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Steampunk Days Out-Clifton Part II

Clifton. The Avon Gorge Hotel

Now I covered a number of things in Clifton already. How can there be more? Certainly such an unheralded place cannot contain more points of interest for the Steampunk enthusiast? This is not so, and Clifton will reveal some of its other hidden Victorian treasures this week.

First let us finish up with the Avon Gorge Hotel. After enjoying a good night’s sleep-which was occasionally interrupted to catch views of the bridge illuminated with electric lights at night we trooped down to have breakfast. I am not usually a fan of hotel breakfast buffets but in this case the food was above average both in quality and in variety. The sausages in particular were quite nice, although I found the bacon to be a bit over cooled.

Enough with that, what else does Clifton have to show us? First is the Bristol Zoo http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/. This excellent zoo and garden dates back 175 years so was founded firmly in the Victorian. It contains both botanical and zoological specimens amid a lovely landscaped setting. Some of the buildings appear to date from the Victorian, but none of the animal enclosures offer the unhealthy effects that the tiny cages of the period would have. Adults pay the interesting sum of 12.72 for one year’s worth of entry. There are family memberships as well. The 175th anniversary of the zoo has been greeted with a historical look back. On the web there are several resources http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/wow-history and a book has been published looking back at the zoo’s evolution to its current form. The many period photographs are quite valuable for the Victorian scholar or writer. How could a novel with Victorian children be complete without a visit to the zoo, and that visit would certainly include a camel or elephant ride. https://picasaweb.google.com/BristolZooGdns/1800sBristolZooHistoricalPhotos#5576531998529808722

Since HQC deals with a world that never was and one of the key fictional events was The Hive War anything about insects is of interest to me. One of the things I’ve woven into the HQC mythology is the statue of stag beetles at the zoo. Certainly this was a memorial to those who fought and died in that terrible conflict. I have wondered in the artist, in that fictional setting, was castigated for his taste in subject, showing the alien invaders rather than their human victims and foes.

Memorial to the Hive War?

So where else to go in Clifton? We’ll stop in one more area and have done., but first lunch. We were directed by the friendly and knowledgeable hotel staff to the Richmond pub. This served the best Sunday Roast we had on the trip. The setting was nice and the staff congenial. The cider on tap was excellent. We highly recommend this establishment.

Now I have kept you waiting long enough, where else do I recommend you see before leaving Clifton? This might be a bit of a surprise, I’m going to send you into a shopping arcade http://www.cliftonarcade.co.uk/.

A view down the Arcade

Nave of the Clifton Arcade

This is no ordinary arcade. It was built in the 1870s and is a lovely Italianate structure. The interior is wonderful with a glass roof and a rosette at the far nave. The shops are an interesting mix or antiques and craft stores. Outside is a nice looking café (at which we did not eat, although the smell was enticing). We did purchase some excellent cheeses at the Arch House Deli http://www.archhousedeli.com/. Next door to them is a great vegetable shop Clifton Fruits and Veg http://www.regtheveg.co.uk/. These are excellent places to pick up some really nice food, to enjoy of an evening, in any of the parks nearby (what could be better than a bottle of wine and some nice cheeses and fresh fruit while looking over the gorge and bridge, this is about a ten minute walk away).

A view of the fine foods available at the Arch

And with that mental Iand digital) picture I will bid farewell to you until next week

Terry