Neil Finn – What a show!

Just back from  seeing Neil perform at the Colston Hall in Bristol (and an overnight stay at the Novotel in the city centre).

Such a fabulous show. People love Neil as well as loving his music, so there is always a great, friendly atmosphere at his concerts. He is such a generous performer, who loves interacting with the audience, and overall it feels as though you are getting together with your mates for the best party ever. It’s probably all the better if you know his work in Split Enz, Crowded House and other collaborations, so you can join in with the sing-along bits, but the man is so brilliant that it would take a very miserable concert-goer not to have a whale of a time.  Fantastic to end the show with a sing along (that’s where knowing the greatest hits helps), so we can all say “I’ve sung with Neil Finn!”.  Catch the tour if you can. That’s all I can say.

While I’ve lived in the area for a while, I have to admit that this was my first visit to the Colston Hall, and I really enjoyed it. It’s easy to get to, has a good selection of bars, and plenty of space in the stylish atrium. There was a free performance for a local musician in the atrium before the main performance too, so the whole experience felt like great value.  Nice to to meet my brother and sister-in-law who had bought tickets independently from us and ended up in the same row, just a handful of seats apart.

I must just mention the Shakespeare Tavern in Prince Street too. We’ve been there a few times now when we’ve been in town and it’s a lovely pub. Good food, great beer and a good central location. Check it out next time you are in town. Handy for Queen’s Square, the Old City and Harbourside, so it fitted in well during our afternoon stroll around, doing a bit of shopping and a bit of sight-seeing. We always come across buildings we’ve never seen before and examples of fantastic architecture. Just fabulous.

We chose to go by bus, to be as green as we could, but I can see why people use cars. The journey there from Clevedon was quite quick on Saturday on the X6, but coming home this morning we had to use the X8, and it is such a long way round, looping through Nailsea about three times before nipping into Clevedon. A hour plus to go ten miles!  Here’s to the time we have a quick bus seven days a week.

I feel that you deserve a picture, but I don’t have one at hand of Bristol, so here’s a view of Hill Road in Clevedon instead! Oh – and thanks to my lovely daughter, Louise, who gave me the tickets for my birthday.

Hill Road

Out and about in Bradford on Avon and Clifton

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I’ve had a lovely Easter weekend, thank you for asking, with my son, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend visiting. We picked them up in Bristol on Saturday afternoon, and following a beautiful sunny walk along the Clevedon seafront enjoyed a pint at the Moon and Sixpence followed by a delicious meal at Junior Poon’s on Hill Road. Strolled home under a star-lit sky, chatting all the while.

On Sunday we headed out towards Bradford on Avon, although the weather forecast was less promising than we had hoped. However, the road over the Mendip’s was gloriously misty and atmospheric, and we saw the herds of goats used to crop the plants on the cliffs that otherwise would overwhelm the natural rare species and character of the gorges. I hadn’t been to Bradford on Avon before, even though one of my ancestors was born in the town, and I must say I loved it. I have included just a couple of photos to give an idea of the character of the place, but it is just lovely. The same golden stone that you see in Bath, interesting shops, and great walks, boat rides and cycling along and in the Kennet and Avon canal.  It poured with rain, so we dived into a very quaint coffee house for shelter and refreshments. Then we drove back to Clevedon via Bath and Bristol.

This morning we popped into Clifton across the beutiful suspension bridge, parked up and spent sometime strolling around Clifton village. My son had to head off to Temple Meads for his train, but the rest of us had lunch on the pub terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel overlooking the gorge, basking in the beautiful warm sunshine. I saw a raven, but was the only one who was really impressed!

If you don’t know North Somerset, Bristol and Bath, I would recommend a visit. The countryside is beautiful with lots of good walks, and there are so many villages with welcoming pubs, so don’t just drive through on your way to Devon and Cornwall. Stop and say hello!

New today in Clevedon …

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… the national flags on the seafront were being replaced today.  You can just see the yellow-jacketed workman in the bottom left hand corner getting near to the end of the job. They looked lovely against the summery sky, although some had already started to wrap themselves around the flagposts.

It was one of those mornings that looked better to the eye than to the camera. Rather hazy – must buy that UV filter I’ve been meaning to get!

Perfection

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Here’s a picture of the sky over Clevedon this afternoon, so clear and blue that I had difficulty taking the photo, I had to include a piece of roof and then crop that out.

There could be a message in there for an issue with perfection. With a little wisp of cloud the automatic focus would have known what to look at.  Maybe the wisp would have set off the blue of the sky, so it looked more impressive, somehow. I guess that in the case of this photo, it would at least have made it more obvious that this is the sky!

Although I am not citicising the perfect blue of today’s sky – we see too few cloud free skies in the UK to get that used to them – I think I have a tiny problem with perfection, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. For example I usually prefer a slightly unusual singing voice to one that is flawless – although that often also has something to do with the song being sung too. Bob Dylan’s voice is rarely called beautiful, but he is always good to listen to. I can also find a room that is perfect a little unsettling. It’s almost as though I feel guilty at living in it and running the risk of messing it up. And don’t some perfectly even, perfectly white smiles look a bit artificial?

It’s worth remembering, as we strive for perfection in our lives, that it’s not always achieveable, nor always necessary. Fortunately the best we can manage is often good enough!

 

Catch it if you can – pop-up theatre in Clevedon

Clevedon from Poet's walk

What a nice morning: we popped into Clevedon, and joined the queue to see the Theatre Orchard production of The Devil and the Shopkeeper in a disused shop on Queen’s Square.

I had heard about the production through Twitter – having been sceptical, I am becoming convinced of the value of following local organisations to find out what’s on – and as I’m always keen to see local live performances I was determined to see one of the shows.  Everything was great, from the cheery, chatty queue waiting to get in, the equally cheery and chatty theatre people handing out flyers, the novelty of the setting, the skill and humour in the writing, music and performing. I won’t give away the plot – just go and see it yourself if you can! The mixed age audience all seemed to love it, and the applause was long and warm and donations were willingly given at the end.

If you are local and catch this blog today (Saturday 22 March) there’s still time for you to catch the 3.00 pm performance, otherwise they are back next Saturday 29 March at 11 am and 1 and 3 pm.  The show lasts less than half an hour, but packs a lot of entertainment into that.  Which leaves time to shop, have a coffee, or stroll along the sea front.

Well done to all involved – including the sponsors – for bringing such accessible and worthwhile theatre into the community.  I’ll defintely be keeping in touch with The Theatre Orchard to make sure I catch future productions in the area, and I’d recommend that you do too.

 

Up with the lark

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Beautiful day to get up early for a walk round Poet’s Walk before breakfast.  Lovely light for photographs too.

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The sun was low enough and bright enough to be casting really strong shadows, so the texture of every blade of grass, twig and ripple stood out strongly.

Fresh air, the pleasure of walking, hills for exercise and open blue skies.  Beautiful!

The next challenge is to get up before the lark and aim for sunrise over the Mendips.  I’ll see what I can do!

Clevedon – World Heritage Site?

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Back in July there was local news that Clevedon Council could apply for World Heritage Site status for the seafront, and although  haven’t heard any more about this recently, I’m hoping that they have.

It’s an interesting and on the face of it extraordinary step that would equate a smallish North somerset town few people outside the area have heard of with other world heritage sites.  The beautiful pier is a key draw, and you quite often see the town featured in film and television – most recently Broadchurch with David Tennant, but the town has had a small but devoted following since the days of the great Victorian poets.  Tennyson and Coleridge both lived here, and the locally famous Poet’s Walk coastal path is named in their honour.  Much of the town, including the seafront, is little changed from Victorian times, full of quiet charms. There are many vantage points from which spectacular views across the Bristol Channel to Wales and to the Mendip Hills spread out in front of you.  Try walking up (or down) the Zig Zag footpath between Hill Road and Dial Hill Road for some of the best.  If you are here in the evening, join the photographers who line the seafront for the spectacular sunset shots across the estuary.

We have the fantastic Curzon Community Cinema, which is well worth a visit. All the current films in a beautiful original interior.  Not to be missed. Great shops and cafes on Hill Road and in the town, and some lovely restaurants.  And a great number of parks and footpaths which mean that no road is a dead end and no two walks are ever quite the same.  The older streets are full of statuesque Victorian houses, in the main built by the merchants of Bristol, so embellished with individual architectural features which anyone who likes buildings will find delightful.

If you haven’t visited yet, you should. We are a 30 minute bus ride from Bristol. and a bus goes from Temple Meads station to the town.  Don’t expect wild excitement, but if quiet charms are to your taste, you’ll love it.

And we may be a World Heritage site by the time you get here!

Floods and Gales

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On Friday evening we had an automated call from the Environment Agency to warn us that Clevedon was one of the many places in the West of the UK to be at risk of flooding.  Although we are tucked away on the Bristol Channel, well away from the ocean waves that lashed Cornwall in the gales, the high tide, strong winds and heavy rain meant a surge was excepted although the way the Severn.

We came off very lightly compared to many people, but it was exciting, and as you can see many drivers were stopping along the promenade for a photo opportunity.

The water was almost level with the promenade, as you can see.  Here’s the height of water against the pier …

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compared to a typical view.

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The Environment Agency site gives lots of information and advice but we have got so used to being safe from floods we hadn’t thought in advance of getting any extra defences.  Where we are the risk really is very low – we are in a wide, flat area some distance from the sea.  We shall see what the weather brings from here on in … Hopefully a bit less rain for us all.

 

 

 

Carry a camera!

You never know when you’ll see something memorable, and when you do it’s good to record it.

This week we’ve had contrasting weather.  On Tuesday (or it might have been Monday) the morning was bright and clear, so I was intrigued to see a bank of cloud lying on the water just visible over the marine lakes.

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So I carried on around the costal path, to see this:

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A solid looking bank of what I now knew must be mist lying across the Bristol Channel. I could see it was just rolling forward towards over the water.  A little further on …

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… I drew level with the mist and could see how thin the bank of mist was.  It was actually more like a long sheet,  billowing out like a sail.  Traces of mist drifted on after the main bulk, and further down the estuary I could see a similar bank rolling in, closer to the Welsh side.  I’m beginning to understand why they call this Poet’s Walk!

It’s something I’ve not seen before.  Glad I had the camera with me!

Yesterday the weather was completely different with a strong wind whipping up what passes for surf locally.  Being a muddy estuary, the foam was a marvellous crispy brown – no white horses here!

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness?

Well not today, and not in Clevedon.  Although it has been very misty lately, the weather has changed and winds are blowing from the North, and what a beautiful day!  Quite exhilarating even though it was quite cool.

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You often get quite geometric bands of colour here looking out to Wales across the sea wall, marine lake and the Bristol Channel, but today the effect was particularly spectacular as the sun was so bright and the wind fairly strong.

And then walking around Poet’s Walk it all turned into an old fashioned nature walk, with a beautiful red admiral butterfly on some ivy …

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… and the specks in the water towards the foreground in this picture are canda geese.  I can tell you they were making a terrific noise, so I can only assume they were planning on flying off soon.

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Beautiful!  It’s not all that long ago (20 years or so) that you’d be able to see masses of red admirals every autumn, but now they are a rare sight, which is very sad.

On a completely different note, while writing I’ll just mention the special offer we have on some wigs in our ebay shop.

You didn’t see that coming, did you!!

One of the first things we bought to sell when we started the shop were some very good quality, long wavy wigs.  They are really beautiful, and come in blonde, red, brown and black with red highlights. People who have bought them have loved them, and said they will definitely be using them again.  We are moving into art work – much more interesting for us – so took these out of our shop.  However, as we are approaching halloween, this seems a good time to re-offer them and we listed them at £24.99.  As we would like to sell them quickly, we are offering them at a 20% discount.  The sale starts tomorrow 11 October.  When they’re gone, they’re gone!