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Food/Arts/Entertainment/Shopping/Property ISSUE 268 / HIGH SUMMER 2019 / £3










Editor’s letter Blimey, that must have been a tough crowd: John Robins shares the shame at Tobacco Factory Theatres (page 32)



t’s been a properly ska-tastic summer, here in Bristol. We had The Specials playing Harbourside last month, and now Madness are heading this way; don’t pack away the pork pie hat or rude boy tees just yet, then. Suggs and co are proper diamond geezers who recently offered free entry to public sector workers at a London gig (Madness gone politically correct?). They’re bringing their affable Camden Town sound to The Downs on 1 September, and we reckon it’s the perfect way to play out the Bristol summer. They’re the subject of our Big Interview this issue, but we also found time for a chat with that nice John Robins, the hottest Bristol comedian on the circuit, who’s bringing his Hot Shame home next month. We’ve also dressed up nicely for a spot of afternoon tea, ditched the meat for Vegaugust (look, it’s a thing if we say it’s a thing) and tucked into Root’s pop-up feast at Valley Fest. Finally: while Bristol Balloon Fiesta was largely scuppered by storms, can we just take a moment to remember how totally epic the Darth Vader balloon looked floating over the city during the Thursday ascent? Or the mind-boggling fact that Mark ‘Skywalker’ Hamill spotted it on the news, and tweeted about it? I think I’ll leave this issue’s letter there.

deri robins Follow us on Twitter @BristolLifeMag Instagram @BristolLifeMag I BRISTOL LIFE I 3

Issue 268/High summer 2019



19 ART PAGE Don’t expect Colin Firth in a wet shirt 20 WHAT’S ON We’re edging into the autumn

programme 24 32 36 41

THE BIG INTERVIEW Welcome to the house of fun COMEDY Meet the shame shaman BRISTOL HEROES Sounds of the city, baby BOOKS Ripping yarns




46 RESTAURANT Up-Rooted 48 FOOD AND DRINK NEWS News, openings and


apples 50 AFTERNOON TEA Scone with the wind 56 VEGAN A magical-mystery plant-based tour


60 TRAVEL Watergate Baywatch


65 BRISTOLWORKS Our spruced-up new section


79 SHOWCASE Rural seclusion



TOP: People person: our Brizzogram feed this issue celebrates the work of street photographer @siantudor BOTTOM: ‘A slight mishap while driving in Turkmenistan’ – par for the course for wildlife cameraman Gavin Thurston

Editor Deri Robins Senior Art Editor Andrew Richmond Graphic Design Megan Allison Cover Design Trevor Gilham Contributors Colin Moody, Mal Rogers, Stephen Dalton, Stan Cullimore, Baz Barrett, Jemma Stewart, Mitch Bacholer Advertising manager Neil Snow Account manager Craig Wallberg Account manager Samantha Roach Production/distribution manager Sarah Kingston Deputy production manager/production designer Kirstie Howe Chief executive Jane Ingham Chief executive Greg Ingham Bristol Life MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 @The MediaClash © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. We’re a Bath-based publisher, creative agency and event organiser Magazines Our portfolio of regional magazines celebrates the best of local living: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Salisbury. We also publish foodie mag Crumbs (, @CrumbsMag. Agency From the design and build of websites to digital marketing and creating company magazines, we can help. Events We create, market, promote and operate a wide variety of events both for MediaClash and our clients Contact: I BRISTOL LIFE I 5


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spotlight Crowdfunder

Swings and ’tings

Hua Hin, Thailand, 2012 © #MartinParr

We know, we know: everyone’s crowdfunding something or other these days, whether it’s some bonkers invention, a trip to Disneyland or sending satellites into space to prove that the Earth is flat. Someone once tried to raise enough cash to buy actual Dave Grohl. Really. But here’s a campaign we can thoroughly get behind. St Paul’s Adventure Playground is inviting the people of Bristol to pledge and buy tickets for a day-long fundraising event and celebration of the city’s music scene, taking place at the playground on 14 September, with a heady line-up of Bristol favourites led by drumand-bass legend Roni Size (below). All profits will go back into the playground to help with essential running costs and improvements; tasty pledge rewards range from tickets to top Bristol festivals to lunch at Pasta Loco.


The Parr pavilions

Yeah, but what has Martin Parr ever done for Bristol? Let’s take a shufti. Firstly, by opening the Martin Parr Foundation at Paintworks, he’s given us a major new photographic arts resource. This year, not content to merely photograph the 2019 St Paul’s Carnival and stage an exhibition at Arnolfini, he set up hashtag #carnivalpopup19 to encourage a huge range of photographers, amateur and professional, to share their work for us to enjoy. And now he’s announced @BOP_Bristol – a new photobook festival hosted by MPF and their neighbour the Royal Photographic Society, whose inaugural event will be held on 19 and 20 October. The Books on Photography weekend will include a programme of talks and host publishers from around the UK and beyond We’re loving your work, Mr Parr. Follow #BOPBristol19 on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter


Blue planet

Speaking of the Earth being flat, it’s not; and if you’d like to see her exactly as she looks when viewed from space, head to Luke Jerram’s new Gaia installation at the Great Hall at Wills Memorial Building from 16-18 August; no crowdfunding required, Gaia is a sister sculpture to Luke’s Museum of the Moon, which you may have seen at Wills back in 2017. Like the Moon, the surface detail draws on precise mapped imagery from NASA. “The Gaia artwork was made to communicate a sense of the fragility of our planet,” says Luke. “An incredibly beautiful and precious place, and an ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home. We need to wake up, and quickly make the changes necessary to prevent runaway climate change.” To complement the sculpture, Gaia is accompanied by surround-sound by BAFTA-winning composer Dan Jones.

Selfie suggestion (though it’ll be a bit higher up in Wills) I BRISTOL LIFE I 7


LIFE ON THE STREETS Our favourite kind of photography is street photography. We’re big admirers of @siantudor’s instafeed, so we’ve given over this issue’s Brizzagram to her work


love doing street photography, because it’s my way of making sense of life,” says Sian. “I feel a connection with the person I take a picture of, in a kind of ‘we’re all in it together’ way. And Bristol people are one of a kind – the

clothes, the mixture of styles and cultures all in one place – and all so colourful. It’s a party city.” To see Sian’s colour work see her insta feed (and page 5) – we just happen to be a bit in love with her timeless black-and-white photos. I BRISTOL LIFE I 9



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Bristol’s known for its independence – and its independents. Here are six shining examples Photos by @JonCraig_Photos To get to Sam Bell, you have to get past Rascal (it’s really not difficult)


INDIES t’s not an easy time on the high street. Restaurants are closing – not just the chains, whom nobody cares very much about, but also popular indies. Shops face mounting competition from retail giants, and while nobody can get a cut and colour online, salons face their own challenges, too. The good news is that for many Bristol companies, business is good – so what’s their secret? How well does Bristol support the local indie scene? And what advice would they give to a hopeful start-up? In their own words, then…

sam bell, HAIR AT 58

Aveda concept hair salon, 58 Cotham Hill; Sam Bell is a force of nature. The winner of the 2018 Bristol Life Health & Beauty Award, she’s also just been nominated in the Wales & South West leg of the British Hairdressing Awards as Hairdresser of the Year. Sam’s story began in 2009, when she remortgaged her house in order to open a salon on Cotham Hill.“I was advised against it by my family and friends, but I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do. I knew I was ready. “I’d started my career in Bonomini; I loved my 14 years there, but I was interested in exploring more natural, vegan-friendly brands; and that is how I came across Aveda, and eventually decided to open up my own salon. I wanted to create a space that was beautiful and luxurious without being pretentious; somewhere that was welcoming, not only for my clients, but in which my hairdressers could be creative. “My main challenge is not having enough hours in the day. I’m still cutting hair three days a week, have a team of 20 staff at varying levels that all need my attention, while running and managing the

business. I’m working towards bringing in a business manager, but as an independent business it’s tough to find the finance. “Bristol is a wonderful city for an independent, and my clients would always choose to support local businesses rather than a chain. They enjoy seeing businesses succeed and grow; it makes them feel part of it. “My advice to a start-up? Be unique, don’t jump on the latest bandwagon. If you truly believe in what you do, if you know there’s a market for you, and you’re prepared to do it 24/7, be brave and take the risk – but do your research. I am very impulsive, and I enjoy taking risks, although I wouldn’t say that would work for everyone!”

nathan, Jason and Kevin, HYDE & CO

Restaurant and bar group; Nathan Lee, Jason Mead and Kevin Stokes set up in biz back in 2010 with just £20k, opening the Hyde & Co bar on Upper Byron Place. Since then they’ve added The Milk Thistle, two branches of The Ox, Bambalan and Seven Lucky Gods; they’ve also just teamed up with Rosemarino to re-invigorate this muchloved Clifton restaurant. “We were just three friends who had reached a certain age, and wanted to challenge the old-fashioned way people drank,” says Jay. “We wanted somewhere we’d like to drink, where you could come in whether you had a suit on or a baseball cap and jeans.” “Having no money made us very creative,” says Nathan, “so we scoured junk shops and eBay, and the result was an eclectic mix of styles which gave a real character to our joints. We continued in that vein as we grew, and just kept reinvesting our profits into the next project. But as we got more confident, and the business environment improved, there were fewer good leases around and we started to spend more on our fit-outs. The result was that we started to stretch ourselves financially,

“Bristolians have a rebellious streak, and would always prefer an indie to big businesses”

Looking cool, Hyde & Co dudes! Left to right, Jason, Nathan and Kevin. Why are they standing outside Rosemarino? See main feature . . . I BRISTOL LIFE I 13

INDIES and realised that banks won’t lend money to you when you need it. Our advice is to take the money whenever you can get it, and save it! “We have a diverse mix of venues and styles, and being independent means we can adapt our models quickly; if our customers’ habits change, we can change with them. Having trusted business partners with different skillsets has also been a godsend. “Does Bristol support its indies? Damn right! We love, and are very proud, of our independent businesses – something that many big chains, who haven’t done their market research, find a surprise. Bristolians have a rebellious streak which means they would always prefer to an indie to big businesses. I’m looking at you Starbucks, Tesco and McDonald’s . . . “It goes without saying that you should support local producers. A restaurant is part of the community; our customers do business, socialise and relax in our venues while supporting smaller suppliers.” “The Bristol food and drink scene exploded almost overnight,” says Jay. “We’re all Bristol-born, and always loved this city, but when we started it was a completely different place. Not to sound too romantic, but I feel like I’ve fallen in love with it all over again!” “My advice?” says Nathan. “Go and do the hard yards first. Learn whatever you can while working in a café, bar, restaurant, as it’s not an industry for the faint-hearted, and you’ll be getting paid while you learn the trade. Also start small and grow organically; the bigger you get, the bigger the pressure, so it’s better to work up to that.”

Toby brunsdon, ILLUSTRATE

Art-led fashion and lifestyle shop, 79 Park Street James Katz and Toby Brunsdon founded Illustrate with the goal of transforming real artwork into fashion, offering ethically sourced and sustainable products. They both invested a small amount of their

Toby, who puts the art in Illustrate (admittedly not in that letter order)

Emily and Dan have a lot of reading matter to get through this weekend...


Simply Redland: Kathryn and Stephen of Otira

student loans, and started selling Toby’s art at markets while completing their studies. Here’s Toby: “As the popularity of our products grew, we saw that we could give other local, independent creatives a chance to showcase and sell their work, and so we started to take on more independent artists. From there, the Illustrate brand was born, and we were able to open our first independent shop in Bristol in July 2015, and our second in 2018. “Illustrate is now a collective of artists and creatives, all working together to create high-quality art and products that are environmentally and socially sustainable. The company has grown to include over 20 independent creatives from all walks of life. “Bristol has have a deep appreciation for the arts, especially for independent and eco products, so when we started scouting for more creatives to join our collective it received a great reception. From trading at Bristol markets – St Nicks, Tobacco Factory and Harbourside – we were able to grow. This enabled us to test out products, and get first-hand customer feedback, which led to developing our initial product range and opening the first shop. “My advice on starting an independent business would be to make sure you’re doing something sustainable, something that excites you and benefits the local community.”

this part of town. We believe that a bookshop on the high street is just as important to the wellbeing of the community as the greengrocer or the pub, and fortunately our customers seem to feel the same way. “Amazon is a challenge for independent bookshops. We’re lucky that our customers are supportive of local businesses, and conscious of our problems with competition from retail giants; we’re so grateful to anyone who makes a conscious decision to shop locally. “Bristol loves independents, and on North Street that’s especially true: it’s easy to forget what a privilege and a novelty it is to be able to get all your shopping on one road and not have to use a single chain. “It’s surprised and delighted us how much the bookshop has become a community space. We’ve got great relationships with our local schools, and our book clubs and free events are always fullybooked; we also have great support from a staunch legion of local authors. “Any mistakes? We wish we’d prepared more for Christmas! Opening in October was a genius move in some respects because we immediately had plenty of customers searching for presents, but this year it’s great to have a longer run-up to the festive period (and we pretty much know how the till works this time around). “Making use of your local area is the best way to be part of the high street. Support each other, go to the pub with your fellow businessowners (especially if one of them owns a pub), and send your customers to each other’s establishments.”

“It’s a privilege to be able to get all your shopping on one road and not have to use a single chain”

emily and dan, STORYSMITH

Independent bookshop, 49 North Street Storysmith is run by Emily Ross and husband Dan. “It was a dream of ours to open a bookshop, after working for years in children’s publishing [Emily] and journalism [Dan]. North Street felt like exactly the right place; we thought a bookshop would fit in well with the other independent shops in the area – there’s so much going on creatively in


Contemporary jeweller, 33 Park Street Leaving college in Birmingham in 1993 with a degree in jewellery and silversmithing design, Diana returned to her home in Bristol and set up I BRISTOL LIFE I 15




If you would like to sign up and create your own Illustrate shop please email

INDIES indies; our customers like the fact that the work is handmade in the UK. Sustainability plays a large part in our company ethos, too. “I’m not a great believer in thinking about what would have happened if I’d done this or that. We should all go with our instincts.”

kathryn and stephen, OTIRA

Restaurant and tapas bar; 5-7 Chandos Road; Kathryn and Stephen Curtis opened Shop 3 in Clifton in 2017; the bistro was loved and well-reviewed, but the couple closed it in order to focus on their second launch: New Zealandinspired diner Otira on Chandos Road, and tapas bar Chandos Street Social next door. “Returning from NZ, we chose Bristol for its great independent food scene, and a better quality of life than London’s. We also love the diversity created by passionate individuals and their indie businesses. “I think our guests appreciate the love, time and care we put into what we do. Knowing the people behind a place is important, and we feel really lucky to have ended up somewhere where so many people support independents; the spirit of Chandos Road is amazing. “All small businesses face challenges everyday; as business owners you have to wear many hats. Our advice would be to do something you are extremely passionate about, and want to work hard at every single day, Make sure you have the skills to offer something different, and go for it.” Why have you made Jasmine stand in the middle of the Glo Road, Jon Craig?

business making jewellery in her front room. “I began selling the work to shops and galleries throughout the UK, Europe and the States; growing the collection, and winning a Designer of the Year award in 1999. “I was always very keen to promote the work of other jewellery designers alongside my own. A sweet little shop became available in Cotham Hill; this was a great success but it became too small for our needs. In 2006 we found the perfect shop in Park Street – a large space with room for a workshop behind. The rent was eyewateringly huge, and although we had hoped the Council would give some relief to arts projects/small businesses, it was not to be. “Nevertheless, we achieved the dream: all of us working together, bringing cuttingedge contemporary jewellery to Bristol. Today there are 16 employees working in the shop and workshop and we showcase the work of over 80 contemporary designers alongside our own work. “We have always been a ‘destination’ shopping experience; although we have a thriving web presence, people still want to see and try on jewellery. We also hold exhibitions, which attract a wide range of different people to the shop. “Due to the high rents, businesses on Park Street come and go. Park Street is such an iconic hill; I wish Bristol were prouder of it, and put schemes in place to encourage indies to stay. I’m always impressed with the buzz around Gloucester Road, where nearly every shop seems to be occupied. I would like Park Street to be like that. “A large section of the Bristol community would prefer to shop in


Interior design studio and shop, 384 Gloucester Road Jasmine Main set up her interior design studio in 2010, initially working out of offices on Church Road. “We realised that a studio and shop would be a great opportunity to showcase our work and allow the public to access our services more easily. We also had the issue of minimum orders from suppliers – if we needed one chair for a design job but had to purchase four, what happens to the other three? A shop was the perfect solution. “We offer something different: affordable interior design for everyone, tailoring a unique design solution to individual budgets, and selling accessories and furniture handpicked by designers. We have great contacts in the design industry and we are able to source all sorts of weird, wonderful and unique items. “Without a doubt, Bristol is a city that supports independents. It is a creative hub open to new and exciting ideas. We find that our customers want to shop local, and want to shop independent. Great design and value for money seem to draw our customers back. “Advice to startups? It’s extremely important to know where your business is heading over the next three to five years. Make a business plan and get as much advice as you can. Turning your passion into your business can be a challenge, and scary, at times but it’s also very rewarding.” n

“Support each other, go to the pub with your fellow businessowners, and send your customers to each other’s establishments” I BRISTOL LIFE I 17

the arts s n a p s h o t s o f B R I STO L’ S c u lt u r a l li f e

Gordon bennet . . . It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice has been done to death. Endless BBC Sunday tea-time adaptations; a sprinkling of movies; sequels, prequels, spin-offs and parodies (Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies, anyone?). Lizzy and her sisters even received a Bollywood makeover in Bride and Prejudice, while Bridget Jones’s Diary is basically P&P transposed to 21st-century Southwark. So, how do we all feel about a raunchy, all-female, karaoke version, with lovestruck pop tunes puncturing all the Regency matchmaking? If that sounds good, book at once for Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of), which somehow manages to put two fingers up to tradition while getting straight to the heart of Jane Austen’s characters and telling the story with complete devotion to the original. If you’ve always wanted to see the Bennet sisters serenading Darcy with You’re So Vain, here’s your chance. Liable to give the heritage set a coronary, it’s unlikely to transfer to the Theatre Royal Bath; catch it at Bristol Old Vic between 7-28 September, before it heads off on tour. I BRISTOL LIFE I 19

What’s on 16 August-16 September 2019

Whitley Bay, 1978 @ Markéta Luskacová

exhibitions Until 28 August

no LIMITS Active Ageing Bristol mounts a free outdoor exhibition of photographs showing that age is no barrier to living life;

Until 1 September

natural selection An ornithological journey, from the building of nests to the collecting of eggs; more marvellous and moving than this possibly sounds; fire: flashes to ashes It’s the gallery’s third elementthemed exhibition, and given the subject matter, we’re guessing it’ll be the most dramatic to date;

Until 8 September

James N. Kienitz Wilkins: This Action Lies The Brooklyn-based artist’s

moving-image work combines documentary and scriptwriting to investigate the role that narrative plays in the construction of truth;

Until 15 September

Libita Clayton: Quantum Ghost Immersive sound installation, large-scale photograms and live performance by Spike studio artist Libita;

Until 29 September

Space Steps: The Moon and Beyond Exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing; at RPS;

Until 3 November

On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man M-Shed’s unmissable peek behind the scenes of the movie;


16-18 August

Luke Jerram’s GAIA Luke’s seven-metre installation, with detailed NASA imagery of the surface, offers a unique way to see the Earth, floating in threedimensions, with surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Dan Jones; see also page 7;

21 August-5 October

Markéta LuskaCová In the late ’70s, Czech photographer Markéta fell in love with Whitley Bay, and the people of the North East who, despite the harsh weather, enjoyed the seaside. See her captures at MPF,


Until 17 August

vet. detective He’s a detective. And a vet. Crime parody from the team that brought

you such LOLworthy delights as Goldielock, Stock and Three Smoking Bears and Muppits Die Hard; at Wardrobe;

Until 18 August

malory towers In the hands of Emma Rice’s comapny Wise Children, the Blyton schoolgirl books that many of us grew up with becomes an anthem of postwar girl power, with high jinks, high drama and high spirits, live music and breathtaking animation. At Passenger Shed;

18-26 August

moby dick Call him Ishmael; co-presented with TFT, Darkstuff Productions bring their re-imagining of the classic whale tale to ss Great Britain for a site-specific, immersive take on Ahab’s obsessive quest for the legendary cetacean;

what’s on

22-24 August

8-10 September

29 August-1 September

11-12 September

the three musketeers Armed only with a baguette and his questionable steed, D’Artagnan heads to Paris full of misplaced bravado to become a Musketeer. Will things go to plan? Do they ever? At BOV;

then there’s us Raw Alchemy Theatre explores the views different generations have regarding homosexuality, and the impact this has on a young gay couple; At Alma Tavern;

The Fabularium Fairytale Festival Crick Crack Club’s Fabularium – a nomadic haven of fairytales for grown-ups and myths for kids – comes to College Green, in a massive tent filled with twinkly fairy lights;

jeremiah Critically-acclaimed rap storyteller Jack Dean presents a raucous new musical show about the much-misunderstood Luddite rebellion; at Wardrobe;

11-13 September

3-7 September above: If Huey doesn’t play at least one Jackson Five tune at Bambalan, we’ll eat our NYC baseball cap left: Five go mad at Bristol Old Vic: it’s the Bennet sisters, but not as you know them below: Hognob and Dug are STILL waiting for that Uber . . .

Unicorns, Almost The story of soldier/poet Keith Douglas, and his Faustian pact with the Second World War – which both gifted his penetrating poetic voice, and then took it away. You also need to know that it’s written by Owen Sheers, who penned the extraordinary Pink Mist. At Bristol Old Vic;

4-7 September

The Scandalous Love of Oscar Wilde In this one-man play, as Oscar awaits the warrant for his arrest for ‘gross indecency’ he recalls the scandal he has brought to his wife, Constance, and the love of his life, Lord Alfred Douglas. At Alma Tavern;

no exit The door’s locked, the room is bare and there is no way out. Inside are three people who have never met before. Alma Tavern;

13-14 September

father figurine Body Politic questions the stigmas around the mental health of men and boys through provocative hip hop theatre and dance; at Wardrobe,

music 17 August

skunk anansie Still radical after all these years, the Brit Rockers come to O2;

6 September

18 August

7-28 September

24 August

police cops in space The multi award-winning Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show returns to Wardobe: it’s a comedy blockbuster; an ’80s low-fi sci-fi, and it’s set in the most dangerous place on earth... space! At The Wardrobe; Pride and Prejudice (*sort of) Drawing on over 200 years of romantic pop history, Blood of the Young take a unique look at the lauded Austen classic; see page 19. Bristol Old Vic;

7 September-23 November the lion king Baaaaa Sowhenyaaaa! It’s the autumn biggie for Bristol Hippodrome, as the massively popular ‘Hamlet on the Serengeti’ tale comes to town;

huey morgan’s nyc blocK party Our favourite New York-born West Country resident spins the decks at Bambalan, joined by joined by Bristol royalty in the form of DJ Die and Krust; craig ogden The internationally-renowned classical guitarist is joined by Live Music Now musicians, at St George’s;

28 August

machine gun kelly Looking a bit like Eminem’s prettier younger brother, the blueeyed rapper from Ohio rhymes on everything from family struggles to relationships and addiction; at SWX, I BRISTOL LIFE I 21

What’s on 31 August

The Downs bristol Like you didn’t know already, this year’s Downs is headlined by Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, and Idles; but there’s loads more on offer, too;

1 September

madness on the downs The most affable band in ska headline a one-day special; see also page 24.

13 September

brodsky quartet & Laura van der Heijden St George’s favourites, the Brodskys team up with 2012 BBC Young Musician winner, Laura for a Borodin – Boccherini – Schubert triple bill;

comedy 2 September

Boothby Graffoe A rare chance to see a full length and solo performance from one of music and comedy’s best kept secrets; at Wardrobe,

2,16 September

closer each day The world’s longest-running improv comedy soap continues to froth amusingly away at Wardrobe,

2-7 September

John Robins: hot shame John returns with his first new show since his sell-out tour The Darkness Of Robins. Expect soul-bearing, selflacerating, piping hot shame (p 32).

8 September

sindhu vee: sandhog Acerbic home truths from the Edinburgh Best Newcomer 2018; at TFT;


Until 7 September

the square Pop-up fun at Millennium Square, with Bristol Beach Club, sunrise yoga, bump roller disco and big screen movies;

18 August

steamfest A Sunday afternoon filled with music, booze and food; guest beers, ciders and wines aplenty and tunes

courtesy of Bristol Jazz and Blues festival. At Whiteladies Gate; find ’em on Facebook, and

5 September

art battle 12 artists; three rounds; one champion. In just 20 minutes, painters turn blank canvases into original art. Audience votes decide who will go home with the Golden Brush and earn their spot on the City Final; at Trinity.

7 September

GOT fest That’s as in Game of Thrones; we’re promised guest actors from the series, photo opps on the Iron Throne, props and replica costumes, along with fire-breathing jesters, wandering minstrels, and... hang on, have we been watching the same show? Anyway, it’s at Ashton Court.

7-8 September

the coffee house project The caffeine-fuelled celebration of the best the city has to offer returns to Passenger Shed with its artisan roasters, indie food and drink retailers, and home-grown baristas.

13-15 September

bristol open doors The annual chance to peek behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures; more in our next issue.

15 September

Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon Fancy a challenge? The Half is back for its third year as part of the Great Run Series; over 10,000 runners every year take the scenic route for charity.

17-18, 24-25 & 31 August

David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Dive Love Blue Planet? You’ll adore this immersive VR trip below the waves at Great Barrier Reef then; at Limina,

23 August-1 September

friendsfest Could they be any more excited? The immersive event based on the world’s most popular comedy show returns to Blaise Castle, with endless selfie opps and some fresh new angles;

22 I bristol LIFE I

above: Gymslips and hockey sticks, it’s Malory Towers! left: Rafiki in da house: Lion King’s the mane attraction at Hippodrome next month below: Idles get their festival look together for the Downs

the big interview



Artful dodgers who grew up into muchloved national treasures, Madness are currently celebrating their milestone 40th anniversary year. Which is quite an achievement for any band, never mind a volatile collective of headstrong, loudmouth, mischievous lords of misrule

Words by Stephen DaltonÂ I BRISTOL LIFE I 25

the big interview


uniquely London-centric fusion of storytelling lyrics, Jamaica-inspired ska rhythms and cockney music-hall nostalgia, Madness burst out of Camden Town in the late 1970s. They enjoyed a sustained run of chart success in the early 1980s with bouncy sing-along hits including Baggy Trousers, House Of Fun, It Must Be Love, Our House and Embarrassment. With their herky-jerky dancing, anarchic humour and Nutty Boy image, they were irresistible in their heyday, like living cartoon characters gatecrashing the po-faced post-punk party. But their evolution from teenage pop stars to venerable elder statesmen has not always been smooth, with slumps and splits, solo careers and sabbaticals along the way. And yet the original Bash Streets Kids of Britpop have somehow endured. In 2019, six of their founding seven-man Madness line-up are still making music together. Perhaps more impressively, they are currently playing bigger live shows to broader multigenerational audiences than ever before, including a headline slot at the Downs Festival in Bristol on 1 September. “These festivals are a revelation to us,” says singer Suggs, aka 58-year-old Graham MacPherson, the public face of Madness. “We’re playing places we didn’t even play when we were in our pomp. Something is happening recently to do with our legacy in terms of what people feel about us.” Four decades of hits and misses, triumphs and tragedies is quite a landmark. In a business notorious for early burn-outs and broken friendships, how have Madness managed to keep it together so long? “Firstly, nobody’s died, which is always a good start,” Suggs quips. “A lot of our contemporaries just fell out, and it’s remarkable that we didn’t. I think we just learned to be tolerant with each other. That’s the main ingredient. Never mind talent and dedication, that’s all very important but I think mostly it’s being tolerant. You go through a lot of ups and downs, and we managed to


“How have we managed to keep the band together? Nobody’s died, which is always a good start”

get through all that because primarily we were friends before the band.” Keyboard player Mike ‘Barso’ Barson is first among equals as primary songwriter and de facto musical director in Madness. He echoes Suggs in stressing the importance of being friends first, and also in trying to avoid the creeping inequalities that often drive bands apart. “We grew up as mates, so I guess we’ve got a reasonable amount in common,” Mike nods. “When bands start arguing it’s usually about money, isn’t it? But we sort of shared the publishing a bit generously, and we are run on quite democratic lines. At the end of the day, if you can’t compromise then you’re not going to last that long. It’s always been the case that when we come together we do something great.” Madness have always had an inflammatory internal chemistry. Indeed, they first disbanded in 1986 following

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the big interview

Mike’s temporary departure, moving to Amsterdam with his then-wife. But after a few years of solo projects, rebrands and reshuffles, the seven original members regrouped in 1992 for the first of their mammoth ‘Madstock’ concerts in London’s Finsbury Park. Initially intended as a one-off, this sell-out show caused such frenzied dancing among the crowd that it triggered a seismic tremor measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale. Oh what fun we had. Regular Madstock festivals and reunion tours followed, culminating in a new studio album in 1999, Wonderful, and an award-winning West End musical based on the band’s songs, Our House. Now, almost three decades into their long second act, Madness are a firmly established business run by settled family men on the cusp of 60. All of the members also have solo projects and sidelines outside the band, with Suggs in regular demand as a broadcaster and TV presenter. “I could be doing something every day of the week outside the band,” he says. “But ultimately, this is my favourite of all the things I do. I’ve done solo records, but you’re never going to get an outfit like this, whatever money you pay. We’re old mates, you know? It’s love and hate and all those other things.” Indeed, everybody in Madness admits that tensions within the band can still be explosive, with various members taking time out over the last 20 years. At the turn of this decade, bass player Mark ‘Bedders’ Bedford left for an extended break. Eventually, in grand Madness tradition, he was welcomed back into the fold. “I really did believe that I’d retired,” he laughs. “But no, I hadn’t. We talked about me coming back and I did, and I’ve enjoyed the time since. Maybe that’s an insight into the band, the way we can work through difficult things. It is full of strong people, this band, but we always seem to find a way between us to keep going. Not a compromise but a consensus, I suppose.” The latest long-time Madness member to walk out is former joint frontman Carl Smyth, aka Chas Smash, who left in 2015 to pursue a solo career. Officially he is taking a break, and could return at any time. “We all need some time off,” explains drummer Daniel ‘Woody’ Woodgate. “You don’t want to force people to do stuff they don’t want to do. We have an open door policy. This has been said before by other band members but it’s a bit like Hotel California. You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.” Over the past decade, Madness have enjoyed a renewed surge of popularity and acclaim. In 2009 they scored a critical and commercial hit with their first album of new material in a decade, The Liberty of Norton Folgate, a Dickensian magnum opus that earned them their first Top Five chart placing in 28 years. More recently they have also launched their own summer and winter festivals, House of Common in London in August, and the House of Fun weekender at Butlins in Minehead in November. In 2012, Madness played both the closing ceremony of the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond







Still together after all these years; then (below) and now

Jubilee concert, performing on the roof of Buckingham Palace. These former artful dodgers are now pop royalty, their songs alternative national anthems. Nowadays their live shows are family carnivals full of fans old and new, all across the age spectrum. Even after 40 years together, Suggs claims, they’re winning over new converts with their heavy heavy monster sound. They’re still the nuttiest sound around. “When they see Madness they see something they have never seen before,” Suggs says. “We’re not the Arctic Monkeys, we’re not the Rolling Stones. But we’re not The X Factor either. Somewhere in that grey area, outside the norms of the music business, Madness exist.” n Madness play The Downs on 1 September I BRISTOL LIFE I 29

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Hot Shame’s his game, LOLS are his aim: Bristol’s John Robins is about to set off on on a new tour, and he’s opening with a six-day home leg at Tobacco Factory Theatres next month 32 I BRISTOL LIFE I

one to one


e heart John Robins. We heart him a lot. Not only is he a sidesplittingly, mascara-ruiningly, award-winning comedian, but he’s a proper Bristol boy, who charmed the pants off us when he hosted this year’s Bristol Life Awards. No surprise there, though; John won the Chortle award for Best Compère in 2015. Perhaps unfortunately for John, his appearance at the Awards went far too smoothly to be useful grist to the comedy mill – especially when you consider that his new tour is all about shame. He’s covered the subject extensively on his Radio X podcast, whose section John’s Shame Well, featuring shameful memories sent in by listeners, was a show highlight. It was high time that he shared his own embarrassing experiences on stage – which is precisely what he’s doing for his new tour, Hot Shame. He’s also been co-writing a book, The Holy Vible, with podcast partner Elis James; filming his own TV series Beat the Internet; launching a golf-based YouTube channel with fellow putter Alex Horne; and saying goodbye to Radio X to host a new show with Elis on BBC Radio 5 Live. He still found time for a chat with Bristol Life, though. Good lad.

Thanks for hosting our Awards this year, John! What did you make of it all?

I just loved it! I always get nervous before working at events like that, but then, during the countdown to the start, you played Lou Reed’s There Is No Time. I don’t think you’d hear that played at a corporate event anywhere else, and I remembered we were in Bristol, and things were going to be just fine. What’s the typical Bristol crowd like at a gig?

Bristolians are very bright and engaged, enthusiastic. You can really go places in a stand-up set with a Bristol crowd; people are willing to see where things are going. They’re very politically engaged, too, and sometimes it’s nice to play with some of their (and my own) beliefs.

If the stand-up thing doesn’t pan out, there’s always the possibility of extra work in Poldark; left: Dye another day? Or an oblique reference to Banksy’s paintpot angel?

What’s the best Bristol gig you’ve ever played?

The best gigs of my life have been at The Comedy Box at The Hen and Chicken in Bedminster. It’s a perfect room, curated by Steve Lount, who’s been putting on comedy in Bristol for nearly 30 years. He really cares about his acts and audience, and that makes a huge difference. And (oh, go on) the worst?

Ashton Court Festival 2005. It was probably my 20th ever gig, and the worst I’ve ever died by a long margin. And what was worse was I’d gathered loads of friends from school, even teachers at the festival to watch. I’ve not seen some of them since and they must think my whole career is a complete fluke after seeing me be so very, very bad. Another perilous moment on a Bristol stage involved a routine about how Banksy was a complete fraud; the crowd positively bristled. But by the end they’d been patient enough to see my point and get to the punchline.

“One perilous moment on a Bristol stage involved a routine about how Banksy was a fraud; the crowd positively bristled”

You’re an alumni of the ‘Bristol Comedy Flat’, having shared digs with Russell Howard, Jon Richardson and Mark Olver. What was that like, then?

I can sum it up in two words: “funny training.”

What are your favourite Bristol haunts when you’re in town?

The Hare on The Hill, The Hillgrove Porter Stores, The Highbury Vaults, The White Bear, The Quinton House, The Eldon House, The Lion, The Three Tuns. In that order OK, that’s the local interest stuff covered. Tell us about Hot Shame.

I think shame is a damaging emotion, and there’s something quite cathartic about seeing someone own stories that they might otherwise have kept to themselves. Everyone has shameful memories, and whereas guilt is private, shame is a very public thing. You feel guilty about stuff that no one knows about, but shame is about moments of getting things wrong in public or wondering what other people think of you.’ Are those the memories that keep you awake at night?

Yes – a comment I made to someone at school, or a misjudged joke I made at a dinner party. The objectively bad stuff you do doesn’t seem to linger as much, because you regret those things and apologise. But when shame’s attached to something that you shouldn’t be ashamed of, it can cause real damage. I bristol LIFE I 33

one to one

We note that the poster artwork for the tour looks a lot like a certain record cover…

Yes, it’s based on the Queen album Hot Space.

We know you’re a massive Queen fan – but why reference that particular record?

It’s Queen’s least critically acclaimed album and some people see it as a bit of a mistake, a misstep, or a mess. I think it’s interesting to have an album that they maybe feel a bit embarrassed about now to use as a backdrop. But that’s such a niche reference, no one will get that from the poster! One guy thought it was the front of Blur’s Greatest Hits, so what can you do?’ Let’s talk about the Radio X show you hosted with Elis. You recently left the station after five years – was it an emotional departure?

Yes, very much so. The show was hugely transformative for the both of us, not just career-wise but as people. Looking back now it’s a bit like a diary; Elis had two kids, got engaged, followed Wales to the semi-finals of the Euros. I went through a breakup, numerous Edinburgh Festivals, found love, got engaged. From Edinburgh Comedy Awards to eating Space Raiders on the toilet, we talked about it all. And in the same way, the show was with our listeners through similar life events. Of course, we never imagined it would be like this; it’s just two friends chatting, playing games and trying to make each other laugh. But the correspondence we got when people heard the news was quite special.

“Bristolians are very bright and engaged, enthusiastic. You can really go places in a stand-up set with a Bristol crowd”

You’re soon joining Radio 5 Live. How are you feeling about moving to the BBC?

There are things that will be very different – a bigger audience, and inevitably some people won’t like change. But it’s also a really exciting prospect. We’re now between Adrian Chiles and Kermode and Mayo in the schedule – they’re in another league of broadcasting, and it’ll be a real test of us to hit that standard. At Radio X we used to get told off for not having our passes and lanyards visible at all times, which, as a cool renegade like James Dean or Quentin Wilson, used to really piss me off. Having now been through security at the BBC, in comparison Radio X seems positively relaxed. I’m sure I’ll have to bite my tongue at times, or get Elis to bite it for me, if that’s not too troubling an image. You recently started a YouTube series with Alex Horne called Bad Golf. How did that start?

Alex and I’ve played golf together for a long time, we’re terrible at it, and we thought that would be a fun resource to inspire other bad golfers. It’s exciting. I’m playing with Alex today – we’re filming this month’s round – so I’m actually wearing my golf gear as I speak. And I’ve been sponsored by Cobra Golf. They gave me a new set of clubs after I posted the worst round I’ve ever had, so I’m going to see if these new clubs help me out today. Apart from playing golf courses across the country, what are you most looking forward to about going back on tour?

My Bristol friend Robin Allender – known to podcast fans as The Lovely Robin – is supporting me. I’m very excited for people to see his stuff – he’s a musician and a stand-up, so it’s a chance for him to spread his stand-up wings. Plus he’s very good on some of the key topics of remorse and regret, so he’s very much on brand. Let’s end on a suitably Bristol note. If someone from that London asked you, “So, what’s Bristol like, John?” – what would you say?

Better than here. n

John Robins: Hot Shame plays Tobacco Factory Theatres; 2-7 September For more; I bristol LIFE I 35


Sounds of the city (baby) This summer has given us ideal opportunities to sing and dance together – and no better place to do so than at Lloyds Amphitheatre on Harbourside Words and pictures by Colin Moody 36 I BRISTOL LIFE I



’m a big fan of the gig scene in Bristol, and we have some unique spaces that we need to cherish. Rumour is that some of the Harbourside penthouse flat dwellers are not huge fans of the summer noise from live festivals. But the Amphitheatre is an incredible place to host a series of concerts: Bristol Sounds was back there again this year, as were two legendary headline acts curated by Colston Hall – and to me it’s one of the most beautiful places to watch a gig.


I’ve seen the sun go down over Shakespeare In The Park in New York, and watched the skyscrapers lights come on – and that’s what we get here. Here’s hoping the penthouses enjoy the show as much as the rest of us, because these are tough times, and it means a lot to come together in festival spirit, right in the centre of our city in such an open, breathing space as this. Jeff sketched every act on the stage at Sounds, and his highlight this year was having Elbow noticing, and asking him to send his picture over after the show. Ah Jeff, ah Bristol. That’s how we flow. Keep an eye out for his work; it’s quite a collection he’s building up.




Guy seems to use his hands to thread out the music to the audience; it had the feel of a rock sermon about it at times. Another one of those gigs that takes you to another place; the way the light changes during the show means that when they got to the classics at the end of the night we were already floating up into the blue light, and it was easier to imagine that this was indeed a good day to fly.


Come to Sounds, and as the darkness descends and the headliners crescendo you will feel a spark in the audience. The city is returned to us in these moments. We hold theatre in passenger sheds, art in pop-ups and music on the steps by the water. We’ve been repurposing spaces for good for decades, and we rock at it.



Yes, he knew all the words to the Tom Misch songs. That’s all I need to say.



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I always like to watch the audience at gigs before the band come on. Some people seem to own that space at the front, and they will not relinquish it for anyone. Hence the serious expression here. Or it might have had something to do with the red spot on him for a while.


How does it feel. To treat us like you do. To lay your New Order notes upon me. Well, it felt bloody fine. I was probably not the only one enjoying the back catalogue and waiting for Blue Monday to come on. I was surprised by how much I loved the vibe of the whole set as it was worked together right and the flow was moving. My partner was there, and she last saw them play in ’83 when they dropped Monday for the first time at Glastonbury. Wow. I suppose in 35 years’ time, when Stormzy plays Colston Presents, someone will say the same.

8 8


The wife of one of New Order dancing like no one was watching while they hit the line “I see a ship in the harbour...” at which point Bernard Summer pointed behind him at Harbourside, and beamed liked a little kid. Is there a more perfect line for a gig in this setting?


A Special night was had on the second night of Colston Presents. I won’t repeat what these ska legends had to say about our new Prime Minister, but it was refreshing to hear that ’80s ability to call it, to make a song when all the clubs shut down. Long may this venue last for these concerts. And for all those ’80s hang-ons like me, what a great blast it was to dance to these classics live. What was it this guy said? “Sorry it’s been 30 years since we last played, but I love it, and I’m moving here...” Welcome, my friend. And you’ll find plenty of great places for you to gig, like the new Star and Garter. Maybe we can turn this tide of club closures around and keep the scene as vibrant as ever. I will finish by saying that if we all want to keep our little piece of the centre, carry on coming down to the gigs here. Harbour Festival, Sounds and numerous mini-festivals around the year: it’s a huge debt we owe to whoever decided to leave this amazing space open like this. You can’t move for cranes around the rest of the harbour, putting up high-rises, but this is down low by the water, and connected to the music proper. Colin is available as a ‘mini-mobile PR/marketing/social media unit’, to shoot striking street-style photographs at live events: parties, launches, promos and performances, for impactful immediate social media. Fees start at £100 for a twohour package. email: Twitter: @moodycolin; Instagram @moodycolin319 I BRISTOL LIFE I 39


Ripping yarns Fancy heading off on a literary adventure? It’s what summertime reading’s all about...

“This is a whipsmart page-turner, full of unforgettable characters who you’ll miss terribly when you turn the final page”


e’ve taken up residency at The Passenger Shed for the summer for Wise Children’s brilliant production of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, with a stall selling Blyton books at all of the performances throughout the summer. Do go and see the show if you haven’t yet; it’s a jolly wonderful nostalgia fest, with a brilliantly diverse and super-talented cast. And that got us thinking: Blyton and adventure stories are so synonymous with sunny days, and a rollicking tale can enhance your summer in brilliant and exciting ways. The journey! The peril! The discoveries! So dust off your compass and binoculars: here are some of our current favourites… THE ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY by Michael Chabon Michael Chabon’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner is a firm favourite at Storysmith, and for an adventure story of epic proportions it’s a hard one to beat. It’s the tale of Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clayman, Jewish cousins who are brought together during the Second World War when Joe is smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Prague. Finding a shared passion for comic books, Sammy discovers Joe’s artistic talent and, paired with Sammy’s writing ability, the cousins quickly find success in the then-nascent comic book industry. Their superhero character, The Escapist, is a Nazi-fighting hero who works to liberate the oppressed and is an instant hit: but is the money and success that he brings Joe and Sammy enough for them to escape their own real-life problems? This is a whip-smart pageturner, full of unforgettable characters who you’ll miss terribly when you turn the final page. WEST by Carys Davies This wonderful book is proof that a great adventure story doesn’t have to be an epic tome. In just 150 pages, Carys Davies sets out such a perfectly crafted adventure story. Set in Pennsylvania in 1815, Cy Bellman sets off on an ill-fated journey to find creatures that have never been seen, but whose ‘gigantic bones’ are said to have been dug up in a Kentucky swamp. He leaves behind his 10-year-old daughter Bess, who is plucky, capable and fiercely protective of her father’s quest. As she waits at home, anxiously anticipating

news of his journey, Bellman navigates the hills, the swamps and the harsh wilderness surrounding the Mississippi River in pursuit of his creatures. The story is told with warmth, wit and bags of style, and despite reading it in one sitting, it’s shot to the very top of my summer favourites list. WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan If you like your adventure stories tinged with fancy and fantasy, then this rip-roarer from Booker-shortlisted author Esi Edugyan will keep you glued to the sunlounger this summer. The titular Washington ‘Wash’ Black is a young slave in a British-controlled sugar plantation in 19th Century Barbados, and life is unspeakably hard: that is, until the mysterious Titch arrives, kindly but enigmatic brother of the monstrous plantation owner, restless globetrotter and aspiring inventor. Titch’s plans for Wash lead the young slave on a wild airborne voyage through all manner of luminous and dangerous situations, but both their pasts inevitably catch up with them, making their journey all the more perilous. Written with beauty and verve, it’s impossible not to be swept along with Edugyan’s wild yarn, but it’s the central relationship between Wash and Titch which lasts the longest. THE SALT PATH by Raynor Winn This is a true life adventure of an altogether more serious kind: Raynor Winn’s account of her and her husband’s 630-mile walk of the South Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset. The reasons for their embarking on this epic journey are variously tragic, altruistic and poignant, as you’ll discover, but Winn’s gorgeous evocations of the world around her as it changes from village to town to deserted wonderland tie the whole story together. In a gentle way, this adventure becomes lifedefining for its writer and her husband, and has since become life-affirming for the book’s many readers. Wherever your adventuring takes you this summer, make sure you take a good book with you for the journey. Come and see us for recommendations, and tell us your tales when you get back. Storysmith is now open at 49 North Street; I BRISTOL LIFE I 41

advertising feature

Meet the head teacher Two of the city’s education experts go ‘head to head’ . . .

Jim Walton

Clifton College Preparatory School 0117 3157 000 What does your school offer that others don’t? We offer the benefits of a boarding school approach for both our boarding and day pupils. For our day pupils these include the inherent diversity provided by being part of a boarding school as well as the wealth of extra-curricular activities on offer and the quality of the Saturday/ weekend provision. The quality of pastoral care for all our pupils, both day and boarding, is also something we’re very proud of. What do you enjoy most about teaching? As Headmaster, I don’t get to teach as much as I used to but I still take a Year 7 Geography lesson and run a games team. The answer to the question is fairly simple, I got into teaching because I like working with children and seeing them grow and prosper in a school environment. Teaching also enables me to keep in touch with the wider school community, build relationships and get to know the

children, parents and staff on a different level. It’s certainly one of the most rewarding bits of my job! What is your strategy for the best learning environment? To have happy children, as this helps them make great progress. Every day I ask the same question, ‘are they engaged?’ If our pupils are engaged, focused, happy and enjoying their learning, it makes a great environment for all of us. What are the qualities and skills of an excellent head teacher? Perspective, patience and being highly visible. I like to be at the school gates each morning to greet our children and their parents and this is a really enjoyable and important part of my morning. Other responsibilities include recruiting and retaining good staff and removing any barriers that stop excellent teachers from doing what they do best. What makes you most proud? When I see children achieve something outside their comfort zone. To see the sports star performing on stage in the school production,

schools and two secondary schools, as well as working with CERN, Lancaster University and the Institute of Physics at WOMAD and again with CERN at The Colours of Ostrava festival. We have presented at the Bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank on the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, and at the Green Man festival; not to mention having peer review papers published by our students in the Institute of Physics’ journal Physics Education. Our students get to know more than a thin veneer of facts, they get to understand the how and why and, most importantly, if they enjoy engaging with their objects in a real world sense.

Rebecca Tear

Badminton School 0117 905 5200 What does your school offer that others don’t? We push the boundaries on putting learning into action. Our science outreach work, for example, has this year alone visited 20 primary

or the reserved, shy pupil giving that big endof-term speech at Commemoration Day, makes me enormously proud. Providing our pupils with opportunities and experiences to take with them into the world is a special feeling.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? There are so many possible answers but one of the deepest joys that teaching can bring is seeing students having mastered experiences that transform their thinking and ultimately their lives; it’s such a privilege. What is your strategy for the best learning environment? It has to enable the student to feel ready to take risks and explore; learning is a messy, exploratory business and gains can only be made when you push the boundaries of your own uncertainty. It also can’t be static;

technology and the world keep evolving, so to remain relevant learning environments have to adapt concurrently. Why single sex? In our all girls environment, every student can confidently explore a diversity of academic experiences; they naturally assume that all options for the future are open to them. This creates enormous freedom for them to discover what they enjoy and what they excel at, not just academically, but also beyond the classroom. Describe the sense of community at the school? Our activity-based approach means that from the moment you walk through Badminton’s gates, you are engulfed in its busy, buzzy and friendly atmosphere on campus. It is wonderful to be a part of it and a privilege to capture the energy that the girls (and staff!) exude as they throw themselves into all they do. It is also not uncommon to find our extended community joining in too: parents enjoying specialised morning art workshops or hosting quiz nights, residents from St Monica Trust next door visit our musical cream tea afternoons or local classicists enjoying specialist evening lectures on subjects including The Odyssey and Roman food. I BRISTOL LIFE I 43


Park life Say what you like about Baz (well, within reason, anyway), but at least he’s a considerate parker


“Near my old flat in Redland, tales of parking woe make for Tolstovian reading”

ou don’t know true rage until your car has been blocked in when you have an appointment. It’s an impotent kind of rage, like Charlton Heston damning everyone to hell on some beach in a dystopian future, because there’s literally nothing you can do about it, short of some serious criminal damage (although it’s satisfying to know that’s still an option). Whether it’s bad or inconsiderate parking – one and the same thing, you might say – it tends to provoke a primal response in us that is at odds with other everyday disgruntlements in life, such as climate change, or the neighbours not putting out your bins while you’re away. Personally, I get a quiet thrill from successfully reverse parking on the first go, as if it’s an accurate measure of me as a man. How often have you questioned whether you’ve parked just slightly too far away from the pavement, got out of the car and given it serious deliberation? Pregnant pause, then, “Nah, I’m going to go closer.” If the answer to that is ‘many, many times’, then you’re a considerate parker and/or obsessive-compulsive. Is parking as much of an issue in other nations, or is it another societal quirk that’s mainly particular to the UK, like queuing? We’ve even got phantom vehicles with cameras patrolling our streets, hoovering up images of our illegally-parked cars and churning out retrospective fines. In the past couple of weeks alone, parking stories have been making hot news in Bristol. Angry locals near Bristol Airport have been expressing their displeasure at holidaymakers saving on car park fees by leaving their vehicles in

their villages, by egging, clingfilming and deflating their tyres (on one occasion, all three). Then there’s parking as protest, as happened last month when someone left their very expensive Mercedes parked on a new cycle access lane in Bishopston. This took place just a short walk from my old flat in Redland, where tales of parking woe make for Tolstovian reading. My girlfriend and I had just moved in when I found a parking fine on the windshield of my car, parked directly outside our front door. The double yellow lines were so faded I hadn’t noticed them. When the council looked at the pictures I indignantly sent them, they quashed the fine. Victory for the little man, I thought. That was until I came back from work the next day to find freshly painted lines extended by an extra two cars’ lengths. And yet, in recalling all this, I’m now having a flashback of the bittersweet moment when, having somehow managed to find a parking space outside the same Redland flat, I realised it was at most two inches longer than my car itself. Always up for a challenge, I only went and got into it – but not without giving the Saab in front the slightest of bumps. A vehicular kiss, if you will. I got out feeling very pleased with myself – this was like a real-life Tetris move – only to see that there was a young woman in the car watching me with disgust. “And I thought my parking was bad!” she shouted. Some people just can’t appreciate skill when they see it. Seb Barrett works in sports communications. Follow him on Twitter @bazzbarrett I BRISTOL LIFE I 45

Root x Valley Fest Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Cargo any more . . .

Words Deri Robins; photos Louis Smith,



OMO’s an ugly emotion, but in our line of work it goes with the territory. Much as we’d love to attend every single festival, launch and press night on the Bristol calendar, pesky stuff can often get in the way – stuff like deadlines, for example. Remember that event we were so excited about in our last issue? By the time it rolls around, we’re often too busy writing about the next big thing to go to in IRL. It’s a proper curse. Grumpily flicking through Instagram last August, we spotted half our Bristol acquaintances at Valley Fest, tucking into luscious, impeccably sourced fare in a big, romantic tipi resembling Yurt Lush on steroids. Apparently, two of the guests took one look at the long, fairylit, ivy-draped banqueting tables, and promptly got engaged. Our sulk lasted well into late autumn. Which preamble explains why this year, come hell or high water, we were heading for this most local and estimable of festivals in its glorious Chew Magna Lake setting. Great food has always been part of the Valley Fest ethos. It’s all held on organic farmer Luke Hasell’s land, and as you’ll know, if you ever pay even a modicum of attention to these pages, Luke’s a proper Bristol food hero, who runs Eat Drink Bristol Fashion with his pal and neighbour, Josh Eggleton. This year, he’s upped the food offering even further, with the help of some exciting guest chefs. On Sunday, Beth Al Rikabi was booked to cook up a sustainable banquet with a global flavour; but it was the Saturday Root feast that caught our eye. Everyone has a go-to Bristol restaurant, right? We’re currently defaulting to Root at Wapping Wharf, with its mostly plant-based offerings. Mother’s Days, birthdays, paydays – any excuse to perch up at the chef ’s table, watching Rob Howell toast his gnocchi and sprinkle his nuts in that tiny Cargo kitchen. And obviously, there’s a strong family connection between Root and Valley Fest – Root’s part of the Eat Drink empire too, and Rob was a former head chef at Josh’s Pony & Trap. We’re in for the 2.30 sitting, and the tipi is every bit as pretty as it looked on Instagram. Assisting Rob in the kitchen, in a reversal of their original roles, is Josh; as far as we could make out, the former did most of the grafting while the latter helped out with piping and garnishing (see below) – but to be fair, his trademark ‘stroking shoulder napkin while meaningfully presiding’ game was also very on point. The menu reads like a playlist of Root’s greatest hits. To kick off proceedings, along with a glass of welcome fizz, a big platter of crunchy crudités, plucked freshly from the Pony’s kitchen garden, arrives with dreamy, creamy dips of taramasalata and chive-flecked cream cheese.

The sociable vibe encourages you to share your platter while getting to know your neighbours. Admittedly, relations on our table get off to a slightly bumpy start, when an extravagant hand gesture on my part sends the contents of the welcome fizz streaming across the table into a fellow guest’s lap; but hey, it breaks the ice. While I’ve never come across an arancini I didn’t like, I’ve rarely tasted any better than Rob’s smoked haddock version. Crisp, crumbly and parmesan-flecked on the outside, sticky and indulgent within, it’s zinged up to next-level deliciousness by a puddle of burnt lemon that sees me surreptitiously scraping leftover sauce from the ‘shared’ platter. (Our neighbours really lucked out with me.) Next up is a dish that’s played on our internal jukebox ever since Root first opened: Rob’s warm beetroot, hazelnut and blueberry salad. Anyone wanting a masterclass in balance, texture and umami should play close attention to this little number, with the sweet and juicy beets and berries tumbled up with crunchy nuts, and a marine hit of seaweed. However, it’s the next course, the fresh, super-silky cured sea bream, with cool cucumber, aniseedy dill and vibrant thwack of chilli, that sees us cooing over the dish as if it was a basketful of kittens. I have strong feelings about gnocchi: go sticky, or go home. Forget any bland, floury abominations you may have had in the past; Rob’s, which look a bit like cylindrical fish fingers, are pan-fried to caramelised, chewy perfection, with a hint of spiciness to perk up the juicy heritage tomatoes, and – for the non-veggies – succulent, rosy slices of beef from Luke’s Story Farm. Perhaps weirdly (but hey man, we’re at a festival!) we wash everything down not with the reliably terrific Aldwick Estate wine, but a cheerful jug of pink gin-laced raspberry and elderflower fizz. This almost lasts us until the final ‘ta-daa!’ of a sugary donut served with a creamy lemon posset and citrussy lime granita, after which we stagger back outside, blinking into the daylight, in time to catch the final knockings of the Magic Numbers set. It may seem a little odd for us to be reviewing a pop-up restaurant that has now duly popped down again; it’s a bit like running a travel review of Brigadoon. But there’s method in our madness. Firstly, it gives you a flavour of what to expect at any future Valley Fest feasts. Secondly, these dishes are all on the current menu at Root, which you can of course visit whenever the fancy takes you. Thirdly, and most importantly, we really couldn’t face the FOMO-related trauma of not being a part of it. n

“The sea bream with its vibrant thwack of chilli sees us cooing over the dish as if it was a basketful of kittens”

Dining details Visit Root in its permanent Cargo home at Wapping Wharf 0117 930 0260; I BRISTOL LIFE I 47

food & drink s n a p s h o t s o f B R I S TO L’ S f o o d s c e n e

take five In the case of James Rich, the apple clearly didn’t fall far from the tree….


f there’s one thing we like more than a fresh new recipe book, it’s one by a Bristol writer with a great local backstory. Meet James Rich, who’s just written his first book, Apple: Recipes from the Orchard, inspired by his experiences growing up next to his family’s awardwinning farm, Rich’s Cider in Somerset. Not only is it a beautiful book, but it means that never again will you be stuck for ideas for using up all your windfalls . . .


We know you grew up in the Somerset countryside – idyllic, much? Totally. I have many fond memories of just being outdoors; in particular, days spent with my sisters exploring the hedgerow thickets looking for newts and other wildlife, while Dad pruned the apple trees. It was wonderful to be out in the great outdoors, and it’s something that has stayed with us all – we love being outside even now. Why should we get excited about apples? They’re just so versatile! And there are so


More tasty bites wine, and . . .

many different varieties; all with slightly different flavours and taste profiles. Apples also grow in abundance in this country, so sourcing locally grown fruit that hasn’t had to travel an incredible amount to get to you is fairly easy. What inspired you to write Apple? As a teenager, I worked in the restaurant at the cider farm, and we would regularly use the cider and juice pressed on the farm in our dishes. Customers would always ask us for the recipes, so I thought it would be a nice idea to share them with people. I had no idea it would eventually turn into a whole cookbook. Give us a sneak peek of a few recipes from the book… Some of my personal favourites include apple, Cheddar and caramelised onion tart; chicken, apricot and cider with miso; spiced pumpkin, apple and cider stew; apple, honey and lavender cake, and of course, my uncle Mike’s famous cider punch. Can you suggest the perfect food and cider combo? It’s a tried and tested one, but the ultimate partner for cider is good old Cheddar cheese. You just can’t go wrong. I have a cider, Cheddar and chicken crumble in the book that celebrates this partnership, and is absolutely one of my favourites.

Farewell, then, to No Man’s Grace, but a big, boozy “awrite?” to Snobby’s, the new wine restaurant that’s taken over the same Chandos Road site, offering casual Italian small plates and pizzas along with coffee, cold beer – and most importantly, a carefully curated list of great-value wines from across the globe (though don’t forget to ask for the little black book if you’re feeling flush). Those with even longer memories may recall that the site also once belonged to Keith Floyd, who must be nodding down in approval from wherever it is that heavydrinking celebrity restaurateurs go when they die. “It’s a place for flâneurs who want to sit back and watch the world go by, or even to be used as a second office for creatives and ‘working from home’ professionals,” they say, adding “the terrace is almost ready for you to chill out underneath the scorching summer sun.” Oh yeah. About that.

. . . wild, wild women Amy and Joney of much-loved Cheltenham Road tea room and vintage emporium Cox & Baloney have sold up. “The new owner will be renaming it, and making a few changes, but will be honouring our bookings for afternoon tea, but whether she carries on offering them after that, I’m not sure,” the girls told us. “We are still ‘Cox & Baloney’, but will be selling all our teas online instead, at – and our new sister company, the Wild Women Tea Club is already up and running, with a whole new herbal tea line designed especially for women, along with a whole new wellness and female community hub @wild_women_tea_club. Check it out! This line is selling so quickly that we keep running out.” Pour me a cup of Pick me up Cowboy, please; I’m in an Oklahoma state of mind.

Do you have a favourite cider? Scrumpy! The original and the best. It’s also great to cook with, adding a real depth of flavour, to stews, for example.

Apple; Recipes from the Orchard by James Rich is published by Hardie Grant, £20 I BRISTOL LIFE I 49


Consider yourself edgy, Bristol? A bit hip? Bit street, bit cheeky, bit cool for school? Well, park all that for a minute, because on these pages we’re going fullon traditional, and taking tea in posh china . . .

Words by Jemma Stewart 50 I BRISTOL LIFE I

AFTERNOON TEA Brews with a view: Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin


fternoon tea – whether you’re taking it in town or heading out to a luscious country pile, just make sure that your little pinky is correctly crooked. Will you pour, or shall we? Oops – sorry about all the tea splashes . . .


Where? Hotel du Vin, Sion Hill, Clifton; What’s on offer? As well as the usual cake-sarnie-scone offering,

expect Severn & Wye smoked salmon and cream cheese on dark rye, egg and cress mayo brioche, ham and Gruyère croissant, heritage tomato and tapenade galette, goat’s cheese and spinach quiche croissants and quiche, as well as the classic sarnies and scones. Sweet treats include Black Forest gateau and rhubarb and custard tarts; teas are provided by indie tea mixologists, Bird and Blend Tea Co. What else makes it special? The view across the Avon Gorge and over to the Bridge; you’ll barely be able to tear your eyes away long enough to cram another Tutti Frutti macaron into your mouth.


Where? Aztec West, Almondsbury; What’s on offer? The hotel’s Curious Kitchen offers a modern,

luxurious atmosphere, where chefs focus on local, seasonal ingredients, and have a flair for experimentation. What makes it special? Not content to leave tea in the teapot, they’ve created an amazing white chocolate and matcha choux bun. And don’t shout at us, girls, but they have a ‘Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea’, which basically swops dainty bites for the likes of sausage roll served with a half pint of ale and the mini fish and chips. Feel free to order it, yeah?


Where? Berwick Drive; What’s on offer? Afternoon tea served in the elegant lounge of a

country hotel, overlooking delightful grounds; expect some unusual and delicious twists on the usual menu, such as raspberry and Earl Grey jam, tempura courgette flowers, and so on. What makes it special? That unique Berwick ‘rural pile just a hop from the city’ vibe.


Where? 55 Corn Street; What’s on offer? Proper, traditional afternoon tea, with all the tea in

China (and India) served in the grandiose surroundings of a former Georgian bank, in the historic Old City quarter. What makes it special? You can scale it up by adding a glass of the house champagne.


Where? 32 Alma Vale Road; What’s on offer? An inventive vegetarian menu (or vegan, or gluten-

free) in a vintage boutique that has truly nailed the art of afternoon tea.

What makes it special? There are no less than 12 themes to choose

“You’ll barely be able to tear your eyes away from the view long enough to cram another Tutti Frutti macaron into your mouth”

from. Fancy a massage while you eat your cake? Or maybe a spot of Lindyhopping? The girls even offer a full vintage makeover, or a selection of ‘crafternoon teas’ – perfect for hen parties, birthdays, baby showers, retirement parties and more.


Where? Colerne, Chippenham; What’s on offer? Admittedly, it’s a trek, but you can easily make a day

of it at this glorious 18th-century country mansion with its thoroughly modern spa. It’s all very Downton Abbey; Mrs Patmore would approve of the traditional sarnies and dainties spread. What makes it special? If you make a day and an evening of it, you could stay on to dine at Hywel Jones’s Michelin-starred restaurant. I BRISTOL LIFE I 51

AFTERNOON TEA ODD DOWN COUNTRY PARK Where? Foxholes Lane, Tockington;

What’s on offer? Great-value afternoon tea served in The Barn on a

two-tiered slate stand: perfectly fitting for the rustic barn setting with its original stone floors, exposed beams and, in the colder weather, log burners. What makes it special? The portions of Chef ’s homemade cakes, sandwiches and scones are so immense that takeaway boxes are an essential addition.


What’s on offer? Chocolate treats like you wouldn’t believe. Brownies,

cookies, cakes and cookie sandwiches, with a wide selection of different hot chocolates, milkshakes, coffee and tea. What makes it special? They have a chocolate dipping pot for two; two pots of melted chocolate of your choice, along with homemade marshmallows, madeleines, banana and strawberries as dippers. There’s also a ‘build a brownie sundae’ option, where you select the type of icecream, brownie and toppings you need to build your ultimate creation.


Where? Bullfinch Close, Filton; What’s on offer? A modern, youthful hotel calls for a modern twist

on tradition. Bold and fresh flavours are in the spotlight, with choices such as egg mayonnaise on mini brioches, and rhubarb and custard profiteroles. You can even make it a real par-tea with an Aperol Spritz or Martini.

RIGHT: Add an Aperol for extra fun at Village Bristol

BELOW: Mrs Potts – did all that chocolate give the game away?

What makes it special? The menu was created by Great British Bake

Off winner Candice Brown, and is entirely worthy of the coveted ‘Hollywood handshake’.


Where? 22 Denmark Street;

What’s on offer? Tea, sarnies and cake in an interior inspired by

Japanese zen gardens, designed to be a haven of peace, calm and serenity – all in the company of the preternaturally chilled resident cats. You’ll need to book a slot; see website. What makes it special? All the cats have been rescued, and after careful vetting you may be able to adopt one yourself. Eighteen cats have been successfully rehomed to date. ■

FANCY A CLASSIC FAMILY FILM WITH YOUR TEA? Until 24 August, on Friday and Saturdays at 1pm and 3pm, Bristol Hippodrome will be screening hit Disney movies in the Piano Bar while afternoon tea is served. On varying dates, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Alice in Wonderland and The Lion King will be accompanied by sarnies, scones and caked provided by legendary Bristol lunch institution Sandwich Sandwich, all accompanied by refillable teas and coffees. Disney-inspired fancy dress is strongly encouraged. Head to for full information. I BRISTOL LIFE I 53

LAUNCHING ON THURSDAY THE 15TH OF AUGUST THE HARBOUR HOTEL TIPSY TEA! A beautiful selection of cakes, scones and freshly prepared sandwiches at The Jetty including bottomless teapot cocktails or prosecco. Available every day!

£34.95 per person See website for more details:

T: 01172 034445 E: Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa, 49 – 55 Corn St, Bristol BS1 1HT


Bristol’s been named the vegan capital of the UK, so we thought it was high time we celebrated everything the local food scene has to offer. We’re officially declaring Vegaugust a thing… Photos and words by Mitch Bacholer @plantbasedbristol



f you want to know the best vegan diners in town, you ask a vegan. With this in mind, we hit up our friend Mitch @plantbasedbristol and said: hey dude, take us on a magical mystery Bristol vegan tour…

Shake Wrap & Roll

234 Cheltenham Road; on Facebook There are no gimmicks here. It’s simple, fresh food, served by passionate staff. It epitomises Gloucester Road, in my opinion (even though it’s on Cheltenham Road). Glenn has been at the helm for nine years now, and I believe him to be the producer of the best wraps in Bristol. My go-to is onion bhaji, aloo gobi, hot sauce and all the salads. This is plant-based heaven on your lunch break.

Koocha Mezze Bar

10 Zetland Road; Any list of my favourite gaffs in Bristol has to include Koocha in Redland, because Koocha is a vibe. When it comes to food, there are very few things that excite me more than a visit to this all-vegan, Persian restaurant. I’ve never had mezze where the dishes complement each other so well; they look vibrant and colourful, taste so fresh, and ooze with flavour. It’s a must- visit, and Noda and her team are brilliant. Check out their cocktails; always two for £10.

“I’ve never had mezze where the dishes complement each other so well; so vibrant and colourful, and oozing with flavour” Pizzarova

2-4 Park Street; Everyone has their favourite pizza joint, and Pizzarova Park Street is easily mine. The aesthetics of the place are Scandi, with floor-to-ceiling windows and communal tables, meaning the atmosphere is as fresh as the food. The staff are warm and friendly and they have plenty of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The vegan cheese they use is the best I’ve had on a pizza. Chewy sourdough bases also make for the best crusts, dipped in their homemade vegan chilli-jam.

opposite page: Koocha top: Fi

Real; below: Shake Wrap & Roll I BRISTOL LIFE I 57

E R A H S 2 E V O ## L

EXPERIENCE PLANT POWERED FOOD AS YOU NEVER HAVE BEFORE. Serving lunch and dinner and everything in between, come visit us for good times and great food!

10 Zetland Road, Redland, Bristol BS6 7AD Walk ins are always welcome, but we recommend booking a table for groups of 6 or more. | 0117 9241301

“A unique, organic, high vitality café and juicery bursting with flavour, playfulness and soulful tunes” We offer a plethora of organic, nutritious and delicious plant-based delights, including our famous bountiful Buddha bowl salads, revitalizing freshly pressed raw juices and sumptuous smoothie jars with all their lush toppings. At Beets N Roots you can truly eat the rainbow and walk away with a super energized skip in your step!

vegan Harvest

While you won’t struggle to find vegan produce in this city, nobody has been doing the ethical, plant-based thing longer than this Bristol-based, worker-owned co-operative on the Gloucester Road.

Oowee Vegan


39 Gloucester Road; This vibrant restaurant on Gloucester Road makes an uncompromising ethical stance, from the entirely plant-based menu – Asianinspired, and handwritten across chalk boards on the wall – to the hydroponic tower growing greens and herbs, to the optional 20p donation towards Water Aid with Belu drinks. Owner James Koch knows his stuff when it comes to running great restaurants, given the success of his The Gallimaufry, just across the road from Suncraft.

Fi Real

57 West Street; An Old Market gem. Caribbean and vegan don’t always go hand in hand, but the Jamaican couple behind this authentic establishment bring the tastes of Kingston Town to Bristol town. The ackee and tofu is

only available on Mondays, so I implore you to head in at the start of the week, and be sure to try the mind-blowing plantain.


Fine-dining in Bristol doesn’t come much better than an evening at Box-E, especially when sitting at the kitchen table. Elliott and Tess have created a stripped back environment that lets the food do the talking. Booking is essential for three courses of plant-based food, largely because they only have 14 covers. An intimate experience you won’t forget. Mitch is a freelance photographer and content creator. As a proud Bristolian, the local architecture is his main muse for photography but after going plant-based last year, he quickly became a passionate foodie keen to share the vegan delights this city has to offer. He can usually be found at The Beaufort Arms, Kinkajou or Ashton Gate on any given Saturday.

More food for thought… Beets ‘n roots the seasonal small plates are Friendly Cotham Hill café with a perfect for sharing community-focused vibe Eat Your Greens Falafel King Great, hearty vegan food Bristol’s best and original falafel including roasts; in Totterdown joint, on Cotham Hill; they do a great vegan shawarma Oowee Vegan The tastiest, dirtiest dude food Flow around – and at the Baldwin Tucked away below ground Street branch,100% vegan. The level, next to the Bearpit; Picton Street branch is going from top: Pizzarova; Suncraft;

vegan, too Pieminister Great vegan offerings from these Bristol food heroes at the Stokes Croft, St Nicks and Broad Quay branches Root Mostly plant-based menu; see also page 46; www.


bay watch

Beloved by the surfer set, but an equally alluring prospect for the bone idle, Watergate Bay Hotel has the full stay-and-dine minibreak package nailed; you can even bring the dog By Mal Rogers


great escapes


Watergate Bay: bring the dog and the kids for bucket- and-spade days at the beach, learn to surf, and dine and drink at some of Cornwall’s most sophisticated restaurants and bars – all a few minutes’ walk away from each other

short time after I’d spent a weekend at Watergate Bay, the news dropped. ‘Cornwall’s biggest festival, Boardmasters in Newquay, has been cancelled due to a severe weather forecast.’ The Met Office had issued a Yellow Warning, threatening a heavy-duty frontal system bringing ‘strong winds, expected to cause disruption; coastal communities will be affected by spray, and large waves’. Horizontal rain was expected to batter the entire coastline. Archetypal English festival weather, then. I dropped a note to the Boardmasters organisers, commiserating with them, and telling them it was just bad luck; why, I’d stayed at Watergate Bay two weeks previously and the sun had been splitting the skies. The temperatures were in the mid-20s, the sea was an Aegean blue, and only a gentle zephyr from the south west rustled through the marram grass. So far, the Boardmasters people haven’t found time to get back to me, but I know they’ll have appreciated my kind thoughts. I’m not a surfer; in fact, whatever the opposite of a surfer is, I’m one of those. As such, I wouldn’t have minded a spot of uncooperative weather in the least. I don’t mind one bit snuggling down in a bar while a south-westerly rattles the windows; with a tot of whiskey in front of me and a stack of crime novels and crosswords beside me, I can thoroughly enjoy watching the grey clouds lock into place above the Atlantic. Particularly if I’m settled at a table in recentlyopened new bar Watchful Mary. It looks out over a two-mile stretch of strand, and serves cocktails, beers and wine, as well as tapas and salads – it’s the ideal après-surf bar, where nobody will sneer in the least if you decide to skip the ‘surf ’ bit and go straight to the ‘après’. Watergate Bay Hotel may not own the actual surf, sand or rocks, but it owns everything else in sight, including Watchful Mary. Along with the bedrooms, spa, restaurants and gym in the main hotel, there’s the laidback Beach Hut, right down on the shore, serving burgers, fries and Asian-inspired dishes; grab a table on the outdoor terrace on a cloudless day, and your Instagrams will fool everyone into thinking you’re in Ravello. Right above the Beach Hut is Fifteen Cornwall, the fine-diner that sprang from Jamie Oliver’s laudable London project aimed at giving disadvantaged local youngsters top-flight training in the kitchen. It’s just served its millionth customer. They own that, too. The hotel has long been a family-run affair; the family in question being the Ashworths, who in recent years have given the Victorian main building a contemporary, boutiquey makeover. It’s become enormously popular with the Jack Wills set, but it’s saved from being Chelsea-on-Sea by a relaxed, family-friendly, dog-loving ethos that lends it a welcome-allcomers vibe. Guests swan about in swimwear or spa attire – one member of staff seemed to be fully employed in keeping the endless stream of walked-in sand at bay in the main hallway – and kids run about with

buckets and spades. There are organised games, crafts and activities, as well as entertainment in the Kids’ Zone; although to be honest, most of the ground floor is pretty much a kids’ zone, with only the outdoor hot tub on the spa terrace being out of bounds to rugrats. An array of watersports is readily available, including kite-surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and standard surf-boarding. The Extreme Academy – you guessed it, part of the hotel complex – will provide you with everything you need. Carl Coombes is the gentleman in charge of Extreme: a tanned, hugely capable, and as you’d expect, impressively fit individual. Carl tried to tempt me into the water for a spot of kite-surfing. In fact, he showed me a special hydrofoil that they’d developed at the Academy that allows the surf board to aquaplane, ie rise out of the water and more or less glide along the top of the waves, almost vertically. He did his utmost to persuade me it was a Good Idea, but as my old careers teacher at school used to say, find out what you don’t do well, and then don’t do it. Surfing, I know, would be high on that list, but I’d recommend anyone else to try out that aquaplane thing. Really. You’ll love it. Instead, for me, the beauty of the day was having breakfast on the terrace, then walking along the strand, exploring the ebony-black rocks, cut open by millennia of, well, the same kind of heavy-duty frontal depression systems that have put the kibosh on Boardmasters. Then it was off to find a peaceful corner of the beach, spreading out the towel and watching all the surfy action – I have to admit, it looked a lot of fun – with extra entertainment provided by dogs of all shapes and sizes; four-legged visitors are permitted here all year round. Back at the hotel, you can wallow in the hot tub, do a few leisurely lengths in the pool or try out the timber sauna on the Swim Club deck. The spa rooms offer a full range of treatments, from reflexology to wraps and scrubs and massages. Once you’re fully relaxed and buffed to perfection, it’s time for a pre-prandial mojito at Watchful Mary followed by dinner. The hotel has an excellent in-house restaurant, but you won’t want to miss at least one meal at Fifteen, a mere two minute commute from the main building. Like Watchful Mary and Beach Hut, it has an unbeatable panorama across the sea. We felt rather sorry for the waiters on the night we were in: there they were, extolling the virtues of the zucchini trifolati and the squid ink campanelle, when nature casually threw in the most jawdropping photobomb of a sunset, and all the smartphones in the room were suddenly pointed at the windows rather than the plates. The waiters patiently waited for the sun to go down before resuming; something tells us they’re well used to this kind of thing at Watergate Bay.

Travel details Double rooms from £185 in low season; and from £290 in high season, including breakfast. Watergate Bay, Cornwall TR8 4AA, England. 01637 860543; I BRISTOL LIFE I 61

Would you like to work in Media Sales? We are always looking to hear from talented individuals who would like to work for MediaClash, presenting advertising opportunities and marketing solutions across our portfolio of fantastic magazines and events. We are a growing business and anticipate there being various opportunities over the next few months. If you would like to join our continuing success story please email your CV to or give us a call anytime on 01225 475827 for a chat about the company, our magazines and available positions.

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Meet the funeral director There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning a funeral . . .


Olivia Jamieson

What got you into funeral directing? I joined sister company Memorial Woodlands in Bristol, a private cemetery and funeral directors, as PA to the directors. I saw the way the team helped bereaved families, the positive impact they could have and I realised that I wanted to help too. The opportunity to transfer here and take up my role as funeral director came by invitation and I haven’t looked back. What does excellent customer service mean to you in this industry? Customer service is key, each family and every funeral is different. With a caring, professional approach, I carefully consider a family’s wishes and concerns. I let them appreciate that they have choices, and help them craft a memorable occasion. How much does the typical funeral cost? Our strap line is ‘dedicated to providing value’ and we are just that. Our funerals (with NO hidden costs) start at £1995.00. Why should people choose you when organising a funeral? We have no hidden costs. We are independent Funeral Director’s and our dedicated team all focus on helping families make their occasion “just right”.

What got you into funeral directing? I wanted to be an independent female funeral director who could provide a dignified, transparent service and be able to offer funerals at affordable prices for families who have suffered a bereavement. I am available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and contactable via my website www.jamiesonfunerals. com or telephone 0117 9564796. Do you offer a selection of coffins – if so what seems to be the most popular – eco or traditional? We can offer an extensive range of coffins to suit any family’s choice or budget, to include but not exclusively, coloured coffins, wicker, cardboard or solid wood, all individually made to order. Why should people choose you when organising a funeral? I provide funeral packages which include the coffin (oak veneer), hearse, all disbursements, third-party costs and funeral fees, from £1,545 for a direct cremation-only funeral, and then the packages from £2,934 to £3,264 for a complete funeral cremation to be held at any Bristol, Bath or South Gloucestershire crematorium. Do you offer any financial assistance to anybody organising a funeral? Yes we do provide financial assistance at competitive rates, we are able to offer a personal and caring service.

MW FUNERAL DIRECTORS, 01179 504 100;


DIVINE CEREMONY 0117 9049786; What is the most difficult part of the job? There is no second chance for a funeral ceremony, so making sure everything runs smoothly during what can be the most difficult of times for our clients, is sometimes a challenge. Expectations are

jamieson funerals 0117 956 4796;

Ella Abbott

Olivia Jamieson

high, and rightly so, and we must make sure that everything goes according to plan. This involves a huge amount of organisation and at the same time we also need to be a centre of calm and understanding. How much does the typical funeral cost? We don’t offer funeral packages - preferring to charge a fee for our time and then families can choose what they need from the relevant options. Life is not a one-size-fits- all scenario and neither is death. However, we work hard to ensure we are highly competitive on price. What does excellent customer service mean to you in this industry? Excellent Customer Service is the same in any industry. To me it’s about transparency, honesty and an empathetic, pragmatic approach to each Ceremony. Do you offer any financial assistance to anybody organising a funeral? Funeral poverty is a very real problem. Costs are rising year on year and many people struggle financially when faced with an unexpected death in the family. I am really conscious of this fact, but I also know that there is a very real value in what we are doing. However, as a result of charging a fee for our time, and passing on other costs at cost,

we are able to help people plan a funeral that fits within most budgets. Why should people choose you when organising a funeral? The funeral industry is changing. Fast. People spend a huge amount of time online researching which pair of wellies to buy – why should it be any different with a funeral? Until fairly recently it was hard to research a funeral online – even now some funeral directors do not put prices on their website. We offer a transparent approach – with downloadable price guide – to help people make their choices. We work alongside our families with the same point of contact throughout the process, which our families tell us is really reassuring. Is there anything else you think we should know? Steal yourselves to have “the conversation”. Talking about death needn’t be morbid - tell people what music you love, talk about your lives together, share memories of your childhood with friends and family, talk about whether you want to be buried or cremated - think of it as passing on a little gift to your nearest and dearest - it really does make a huge difference for families organising a funeral if they know some of the deceased’s wishes. Most of all - aim to live your best lives, and tell your Nan you love her (if you do!). I BRISTOL LIFE I 63

It’s the city’s business

bRISTOLworks © Chris Bahn

This issue >>steve cliffe ultrahaptics (66) >>james ray armadillo (69) >>news and round-ups (71)

Stories & ideas to share?

Here to tell the city’s business stories At Bristol Life, we now have our eye firmly on the city at work as well as at play – so welcome to BristolWorks


ristol has so many aspects to it, whether the focus is on its worldclass and evolving technology scene, its thriving financial and professional services, its food-and-drink businesses, the city’s advanced engineering and aerospace fame, its lead in low carbon or on the strong and growing links between our universities and businesses. There’s so much happening and we are excited to tell the city’s business stories. For Bristol to keep blossoming as a place of work, the public and private

Get in touch with our experienced business editor Christian Annesley. Email is best: christian.annesley@

sectors must work together effectively and nourish each other, and the city’s not-forprofits, educational institutions and social enterprises need the right support. We will shine a light on this side of the city’s enterprise scene, too. In this issue, we’ve got a fascinating interview with the chief executive of the well-funded and highly ambitious Ultrahaptics for you to enjoy, as well as a new series where we go head-to-head with business leaders in the city to find out what makes them and their business tick. For our first outing, we talk to James Ray of the CRM business Armadillo, only a short time on from the company moving into the city from its long-time home in Bath.


Sonic boom

Team Ultrahaptics: left to right, Steve Cliffe, Tom Carter and Chris Olds

Investors have long loved the sonic wizardry and potential of Ultrahaptics. Nearly five years on from its first cash injection, the company has now raised a total of £65m across four funding rounds, and still has one more planned for its extensively patented ‘virtual touch’ ultrasonic technology. How close is it to repaying the commercial faith? Christian Annesley met CEO Steve Cliffe to find out 66 I BRISTOL LIFE I


here’s a lot to be said for confidence and vision in business – and Ultrahaptics’ senior management have seemingly never lacked for either since the company first took root in 2014. What started out as a university research project in ultrasound for the company’s youthful founder and CTO, Tom Carter, steadily morphed into a spin-out company with a realistic commercial proposition – and all over the course of about a year from the time of the company’s initial registration in late 2013. This then led to a first lump of speculative funding – £600,000

from the intellectual property business IP Group – which arrived in September 2014. Less than five years on, the sums supporting Ultrahaptics are many times bigger. An oversubscribed Series C funding round completed in late 2018 and raised £35m, no less, while the company’s swelling headcount today is 137 – with about 110 staff working out of a sleek, spacious HQ in Bristol’s Temple Quarter enterprise zone, nestled in among the city’s leading professional services and creative firms. For Ultrahaptics chief executive Steve Cliffe, who worked with Carter to get the company and its

bristolworks unique tech proposition established on the right (IP protected) footing, and has helped to carry it forward ever since, the journey has been satisfying – and one of constant discovery. There continue to be, he says, plenty of hard choices along the way.

Ultrahaptics, Meta, and ZeroLight joined forces to bring touch to AR in this multi-sensory digital experience

Step by step

“From the off, we could see the potential in the technology, and set about protecting it at every step to lock down the company’s value proposition for investors and for everyone involved. But there has been nothing that obvious about the moves we’ve taken,” says Cliffe. “It has all required careful thought and a bit of instinct from time to time.” Ultrahaptics has had to work at refining its offer and its targets because of the broad range of opportunities and markets that initially presented themselves. The technology it has developed uses soundwaves in a way that lets users ‘feel’ and manipulate virtual objects in space – and it’s a proposition that can bring benefits to the automotive industry (it makes it easier for drivers to keep their eyes on the road), to healthcare (not touching controls means less spread of germs), to virtual-reality gaming (a more immersive experience) and to advertising, where it promotes engagement and creates a tactile, memorable experience. “There are many other potential applications out there, too, but the point for us, at every step, has been to identify the best short-term commercial opportunities to realise revenues quickly, as well as the best long-term, scalable opportunity to make a huge impact,” Cliffe explains. In the early days of the company, lots of angles were explored – and out of these digital advertising is now a priority as an immediate revenue opportunity for the business, with haptic feedback enhancing AR and VR interactivity on digital film posters and on advertising screens in shopping malls and other monitored, controlled environments. The most immediate and compelling

long-term play, meanwhile, is in automotive and driver safety. “You have to be clear-eyed about things, for the sake of investors, and work hard to measure the likely return on investment and the timescales to get into markets,” says Cliffe. “The opportunity in digital advertising is something we can deliver now, and bring in revenues while further refining the offer. Over time, too, materials costs will come down for digital signs and the market opportunity will grow.”

The STRATOS Inspire is a plug-and-play system that allows customers to easily test the benefits of mid-air haptics for their applications or concepts in live environments

Safety first

As for automotive, this increasingly seems to hold the key to the company’s fortunes over the next few years. “The case for haptic controllers in cars is well-made now, we believe,” says Cliffe. “We paid the University of Nottingham to conduct some sophisticated research with a hyperrealistic simulator that compared the relative safety of conventional button and touchscreen controls versus

“we have an excellent tech community here, and around a quarter of our engineers have come from the city’s universities”

our ‘virtual touch’ technology. And the results were profound rather than marginal: a 30 per cent improvement, no less, in terms of safety for our technology compared with conventional controls.” Cliffe says Ultrahaptics is today engaged with “most carmakers” over the technology, and further studies will be funded to demonstrate the case even more fully. He describes the next two years as transitional in term of revenue flows across the board, with automotive expected to begin having a real impact from 2022 onwards.

Bristol buy-in

If we turn the focus back on the company and its journey in Bristol over the past five years, it’s clear how well the city has worked as a base for a technology business that’s been growing and in constant flux. “We got underway at Engine Shed initially, but when we started to grow we knew we’d need another home. It was April 2016 by the time we moved out, and there were 24 staff at that point,” says Cliffe. That Ultrahaptics was able to move just a few metres away to launch its next phase – from Engine I BRISTOL LIFE I 67

bristolworks Shed at Temple Meads to its home today at nearby Glass Wharf – is in part testament to the city’s evolving city-centre business offer and its support systems and networks. “We were very happy in Engine Shed for that phase of our evolution,” says Cliffe. “There was lots of expertise close to hand, with lawyers and accountants in residence, and also lots to be gained from other organisations. “For example, Invest in Bristol & Bath (IBB), the inward investment agency for the West of England, was on hand in Engine Shed, and when we knew we had to find ourselves a new home it was absurdly easy to tap into its knowhow. We knew what we needed from our space and IBB instantly provided a list of 33 properties that met our specific criteria.” Glass Wharf is also firmly entrenched in the city’s Temple Quarter enterprise zone, which brought business-rate relief and other benefits, as well as being right by Temple Meads and therefore good for access for staff and for getting elsewhere smartly. “Bristol is a great hub for many reasons,” says Cliffe. “There is an excellent tech community here, and probably a quarter of our engineers have come from the city’s universities. But it is also somewhere that talented people with specialist skills are happy to relocate to, with its great quality of life. One of our communications team just transferred from San Francisco, for example, and we have 22 nationalities in our ranks.” Cliffe also makes the point that the city is small and intimate enough for staff to socialise outside of work, and compares favourable with many of the other tech hubs around the UK in terms of affordability and lifestyle. “Somewhere like Cambridge, say, is more expensive but smaller and less interesting than Bristol, and that does help when you are trying to draw in the best people.”

California dreaming

Several thousand miles West of Bristol, Ultrahaptics now has a 26-strong team in Mountain View, California. How much of a challenge is to forge one culture in a business when you’ve teams working so far apart? “Well, we manage it but it is something you need to work at all the time,” says Cliffe. “For quite a while our California team was very small – just half a dozen or so people – and functioned more as a satellite of our Bristol activities. Now it is grown bigger, mostly over the past 18 months, and there is more to think about. But the team there really understands the business well and is fully part of the mission.”

Leap of faith

If the company is clearly still yet to realise its commercial potential, one way it has moved the dial is through a recent merger. In late May this year, it joined forces with Leap Motion, a world leader in hand tracking. “It’s changed the context for us in just the right way,” says Cliffe. “We were a mid-air haptics company before the merger; now we are a spacial interaction company, in a world where we see the world shifting from keyboards and touchscreen to more naturalistic spacial interaction. “It’s a big piece in the puzzle, because it’s not just the merger of two related technologies but opens up new ways of looking at UX – user experience – design. We had worked with Leap Motion for many years, and together we have so many new commercial opportunities we can start to convert. In this case, one plus one really does equal three.”

Seeing the future

Fast Facts Ultrahaptics Founded 2013 First funding September 2014 Headcount 137 Offices: Bristol and Mountain View, California Investment £65m over four funding rounds, with one more planned Key markets: Automotive and digital display advertising Full commercial take-off 2022 and beyond

Cliffe finishes our time together by noting how part of the work of Ultrahaptics means anticipating the future, and what combination of voice and gestures will make life easiest for users once the technology becomes fully established. “Voice is great for some instructions and interactions, but can be next-to-useless for more subtle tasks – if you wanted to expand a particular area of a detailed visual you had just pulled up, for example. “Our hands are made for this kind of work: they are incredibly versatile and can perform subtle, delicate gestures with a lot of accuracy. Put the two together with the help of mid-air haptics for feedback on what’s being done and it’s a perfect match. There are still opporunities out there we haven’t found yet, or cannot get to immediately, but we will. What I love about this company is how we are still learning and our ambition keeps on growing, too.” For more



James Ray

Christian Annesely meets the chief executive of Armadillo


rmadillo started out 28 years ago in Bath as a design-led marketing agency. In those days, the two founders were mostly doing design work for print: marketing literature, point-of-sale design, and so on. Over the next decade the agency gradually gained a name as a direct marketing agency, working mainly on postal print campaigns. I joined the company over 20 years ago, just as email was starting to make inroads. If

email was the start of digital, it’s still an important element today, as part of a much broader digital mix and informed by all the customer data that companies manage. Armadillo has naturally moved with that digital change, and works across all of today’s channels to help our client companies maintain and build their customer relationships.

These days we call ourselves a CRM agency – customer relationship management – rather than the direct marketing label. It’s a better

reflection of the kind of work we do. Once upon a time, direct marketing was a little more like broadcasting, but now our work starts more than ever with understanding a client company’s customers and their needs and behaviours. You develop a

carefully considered plan and go from there – and not always with driving sales in mind. You might be trying to support something more subtle, like a would-be customer’s affinity with a brand.

it has to be handled with respect and every action justified and logged. These are disciplines which can bring far greater gains than playing fast and loose with data, as some may have in the past.

We often work with big companies, but the aims of every campaign and project are different. For example, we

With two others, I led a management buyout of Armadillo that completed in September 2017. I had been

might be running a campaign for McDonald’s that’s trying to influence a relatively small thing, like an individual’s decision about what to choose for lunch. Compare that with the work we might do for a company like P&O Ferries, which is trying to garner interest in a high-value purchase like going on the cruise of a lifetime. It’s definitely a longer lifecycle if you want someone to consider spending several thousand pounds versus a fiver!

Data is the lifeblood of business today, but companies think about data differently compared with a few years ago.

These days, and even more so with data and privacy regulation like GDPR, everyone understands that in managing a customer database you are custodian of that data, with a duty to handle it securely and use it fairly. Having that crystallised by the regulations has been a good thing, too. Whether an agency or a company is managing the data,

with the company for a long time, and knew it inside out. Like the other two directors involved – our executive chairman Chris Thurling and our CFO Andy Brown – we could see there was still an enormous opportunity to develop Armadillo, and the two original founders wanted to step back. The stars aligned and we managed to get the deal done. It was pretty seamless and there was a clean break from the founders with no operational impact.

Since the MBO, we’ve invested in the business and made the move from Bath to Bristol. It’s

been a perfect base for accelerating the company. In Bath, we were in a Georgian town house that was lovely but impractical. It wasn’t so good for collaboration. Bristol, like Bath, is a vibrant city but with more scale and it has its own unique vibe. It is a great place to find partners to work with on certain projects, and the range of digital talent in the city is striking.

We have quickly become advocates for Bristol, having only moved to our home just off Old Market in May 2018. Most of our clients are in London, so we spend a fair amount of time travelling.

That’s a reality of some of our working days, but the transport links are relatively good and working face-to-face is less important than in the past, with video calls to lean on. Still, personal contact with clients will always matter and when we need to meet up we do. How to scale up in the right way is on our agenda. We are

a 35-strong team today, having grown by a third in the past year or so, and we turn over a bit more than £3m. We know that our success lies in doing excellent, tailored work for our clients, and in strong relationships, so whatever we do we don’t want to jeopardise that as we scale. You want things to stay on a personal footing with every client. The challenge is just to keep on top of how the company functions internally and how we relate to and deliver for every client. It’s an exciting time for us.

For more I BRISTOL LIFE I 69

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New appointments at ETP: LEFT TO RIGHT, Vicky, Amy and George


Co-working specialist Spaces

More co-working space coming to Bristol

Property consultancy ETP has strengthened its Bristol-based team with the promotion of Amy Hoskins and the appointment of two new staff members. Hoskins is now a fully qualified chartered surveyor, and is joined at ETP by George Beddis and Vicky Mahoney. Beddis is working towards gaining his chartered surveyor qualification while Mahoney will assist the partners with administration, having previously worked for PwC and Rawlinson & Hunter. Helen Bassett and Marcus Graham have been promoted to director roles in Smith & Williamson’s assurance and business services, and its transaction services teams respectively. David Gage has also been appointed an associate director in the business tax team at the accounting firm. The promotions follow the recent appointment of Nigel Hardy as head of assurance and business services and Zoe Thomas as head of business tax. ITEC, a technology managed services provider, has appointed Warren Walker, formerly a cloud consultant for Orange Business Services, as chief technical architect. Business advisory firm EY has announced a brace of partner promotions in its Bristol office. Allan Noble has been promoted to partner and head of EY’s transaction advisory services business in the South West, while Sarah Pocock has been promoted to associate partner in EY’s Bristol assurance and audit team. Pocock advises companies in the power and utilities sector.


Bristol has more and more co-working space these days – and the pipeline keeps being topped up

n the second quarter, three new deals with co-working businesses were signed, according to property services company Avison Young’s Big Nine report, which reviews regional office activity ever three months. The co-working specialist Spaces, owned by IWG, has taken 26,500 sq ft at Programme in All Saints Street, while 30,611 sq ft has gone to Clockwise Serviced Offices at The Generator Building in the Finzels Reach development. Next to these two similar sized deals, a smaller one for, 9,781 sq ft for space has been taken by Landmark Space at One Temple Quay. Paul Williams, director at Avison Young, says: “As everyone knows, the serviced offices sector is booming. It has accounted for the

three largest deals in the city centre office market this quarter. There are further deals in the pipeline for the rest of the year as the flexible office space and co-working sector continues to grow strongly.” While co-working space keeps on coming, there remains very little Grade A office space available in the city: the two buildings that are under construction are not due to complete until next year, while 93,000 sq ft remains available at Glassfields on Temple Way, and 200,000 sq ft at 1 Assembly – although BT are reported to be interested in the whole building. With supply so limited, headline rents for the best offices are expected to keep climbing. Williams reckons a new high of £36 per sq ft will be achieved before the year is out.

Other co-working spaces coming to market soon in Bristol include another from Spaces. Spaces Castle Park is being overhauled by Spaces owner IWG after buying (and renaming) The Pithay in May this year. It is a 35,000 sq ft project that should open its doors in early 2020, though some anchor clients may well move in sooner. John Ryder, who is sales director for IWG, says the Spaces brand, at Castle Park and at Programme, offers “a different style of working environment” that’s informal and entrepreneurial. About two-fifths of the Castle Park building is expected to be let to corporates and three-fifths to SMEs. The configuration will be a mix of small and large private offices, co-working and meeting rooms. I BRISTOL LIFE I 71



Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre


e honestly weren’t expecting to win,” says visitor services manager Laura Hilton, “especially in such a broad category and with such stiff competition.” So Laura, why d’you think the judges did choose the Centre? “We make a lot of effort to make sure that everyone who visits the Bridge feels welcome and included. In 2018/19 we added new resources and redesigned our tours and we hope the way that we continually work to improve gives people new ways to enjoy our amazing history.” What are your main memories from Awards night?

Where else would you get to meet such a broad range of Bristol businesses? We learned all about the bread served with our meal from The Bristol Loaf, while the glamorous EcoStardust crew were giving everyone glitter makeovers! What we can expect from a visit to the Visitor Centre?

It’s free entry, and inside we have a wonderful display which explains

the history, construction and maintenance of the Bridge. Kids can learn all about Brunel or build their own bridges – and our fabulous volunteer team are always available to share some of their favourite stories. What else do you offer?

Hard-hat tours of the Leigh Woods abutment are very popular, so book well in advance. We also have a free tour of the Bridge every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday at 3pm, and special events throughout the year, such as art exhibitions, book signings and craft sessions. Who did design the Bridge: Mr Brunel or Mrs Guppy?

Definitely not Sarah Guppy! She was an incredible inventor and designed her own (non-suspension) bridge across the Gorge in 1811, which had piers designed to resist water erosion. Sarah Guppy was friends with Marc Brunel, and Isambard and her son Thomas were friends from childhood – but we see no influence from her design in his bridge. Following Brunel’s death the bridge deck was completely redesigned by

This year’s Leisure and Tourism award went to the visitor centre belonging to the city’s most famous, iconic structure – how very appropriate! railway engineers John Hawkshaw and William Henry Barlow so they definitely deserve some recognition.

How about some visitor stats?

Which is your favourite among the alternative Bridge designs?

By far the most spectacular was the 1793/4 design by William Bridges, for a stone arch bridge providing (among other things) a school, a library, offices and a market. What’s in the gift shop?

Everything in our shop relates to the bridge, Brunel or the Avon Gorge. Our most popular products are postcards and magnets, but we have a lovely range of prints and other artist products too. Please share some Bridge stats

The Bridge took 33 years to build and two deaths were recorded during its construction. It’s 74 metres above the river at high tide, and 214 metre long. It was estimated that 150,000 people came to celebrate the opening of the bridge on 8 December 1864 and it was tested by having 500 tons of rubble spread across it. It moved 18cm.

We welcomed 80,000 visitors to the Centre last year; we estimate around half a million people visit the Bridge itself every year. Who or what pays for the upkeep of the Bridge and the Centre?

The Bridge is owned and maintained by a charitable trust. We don’t receive any money from the government or local councils, so maintenance is entirely funded by the people who drive across it. We only have a small team of around 30 staff, but the Visitor Centre is supported by almost 70 volunteers. Tell us a favourite Bridge fact

I love the story of the Royal Zanettos, a troop of Japanese jugglers who performed a trick at the bridge: strongman George Zanetto caught a turnip dropped from the bridge on a fork held between his teeth! We know the Bridge has often been used for filming and special events, too . . .

We’re big fans of Aardman, and enjoyed the launch of the Grand Appeal’s Gromit and Shaun trails, but the time a dinosaur escaped from Bristol Zoo and rampaged across the bridge was quite a moment! I also enjoyed our cameo in the spooky opening scene of Inbetweeners 2. Finally, surprise us . . .

Many people have never realised that the two towers of the bridge are different. Take a look next time you visit and see if you can spot the three big (and obvious) differences . . . For more I BRISTOL LIFE I 73



Rear lane – do we have a right to use this? Laura Wilkinson of AMD SOLICITORS, provides an insight into use of rear accessways and lanes.


n many parts of Bristol there are lanes or access paths to the rear of properties used either to gain access to garages, or as a pedestrian right of way for the removal of rubbish. As a property owner, it is important to understand whether you have a right to use a rear accessway. A right of way may exist in one of the following ways:

1. A public right of way This is a general right which can be enjoyed by the public over an adopted highway or path which is maintained by the local authority. A local search undertaken at the time of your purchase should show whether the accessway is adopted by the local authority. 2. A private right of way This can be established either by: a) An express agreement contained in historic deeds giving the owner of the property a right of way. The deed should specify the exact route, any restrictions on the extent of the width or height of the right of way whether it is on foot and/or with vehicles. Sometimes there may be conditions on the time of day that the right can be used and who will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of it. b) Even if there have been no express rights of way granted it is possible that a private right of way can be established though evidence of long use. This is called a right ‘by prescription’. Provided it can be shown that it has been used for over 20 years without permission from a third party or in secret and that no payment has been made for the use of it, then a right of way can be established. Repairing a private right of way Often no one party can be identified as responsible for the maintenance and repair of an accessway. In this instance, the usual practice is for the owners of adjoining properties to join together informally to contribute towards any repairs or, alternatively, each individual property owner will maintain the part adjoining their property. Buyers should therefore be aware that private lanes may therefore not be maintained and repaired to the highest standard.

“A LOCAL SEARCH UNDERTAKEN AT THE TIME OF YOUR PURCHASE SHOULD SHOW WHETHER THE ACCESSWAY IS ADOPTED BY THE LOCAL AUTHORITY.” AMD Solicitors have teams of experienced conveyancers with a wealth of experience in all aspects of buying and selling properties. We take pride in our commitment to excellence in providing a high quality professional conveyancing service for our clients. We can assist you with buying and selling leasehold or freehold properties and flats and houses of all types. For a fee estimate or to discuss your property sale or purchase contact Laura Wilkinson or one of her colleagues on 0117 9735647 or pop into one of our four Bristol offices or email ■

Call into one of our four Bristol offices. 100 Henleaze Road, Henleaze BS9 4JZ 15 The Mall, Clifton BS8 4DS 139 Whiteladies Road, Clifton BS8 2PL 2 Station Road, Shirehampton BS11 9TT I BRISTOL LIFE I 75

property a pl ace to c all home

the lake house

If you’ve never considered swapping the urban buzz for idyllic rural seclusion, this may be the house to change your mind By Lisa Warren I BRISTOL LIFE I 79

A property place to call home


here’s nothing like a few days lounging around at Valley Fest, catching all the rural feels and gazing at the lake, for making you turn to your beloved and say, “Hey! Why don’t we move to Chew Magna!?” Well, why not? It’s only 14 miles from Bristol – if you’re fit, you could almost bike it; it’s exquisitely lovely out there, and you could go to the Pony & Trap for Sunday lunch every single week. Or maybe to Salt & Malt for fish and chips, because admittedly the property we’ve chosen for your consideration isn’t exactly a steal, at £1.35m, but just look what you get for your bucks: five bedrooms and three receptions, over two acres of grounds, four bathrooms and a gym – which you’re definitely going to need, if you’re going to be doing that bike commute. If PG Wodehouse was a property name, it would be this one. The Lake House, Nempnett Thrubwell, Blagdon – seriously, you’ll be sending post to yourself for the sheer joy of seeing envelopes with that address popping through the letterbox. And there’s no sophistry in the name, either. Originally built in the 1960s, but significantly remodelled in 2010, The Lake House has one of the best locations within the whole of the Chew Valley, which is saying a lot. Found at the head of an exceptionally peaceful lane, it has the most enchanting position, set high on the hillside


with spectacular views over open countryside across Blagdon Water to the rolling hillside beyond. Having nodded your approval at the handsome woodclad exterior, you’ll pass through the substantial oak front door to reach the hallway, which has been opened to the first floor to create an impressive and welcoming entrance with a first-floor minstrels gallery. An open staircase from the hall leads both to the gym and the walk-in wine cellar; which one you visit the most frequently is entirely up to you; we won’t mention that potential two-wheel commute again. The flowing ground-floor rooms have been designed for relaxed and informal open-plan living. A bright fitted kitchen with an Aga opens to a generous dining area, linked in turn to a study/family room with views that you will never, ever take for granted. Then there’s the drawing room, with its Minster stone fireplace; it’s irresistibly reminiscent of a ski chalet or hunting lodge, and we can totally picture you warming up in here with a hot punch after a light spot of tobogganing down to the lake. It’ll be exactly like the Last Christmas video; but knowing you, with better hair. Upstairs, there won’t be any discussion over who gets the master bedroom; it’ll be the one who pays the bills. It’s a room you’ll want to spend all day in (especially if you’re hiding from a miffed George Michael) with sliding doors to a wide balcony. A large woodburning stove seals the chalet deal once again, while the indulgent en suite features a freestanding copper bath and walk-in rain


shower – which has a glass wall with views. Out front, sloping paddocks are bordered by deciduous native trees on all sides, with substantial kennels – a niche bonus, admittedly, but we’re sure you could come up with some clever non-canine repurposing. There’s a lovingly planted ornamental garden with a flagstoned upper terrace, with the kind of lake views shown above, and a flight of steps to a further small paved patio area. There are productive vegetable and fruit beds, a greenhouse and timber sheds, and a peaceful area with raised beds enclosed with railway sleepers. A seating area looks down across the lower lawns; this rustic and naturalised part of the garden, surrounded by farmland and including fine specimen trees, is a proper haven for wildlife. Just remember to invite us to the moving-in party, and feel free to turn up the volume; another bonus of such peaceful seclusion is that when you do fancy ramping up the decibels, there are unlikely to be any complaints from the neighbours. n

House numbers Receptions 3 Bedrooms 5 Bathrooms 4 Gardens

2.19 acres

nything else? Gym, wine A cellar and outbuildings Guide price


Savills Clifton, 20 The Mall, Bristol BS8 4DR; 0117 933 5800; I BRISTOL LIFE I 81

bristol LIVES

“Everyone should be made to fly naked . . .” What’s it like to work with the legendary Sir David?

Gavin Thurston Ever wondered what it would be like to film gorillas with Sir David Attenborough in the Congo, or wolves in Alaska? Wonder no more, because it’s all in Gavin’s new book… When you’ve been an awardwinning wildlife cameraman for the BBC Natural History Unit, filming in every corner of the planet alongside David Attenborough, you’re bound to have a few stories to tell down the pub, right? So why not gather up said stories, and publish a memoir? That’s exactly what Gavin here has done; his book Journeys in the Wild, with a foreword by Sir David, is published on 22 August. And it all began with a school trip to Dudley Zoo… How old were you when you first picked up a camera?

When I was aged about nine, my Auntie Mary lent me her Kodak Box Brownie to take on a school trip to Dudley Zoo. One image I captured was of an Orca almost fully out of the water, jumping to hit its nose on a beach ball held

aloft by a keeper. I remember the magic of being able to share that split second moment with my mother, when we picked the prints up from the chemist’s a week or so later. That’s when I discovered the magic and power of photography. What areas of the world would you be most excited to revisit?

The forests of the Republic of Congo, the north east coast of Katmai National Park in Alaska and the wild jungles of Sumatra. All the filming has to be done on foot; it requires fitness and bushcraft, and involves getting up close and personal with big, charismatic animals, from the gorillas of the Congo to the brown bears of Katmai and the tigers of Sumatra. The opportunities to film new behaviours and stories are many, and the adrenaline buzz is intense.


Sir David Attenborough is as nice, or nicer, than you could imagine. He is the ultimate naturalist, historian, geologist and storyteller, the consummate professional. David has no ego and makes no demands. He is a great team player and, until very recently, has always got stuck in helping with baggage and so on. He is a great travel companion, he’s universally respected and admired, and I have been lucky to work with him for so long. Share a funny moment from your career…

Filming people with their pets in Farm Studios, Failand. It was for a BBC series called Test Your Pet, designed to show off the intelligence of animals. However, when you put a dozen or so owners with a variety of animals, birds and reptiles in the same studio at the same time everything goes wrong. There were dogs trying to mate, hissing cats, rats hiding under the stage and parrots up in the studio rafters. Although no animals came to any harm I laughed so much over the two days that I couldn’t sit up in bed the next morning. Proudest moment?

I was a director of photography for Our Planet, which has been nominated this year for 10 primetime Emmys, three of which are for cinematography. What can we expect from your new book?

I’ve tried to include a broad selection of scenarios and locations to illustrate some of the wonders of our planet, but also how humans are often detrimental to the natural balance. Hopefully you’ll find humour in some stories amongst the more serious accounts.

Tell us about your Bristol life...

I’ve lived in Bristol for over 32 years. It is most definitely home for me. I live in Westburyon-Trym and love it for its abundance of trees; it’s as close to living in the country as you can get from a city. I regularly have foxes, badgers and squirrels in my garden. Favourite Bristol haunts?

Souk Kitchen, off Black Boy Hill; Prego in Henleaze; Suncraft on the Gloucester Road; Saffron Café in Clifton Village; Scott Cinema in Henleaze – and Everyman on Whiteladies Road when we want a posh cinema night out. Do you have any secret skills?

I sang professionally for five years, and can make a mean cheese soufflé.

What is your most regrettable habit?

Flying. I’m embarrassed at my carbon footprint jetting around the world making wildlife films. I do now have 4.5kw of solar panels on my roof and I drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf car. I am also now growing oak trees from acorns, in the hope I can offset some of my carbon footprint.

What’s the solution to cutting back air miles?

Everyone should be made to fly naked. Half the world wouldn’t fly due to embarrassment, there’d be no need for body security and air-conditioning could be turned off on planes. Journeys in the Wild: the Secret Life of a Cameraman by Gavin Thurston is published by Orion at £16.99

Profile for MediaClash

Bristol Life – Issue 268  

Bristol Life – Issue 268