Bristol Harbour Festival 2016

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Been visiting this for years and I don’t think I have ever seen so many people there!  Fewer tall ships – only spotted one, the Kathleen &May from Bideford:

Kathleen & May at Bristol Harbour Festival 2016
Kathleen & May at Bristol Harbour Festival 2016

The festival is morphing into a general celebration of music, socialising and food – with people out in force enjoying the day, and  the waterfront ambience; here’s a few pictures:

 

Shark Ferry in the docks
Shark Ferry in the docks
Boarding Gromit's ferry
Boarding Gromit’s ferry

 

Paddleboard Flotilla
Paddleboard Flotilla

 

 

Superhero on Paddleboard
Superhero on Paddleboard
Superhero on Paddleboard
Superhero on Paddleboard
Some boat owners brought pets
Some boat owners brought pets
Another boater with pet
Another boater with pet
Anchors away for the festival
Anchors away for the festival
Bristol's John King vintage tugboat
Bristol’s John King vintage tugboat

In the  late 1960s there was a plan to fill in the city docks in Bristol.  They were too small for container ships which dock out at Avonmouth.  Small ships used to bring timber from Russia and sand dredgers worked out  in the Bristol Channel, unloading their cargo for builders to collect conveniently just off Hotwells Road.

The plan to fill in the docks was thwarted.  The hulk of Brunel’s Great Britain steamship was brought back from the Falkland Islands and in 1970 was towed up the River Avon to be restored.  In 1996 the replica of John Cabot’s Matthew was dedicated at Bristol’s first maritime festival.

Meanwhile the land around the docks was turned over to new uses, sand and gravel yard replaced with new houses. Waterside cafes, bars and entertainment venues bring crowds out to enjoy summer sunshine.

Visitors from across the Severn Estuary
Visitors from across the Severn Estuary

Food is another enthusiasm for Bristol and there was lots of choice, takeaway food from many culinary traditions:

Traditional British standby
Traditional British standby
A taste of Kerala
A taste of Kerala

 

 

 

Crepes and Chinese streetfood
Crepes and Chinese streetfood

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Greek treats
Greek treats

 

And Another

Hog Roast for the carnivores
Hog Roast for the carnivores
Not forgetting the bar
Not forgetting the bar

Bristol’s Naked Bike Ride

Bristol likes to be known as a “cycling city”.  Policy is to add cycle lanes when roads are  being redeveloped and put in cycle racks.  Steep hills and heavy traffic work against pleasant cycling and the largely Victorian street plan doesn’t leave room to separate cyclists from traffic in many parts.

An intrepid group of cyclists set off on 28 June 2015 to point out the vulnerability of the human body –

Setting off from the Full Moon, Stokes Croft
Setting off from the Full Moon, Stokes Croft
Lots of spectators for the Naked Bike Ride
Lots of spectators for the Naked Bike Ride

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riding naked apart from colourful body painting and slogans.

More Ass Less Gas
More Ass Less Gas
Body decoration for the ride
Body decoration for the ride

Happily the weather was warm and sunny as you can see in the pictures….

A laid-back bike
A laid-back bike
Castle Park in the sunshine
Castle Park in the sunshine
Green message
Green message

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Skateboarder: Me Too!
Skateboarder: Me Too!
Riding round the Bearpit
Riding round the Bearpit
A visit to the Council House
A visit to the Council House

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The riders made a circuit of College Green
The riders made a circuit of College Green

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Triumphal Arch!
Triumphal Arch!

427 cyclists took part this year and it is happening again in 2016, will there be even more riders?

Is this the best week to visit Madrid?

St Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid. When I saw some cheap Easyjet flights from Bristol I had no idea who St Isidro was or why I had hit the best weekend of the year to go.

Info Board San Isidro Festival, Madrid

The festival of San Isidro starts on the Friday nearest to the 15th of May. The tradition goes back hundreds of years starting with religious processions.  The festival has expanded to a city-wide festival of music, dance, art, theatre and even organic gardening.

We could not take in a fraction of what was on offer, but joined the crowds in the Puerta del Sol for a parade of dancing giants.

Giants dance in Puerto del Sol, Madrid
Giants dance in Puerto del Sol, Madrid

Giants from Pamplona joined the local giants and raucous Basque music set them dancing.

The serious-looking figure is the artist Goya
The serious-looking figure is the artist Goya
Figures included a grand Alfonso VI
Figures included a grand Alfonso VI

 

The giants were operated by dancers with great stamina who got into the wooden frames supporting the figures.

Dancer gets ready to bring his giant to life.
Dancer gets ready to bring his giant to life.

Shorter figures with big heads, Los Cabezudos, entertained the crowds.  I guess there are a lot of stories behind the characters.  Two of them were a local Robin Hood style bandit from the 1800s, Luis Candelas, and his girlfriend Lola la Naranjera.

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Stylish pair Lola and Luis
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Local Hero?
Los Cabezudos have sticks to play-fight
Los Cabezudos have sticks to play-fight

The whole gang grouped up to make their way from Puerto del Sol to Plaza Mayor:

Ready to go
Ready to go

Crowds followed along the Calle Mayor:

Calle Mayor
Calle Mayor

In the Plaza Mayor, technicians were working to set up a stage for a free concert later that evening. The stage was in front of the Panaderia Real, the royal bakery famous for its wall paintings.

Sound engineers under surveillance
Sound engineers under surveillance

Traditional dress was the order of the day for locals:

Dressed for the festival
Dressed for the festival
Elegant ladies enjoy a get-together
Elegant ladies enjoy a get-together

The Plaza Mayor filled up with people ready for the free concert:

Audience in Plaza Mayor
Audience in Plaza Mayor

Later in the evening as dark fell people headed for the gardens near the Prado art gallery, the Jardines de El Buen Retiro, for the Night of Fire and Music.  Fireworks coordinated with  music and illuminations, reflected in the park’s lake.

Thousands of people enjoyed the fireworks
People enjoyed the fireworks
Illuminations reflected in the lake.
Illuminations reflected in the lake

 

This was just the first day of a week-long event.  In 2016 the festival will run for a week from Sun, 15 May 2016.

Currently the website shows the 2015 programme but this gives an idea of the range of arts events available.  There was also an app for Android/iPhone giving details of all the events.

 

 

 

 

How many ships sail in the wood? Withdrawn: Luke Jerram: Leigh Woods: Bristol

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A traditional rhyme:

The man in the wilderness asked of me,
How many strawberries grow in the sea?
I answered him, as I thought good:
“As many red herrings as grow in the wood.”

There are many fewer herring in the sea since this rhyme appeared. Excessive fishing effort has seen to that.

Another version goes:

The man in the wilderness asked of me,
“How many strawberries grow in the salt sea?”
I answered him, as I thought good,
“As many a ship as sails in the wood.”

Now in Leigh Woods some fishing boats are indeed sailing in the wood, their days of hauling fish from the sea long gone.J71_4495s

Luke Jerram’s installation Withdrawn places the retired boats in a clearing surrounded by tall trees. Fresh green leaves greeted the launch of the boats on 26 April 2015.

Luke Jerram at the Launch
Luke Jerram at the Launch

Well if you have a boat or two to launch then you must have a launch party. Bristol’s Youth Choir sang on the boats on a sunny afternoon. Free from sea breezes, or indeed any wind, the acoustics were great with voices rising clearly through the branches to the sky.

Junior Choir aboard the Seahorse
Junior Choir aboard the Seahorse

Choirs and audience were kept on the move from boat to boat as juniors and seniors sang sea- and Bristol-themed songs conducted by David Ogden and Martin Le Poidevin

Senior Boys sing sea shanty, conductor Martin de Poidevin
Senior Boys sing sea shanty, conductor Martin de Poidevin

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Senior Girls on the Seagull
Senior Girls on the Seagull

 

Wood anemones and bluebells are coming into flower, it’s a good time to take a walk in Leigh Woods and enjoy the enigmatic boats!

Veteran Propellor, resting.
Veteran Propeller, resting.
Seaworn Seagull
Seaworn Seahorse

 

Access from A369, Bristol to Portishead road, first right after the lights at Beggar Bush Lane and along Coronation Avenue.  Level path but may be muddy after rain.

 

The Ancient Art of Coppicing – Bristol’s Leigh Woods

The Greenwood Barn
The Greenwood Barn

The smell of woodsmoke and the sound of axes splitting wood and violins playing old Irish tunes drew families to the Green Barn in Leigh Woods, Bristol. IMG_0453

Craft workshops  gave people a try at some woodland skills.

 

Coppicing
Coppicing

Rypelwood Workers Co-op work to revive ancient skills of sustainable use of woodland products. Coppicing is a way of harvesting useful wood without killing the tree. It is cut and the stump re-sprouts multiple trunks.

Harvesting Coppicewood
Harvesting Coppicewood
Regrowth from Stump
Regrowth from Stump

 

 

The woodland is harvested in rotation,  and woodland flowers grow in the cleared sections.

Coppicing has been done for thousands of years and it is good for biodiversity.

Using a billhook to clean up beanpoles
Using a billhook to clean up beanpoles

 

Weaving a wattle wall
Weaving a wattle wall with coppice wood.

 

 

 

 

 

Carving Spoons
Carving Spoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoon carving was going well.  Learners shaped pieces of green wood with a small axe.  They hollowed out the bowl of the spoon with a curved knife.

Spoon Knives
Spoon Knives

 

Willow Basket Making
Willow Basket Making

Basketmaking involved big bundles of green willow shoots.

Weaving green willow, even beginners made a basket in an hour or two.

Finished basket
Finished basket
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Learning to weave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people worked with bigger logs of  newly cut wood.

Green woodwork tools
Green woodwork tools
Splitting with a maul and mallet
Splitting with a maul and mallet

Workers with green wood use wedges, froes and  mauls to split along the grain, instead of sawing.  The wood fibres are not cut so it keeps its maximum strength.

An adze or a drawknife will shape and smooth the wood.  For garden gates and trelisses, the split pieces look good just as they are.

Garden gate from split wood
Garden gate from split wood

The early January sunset lit up the smoke from the fire and musicians gathered in the barn to play as the day ended.IMG_0471

Information: the Greeenwood Barn was built about 20 years ago using wood cut from the surrounding forest.  It is usually just a shelter for walkers but events like this take place from time to time.

Access is from the A369 Bristol – Portishead road.  Travelling from Bristol, pass through the traffic lights where the B3129 goes off to the left.  The barn is down a track on the right a short way after the lights.  Cars can be parked by the track and the barn is signposted down a footpath. There are mountain bike trails as well as footpaths running through the woods. The woods are beautiful at any time of year but paths can be muddy after rain.

Green woodworking tools are available from Bristol Design toolshop in Perry Road, Bristol.

My Travel Blog

January; Well I’m sitting in rainy Bristol with the wind blowing a gale outside, just wondering where I can afford to go for some spring  sunshine…….

Well until I decide, I will post some interesting local things.  A day out in Leigh Woods showed a bit about crafts that people used to make things before there was electricity.