Seven Tips for New Bristolians
Native New Yorker Judith Schofield has been living in Bristol for nearly a decade, and has figured out all the essential things for you to do if you’re new here.
Moving to a new city can be scary, and when I first moved to Bristol nine years ago I certainly didn’t know the ropes. This is an extremely cultural place with a thriving youth culture, but it’s not always entirely clear how to get involved straight away. However, time and experience have taught me a few tips which I hope will be helpful to you. If you’re wondering where to get the best pizza, where to do your bargain shopping or where to go festival-hopping without wading in mud I think I can be of assistance.
- 1. Charity Shopping in Bedminster/Clifton
Bristol has some epic charity shopping
Bristol has some epic charity shopping, and I mean epic. I can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes, and with good reason. In Bedminster alone there are upwards of ten great shops, along East Street and North Street, where you can get nice branded clothes for the price of a Cornish pasty. One of my favourite ever finds was a Laura Ashley dress reduced to a pound because of a tiny rip in the seam. Bedminster is best for eclectic incredibly cheap bargains, but if you’re looking for something a little more up market go scour the charity shops in Clifton. You’re less likely to find George and more likely to find Georgio Armani, but be prepared to spend a little extra. The lower end of the market in Clifton can be in the region of £5, stretching upwards to a high end of around £50; however, bear in mind that these are some properly fancy, expensive clothes, probably worn twice before they became ‘last season’.
- 2. Lunch at St Nicks
…so authentic and tasty and spicy
St Nicks Market is a Bristol landmark, known primarily for its strange variety of stalls selling everything from hot sauce to baby clothes to bespoke jewellery. Anyone that knows anything about food in Bristol will also tell you that they have a crazy awesome outdoor food market. There’s Moroccan, Indian, Caribbean, Italian and loads of other options. It’s where all the business people and uni students go for a quick, tasty lunch, and it shows a real cross-section of the diversity of the local culinary scene. The best stall, in my opinion, is the Italian; go for the spinach and ricotta lasagna, even if you’re a carnivore, it is so tasty! A close second favourite is Grillstock, which serves up pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, corn bread, coleslaw and root beer. This place reminds me so much of the BBQ we had back home in the States, so authentic and tasty and spicy.
- 3. Pepe Nero Pizza Delivery
…some of the tastiest pies I’ve ever had
The worst thing for me about moving to a new city is not knowing where the good pizza is; yes, I lead a very pizza-centric existence. So, just to clear this up for any of you new Bristolians, go to Pepe Nero. It’s just out the back of Cabot Circus and serves up some of the tastiest pies I’ve ever had. And that is really hard for a New-Yorker to say. The base is thin and crispy, the topping to bread ratio is totally perfect, and the choice of toppings is spectacular. They also have a wide range of veggie and vegan pizzas, and the price range is well within a student budget. It’s easy to hop over the road and go have a look around Stokes Croft, which is the epicentre of a ton of artistic and musical venues.
- 4. Plays at the Old Vic and the Tobacco Factory
…an interesting mix of performances
Bristol has a great theatrical scene driven by organisations such as the Old Vic, which hosts a ‘young company’ to support young actors, writers and directors to create theatre. If you’re interested in acting or participating in theatrical performances while you’re in Bristol it’s easy to get involved with them. It’s also really great to go see the Young Company performances, which easily reach if not exceed the standards of all the other productions from more seasoned professionals. There are a ton of other theatres to check out all around the place, such as the Alma Tavern and Theatre, but my favourite venue is the Tobacco Factory in Bedminster. They have an interesting mix of performances, ranging from classical Shakespearean productions to new pieces from modern playwrights, and the prices are always very reasonable. They also do masterclasses in things related to theatre and dance, so like the Old Vic there are tons of opportunities for getting involved and learning.
- 5. Local Festivals
…great places to socialise with new people
In other cities you might have to go away and sit in the mud to enjoy the summer festivals, but in Bristol they’re all right here. You’ve got Pride, the Harbour Festival, the Balloon Fiesta, the Kite Festival, the Jazz Festival… there are a lot. Just keep your ear to the ground and pretty much any week this summer you’ll find something fun to go to. They’re great places to socialise with new people and you’re likely to hear some local music. There are also usually a bunch of stalls for charities so you can find out about what kind of volunteering opportunities are open to you. The Balloon Fiesta is a particularly good one to go to, because who doesn’t love giant balloons? There’s also music from various radio stations, good food and carnival rides, but really it’s about the giant balloons. That’s on from the 7th-10th of August at Ashton Court.
- 6. 2am Chinese Food at the Mayflower
…where can I go to have a sit down Chinese meal until 2am?
I bet you were wondering, where can I go to have a sit down Chinese meal until 2am? No? I bet you are now. It may seem like weird but there’s something to be said for going out for Chinese at midnight. I guarantee at some point you will find yourself in the city centre late at night, starving and dreading the usual greasy kebab with dubious garlic mayo; this is when you should go to the Mayflower. It’s on the roundabout above the Bearpit. The food is crazy good, really authentic Cantonese-style cuisine, and also reasonably priced.
7. Go Exploring
You’ve heard what I have to say, but it’s better to find out what you have to say. This is a vibrant place and you can practically chuck a stone and find something awesome to get involved with. I haven’t even scratched the surface of the massive well of things going on in Bristol; your colleagues, friends and classmates are bound to know about places and events that you don’t, so ask around and try everything. Depending on your interests, there are drawing events, swing dance sessions, and all sorts of oddities if you care to look for them.
What other places would you recommend? Let us know: @rifemag