When going on holiday, I'm guilty of only considering destinations further afield with warmer climates and contrasting cultures. However, I went against my natural instincts and recently had a weekend break in Bristol - a city, together with its surrounding area, that I'm not familiar with. It proved to provoke my senses for the better, offering attractive architecture both old and new, a laid back bohemian feel and people - dare I say - who rival my native north for their friendliness.
A pleasant walk along the marina was my first encounter with the city. An attractive and historical backdrop with remnants from Bristol's nautical past including old cranes, the M Shed museum and the SS Great Britain, the largest passenger ship in the world when built and designed by master engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Continuing along the silty banks of the River Avon, dockyards and housing were replaced by trees and foliage as we ventured into Leigh Woods, passing under Clifton Suspension Bridge, another of Brunel's iconic designs. Our route through the woods took us on a meandering incline that eventually brought us level with the bridge itself. We enjoyed magnificent views of the city as we crossed the bridge, ending up at the Clifton Observatory on the east side of the river. From here we wandered into Clifton itself where we stopped for sustenance: delicious pastry treats at The Mall Deli, nestled among the upmarket Georgian edifices.
The following day we took a stroll into Stokes Croft, which proved a complete contrast. A former industrial area, it has since developed into a colourful canvas displaying many examples of street art. The majority of the businesses in the area are independent, with creativity and counter culture appearing to be encouraged. Among the colourful compositions is Mild Mild West designed by the elusive Banksy, who originates from Bristol.
I also enjoyed a short train ride for my first visit to the beautiful city of Bath. Dating back to Roman times and celebrated for its hot springs, the attractive facades of today are of the Georgian-era. Highlights included Pulteney Bridge, where we enjoyed a scrumptious cream tea while taking in views of the River Avon and the golden autumnal trees along its banks, the architectural masterpieces of the Circus and the Royal Crescent, with their honey-coloured stone, and views of the historic centre from Alexandra Park.
Three days proved a nice length of time to visit Bristol and Bath, but I feel that I've only scratched the surface of this attractive, easy going part of the country.