In a stroke of serendipity, I ended up paying a visit to my adopted hometown of Bristol last week on the same day I published my annual Environmental Gift Guide about Christmas gifts that won’t cost the earth. The reason for the trip was to check out a wastefree shop called Zero Green in the Bedminster, and it was great to see the options available for those trying to cut back on plastic. You’re able to stock up on household essentials (and, in the case of the chocolate truffles I bought, optional extras) using your own containers, thereby eliminating packaging waste. It’s absolutely ideal for so many products, from pasta and cereal to baking supplies and spices. Even toiletries and cleaning products are catered for. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my own community gets something similar sooner rather than later!
While there, I also had the opportunity to take in the vibrant street art that can be found throughout the city. Bristol is known internationally for its graffiti, thanks to (presumed) local lad Banksy. The Bedminster area where Zero Green is located even hosts Upfest, which bills itself as the largest street art and graffiti festival in Europe. Some of the subjects tackled are quite large as well … or should I say “as whale”?
This week wasn’t just about fishing for likes. Sunday, 11th November marked 100 years since the end of the First World War, and Britain commemorated the event with memorials across the country. As someone who was out and about in the morning, there is something incredibly moving about being in a hectic public space and everyone stopping to be completely still for two minutes of silence at the stroke of 11:00am. It also called to mind some of my past travels …
In 2014, MrElaineous and I journeyed to London for a two-day “adbenchture”. A charity promoting literacy had 50 benches created that looked like open books, and each was painted by a different artist and placed across London. H.G. Wells’ Time Machine was naturally out in Greenwich, there were a few Peter Pans near well-known London landmarks, and even a bench depicting a book about cricket was placed near the London Guildhall.
I wish I had a Fitbit, or at least a pedometer, during this time as I know we must have walked miles. We managed to see all 50 benches, but it is true what they say — it’s the journey and not the destination. This trip took us through places we had never been before, like the aforementioned Guildhall and the Shard, yet one of the most memorable aspects was passing the Tower of London.
An art installation featuring 888,246 ceramic poppies filled the moat, each one representing a British military fatality in World War I. It turned the usually green space into a sea of red, highlighting the scale of the loss in a way that an abstract number can’t do.
For those in the UK who wish to see a different perspective on WWI, I can recommend Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old; it’s available on iPlayer until Sunday.
From the ultramodern street art of Bedminster to the Victorian Clifton Shopping Arcade, Bristol is a city with something for everyone and I hope you enjoyed this view of some of its less well-known sights.
I will be posting less frequently as the weather cools down and the holiday season heats up, but tune in next week for some Thanksgiving reflections and a look back at this past year.