My weekend away was so much fun! One thing is for sure – I was blessed with beautiful sunshine all-day, all-weekend! If you’re from the UK, you will know how rare this much sunshine can be! 🙂
I spontaneously booked the Bristol Royal Hotel, by Marriott with the help of the Booking Now app (like I mentioned earlier) which lets you book and even guides you to the hotel door. It’s as if Booking.com made their app fool proof just for me! Somehow I always seem to take a wrong turn which, by the way, is how I ended up travelling on the Underground to East London the other day instead of West London and I was so distracted that I didn’t realise my error till about 10 minutes into my journey! In any case, I’m not usually great at direction so this feature is perfect for me.
The next morning, I got up bright and early in my swanky hotel room… and I blame this level of swank for making me sleep in long after I planned on getting up! I coulda sworn I set an alarm too but oh well! 🙂 The room itself was gorgeous and airy with a real classic English feel and I immediately felt right at home. 🙂 Plus the hotel was bang in the centre of the city so that’s always an easy win too! (And there’s the pool – don’t forget the pool!)
After finally parting ways with my bed, I decided to head to the lobby bar for a quick drink and nibbles – this fact in itself should allude to the time I actually woke up (or to my drinking habits – make of that what you will 🙂 ). The lovely mixologist promised she could make me a perfect sweet and zingy cocktail to set me off for the day ahead. Given my infamous sweet-tooth, I had no objections whatsoever and sipped away at the fruity deliciousness…
Cocktail over, I finally decided to make my move and conquer the town. No sooner had I left the revolving doors I witnessed, what felt like thousands of people – steel drums, party-food and lots of circus tomfoolery! It was Bristol’s annual Harbour Festival. Talk about a lucky coincidence! When I booked the weekend away, I had no idea there was any special even going on in Bristol that weekend. The things that happen when you open your mind to spontaneous possibilities eh? 😉 The whole vibe was so friendly and inviting that I couldn’t resist joining in the fun. I even got to try my hand at juggling which, it’s safe to say I failed miserably at! A patient guy even tried to teach me but to no avail! I swear people who juggle have some sort of hocus or hex that they use to show-off their skills unlike people like me, who have terrible hand-eye coordination!
Anyway, after my failed attempt at juggling I decided to head towards the harbour to see what all the fuss was about. The harbour area was brimming with people and music – it felt as if everyone from Bristol had decided to come out and enjoy the day! One really cool thing about the Harbour Festival is that they have local food stalls for as far as my eyes could see and my nose could smell. I very quickly locked target on my treat of choice and clawed and climbed my way, figuratively of course (and to the tune of James Bond in my mind) towards my treats a Strawberry tarts shack! This my friend, is my very definition of winning in this hot summer sunshine! 🙂
FYI, those tarts were worth it! They were really really REALLY good!
After munching unapologetically on my dessert, I put on my art-hat and went looking for one of Bristol’s most infamous artists – Banksy! I didn’t quite spot him but I did find some of his work that is now at the M Shed museum. I have always loved his street-art – ever since I first discovered him in 00’s so you can imagine my excitement in getting to see more of his art!
Once, I got my art-juices flowing, there was no stopping me! Well, it might have been the sugar-rush from my cocktail and strawberry tart but I was definitely all geared up to see more of Bristol’s art scene (which by the way, at this point I started to refer to as “Brizzle”, it’s just one of those random things that I’d heard someone say and it just got stuck in my head and like that awful 90’s tune you can shake, it was nigh impossible to shake this nickname for Bristol out of my mind). On the way to the next art studio, I did get a bit distracted by the inner child in me when I found some original steam trains in the harbour! They used to be used for industry but now anyone can drive them, if you have some time and £10 to spare. 🙂
Soon enough, I made it to the awesomeness that is Spike Island! Before you ask, nope, its not an island but instead, a collection of artist spaces and a thriving community that houses some of the most amazing work and the most creative people I have ever met! Within the main viewing areas of Spike Island I was able to see some of Patrick Staff’s amazing artist film and installations – alongside the equally talented works of Reto Pulfer that just begged to be explored! I love interactive art – again, maybe it’s the inner child in me but my imaginations always runs amok when I get to explore with art that’s meant to interacted with and made the most of!
If you ask the lovely artists at reception (like I cheekily did) – they will unlock a whole new world which you can explore the artists studios and spaces! It’s kinda like Narnia except it’s opened with a keycard instead.. This by the way, was one of my favourite parts of Spike Island! It was a welcoming and informative area that housed some inspirational art and people and if you ever find yourself in Bristol and you head to Spike Island, do ask the artist at reception if its possible to see “upstairs” – they will know what you mean… and no, its not a codeword. 🙂
Another favourite part of my time in Spike Island was a sort of dark cinema you walked into and sat on rolled up logs of carpet (or even just lay on the carpet) and watch some art videos. It comes with a warning for sexual content but I don’t think it was necessary as everything was quite tame to be honest. It was such a beautifully shot piece and is one of those pieces of art where your appreciate of it is almost quite visceral and unpretentious. I love it when art has the ability to make you feel and think about things you probably never thought of prior to seeing it and this video session most definitely did that!
Once I left Spike Island, I wandered a couple of streets away and was able to find yet another of Banksy’s work! (#WINNING!) “The Girl With The Pierced Eardrum” which by the way, is both beautiful and strangely haunting! I always wonder how he was able to undertake these projects without anyone seeing him! Especially for a piece this huge! I kinda thought his art was perhaps smaller and so could be done in very little time but this stuff is relatively quite big.
After my afternoon of consuming art, the smell of all those BBQ’s (which were EVERYWHERE by the way) and delicious foods finally made me want to consume my body weight in carbs! I stopped for burgers at the first place possible which ended up being this cool eatery right on the harbour front that had a roaring BBQ, live music and fresh farm produce!
I went with the lamb burger which put a huge smile on my face and left me ready and energised to go explore more of Bristol! And perhaps even find more Banksy art? 🙂 More on that soon… 🙂