This article was originally published (in print) in both the Downend Voice and Emersons Green Voice (October editions).
Secret treasures and gems in hometowns can so often be hidden beneath endless dreams of faraway lands. We often lose the urgency to explore where we live, simply because everything is on our doorstep and we have the convenience of knowing our way around.
The notion of rushing around, completing errands or commuting to work means we sometimes forget to look up and admire that building or landmark we’ve never really looked at before.
This is my tale of uncovering some of Bristol’s secrets, 5 years after moving here…
My journey begins at the Harbourside. In itself, many visitors to Bristol would have made the Harbourside one of their first destinations to see. Yet, how many of us can say we’ve really stopped to look and admire it?
One wrong turning finds me gazing into the eyes of a Vermeer masterpiece: Girl with a Pearl Earring. But wait, this masterpiece isn’t made from oil paints. Her earring isn’t a pearl. Instead, I find myself drawn to a security alarm system as her earring. This is a street art version of Vermeer’s work, but a masterpiece all the same. I catch myself wondering: Who’s the artist? How long has this been here waiting to be discovered?
I continue to follow the River Avon. Along the way, I see major highlights including the SS Great Britain and the bright houses gazing down on Baltic Wharf. I stop to admire the rainbow-coloured windsurfers and the paddleboarders with dogs balancing on the front. By spending some time to walk the length of the harbour, I see so much beauty in my surroundings: the known and the unknown.
And then I reach Perrett’s Park: a small park space near Wells Road. At first glance, I notice the impressive views across Bristol’s skyline. My fingers inch towards my camera. Through it, I spot the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge in the distance. Quite simply, I’m now seeing a totally different angle of the City of Bristol.
My journey ends along Bath Road. Facing me is a large silver treasure: The Tube Diner. As I make my food order, I spot the American school bus behind me. This time, I find myself wondering: What could possibly be in there? As I climb the steps onto the bus, I’m amazed. I’ve stumbled across one of the most spectacular secrets of Bristol: a retro diner, complete with black and white checkered linoleum floor, red booths and Elvis playing in the background. After even just a few moments inside The Tube Diner bus, I find myself in a magical time warp.
Throughout all my years of living in Bristol, if I’d only stopped racing around and instead, took the time to look at the city from a fresh pair of eyes – a tourist’s eyes – then I may just have uncovered these secrets sooner.
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