Balloons and Blackberries

Bristol’s annual Balloon Fiesta has just wound up (I’ve written about this before, and taken photos too). We’ve had some good weather recently and Perrett’s Park, which overlooks much of Bristol, has been busy in the evenings with people watching the launches taking place over at Ashton Court.

Two out of three evenings the wind favoured us and the balloons passed by low overhead, much to the delight of all the children present. I didn’t take so many pictures this year, but you get the general idea from this – balloons at dusk. They do early morning launches as well, but as I was on earlies this week I missed them.

As I mention above, the kids love the balloons. Our eldest has also just discovered another summer delight – wild blackberries. We’re fortunate enough to have a lot of green space around us even though we live in the city and at the overgrown local cemetery, the city farm and around the nearby allotments the brambles are heavy with blackberries at the moment which the kid would eat until she was sick if we let her.

We went over to Arnos Vale before lunch and let Uma run around while we picked a bag or two to bring home. It’s great to be able to do this in the city; both Polly and I grew up in the countryside and we occasionally worry that our kids might miss out on things like this. We eventually tore Uma away from the free food and took our pickings home.

We’re not sure what we’ll do with them yet. Crumbles, jams or just as they come. Yum!

Busy Weekends and other things

Hey, over a week since I last posted. That’s better than eight months. You’d think that I’d get more of a chance to do things like this at weekends given the fact I don’t blog from work, but it just doesn’t work like that when you’ve got kids. If anything, my weekends are busier and more manic than my workdays and I’m often more tired than on a weekday by the time they’re tucked up in bed. Besides, we often have friends or family over at weekends, which usually means the evening are full too.

Not that I’m complaining about any of this, merely pointing out why no more likely to post at weekends than I am during the week. I reckon the most opportune times for recreational blogging for someone with a none-blog-friendly full time job and two small children are weekday evenings and the occasional moment like now when I’m home from work early and Polly’s out with the kids.

In addition to all of this, the weather has finally improved and we’ve been spending our evenings sitting in the shade on our balcony looking out over Bristol. We’ve got a fantastic view, and I think you’ll agree that sitting outside sipping a drink and watching the sun set is hard to improve upon.

There’s a couple more like this on Flickr (1, 2, 3), plus a whole lot more.

A White Christmas!

I’m not feeling inspired to write much, but I wanted to post this picture as I’ve not had a white Christmas for years. Although the snow didn’t settle too well in the valleys, up on the moor it was a good couple of inches deep.

[Snow covered fields on Dartmoor]

Come boxing day the moor was packed with people building snowmen and throwing snowballs at each other. A good way to recover from the excessive eating and drinking of the last few days. Cheers again to Marc for acting as chauffeur!

Arnos Vale Cemetery

Lying on the slope between the Bath and Wells roads, Arnos Vale is in the process of being restored. (More information: Friends of Arnos Vale, Arnos Vale Centery Trust.) Currently much of it is overgrown, the gravestones competing with trees for space on its slopes. This makes it an atmospheric place to take a walk.

[Gravestones, brambles and trees]

Many of the stones have vanished completely under swathes of ivy, leaving just rows of green shapes ranked beneath the trees. Others are only partially subsumed, and you can still just about make out the names of the dead in between the leaves and shoots.

[Two gravestones partially covered in ivy]

The cemetery contains a few large tombs and interesting monuments, some of which are listed. One of the most ornate and unusual is the tomb of Raja Rammohun Roy Bahadoor, a Hindu reformer and thinker who died in Bristol in 1833 (Wikipedia entry, Banglapedia entry). His mausoleum reminds me of the tombs of the Rajput Maharajahs in Jaipur, although Rammohan Roy was from Bengal on the far side of the country.

[The Bengali-style tomb of Rammohun Roy]

There are plenty more buildings and monuments scattered around the grounds. Some are in the process of being restored and are hidden under scaffolding and tarpaulin, others stand untouched among the trees. A great place for a stroll on a Sunday.

Photo – Clifton Suspension Bridge

Polly and I went for a walk last weekend in Leigh Woods, on the far side of the River Avon. On the way back, I took this photo of the suspension bridge from the approaching road.

[Clifton Suspension Bridge from the approaching road]

I like it because it’s just an everyday view of the bridge, the kind you get when you’re using it, rather than admiring it from afar. Also, although you can see that it’s a bridge, you get no sense of what it spans – the far side almost looks like a continuation of the near.

Beasts and balloons

In a comment to a recent post my Dad asked about pictures, so here are some from Bristol. First, some little fellows with whom we share our garden. I spotted this spider waiting patiently for her lunch to mature:

[A spider and her silk-entombed prey]

This chap paused for a breather in our hedge one afternoon:

[A dragonfly]

A couple-three weeks back was Bristol’s famous balloon fiesta. It was heaving up at Ashton Court and all the roads were gridlocked, but being new to the city we thought we should go along anyway. They take off in the evening on mass, and it was pretty cool.

[Several hot air balloons being inflated]

They all look good up in the sky, too.

[Several ballons in the sky over Bristol]

At the time, we all felt the fiesta was a bit of a nightmare – too many people and too much aggravation getting there and back. Looking back I’m glad we went, but I think that next year we’ll just sit at a pub by the harbour and watch the balloons float over the city.


Some friends of mine have recently got a kitten, so here he is – Charlie Humbug himself.

Charlie Humbug

I’d love a cat of my own, but it’d be a bit cruel in a flat the size of ours. One day though. In the meantime I’ll just have to make a fuss of everyone elses.