April 1st, 2007

little review

Greetings from Bristol

Sunday morning, after feeding our breakfast leftovers to the goats in High Littleton, we drove to Bristol, which covers the hillside from a high bridge and row of houses to the River Avon and its docks below. It was a perfect, nearly cloudless spring day and we went first to the zoo, which has an exceptional Humboldt penguin exhibit with parents sitting on eggs in nest boxes outside and a view of the swimming penguins from tubes below the water. It's not a very large zoo, but beautifully designed with gardens and large walk-through exhibits of bats, reptiles, several aviaries, a terrific insect collection and older son's favorite, red pandas. We had lunch at the zoo before driving down to the river where we toured the fantastic exhibition of the SS Great Britain, which sits in drydock in a dehumidification chamber surrounded by exhibits on its lengthy past as the first ocean liner with a steam-powered propeller, then an immigrant clipper, a windjammer and a floating storage hulk. The interior of the ship has been restored to its 1843 splendor and both kids enjoyed the audio tours, since one described life for first-class passengers and another described life for kids chasing one of the ship's cats.

We walked around Bristol's Great Western Dockyard, where we saw the 1600s wooden ship Matthew, which was about to go on a pirate cruise, as well as the wooden schooner Tangaroa and the Dutch ship Energie. Then we drove to Stanton Drew, a little town with a stone circle in the middle of a field surrounded by sheep. The surviving stones in the circle are about the same size as the ones at Castlerigg, which we saw on our last trip -- they're bigger than the Rollright Stones, smaller than the stones at Avebury -- and they overlook both sheep-dotted hillsides and the town chapel. There were only a couple of other people visiting the circle while we were there, though there are more signs of civilization, farmhouses and homes, up close than at Stonehenge or Castlerigg. Younger son was more excited about being able to get up close and personal with the sheep anyway; many of them had lambs and they were quite calm about having strangers among them, unlike the goats at the cottage.

On the way back we tried to look for Passover necessities, but the Tesco had closed an hour earlier than we expected, so we went instead to a smaller store and got frozen dinners, reminding me that the amount of inexpensive, quick Indian meals available in the UK is vastly superior to what we can find at home. We ate while watching the 2006 Doctor Who Christmas special, which we were delighted to discover via the Sunday Times would be on BBC3 along with a rerun of the previous night's new episode (which apaulled had mostly missed dealing with the flat tire). Then we watched the new production of Persuasion on ITV, which had many scenes filmed in Bath in the places we had visited the day before. It was an entertaining production but I had a frustrating evening, as first Photoshop wouldn't load, then we had no internet connection. We did get some laundry done, at least.


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I love love love getting comments but have had absolutely no time to answer them (and no internet connection far too much of the time)! I am very sorry!