Some interruptions to the camino preparations

I’ve had a busy week enjoying my grandchildren and my city.

The children have been on their Easter break. Their parents and other granny entertain them with the fun things like adventure playgrounds, which I’m happy to visit occasionally but don’t want to go on a regular basis. I prefer to introduce them to different experiences.  So I was delighted to see an unusual tour that I thought might be right up Mikey’s street.

We Bristolians are justifiably proud of our many landmarks, some thanks to the great man Isambard Kingdom Brunel, responsible for Bristol’s Temple Meads Station buildings, the SS Great Britain (when launched in 1843 she was the largest ship in the world and the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, wrought iron ship), and of course the iconic and beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge – opened in 1864, it has carried traffic over the Avon Gorge ever since.   On the Clifton side, the rock face of the gorge is fairly perpendicular to the river below, whereas on the Leigh Woods side it slopes at an angle, making the span at the top wider than the engineers thought at the time was possible to span. So they built an abutment for the tower on the far side to sit on. Over the intervening years the original plans were lost and it was believed that this abutment was a solid structure.
It was only discovered in 2002, quite by chance, that the structure was actually constructed with 12 domed chambers. It is now possible to take a guided tour of a couple of these chambers, the largest of which is the equivalent height of three double decker buses. The tour involved hard hats, hi-viz jackets, a climb down a ladder, a crawl through a tiny tunnel and finally a breathtaking view of the highest vault festooned with long, thin stalactites – fascinating for children and adults alike. I highly recommend the tour which you can read about here.

The next day was Sophia’s turn. The ‘Van Gogh experience’ is on in Bristol. I had already seen a version of this show in Málaga on the eve of my last camino in 2019. I enjoyed it a lot and decided that another visit was in order. Sophia is a budding artist, always creating wonderful imaginative drawings and colourings so I thought she would enjoy this experience. Well, this show has matured since my last visit. It was a feast for the senses. Lots to keep minds of all ages entertained, with an immersive lounging area where all four walls are adorned with moving images of Van Gogh’s paintings, a drawing room (actually a colouring room) where outlines of his works are provided along with crayons where you can display your framed masterpiece on wall. And finally a virtual reality stroll through his house and all the scenes from his works. It was extremely excellent, though we were both a bit woozy when we removed the headsets and walked back to the train station (the one designed by Brunel).

The walk to the venue was good fun

If you look closely you can see Sophia in the mirror of Van Gogh’s bedroom

And to finish the week off I took a walk along the river Avon this morning. The tide was quite high allowing boats to navigate.  It’s quite unusual to see large boats on the river but today I was treated to two. The first one interesting but not very beautiful. Oh, but the second one approached just as I reached my favourite spot on the river at horseshoe bend The Matthew (a modern reconstruction of the original Matthew that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. The modern Matthew was built between 1994–1996 on Redcliffe Quay in Bristol for the 1997 voyage to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s most famous journey to Newfoundland and back). That was a real treat and a fabulous way to round off the week.

Now I must get back to sorting out my pack!

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue
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13 Responses to Some interruptions to the camino preparations

  1. Deb L says:

    Fun times with the grandkids, nothing better. The Van Gogh exhibit really is something to see, we saw it this winter in Las Vegas but it wasn’t as extensive as yours, no walk through of his house or colouring room. Nice to be reading your blog again. Happy packing!


  2. M3 Mary says:

    Thanks for the beautiful photos Maggie. That exhibition is on in Dublin during my visit in June and I shall be sure to go visit. It’s great to have you back on the air ways. Much love xx


    • magwood says:

      Hi Mary, lovely to hear from you. Yes, definitely go to the Van Gogh exhibition and pay the extra £5 for the VR tour – totally worth it.


  3. sandra hurford says:

    What a great granny you are


  4. sixwheeler says:

    Good Grannying!


  5. Janice Tyler says:

    Oh it’s great to get the blog back and such an interesting couple of events.


  6. Richard Parkes says:

    Enjoyed the Van Gogh exhibition photos, especially the bedroom. I am a fan and have a lovely large poster of Van Gogh’s night-time painting of the Café in Arles in one of my bedrooms (the east wing, ha ha).


  7. OzAnnie says:

    Lovely to see you and mini Maggie. (Sophie ).
    Spending these times with grandchildren sure ‘round us out ‘ as well. I’m glad you’re closer now to allow both you and them to have these experience opportunities.

    Yes – I saw Sophie in the mirror 🥰

    Let’s pack now. Buen camino xx


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