Bristol impressions

Bristol impressions

I've been out in Bristol for the best part of a week (first for work, and then for a brief city break.)

It's a city of street art, hills, dodgy pavements, and gulls (oh god, the gulls)—plus an increasing, uneasy awareness of its own history in the slave trade. Infamous slaver Edward Colston's plinth still stands empty in the Centre (good riddance to his statue, and not before time), but his name is still everywhere.

An empty statue plinth on a rainy square with ornate carvings. The statue (of slaver Edward Colston) is missing.

In visiting a sum total of one museum and one cathedral, we saw more interpretation boards indicating "this building/monument/statue was funded by and glorifies slavery" than we think we've ever seen in London. One display in the cathedral, erected in honour of John Isaac (enslaved by Thomas Daniels, commemorated by a window) notes that the failure to atone for the wickedness of the slave trade is a "stain on modern Britain." I don't know if this is because Bristolians have more of an appetite for an historical reckoning, or if it's simply the Colston Effect in play. (Or maybe vested interests in museums in London getting in the way, as happened for years with the Colston statue before locals took matters into their own hands.) In any case, more of this, please, and fewer street names venerating slavers.

Tiny purple and orange flowers in a grassy meadow on a hill.
A suspension bridge with two brick towers across a wide gorge with the river tide coming in.
Green and red foliage with small purple geranium-like flowers.
Close-up of suspension bridge road deck with cars passing along it.
A white-on-black sign on a stone wall: "DO NOT CROSS THE ROADWAY BETWEEN THE BRIDGE PIERS." The letters BJ are carved above.
The top of a Gothic bell tower at sunset.
A Big Issue-branded rental bike propped on a stand in front of a wall decorated with a colourful geometric pattern on Hillgrove Street.
A man with a beard and an orange backpack rides an electric scooter in front of a graffitied shopfront for "The Best Supermarket."
A man cycling wearing headphones in front of a colour printers' shop with bills posted on the side.
Bright light behind a row of stained glass windows.
A tower on a hill surrounded by nearby foliage.
From above, tree canopies with buildings rising up between them—one beech tree has dark red foliage.
People walk past the orange shopfront for "Last Bookshop", with a logo of burning books and the words "SALE. Books £3"
It's true - £3! (We both got three each.)
The rear saddle of a bicycle parked on a bridge with railings. Hanging from the saddle: "ceci n'est pas one voiture."
A riverside footpath and cycle path with cyclists riding away, with a park to the left and a twisty bridge over the river on the right.
A man cycles past over a pedestrian crossing (lighted), marked out with the stripes of a trans- and race-inclusive pride flag.
A twisty bridge over the river curves sinuously, reflected in the water. A lighted sign on the right bank reads "LEFT AHNDED GIANT."