England Grand Tour (2021): Days 12-15: Based in Bristol & On the Road once more

Day 12: Tuesday

The day began with another complimentary Hilton breakfast, and we both reverted to the ‘full English’ option. In due course, we took the Central Line from Holland Park to Lancaster Gate and walked round to Paddington Station. We had a ‘Nero’ and were temporarily evacuated from the station due to a security scare. Despite the shenanigans, we left just a little late on the 1148 to Swansea, bound for Bristol Parkway. On arrival, we completed the journey to Bruce’s flat by local bus. Bruce’s flat would be my base for the next few days, for the first of two such stays on this trip. He would be free in the mornings, but working in the afternoons. Exploring Bristol would either be done on a joint or solo basis, depending on the time of day, and in addition, there were matters such as laundry and shopping to be attended to. I won’t cover all this in detail, instead highlighting relevant sightseeing. Today, I made a short afternoon walk through the local areas of Redland and Clifton.

Day 13: Wednesday

Today’s main sightseeing started with a walk to and through Bristol city centre, in dry but cloudy conditions. We had an al fresco lunch on a park bench, adjacent to the ruined St Peter’s Church in Castle Park. This phase ended as the rain started, which coincided with Bruce’s need to return home for work. I took temporary refuge in Marks & Spencer while the deluge subsided a little, and then set out for the precincts of Bristol Cathedral. My idea of revisiting the interior was thwarted as the building was still closed due to Covid-19. This struck me as odd, having just visited the corresponding structures in Durham, Winchester, Portsmouth and Guildford!

My route continued uphill to Clifton and across back to Redland.

Day 14: Thursday

Today followed a broadly similar pattern, but with much improved weather. We started out with a joint visit to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, which was hosting a visiting photographic exhibition called Island Life. This featured memorable events in post-war Britain and Ireland, with one of the cities receiving a lot of attention being Glasgow. After seeing the exhibition and having a quick look at the permanent collection, which we had seen previously, we went our separate ways: Bruce once again needed to return home to work.

I then embarked on a lengthy walk that featured Berkeley Square, Brandon Hill and the Cabot Tower, Canon’s Marsh, Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Downs.

Day 15: Friday

Our trip entered another new phase today, as we picked up a second rental car and embarked on another ‘road trip within a trip’. The pick-up took place at Bristol Airport, as the city-centre Avis depot had closed permanently. We drove via the M32, M4 and M25 to Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, where the ibis hotel would become our unassuming base for a couple of days of local sightseeing. The further east we moved on today’s relocation, the worse the weather became, until heavy rain became the norm.