Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion

Tuesday 28 May 1998. In the previous entry Fran and I visited the S.S. Great Britain in Bristol Docks. The well-known saying that is the title of this entry was stamped onto the ship's bell.

In its ship-building days, Bristol had a reputation second to none and that led to the saying becoming part of Britain's folklore. Along with such gems as "Red sky at morning - shepherd's warning" which meant that if the clouds were low enough to be tinged red by the rising sun it was likely to rain. Its sister saying is "Red sky at night - shepherd's alight!" or something like that...

Anyway this has nothing to do with our entry here except to pad it out as, although I took plenty of photos, I don't have plenty of tales to tell!

The Great Britain is a fair bit away from the city centre so we took a ferry through the old docks. Bristol has a history not only of ship-building but as a port, where not all the goods are to the city's credit. Slavers used Bristol with over 2000 slave ships setting out in the 110 years from 1697 to 1807.

It was an important wine port also. England's best known sherry, Harveys Bristol Cream, is so called because the Harvey family were based in Bristol.

We came to the city centre and immediately noted the sky. "Dark sky in afternoon - get out of Bristol soon!"

There being no such thing as mobile Internet in 1998 we went in search of a Tourist Information Office to find some accomodation for the night. The place was absolutely full. So was Cheddar, Wells, Weston... We spent two hours in the Tourist Information Office and didn't have any luck until we said we were going to head towards the Cotswolds and was there anything up that way?

We eventually secured a room in a guest house in Cirencester - the place we started this holiday with a brief stop at the Roman arena! It was an hour's run so we set off back towards the car which was parked near the Great Britain. The sky wasn't quite so threatening now. "Sky turning fair - no need for scare!" so we walked back down the docks instead of taking the ferry. Well ok - the ferry was nowhere in bloody sight actually, but the walk was ok.

This wasn't a ferry, but a pleasure cruise around the docks where they tell you things like the dockside Post Office had to have the cellars excavated and when they did, the skeletons of scores of people were found. Must have been hellish working for the Post Office in those days...

Now I remember that story because I had been to Bristol for a conference a few weeks previously and they had taken delegates on such a trip and it's the only story I remember! Oh the days of hospitality...!

As we neared the car we came across this little fellow, quite unperturbed that his home was bobbing up and down as the wind got up and the sky was definitely going dark again! "Daytime street lighting - don't get struck by lightning!"

Look, alright, I'm making these up as I go along, ok? I have visions of folks in other countries going, "Here! Look at what they say in England!" I could start a national trend in Mozambique or somewhere where folk gather and intone solemnly "Daytime street lighting..."

So we head north to Cirencester where we find our guest house is managed by a very friendly Chinese couple. We walked into the town centre to eat in a pub and found just one customer with a dog and a pint and no-one behind the bar.

"If you serve yerself, can yer pour me a pint?" said the customer, nodding sagely whilst the dog stared at me with a look that clearly said "take no notice, he's a pillock..."

Large versions of the photos: all the photographs from this holiday can be found in a set at Flickr

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