One Month in Bristol, England
We moved to Bristol on December 31st, our 27th wedding anniversary.
So we have been here for about a month now, which is not really that long, but we have unpacked our stuff and we’ve purchased some second hand furniture. Our house feels less like a sparsely furnished airbnb and each day it seems more like a place where we actually live.
There’s a very small grocery store about a quarter of a mile from us and it doesn’t have everything you need, but you can get quite a lot there. Still, in order to avoid having to carry everything home, I’ve figured out how to order groceries to be delivered.
I have also found two other services about which I’m really excited. One of them is that I have a box of fresh fruits and vegetables coming every week. It comes overnight on Thursday nights. And I don’t know necessarily what’s going to be in it. Actually there’s a website where I can go and look at what is coming, but a lot of times I don’t and I just open it up and see what’s in it and then figure out what to cook. Which I think is fun. So it’s produce that would normally go to waste because it’s shaped a little funny or not perfect or just there’s a surplus of supply. I think we have similar services in the United States but I’ve never never used one before.
And then, on Thursday morning I have fresh milk, eggs, cream, cheese and yogurt delivered. The milk comes in glass bottles which sort of feels like from another time. So Thursday morning and Friday morning are a bit like Christmas to me. Opening up the door to treasures sitting right there that have been delivered overnight that are fresh to use.
I’ve also found a bakery that has maybe the best almond croissant I’ve ever tasted. It’s just about a mile from my house, maybe a little less, and they also have sausage rolls and pastries with steak and things in them, so I can always talk Simon into walking to that bakery with me because he’ll get a savory something and I’ll get the almond croissant.
So yeah, I guess you could say that we have figured out food.
And drinks of course, we’re enjoying pub culture again. I wrote to someone recently to tell them that I had forgotten that one of my favorite things about living in Scotland was meeting friends at the pub and then walking home at night afterwards with Taido. It is a small pleasure but there is something lovely about getting to walk home together after sitting and chatting and having a drink. Those are just really sweet memories, so it’s kind of fun to feel like I’m returning to them again.
In general, I am loving the return to walking culture. Of course, if you’re a long time reader, you know that I love walking, so being back where it’s a part of daily, normal life is exciting and fun for me. Everywhere you go, you walk. I think I logged about seven miles yesterday walking to second hand furniture shops and picking up a few extra things for dinner.
Trying to go to a lot of places in town would be such a stressful trip in the car, because the roads are really small, and often there’s no place to park. You have to parallel and pay to park everywhere. So, there are a lot of times that even if you wanted to drive, it just makes more sense to walk. I like that walking is not just something that I go do, but it’s this daily part of life–walk to the store, walk to the shops, walk to the bakery.
Simon’s also walking to school, which is just under a couple of miles away. He actually walks with the child of one of Taido’s colleagues who is his age and lives just around the corner. Lots of other folks join them on the way there, so by the time they get to school, everybody’s kind of pouring in from all directions. I remember when the big kids walked to and home from school in Scotland, and it was like they had taken a breath and processed their day before they got home. Like all kids, when they come home, they just want to get something to eat, get on the computer, and kind of check out. As a mom, somehow this feels more okay to me after they’ve just walked for two miles.
We’ve also been going to church every Sunday, which we hardly did during the pandemic. So that feels new in more ways than one. We’re going to a church that is about a quarter of a mile away from us. (It’s not the one pictured above…that’s a church in the city center called St Mary’s Redcliffe, from the 12th century.)
We’ve also been meeting a lot of Taido’s colleagues and their families. He’s working an Trinity College (pictured above), which is an Anglican college. He seems to have such a sweet group of folks that he works with. They have worked to form a community here. They have chapel every morning, and all the students and staff have lunch together every day, which I am able to join if I want.
So I’ve been going up about once a week and having lunch, which has been a fun way to meet some of the teachers and students.
Besides buying groceries and setting up our house, I’ve been getting ready for all my upcoming trips. Lots of walks are planned for spring and summer, so to prepare, I am heading out on a long walk around the city about three times a week.
I am visiting Bristol over and over from different directions and kind of getting to know it by walking, which of course is my favorite way to get to know a place. I just walk out my front door. One day this week it was absolutely gorgeous out, so I just kept going and going. By the end of the day, I had walked over 15 miles.
I walked along the River Avon. I found a bicycle path that I want to return to with a bike.
I walked around the Bristol harbor (harbour).
Bristol used to be a major port city.
Now the harbor is lined with outdoor pubs, shops and museums. It seems like a place we will often return to, especially in the summer.
Already I have a whole list of things that I’m excited about doing with folks.
Ben will be here in March and I’m sure I’ll overwhelm him with all the different walks and things I want to do in Bristol – places I want to go to have tea, places I want to go and have a drink, spots I want to go eat… I’ve got a whole pile of things.
So if you decide to come and visit, bring your tennis shoes and get ready, because we’ve got a lot of places to go.
So that’s about it as far as our first month here. I’m sure I’ll have more as the weeks progress.
But I think we are starting to feel at home.
Here’s how I know.
Last night, after spending an afternoon wandering through the city and going to second-hand furniture shops together. Taido and I were walking back to the house. We stopped off at a pub called The Shakespeare, which was lovely, but then we were wandering home from there and we reached this giant park which is near our house.
You actually go up a hill from our house to get to it, and then the park is a big flat green space called The Downs. After you cross The Downs, you walk down a big hill into the city.
So you have to walk through this big, beautiful park no matter where you’re going into town, and then again when you’re walking back to our house. If you’re headed home from town, when you reach The Downs, you know that you’ve got like three quarters of a mile left and that it will be downhill the rest of the way.
Sometimes we walk up to The Downs and just circle the park for a walk. Sometimes I put on wellies and march right through it. (It’s often muddy.) I’ve already seen it in all kinds of weather.
Bright sunshine, drizzles of rain, a total fog cover and most often, just sort of gray.
So yesterday evening when we reached the edge of The Downs after climbing the hill from the city, I thought, Oh, there, we’re almost home. And just in that moment, I caught myself saying home, and I thought, Yes, I am starting to feel like this is going to be our home.