the way over, and a massive torrential thunder storm started, we were a bit worried, but it was a fantastic day, taking in a secret bath-house, an incredible tree, water meadows, riverside lunch, a ferry, and so much more.  If you ever get the chance to go on a walk run by the Friends, do it!

I’ve tried to map the walk – apologies to Rob and Susan if I got it wrong!

And I have an album of my photos over on twitter (hopefully if you mouse over/click on the first picture, it should start the slideshow too…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bath house in the woods

And Vik has a couple of her holga photos from the day, which I love, over on her flickr album:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green, green grass of home....

So what did we do?

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Royate Hill and down the Frome

Ever since I went to Royate Hill Nature Reserve while walking along Coombe Brook with Tracy, I’ve been thinking about that space.   I was especially thinking about the photos I took of the brook from the viaduct, and wanting more.   So as last Tuesday was a beautiful day, I hopped on the bus to go back.   After the nature reserve, I walked back into town down the line of the Frome – my map is here:

and the album of photos is on flickr – or if you mouse over the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow.   I have some film-ettes too, which I’ve added in below.

Royate Hill viaduct Nature Reserve

It was such a contrast to last time.  That day was grey and misty, Tuesday was blue skies, and breezes.  As soon as I got into the reserve and was walking up the steps, I could see how spring had changed things in the few weeks since I was last here, with cow parsley coming out, and annual plants everywhere.  All the leaves were that perfect spring acid green, shining in the sun.

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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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