“The Magic Crack Pipe of Isambard Kingdom Brunel” (Somewhere to Call Home: Part 2)

PREVIOUSLY: I journeyed through Birmingham New Street on my way to Bristol… and once there i found Gorillas, A Russel Tovey Look-A-Like and maybe even a place to call home. Now… The adventure continues in Part 2: THE MAGIC CRACK PIPE OF ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL

(If you haven’t read part 1 you can find it here: —->MAGIC DOOR TO PART 1<—-

I didn’t get much sleep my first night in old Bristol town, what with Herr talksinhissleep above me and the hot weather. I got some, but not a lot. Lack of sleep doesn’t bother me. There’ll be plenty of time for sleeping when I’m dead… There’s a world out there to explore and have adventures in and i’m in one of the best places I’ve ever visited.

Breakfast wasn’t the best breakfast in the world. The bacon was a bit chewy and the mushrooms were incredibly greasy. (Here’s a tip… either roast your mushrooms or dry fry… Don’t stick them in with a load of oil because they absorb it like a sponge. ) The Hash browns were a bit sub standard as well… Seriously, how is a chap supposed to explore with a breakfast as bad as that? Never mind… I can always get something a bit later on.

First, as I was right next to the place, I went off to explore Bristol’s Historic Harbour (No… for those who are immediately assuming I fell/jumped into the water… I’m not that stupid. There are rats in there according to a conversation i overheard between a boatman and a couple of american tourists.) Bristol Harbour isn’t small… It’s big and it floats… If you want to know more about that look it up. So… first thing i come across is the Bristol Aquarium… which with a £15 entrance fee is possibly an absolute rip off… i didn’t go iso can’t say if it is a rip off or not… but i wasn’t paying that amount for an aquarium. Besides which, if i wanted to see a bunch of fish swimming around I’d take a walk to the bottom of the garden.

Then comes a very large square with a giant disco ball in the centre… no… seriously. Take a look:

And theres another of the Gorillas by it as well…

The square was a kind of weird place with fountains, bronze statues on benches, naked children frolicking around without a care in the world and some security booth type things that lead underground on each end. Naturally when i see steps going underground I immediately assume that it’s something cool. Bear in mind as well that there was absolutely nothing to indicate what this was. It was a car park.

Now the thing about Bristol Harbour is that it’s a bit like a small town spread out along the waterside with shops, homes, bars… art installations… Well… What I thought was an art installation. It was in an open area just in front of a lighthouse and there were a load of teenagers arranging piles of scrap wood in different places. It did look like an art installation at first. Some kind of college project to demonstrate the degradation of society or whatever. It wasn’t an art installation. They were using the wood to create a makeshift skate park in the middle of a busy public area. If I were younger I’d have given them a run for their money on the old skateboard. But you know how it is; The bones are beginning to creek a little and I’ve let the old boarding skills get a little rusty over the last few years.

So instead of hanging out with the cast of Skins I ended up on the other side of the harbour, where, as the weather was sunny, I had a proper ice cream, in a cone, with a flake. It kind of reminded me of the ice cream they have back home on the pier… There isn’t a day goes by when i just wish I could go back and live that life all over again. Thing is though, there aren’t any jobs that are suited to me in the area and as is the way, without a reasonable income there’s no way of surviving in this world.

Anyway, that’s enough of the longing for lost homes… The ice cream’s finished and it’s time to go and see one of the engineering wonders of the industrial revolution, The SS Great Britain. Brunel’s ship is indeed a marvel, but considering how good its supposed to be, it’s all a bit of a let down. For a start, the ship itself is a bit spartan and there’s very little around to explain things. There should be people in Victorian dress wandering around for all the money you pay to get in (£12) especially in August. They are supposed to have someone wandering around as Brunel but he was nowhere in sight. The upside is you get a nice museum and a years free entry. A guided tour would be better though as it might have stopped all the kids wandering around screaming. Would make more sense as well given that it’s such a famous landmark and naturally people will want to know more. Another thing is they’ve built these buildings around it so you can’t actually see it from other places, which is a shame.

If you don’t know what this is then stop reading now.

Well, that was that. Afterwards I decided for the hell of it to take the ferry across the harbour, which for only fifty pence is worth it. My activities for the next few hours are nothing that need concern you. Rest assured that lunch was included. It was afterwards in the city centre that I came across the first Methodist chapel ever built. I had no idea this was in Bristol and i’m sure i saw it (or a very similar building) on Restoration one time. Whatever happened to that anyway? They should bring it back. Being a nosy so and so i had a look around. Put it this way, it’s better value than The SS Great Britain… Especially as there is no entrance fee. Thinking about it, I should probably have been struck down by lightning just by being in there, or at least given a nasty jolt in the nethers, all things considered. Although saying that, i wasn’t the only dodgy person to walk through the doors that day. Whilst i was on the top balcony some shifty looking man walked in and started examining the donation box. When he looked up and saw I watching he wandered off shiftily. I wonder if he was going to steal it? What are the theological implications of that? Ok… Nevermind that. I saved John Wesley’s Chapel from having their donations pinched, that’s got to count for something right? It would not make up for all of the carnal sins I’ve committed over the years but what will?

Now it’s at this point that I remember that Bristol, like all good cities, has a museum. So naturally, I attempted to go and find it. There was a kids thing by the harbour but i’m talking about a proper, grown up traditional style museum here. How long I wandered around for I have no idea. But it was at least a couple of hours. At one point I saw the Bristol Royal Infirmary… at which point rather suddenly and mysteriously that voice that lives in my head said “That’s where you’re kids will be born.” For the voice in my head, this was decidedly odd. Usually it just talks rubbish. But that’s not the weird part. I also came across a nice little square with people chatting and relaxing in the sunshine. Then I heard someone say “yeah, I’ve been inside but i’m back on the crack now!”  Yes… I actually heard this. Somehow i had once again ended up somewhere in the middle of an episode of Skins, right in Bristol’s premier drug park. Needless to say, I never found the museum and instead found my way back to that bar by the harbourside… Drinking Desperado’s and ‘ocal Cider without a care in the world before returning to that room, only without the Germans talking in their sleep.

Wow… YHA have really gone downhill haven’t they.

Well that night I had the weirdest dream I have ever had. Remember Ponyta? The Pokemon? Well, I dreamed that I was watching this building from some sort of balcony or veiwing platform. Between the two was some sort of road, but i couldn’t see that from where I was. and on the ledge opposite was this Ponyta shuffling along with it’s arms outstretched. And then it went over the edge of the ledge… IT KILLED ITSELF! PONYTA COMMITTED SUICIDE!!!! And there was blood and bits of engine flying everywhere and tyres screeching and somehow i think a Rattata got squashed in the process… I’m not joking. This is what happened. So go on dream interpreters, interpret that one. Bet you can’t!

And that was that. Next day it was time to leave and for the first time since i arrived, the rain fell in torrents. It was almost like the city didn’t want me to go. I didn’t want to leave either, but you know how it is. Life of an adventurer and all. Got to keep moving, seeing new places… But in the short time i spent there i think i fell in love with the place. This peculiar, mad, wonderful city… it felt like home. I wanted it to be home. One day i’ll go back. But i’ll leave you with my final question to the conductor at temple meads and his answer before dedicating a song to the city i’d fallen for (Just replace the word Tokyo with Bristol… it’ll make sense… or not.)

Ex’cuse me, could you tell me which is Platform 3?

You’re Standing on it!


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