Six places to avoid in Bristol on a sunny weekend
Jon Aitken picks out the worst places to be when the sun comes out over our wonderful city.
At some point during the last weekend you may have looked through your phone’s camera and seen a sky made entirely of blue (ready for an appropriate filter). This means that summer is most definitely here, and it still being April is a mere technicality.
Four years ago I came to Bristol as a tourist and now I consider myself a local – OK, I’m still new-ish compared to a lot of you, alright – and in that time I have gained important knowledge and power of how to approach a sunny weekend in the city.
Power that I am going to pass onto you right now.
1. Avoid: anywhere with grass.
The parks in Bristol are always popular but this increases by approximately 4000% as soon as the first ray of sunlight hits the ground. Within seconds, hoards of screaming children appear to join every professional in the city taking their lunch break outside for the first time in months. Any green is immediately blocked by exposed flesh and the faint smell of cider and sweat fills the air. And let’s not even talk about avoiding eye contact with the inevitable weirdoes that materialise and wander around looking for any human contact.
Special mention – Ashton Court.
The ultimate grassy area in Bristol, the 850 acres of Ashton Court draws gigantic crowds from those who can be bothered to travel to the edge of the city. Is the sun shining? Having fought your way through the pilgrimage making its way through south Bristol expect to find families attempting to push buggies over unsuitable ground, mountain bikers trying to get as much speed as possible on the down-hills, terrified deer, people hiking in every direction and – perhaps worst of all – the elderly.
2. Avoid: anywhere with graffiti.
You’ve lived in Bristol all your life; you’ve seen the graffiti. Yes, it’s good and yes, the artists are super talented (and even if you’ve never picked up a spray paint can in your life you do feel kinda proud of this), but there are some people who come to Bristol and need to take some time to stare in wonder at the sights we see everyday. While they do this they also like to completely block the pavement, making going up Park Street more of an obstacle course than the quick jaunt you imagined. Nelson Street on a Saturday? You don’t stand a chance. And for future consideration: the Banksy-er the busier.
3. Avoid: anywhere with water.
A pretty vague description, I know, but since living here it’s become pretty clear to me that when the sun comes out, Bristolians are instinctively driven towards water.
Perhaps Bristol’s vague proximity to the sea, or maybe that pirate ship that sometimes hangs around outside Arnolfini (which I am not-so-secretly desperate to have a go on), is the reason we love to sit perilously on the Harbourside walls, dangling our bare feet over the water, often with an ice cream in hand. Just be prepared to fight for the prime spots/where you can take the most casual-looking selfie.
4. Avoid: anywhere with shops
Stay away if only to avoid looking into the eyes of those poor souls forced to do an 8-hour shift, knowing that by the time they finish, the sun will be gone and all they will have to look at is the aforementioned selfies. Forever in our hearts.
5. Avoid: landmarks
Like a magnet for all those who looking for a wild historical detour from Clifton, Brunel’s Suspension Bridge and surrounding areas are always busy with tourists. But let’s face it, the bridge doesn’t really change that much meaning that a single trip per year is almost too much for most locals. And while the rock-slide beneath the observatory may look like a lot of fun at first glance, once you actually sit at the top and realise just how steep it really is, suddenly the queue of fearless children waiting impatiently behind you makes you appreciate the true power of peer pressure.
To clarify: I have done – and will continue to do – all of the above when the sun comes out, apart from the tour bus. Because NO.