Postcards from the Bristol Channel

massive beady-eyed hen peering from bright yellow wall, above takeaway shop and behind a bright red cafe

Last weekend to escape our domestic disorder, we bunked off to the Bristol Channel. Our travels began in Weston-super-Mare where we found wide open beaches, mud flats, and a glorious sense of space.

a view of the wide open muddy beach at Weston-super-mare and The Grand Pier, flanked by amazing clouds

view of old buildings curved around the edge of the land and reflected in the wet mud and sand below; to the right is the currently silted up open-air swimming pool, due to open later on this year

We admired the Grand Pier…

the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare with grand white towers and bold red lettering and sporting many flags - including two for Ukraine - on its turrets

…and its alluring cousin, Birnbeck Pier.

Birnbeck Pier - an abandoned Victorian pier in a state of desolation and disrepair, with just a lonely seagull for company

We also found much beautiful art in Weston-super-Mare. For example these fine rainbow wings…

Mark with rainbow wings near Birnbeck pier

…this mesmerising texture…

a mural largely comprised of beautiful swirling pastel shapes against a dark ground, all atop an old wall

…and this arresting hen.

massive beady-eyed hen peering from bright yellow wall, above takeaway shop and behind a bright red cafe

The vibrant town centre was bordered with pockets of calm.

a small green boat bobbing on still, smooth waters

glorious Weston-super-Mare sunset

Our journey continued onwards to Clevedon, where we saw the very beautiful Clevedon Pier – once a ferryport for ferries across the channel to Wales.

Clevedon pier - a minty green, delicate structure built out across the waters of the Bristol channel

the minty-green pagoda at the end of Clevedon pier (which serves teas and ice-creams)

The maintenance of this beautiful heritage structure is enabled by many schemes, including a wonderful placard scheme, by which anyone can commission – and have mounted on the pier – a plaque. The patchwork of commemorations, sweet words and remembrances is very moving.

a collection of pier plaques photographed from a distance

plaque text: SIT YOUR BACK AGAINST THIS PLAQUE YOUR WISH WILL COME TRUE TOMORROW - MICHAEL EARLEY, EASTVILLE

plaque text: Genna, my lovely. Living with you in 2020 was so much fun, I wish for many more trips like this one. you're amazing. you know? Jay

plaque text: To My Darling Moo, Will you marry me? Love Fu x

For the last leg of our travels we stopped off briefly in Portishead – home-town of the eponymous band whose dingy trip-hop musical textures had led me to believe this to be a rotting industrial hinterland.

Portishead pier - one last vestige of the grimy industrial past of this area

In fact it is a beautiful leafy place with tree-clad hills a cricket green and a lido. Nearly all traces of the grimy industrial past seem to have been developed away around the marina area, leaving the fantasy Portishead of my imagination somewhere back in the 1990s where it probably belongs.

DANGER SOFT MUD - one of many such signs placed along the channel

Around the Bristol channel we learnt much of mud and mud-flats; of the impracticalities of regular travel across the channel by boat; of wild tides; and of the many piers, waterways, estuaries and rivers that converge in this exciting corner of the UK. It was a very short trip and we literally just scooted around its surface, but I loved everything and want to go back soon.

On the way home to our kitchenless house, I found this beautiful ambient film that captures Portishead on the cusp of redevelopment, in 1987.

Until soon, yours in postcards –
Felix

2 thoughts on “Postcards from the Bristol Channel

  1. I was in Bristol myself for a couple of days the other week, and got to see one of the animal sculptures at Southmead Hospital. Bristol is such a beautiful city and I love how it’s a few weeks weather-wise ahead of us in Norfolk, so all the magnolia was blossoming in the early sunshine.

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