Cliff Dwelling


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October 13th 2018
Published: October 14th 2018
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We’re at the far end, “below stairs.”
Well, who knew that Bristol was lovely?! Most of us never get past Bath Spa, and certainly not up onto the bluffs of Clifton Village, an historic community of Georgian house marching along crescent terraces like king-sized (literally) dominos, overlooking the Avon Valley and Bristol.

What brought me here, frankly, was my budget: well-located ATC hosts afforded me a three-day visit that would cool off my credit card. (If you haven’t yet heard me testify praises of the Affordable Travel Club, email me and I’ll fill you in...) Karen is a director of television documentaries (mostly BBC) and James is an ER nurse - delightful and interesting folks! Their home is the ”downstairs” portion of the type of home featured in the series “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and they’ve done wonders with it. My pix can’t do it justice. My private lower floor is a cellar, carved into the rock/bluff/cliff.

Islambard Brunel ("one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history") designed and built a suspension bridge across the Avon river gorge to Clifton Village, and it is still used, though gingerly. Seeing a “Weak Bridge” sign before I walked across didn’t promote confidence, especially since the wind was blowing blue blazes all day.

The real treat of my first day, besides discovering the charm of this thriving neighborhood, was discovering that this is an ART STUIO TOUR weekend! I had been feeling so sorry for myself missing all the fall events in Oregon, and here art is happening all around me! My hosts took me to a friend‘s studio around the corner, where I found a little (actually large) something in silk! If I don’t eat out for the next two weeks, I can just afford it. (I see lots of picnics in my future...) 😉

The first day‘s winds ushered in the second day’s rains, but that didnt deter me from walking into town for a day full of museums and harborplace fun. Unfortunately, every parent In the county had the same idea, because most places were dripping, wet bedlam. I skirted the obvious attractions, like dinosaurs and re-enactments, and still managed to see art by Renoir, Courbet, Pissarro and Sisley. and there wasn’t a single child at the Red Lodge, a beautifully preserved Tudor banquet hall.

My Land’s End reversible raincoat is getting good use, but in a downpour it tends to soak
“Our” courtyard “Our” courtyard “Our” courtyard

Seen from the terrace level. The stairs shown on left go down to my rooms.
me knees-to-toes. I took shelter in a noodle shop (the fact that I was the only Caucasian was a magnet). One tasty bowl of Pork Tom Yum later, I was warm to the core, and my feet almost dry.

Bristol has been a revelation, but tonight I pack again. Tomorrow I rent a car and head into the wilds of Wales!


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Jo reproduces her African photos onto silk garments, and part of her proceeds go to Village women.


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