Now, that’s what I call a low tide!

Great walk along the sea front today and the tide was as low – no, correction – lower than I have seen it in the three years that we have lived in Clevedon.

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I’ve not seen the supports for the struts of the pier before, nor seen the sandbank sticking up through the mud without a covering of water. We were recently told that the metal supports were originally narrow gauge rail tracks being recycled, which explains why they look so delicate. You can also see in one of the photos how the appartments at the old Rock Hotel are still being built. Work has been progressing for at least two full years, so maybe by Christmas…

Things have gone a little quicker on Hill Road, where the new mini-Sainsbury store has just opened. I’m not a great fan of supermarket chains, but it does add to the range of products you can buy on Hill Road. The One Stop store round the corner has just been refurbished too – presumably because of the competition of a new store. I hadn’t realised that One Stop is a subsidiary of Tesco, although the branding in the store is now much more like Tesco’s branding. Very interesting – I had assumed it was an independent store.

Back to the estuary… Lovely to see the marine geography so clearly exposed further down the coast.

A similar low tide yesterday caused some local excitement when some geocachers went out onto the mud and got stuck to some degree. I think it was more panic from observers than a real risk, but the emergency services were called in  to rescue them: we heard sirens steadily throughout the afternoon and wondered what was occurring.

Today’s walk was to show our current Airbnb guest, a student with the Bristol Groundschool, the local sights. It is so nice to meet people of different nationalities, and to hear their stories and how they have become pilots. So far we have hosted students from the UK, Italy, France, Denmark, Hungary, Norway and Poland, and we’ve only been in business for a few months. It’s so nice to hear from the European students that their experience of the UK is far superior to their expectations: the legend of football hooligans, hen and stag parties and nightclubbing holidays in the sun has sadly led to low opinions of the British (or to be fair, the English) abroad.

I do realise that this post is slightly random, but then so is life!

It must be summer!

The most striking thing I saw on my early walk round Clevedon today was the sky.

Just look at these contrails (vapour trails to you and me!).

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What a fabulous network of journey markers. Wonder where they are all headed? One thing is for sure, the holiday season is properly underway.

Elsewhere on the walk there was plenty of birdsong to let me know that all manner of flying creatures are busy nesting now the good weather is here. I need to get one of those bird song recognition apps, but I definitely heard a chiff-chaff and I think I heard a blackcap too, amongst others that are for now a mystery to me.

Even though people are starting to get away for holidays, it’s still early enough in the year to experience a real lift in the spirits at the sight of a sun drenched bank of flowers…

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… and of course the pier always looks magificent!

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This view is taken across the empty Marine Lake, where restoration, renovation and improvements are set to get properly underway. Latest news is that there should be a floating island in the lake for swimmers to climb up onto, as well as huts for changing and improved seating and landscaping.

Work on the pier is progressing well too, and the excavations for the new visitor centre are worth the modest entry fee just by themselves! Remember that if you are a regular visitor to Clevedon it’s worth buying a season ticket for the pier. You can visit as many times as you like in a year.

It’s easy to enjoy the benefits of a healthy walk when there is so much to see! What’s happening round your way?

Time travel in Clevedon… bringing the past into the future

I’ve written about the charms of Clevedon many times: how the Victorian features of this peaceful seaside town have been preserved and are here to be enjoyed today.  We’re just back from a walk along the pier, to see the works that are in progress, and that has reminded me that I should have blogged about some of the developments that are underway here.

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The photos show the work at the pier on the new visitor centre and tea rooms. Not the huge building swathed in red mesh on the left – that’s the conversion of the old hotel into flats. The pier development will fit neatly into the ramp beside the old toll house. The work will mostly be underground, and will provide a large room with views under the pier to see the structure including Brunel’s old railway tracks, that were recycled into the pier arches, and of course views across the rising tide. We had a great chat about the work with one of the pier trustees, who was on hand with the plans.

The pier is worth a walk at any time, but will be even more enjoyable when the work is done. We are currently season ticket holders, and will be looking out to buy shares when they become available in the new year to raise the last of the funding needed.

At the other end of the bay, near the Salthouse and Little Harp pubs, the Marine Lakes are also going to be refurbished and restored. These are the Victorian swimming, boating and crabbing lakes, which have fallen into disrepair over the years. Although they are still used almost every day, they look a bit sad and the work, which will include improved seating and terracing and huts to change in for swimming, will bring them back to life.

And in town,  things are happening at the Curzon Community Cinema. From what I hear a new cafe/restaurant is on the way, and they are planning to open up the upper floor boxes and balcony in the auditorium. We already love the cinema and it will be fantastic to have further improvements. These should secure the cinema’s future for many years to come.

So what all these developments have in common is that they are breathing new life into much loved and rare historical places; keeping the essence of them true to their past but fitting them for a long future. Locals and visitors will have the pleasure of authentic Victorian buildings and amenities, but will be able to enjoy them in a way that fits right into modern life.

Hurrah for Clevedon, and for all those involved in these projects.

Maybe we’ll be able to tie the whole thing together by providing an authentic transport solution for the sea front (and shopping areas). Victorian trams, horse drawn coaches, early 20th Century buses … I wonder what might be possible? It would be fabulous to have most of the cars removed from the sea front, and to give visitors and locals alike a fun alternative service. Any ideas, anyone?

 

 

 

Spring Bank Holiday in Clevedon: taking to the sea

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So what’s a Spring Bank Holiday like in Clevedon? Well, a great number of people head for the sea front, and judging from the cars parked along the roads near the front, quite a few of those are from further afield. Although there’s the funfair on Salthouse fields, and the pubs and cafes were doing good business too, most people were looking at the sea, and a considerable number were getting onto the water too.

As you can see from the photograph, it wasn’t too sunny, but the clouds were spectacular and the slow shallow waves on the water were more like ripples than waves. Under these skies the water is silvery – imagine a lake of mercury. Great for photographs!

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There were a number of boats out on the water, mostly fishing, but also a speedboat and large barges and other merchant shipping heading for Avonmouth and other Bristol Channel destinations. The Clevedon pilot gig out for a practise run. Apparently in times gone by the pilot gigs competed to reach the ships needing to be guided into harbour to get the business.  The gig teams specialised in racing their speedy boats and the tradition continues to this day. As if rowing the gig isn’t challenging enough, the team needs to negotiate the narrow path down to the slipway, and it’s not an easy boat to steer.

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And I can’t really post a blog about Clevedon without including the pier. Only a couple of anglers today, but plenty of people enjoying the views, and the chance to give the progress on the new flats at the ruined Rock Hotel beside the pier the once over.

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It’s a paint chart kind of day

Here’s what the Bristol Channel looked like from Clevedon this morning:

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Looks very like something you’d pick up at the local DIY store! Lovely morning walk along the sea-front, with fresh air and the promise of nice weather, although the colour of the sky further south and west gave cause for concern. We couldn’t resist the shadows on the water either:

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And the clouds over the pier looked good too.Image

In Clevedon we often seem to be at the division between two weather systems, and this leads to interesting sky and sea effects. No two days are ever quite the same, and that really keeps the photographers happy.

A couple of speedy boats were in the area, throwing some shapes, so we toasted ourselves in the sun and watched the show for a while. What a pleasurable way to spend some time!

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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!