Bristol Harbourside Highlights

At the heart of the city since Anglo-Saxon times, Bristol’s buzzing Harbourside is a hive of activity and (especially in the warmer months) is a gorgeous part of town to explore. In the three years I’ve spent getting to know Bristol, a trip down Park Street to wander the Harbourside has always proved to be worth the journey. Here are a couple of my favourite Harbourside haunts that I would recommend checking out on your next visit. 

First things first, COFFEE: Sip a latte on the terrace at the Mud Dock. 

Mud dock bristol Above an award winning cycle works, selling bike related goodies and providing bike related knowledge, is one of my favourite Harbourside cafes. The airy and rustic warehouse feel is perfectly complimented by the dangling greenery (and bicycles) and beautiful big windows looking out over the Harbourside and some of bristols famous coloured houses. The real treasure though, is the large South facing balcony, where you can catch come rays, drink some great freshly squeezed orange juice and enjoy the views of the Harbourside.

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The deets:

Mud Dock Cafe, 40 the Grove, BS1 4RB.
Open: Monday 10am – 5pm. Tuesday – Friday 10am – 10pm. Saturday 9am – 10pm. Sunday 10am – 5pm.
Americano – £2.00 (Hazelnut latte £2.80)
http://mud-dock.co.uk
@mud_dock

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Check out one of the Harbourside cultural attractions: Learn about Bristol at M Shed.

M Shed Bristol As museums go, I would say that M shed is up there with the most creative, imaginative and engaging. Objects and pictures are incorporated together, things are hung from the ceiling, carefully placed on top of each other and overlooked by enormous buses, bikes and bits of buildings, all to tell the tale of Bristol – of the history of the places we know and love, and the stories of the people who lived there. It gets interactive points too, there are leavers to pull, buttons to press, hats to put on and props to play with – not forgetting the huuuuge map of Bristol on the floor (use one of the magnifying glasses to spot your house!). Pick up a First World War trail at the entrance for a focused trip around the galleries (including a visit to the freestanding Anderson Shelter where you can kit yourself out in WW1 gear and listen to the sound of the sirens – really evocative and medium scary!) to find out stories and facts about the people and places of Bristol and their involvement in the First World War. M Shed Bristol M Shed Bristol

The deets

M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping road, BS1 4RN
Price: FREE
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm. Sat, Sun, Bank Hols. 10am-6pm. www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/
@mshedbristol

Hungry? (And thirsty?) Grab a pizza and try some cider at The Stable.

The Stable Bristol The stable has a reputation for being good at two things – seriously good pizza, and a seriously large amount of cider, and my friends, these two things are up next in my harbourside highlight tour. If the weather is kind, grab a seat on one of the picnic benches alongside the water (budge up next to some strangers if space is short, don’t be shy!) and enjoy great views of the boats (and swans) whizzing past, as well as the fountains in the centre. It’s especially atmospheric at night with fairy lights strung along the walkway and buskers providing the soundtrack (expect a couple of token renditions of Wander Wall). The Stable Bristol Harbourside The pizza is fantastic. The locally sourced toppings are on sourdough bases, and the selection is fab. My favourite is Billy the Kid (£12) ft. goats cheese, caramelised onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, mozzarella and hazelnuts. Delicious. The cider here is also pretty great, and I feel like any day trip in Bristol ought to include at least a pint or two of the apply goodness. For those of you with Menu anxiety or who might be overwhelmed by the choice of over 60 ciders, the stable offer a tasting board of 5 third-pints (£7.50). My friend Olly and I opted for this and, as well as leaving a lot merrier than when we came, decided that they were all “pretty apply”. Give it a go and tell me your reviews. The Stable Bristol Cider

The deets

The Stable, Canon’s Road, Harbourside, Bs1 5UH.
Open: Food from 12-10pm. Drink cider until 11.30.
A pint of cider: £3.80
www.stablepizza.com
@_TheStable

Watch a film you might not otherwise at the Watershed (and then review it)

Bristol Watershed Trips to the Watershed always feel like a really special experience, as not only was the film itself a little bit of a gamble (they tend to show more ‘artsy’ stuff than the type found in Screen 1 at the Odeon) but also the cinema was gorgeous. There are three cinema screens at the watershed and each is much smaller than the average cinema experience, and so much more intimate. Plus, the seats are deliciously comfortable and raised for perfect view. You are encouraged to bring drinks and snacks from the bar (a small glass of wine £3.10) and then to leave thoughts and feedback on the review board – like an IRL twitter feed. Grab a bite to eat at the Watershed’s cafe and bar where they sell organic, seasonal, local food all week – as well as late night snacks until the cinema closes at 23.00. Bristol Watershed Cinema

The deets

Watershed, 1 Canons road, Harbourside. Bs1 5tx.
Box office: 01179275100
Tickets for films before 16.00 – £5.50 full price. £4.00 students.
Tickets for films after 16.00 £8.00 full price. £6.50 students.
www.watershed.co.uk
@wshed

More cider?? Yes. All aboard the Apple, Bristol’s waterborne cider house.

The Apple Cider Bristol Now the cider has transformed into the pre-drinking location of choice for my arch&anth friends and I, so I can tell you from experience, it can get a litttttle busy here, especially in the evenings when the queue for a pint can initially seem a little daunting.. But hold fast, it’s worth the wait. There is a brilliant choice of over 40 different ciders and other apply drinks – and student prices available Mon-thurs!! Most popular is undoubtedly the Old Bristolian – at a whopping 8.4% it is sold by the half-pint, but is especially appealing due to costing only £1.50. Grab a glass and a seat on the deck or on the quayside terrace and laugh about ridiculous exam questions while looking out over the harbour. Perfect. IMG_0508

The deets:

The Apple, Welsh Back, BS1 4SB.
In summer open Midday to Midnight (Sundays midday-10.30pm)
Students get halfpints from £1.50 Monday-Thursday
http://applecider.co.uk
@appleciderco

You should now be feeling medium buzzy. SO time to get your groove on in Thekla – the nautical nightclub.

IMG_0518 Thekla was created as a ship-based theatre in 1982 by Ki Longfellow (married to Vivian Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) and it is now a nightclub/music venue on a cargo ship moored in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Keep an eye out for acts and ‘nights’ that are put on. I inadvertently found myself dancing away to Gorgon City one night at Thekla and another time (during Bristol’s Dot to Dot Festival) managed to catch a performance by James Bay (just months before he got ‘big’). Thursday nights are ‘Pressure’ nights, when photos are black and white with flashes of red, indie and alternative tunes are boomed out and drinks are two for the price of one. Stumble up and down the warned of stairways to various decks, peer out the griming portholes and find your way to the deck/balcony overlooking the lower dance floor. Further note: they’ve redone the toilets. They are class. IMG_0517

The deets:

Thekla, The Grove, East Mud Dock, BS1 4RB.
Get there from 10pm – but beware. The later you leave it, the longer the queue. It closes around 3am.
I think, depending on who’s playing/what night you’re doing to, entry is something like £4.00 with a student card and nearer to £6.00 without one.
DON’T WEAR HEELS.
I think a can of Red Stripe costs about £3.50??
The details at this establishment are pretty blurry to be honest. They once also had a slushy alcohol drink. That went down a treat but also probably has something to do with the preciseness of these ‘deets’.
Theklabristol.co.uk
@Theklabristol     IMG_0519And so concludes this mini-tour of my Harbourside highlights. Have I missed anything? Recommendations eagerly received!  And don’t forget to check out my other Bristol-based blog posts!

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‘Undress Your Mind’ at the Wellcome Collection’s Institute of Sexology

Now that most of the initial hysteria surrounding the cinema release of the hugely successful (and equally provocative) 50 Shades of Grey has calmed down, I felt it was the perfect time to give the Wellcome Collection’s Institute of Sexology exhibition a visit. Because, frankly, I will jump at any chance to have open, healthy and positive conversations about sex and a trip to this exhibition documenting (and celebrating) the study of human sexuality is the perfect excuse.

With its enormous array of artefacts and objects exploring the links between medicine, life and art through time, the Wellcome Collection describes itself as the “free destination for the incurably curious”. An interest in the workings of the human body and its health is universal, even if the details of this are culturally and historically variable. The founder of the Wellcome Collection, Sir Henry Wellcome, in his passion for exploring the diversity of these attitudes and ideas, travelled the world and collected over one million objects.

The newly reopened Medicine Man exhibition displays a variety of these often pretty bizarre items, presenting objects ranging from gnarly looking surgical equipment (hardcore hacking saws!!), talismans and amulets with supposedly healing properties to false eyeballs and artificial limbs. Definitely worth checking out for a brief and beautiful introduction to the historical development of medicine worldwide.

Next door, the Medicine Now exhibition explores the body through scientific displays, artistic interpretations and everyday life experiences – especially in relation to medical subjects including genomes and obesity. A life-size see through cross section of a human female shows the veins, the muscles and the inner organs in situ – literally givingscientific anatomical descriptions of the body that we hear about and can sort of half picture some transparency. Nearby an artist likens the shape and variety in the classic ’23 pairs’ of human chromosomes to an ‘odd sock drawer’.

But the main event, (and the one with the largest queue – be warned they often introduce timed tickets, especially on particularly busy weekends) is the Institute of Sexology, investigating human sexuality and how research into this topic has shaped thoughts towards and ideas about sexual behaviour and identity. With displays including a collection of various antique sexual aids (many made of brass, steel or rubber), Moche ceramic pots in phallic shapes, extracts from the Kama Sutra, beautiful carved ivory statues in the form of copulating couples and (maybe one of my faves) a glorious sex chart where a group of ladies recorded their ‘completely subjective’ data about all of their sexual partners, it’s definitely worth taking time to look around!

The stories of some influential individuals who contributed to the beginnings of these conversations about sex were also explored. Marie Stopes (One of my newly discovered heroines) and her story in encouraging the provision of not only explicit practical advice to women when it came to sex, but also contraception was one of my favourites – particularly the black and white photograph from the 1920s of the World’s first horse drawn birth control caravan.

Anthropologists Malinowski and Mead both got mentions (which I was obviously pretty chuffed about) in their contributions in challenging notions of universal codes of sexuality and revealing the diversity of human kind – especially when it came to sex. Their field work in Papua New Guinea and Samoa respectively enabled them to do what Anthropologists do best in ‘making the strange familiar and the familiar strange’. Perhaps western ways of thinking about, talking about, and frankly, going about sex are more peculiar and maybe even more harmful than we once thought.

I also loved the displays about my home boii Kinsey and his intense research involving interviews with over 18,000 Americans about their sexual histories. This revealed, once again, the variation in people’s sexual behaviour, in their wants and desires as well as their actual Sexual activity. This led to the publication of the famous Kinsey scale in 1948 which challenged the confines of classifying people as EITHER homosexual or heterosexual, suggesting that human sexuality was actually more like a sliding scale and that these discrete boxes failed to acknowledge the diversity and unique-nature of individual human life.

kinsey

After immersing myself thoroughly in these exhibitions, I left with my mind buzzing and my assumptions well and truly challenged – just the way I like them. I had just enough time to grab a coffee and a snack at their tasty-as cafe and explore their extraordinary gift shop full of quirky, sciency things that I almost definitely do not need but weirdly really, really want before heading home.

Useful Information:

  • Price: FREEEEEEEEEEE
  • Opening Times: Closed on Mondays, Otherwise mostly open 10.00-18.00, except Thursdays when they close at 22.00
  • Institute of Sexology Exhibit – Open until the 20th September 2015.
  • Cup of coffee: £2.20 Americano (£2.80 Vanilla Latte)
  • Bring with you: A pencil and your incurably curious self.
  • Address: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
  • Website: http://wellcomecollection.org
  • Blog: http://blog.wellcomecollection.org
  • Twitter: @ExploreWellcome
  • Sex By Numbers

ALSO as a bonus prize for you guys, check out some more museum-o posts.

Get lost in the British Library

Reading and stories have forever been a passion of mine, and so I am somewhat reluctant to admit that until recently I had never before paid a visit to the British Library. Home to over 170 million (!!!?!?!!?!?!!) items on over 625km of shelves, dating from 3,000 years ago to literally TODAY, as well as host to a timetable full of exhibitions and events, the B.L. is definitely one of my new favourite places to visit in the Capital. You’ll need to grab a reader’s pass to enter the reading rooms, but the rest of the library – including 3 cafes, a restaurant, a really really good gift shop and three exhibition galleries – is open to all. I was lucky enough to catch the penultimate day of the Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition and oh boiiii, it was great. 

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After planning to spend “an hour and a half – tops” checking out this celebration of all things gothic, I ended up lingering for almost 3 hours devouring the exhibition and although it is no longer running, I just can’t resist telling you a little bit about it. It explored the pervasiveness of gothic imaginings for the past 250 years, looking at the gothic genre not only in literature, but in films, art, music, fashion and architecture. Featuring excerpts and material surrounding classics including The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, and Dracula as well as more contemporary, but still undeniably gothic works including The Bloody Chamber, Twilight, and films such as The Shining it was remarkable to see how pervasive and long-lasting is our human fascination with things unearthly, grotesque and fearsome. Included in the exhibition were spooky, unnerving objects, beautifully atmospheric paintings, engravings and sketches and scrawled correspondences and jotted notes from the likes of Byron, Shelley and Jack the Ripper himself – all working to enhance the feeling of fascination and repulsion so familiar when considering the macabre.

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Unfortunately, this exhibition has ended. There are, however, many other undoubtably equally captivating exhibitions lined up, including one focusing on Arctic Exploration and another marking the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carter. You can read more about these here. Plus sitting in the cafe overlooked by shelf upon shelf of books making up the King’s Library (Good job, George III) is pretty inspiring. I urge you to go and check it out.

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Useful Information

  • Price: FREE ENTRY! (Some exhibitions, however, do charge for admission – generally £5 for students)
  • Opening Times: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 09.30 – 18.00
    Tuesday 09.30 – 20.00, Saturday 09.30 – 17.00, Sundays 11.00 – 17.00
  • Facilities: 3 Cafes, A Restaurant, beaut gift shops, lots of little places to sit and read and write, a number of ‘reading rooms’ (more about getting a reader’s pass here)
  • Cup of Coffee: £2.30 for a latte.
  • Bring with you: a notebook and a pencil/pen. (Also maybe some money for some potentially unnecessary but seriously desirable literary inspired gifts – see the online shop for a taster)
  • Address: The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London. NW1 2DB.
  • Website: http://www.bl.uk/
  • @britishlibrary

P.s. Have a look here at some more Museum-y posts and some more Historical ones. There you go.

Come ‘face-to-face’ with the Iron Age Bog Bodies at Ireland’s Archaeology Museum

Despite moaning constantly about paying £9k a year for a meagre 4 contact hours a week (all on a Thursday), the benefit of having so little time spent in lectures is that I am able to head off on longer trips, without feeling guilty for missing class. For this reason, last week, Larry and I jetted off to Dublin! IT WAS GREAT. I’m currently smack bang in the middle of essay deadline season, but I can’t resist quickly mentioning some of my favourite adventures/ places I really liked and reckon you’ll really like too.

On one of the rainiest days I have ever, ever experienced, we decided to take cover in the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology section (I’m a little confused about what the official title of this place is, but stick with me.) Open since 1890, with over 2 million artefacts documenting life in Ireland from 7000BC until the 20th Century, this place is basically a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in people from the past.

I appreciate that it might seem at the moment that I harp on and on and on about museums and castles and blahblahblah – BUT, the Irish archaeology museum is actually a bit insane. The building itself is beautiful and built in the neo-classical style mimicking the gorgeous classical buildings from Ancient Greece and Rome. The domed roof, classical marble columns, and crazy ornate mosaic floors are a beautiful things to experience in themselves.

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The exhibitions within, however, are really what all of the fuss is about. Learn about prehistoric Ireland, from 7000BC. See the collection of Stone Tools, the recreated Neolithic Passage Tomb, and the legit 15m long, 4,500 year old Log Boat. Pretty amazing stuff to see, and a really accessible introduction to the Celts as before my trip I knew very very little about Druids and Celtic history. The collection of Bronze Age gold-work (dating from 2200BC-500BC) is also definitely worth checking out as it is the largest collection in Western Europe. There are collars, bracelets, sun disks, earrings and who-knows what else made of the shiny, ornately decorated stuff. I kind of wanted to borrow/have some please.

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But really the craziest exhibit of all is that of the Bog Bodies. This exhibition explores Iron Age kingship and its connection with ritual sacrifice. Long story short, archaeologists have discovered the bodies of some seemingly high status people from 400-200BC, who had been naturally mummified due to the conditions of the bogs in which their bodies were ritually placed/dumped. Some of these bodies had been decapitated, some de-bowled, all of them killed, and now they are on display in the museum for you to look at. A literal opportunity to come ‘face-to-face’ with people of the past. And, to put it mildly, it’s pretty gnarly. Their skin is leathery and grey and they are in various states of decomposition. One of them is so well preserved that you can see that he is sporting the currently fashionable top-knot hairstyle. It was intense. But definitely go and have a look if you’re feeling brave!

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For a quick introduction into Ireland’s past, this museum is a must. It’s a beautiful place, a perfect shelter spot from the inevitable Irish rain, and also pretty gruesome! What’s stopping you?!

USEFUL INFO:

* Admission: Freeeeeeeeeeee
* Opening times: 10am – 5pm (Except on a Sunday when it opens at 2pm)
* There is a cafe, a cloakroom and a gift shop. However, a big coach party of old people had preceded us into the museum, so we didn’t make use of any of these.
* Bring with you: A strong stomach.
* National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology,
Kildare St.
Dublin 2.
* http://www.museum.ie/en/intro/archaeology-and-ethnography-museum.aspx
* http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body – wiki about bog bodies

Maybe you’d also enjoy some other archaeology-related posts? Have a look here because that’s where you’ll find them. Or maybe some more about museums? Museums are goooood. The end.

Learn about Egyptians at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

As an archaeology student in my third year at university here, it’s embarrassing to reveal that it has taken me so long to properly explore this treasure trove. But this summer, I finally got round to having a proper mooch around the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and guys, it did not disappoint.

Sitting proudly at the top of Park Street (next to the Will’s Memorial Building… you can’t miss it), the impressive Edwardian building is host to 20 galleries over 3 floors. Whether you’re into geology or inventions, the natural world or archaeology, dinosaurs or painting, there will be something in here to interest you. AND, (best bit), it’s completely free. FREE. Seriously. So there’s no excuse. Even if you’re just popping in for a coffee at their café or going to check out the beautiful architecture and the gorgeous wide entrance hall with high glass roofs, grand staircases and marble floors, it is definitely worth a visit.

Along with some temporary exhibitions (you can see what’s on at the moment HERE), there are some permanent galleries to check out, including a display of the wild life in the West of the England (= taxidermy. Brilliantly creepy), a dinosaur/’sea monster’ gallery (one of the sea monsters was pregnant when it died and you can see it in the fossil?!), and an Egypt exhibition.

The Egyptian exhibition explored the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, looking into the ways that they expressed their views about life, death and the afterlife. There was an enormous collection of beautiful artefacts grouped into these themes, and you could read more about the objects on touch screens and explore and respond to them on computers. I seriously enjoyed this more interactive way of learning about the people that inhabited the area we call Egypt for more than 12000 years. #prehistoricpardy #archaeologyaction

Useful Information:

  • Price – FREE. FREEEEE. FREE ENTRY. IT’S FREE.
  • Museum and Gallery opening times – 10.00-17.00 weekdays. 10.00-18.00 weekends.
  • Facilities – Café. Lockers. Toilets. GIFT SHOP!
  • Cup of coffee – £1.90 (Vanilla latte: £2.70)
  • Bring: Your interested self.
  • Bristol Museum and Art Gallery,
    Queens Road, B8 1RL (it’s very very hard to miss)
  • Http://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk
  • @bristolmuseum
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Inamun Coffin Lid and Case – on display in the Egyptian gallery. Over 2,600 years old, dating to the 25th or 26th Dynasty (675-640 BCE) in the Late Period. From Thebes and made of wood, this coffin is typical of the period and is covered with texts and images of gods.

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The museum has a large collection of real Egyptian artefacts and has been collecting them for over 150 years. The lighting in the gallery is kept low to preserve the objects.

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The Museum cafe has a wide selection of hot and cold drinks, as well as some food and cakes.

If you liked this you might like to read some more Bristol-based blogs or some more Museum-y ones.