Tag Archives: Bristol

The simple satisfaction of cycling into work along the River Frome into Bristol

My daily commute follows the River Frome into the centre of Bristol. Or I should say, as close as the modern infrastructure built around the river allows. Every day I pass the same weir, the same log spanning from one bank to another, the same bridge where the river finally disappears below the concrete centre forever from sight.

There is a simple satisfaction in observing how the river responds to the weather and countryside that feeds it. After heavy rains the weir can almost disappear under surging dirty brown water washed from ploughed farmers’ fields. A few days of no rain later, and you will be left with a clear trickle struggling to make it down its shallow path.

On days like today, when the temperature drops below freezing, this slow flowing river begins to freeze over altogether leaving sheets of ice floating in the river’s eddies.

Wrapped in thick coats, scarves and hats, the red flushed faces look out as the dog walkers crunch over the frozen muddy puddles. On one section of path, just south of Broom Hill the puddles perpetually sit never normally fully draining. Today though, they are iced over leaving a crisp brown path slicing through the centre of a frost filled field. The small wooden picnic bench which normally sits opposite a small outcrop of limestone perfect for some climbing in warmer months is today frozen white.

About 2 kilometres north of the city centre the River Frome emerges from the steep valley in which it has been travelling and my commute cuts up through the open expanse of Eastville Park. In these winter months, the sun rises directly to my left, beaming gently through the historic horse chestnut trees that cast long shadows over the frozen ground.

As the river fights its way through the monstrosity of modern out of town shopping my route slips alongside the equally awful piece of urban engineering – the M32, the first real reminder that you’re heading into a major city centre. From here the river dips below concrete in places and the off-road cycle route weaves between skate parks, railway bridges and underpasses.

The embedded heat in the concrete on this stage of the commute means that despite the air temperature being close to minus 4, nothing is frozen. The concrete is grey, the grass green and the sky blue.

Nothing of the surroundings for the last bit of this commute gives any hint of the weather or countryside that surrounds the city. It is then that I feel a huge sense of privilege to have such a commute. Also though, I feel a sadness that for most people, even those whose daily commute is outside of their cars, most people in Bristol would not have seen the frozen field that I cycled through this morning.

As I arrive in the office buoyed by the beauty of the seasons, I can’t help but to wonder what impact it is having on us as a society for most of us to never fully experience or appreciate the changing of the weather, seasons and nature that will always sit beyond our control.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Bristol, Outdoors, Photography, Social comment

Life in Bristol: Monbiot, puppets and singer-song writers

Monbiot

One of the amazing things about living in Bristol is the diversity and range of (what I affectionately refer to as) ‘extra-curricular activity for grown ups’. In other words, stuff to do outside of work time.

In the last couple of weeks I have been to Bristol Hippodrome to watch ‘War Horse’ (One sentence review – really really impressive, just not as impressive people make it to be), to The Exchange to listen to American singer-song writer, Tim Barry (One sentence review – full angst, emotion and lyrical word play scooped up into an impressive live performance in a cool venue), and to the University of Bristol to listen to George Monbiot give a free public lecture as part of the ‘Festival of Ideas’ on ‘What a Green Government Could do if it Really Tried’ (One sentence review – a challenging, entertaining talk delivered with no notes that, although it rarely touched on the title of the talk, provided plenty of food for thought).

This diversity of stuff to do is part of what makes Bristol such a cool place to live. Whatever your budget, there is, on any given night, something amazing to do.

Anyway – if you are unlucky enough to be not living in Bristol then never fear! As the Festival of Ideas have been good enough to upload the Monbiot talk I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of this Bristol love and post it here…

Hope you enjoy listening to it – let me know what you think (can we bring elephants to Bristol???).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bristol

Bristol City Council commits to go fossil fuel free

disinvestment
Bristol City Council has committed to go fossil fuel free! Or, more specifically, to not knowingly invest funds into companies whose primary business is fossil fuel extraction.

Despite the fact that Bristol City Council, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t currently hold any direct investments in fossil fuels anyway is beside the point. The entrenching of an ethical investment policy by a public institution is more about the potential to raise people’s awareness as it about ensuring that the Council will not fund the industries that are, at least in part, responsible for the dangers facing us and our planet due to climate change.

In short, I think this news is huge and really exciting.

And yet strangely the up-take of this news has been limited.

Bristol’s Mayor, George Ferguson, tweeted it to his 27,000 followers, there was a mention in passing in the Guardian and the campaign group pushing for fossil fuel disinvestment wrote a short blog!

That combined with an excited text message from my friend (incidentally I love that I have friends who get excited about fossil fuel disinvestment) seems to be the only ripples this news has had.

Even Bristol Greens, who played a significant part in securing this, seemed to be oddly quiet having published a general article on disinvestment last Friday that makes no mention of this exciting news coming from Bristol!

I think it only fair that a hat tip goes to Green Party Cllr Charlie Bolton who tabled a question at January’s member’s forum that led to the amendment of Bristol County Council’s ‘Ethical Investment Policy’.

On a related note, I am delighted that another organisation that at some point deemed me employable, the Quakers of Britain, have been really vocal during the recent ‘disinvestment events’ and have adopted an awesome position on the subject:

“Friends have discerned that investment in these companies is incompatible with a commitment made by Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) to become a low-carbon, sustainable community.”

Quakers are once again leading the way showing the role religious institutions can play in ethical investment, as Bristol is for local authorities.

As I say, I think these are some of the first pretty exciting yet tentative steps in tackling the entrenched carbon intensive norm that currently operates within our society.

You can read more about Quaker’s disinvestment here and more about Bristol’s disinvestment here.

3 Comments

Filed under Bristol, Climate Change, Politics, Religion

Why the recent silence on Hynd’s Blog?

The observant amongst you would have noticed a near unprecedented month’s silence on Hynd’s blog. What can I say other than sorry?

Well lots…I can give you an explanation and my plan ahead.

In the last month I have packed my bags and left Uganda, meandered my way through East Africa and ended back here in the place I will always think of as home, the West Country of England. Specifically I am in Bristol (aka Brizzle).

And what brings me back to these wet and windy shores I hear you ask? Well…politics of course!

I have accepted a job as (and this is a job title that I cringe at slightly) ‘Head of Mayor’s Office’ in Bristol City Council with the independent Mayor, George Ferguson. More about this in a second – promise.

This last month’s virtual silence has been filled with a whirlwind of activity including climbing Mt Kenya, Africa’s 2nd highest peak (after a particularly severe bout of food poising), a 32 hour train ride between Nairobi and Mombasa (an “experience”), packing and unpacking houses back in the UK and now, finally, the completion of my first week in my new job.

Never has the phrase ‘no rest for the wicked’ been more apt.

While much of the above adventures could have been something to blog about in itself I simply have not had the time sat in front of a computer to translate experiences into blogs – let alone to keep up my near obsessive following of British politics that formulates itself into so much of the content.

What can I say other than sorry?

Oh yes – the plan ahead…

Working for the Mayor means that I will have to make a few shifts in how Hynd’s Blog operates. Firstly, I think it is important to say that I can’t be quite as impartial as I was before. I have always written things as I have seen them – laying praise on those I thought deserved it and criticising actions that I thought deserved criticism. Although the Mayor is an independent he (and by extension I) have to work across the political spectrum. This means trying my hardest to not piss people off (the anti-thesis to some bloggers’ objective). This means at times holding my virtual tongue.

Secondly it is to say that if my first week in the job is anything to judge life by, I am now working in many of the hours that I have traditionally set aside for blogging. Even when in full-time employment before I have always found occasional lunch-times, breaks and after work hours to smash my opinion into the keyboard. Lunch-meetings and evening functions make it look like this will be quite hard to keep going. This means less regular blogs.

But on the positive side this new position exposes me to a whole word of fascinating progressive projects and politics that I am sure I can and will take great pleasure in sharing, analysing and responding to. Just today I have visited the incredible Knowle DGE school in south Bristol (an amazing school for kids with – very different special needs), Elm Tree Farm (a super impressive social enterprise) and this evening I will be heading to Bristol Youth Mayor’s election results.

I hope you will be as interested in reading about these sorts of things as I will be to keep writing.

And so the coming months will see Hynd’s Blog take a less regular format but one that I hope will still inspire people to come back and read, respond and share the content of Hynd’s Blog.

I am as passionate as ever….just busy!

Oh, and as always, if anyone’s is interesting in blogging on a subject to thousands of readers then please do read the ‘Contribute’ page.

3 Comments

Filed under Bristol, Politics

Local elections: Bristol results

bristol
Labour gain three additional seats and stay the largest party on the council but fail to gain enough seats to gain ‘overall control’.

With The Green Party gaining 2 seats this leaves them holding the ‘balance of power’ in Bristol (if they vote with the Labour group then a motion will pass regardless of what the Conservatives or Lib Dems do).

Following a national trend the coalition partners took a wee kicking both losing vote share. However I am sure there are some within the local Lib Dems who will be sighing with relief that they still have 16 seats on the council (successfully defending 4).

It should also be noted that despite a drop in vote share, The Conservatives managed to gain one council seat.

Although Labour saw a modest gain in the vote share it is The Green Party who will be celebrating these results with a much larger gain of the overall vote share.

UKIP with 11% of the vote picked up one Cllr. A win, but hardly the ‘earthquake’ they claim to making elsewhere in the country.

Bristol popular votes:

Lab 21,644 (28.55%)
Con 17,942 (23.67%)
LD 12,848 (16.95%)
Green 11,781 (15.54%)
UKIP 8,874 (11.71%)
TUSC 1,579 (2.08%)

Changes since 2010 locals:

Lab +1.76%
Con -3.55%
LD -17.33%
Green +7.60%
UKIP +11.71%
TUSC +2.08%

Swing, Con to Lab: 2.66%

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Venue: “Local World, you are to localism what urinal cake is to mountain freshness”

Bristol and Bath’s ‘Venue’ magazine and website, from today onward, is sadly no more. It has been shut down, or, being generous, merged into the big corporate bulk of Local World.

But, in the spirit of true independent journalism, I am pleased to see that they’re at least going down with a fight.

This is their ‘final post’ and is well worth a read:

Dear Local World,

So, here we are then. Friday 29 November 2013. Venue’s last day on Earth. Hours from being swept away as part of what you so dreamily term “the development of the what’s on module.” Sometime in December, we learn, venue.co.uk will re-emerge, like butterfly become grub, as www.bristolpostwhatson.co.uk. Because, heck, nothing answers “Hey, where to find what’s happening in town tonight?” quite so snappily as http://www.bristolpostwhatson.co.uk. Given a firm push, a downhill gradient and a stiff following wind, it just rolls off the tongue.

It may surprise you to learn we don’t necessarily have a problem with you closing the Venue website. Don’t get us wrong, it is curious timing. As you know, the most recent figures for daily page hits are: August – 44,162; September – 48,544; October – 55,824. Nevertheless, the two remaining of our number, working part-time on alternate weeks, would be the first to admit that Venue is a husk of its former self. Frankly, they’ll be glad to be put out of their misery. Where once they were part of a vast team of journalists delivering informed, first-hand comment from every last facet of city life, today our hapless duo struggle to do much more than pass on received opinion and rehash press releases. Naturally, we don’t have to explain this process to you, Local World, but we’re keenly aware that newcomers to the site might look at recent content and wonder at our concern.

We’ll come to that shortly, but, this being an open letter, a brief history lesson for the uninitiated (we’re being tactful here, Local World – we’re all too aware you haven’t got a fucking clue yourselves). Venue magazine began life in 1982, covering Bristol and Bath and surrounds, but swiftly fter 18 proudly independent years it was sold to Bristol United Press, owned by your predecessor, the Northcliffe Newspaper Group. Last year, having suffered death by a thousand cuts and a colourful assortment of full-frontal stabbings, the magazine was closed down. Today, it’s fallen to you, Local World, to apply the coup-de-graceless and bring down the final curtain on 31 years of work.

And hand it all over to the Post.

The Post, which decreed all street art as vandalism for years, and yet today, having so very belatedly recognised which way the wind is blowing, reaches for Banksy with the same onanistic lust the Express reserves for Diana.

We’re not going to claim we ever “championed” Banksy. We never really went in for “championing”. We simply covered everything we considered of value. So we might not have “championed” street art, but we did report t. Always. Even before 1985, the year of Arnolfini’s seminal ‘Graffiti Art’ exhibition, featuring work from the UK’s first wave of can-wielders. One of them was called 3D, or Robert Del Naja. He went on to co-found Massive Attack. We put Massive Attack on the cover before they’d even released a single.

Do you see what we’re driving at here? Have you any idea the number of wonderful bands, and theatre groups, and artists, and voluntary organisations, and filmmakers, and minority groups who had no voice anywhere else, at all, ever, and poets, and DJs, and on, and on, who claim inspiration from something they read in Venue? We make no assertions for the influence of our opinion; we simply did our level best to place a mirror in every last corner of Bristol, no matter how hidden, and allow the city to reflect back on itself.

And you want to hand over that legacy to a paper whose management – not journalists – are the precise equivalent of those radio stations which promise “your better music mix” and then put the same few songs on repeat. Which claim “the best new music” and fail to add “once it has charted and proved its popularity.” You want to hand over that legacy because, to quote from a staff email you neglected to send us, “The existing Venue website has really good functionality with a real blend of music reviews, listings, restaurant reviews etc, etc. This is a fantastic opportunity to grow our digital audience and a great platform to sell advertising on.”

Do you have any idea how much that hurts, Local World? Of course you don’t. You who boast all the cultural hinterland of a freshly discarded wet wipe. (Though you do have history, of course: born earlier this year, the helplessly stumbling result of a merger between Iliffe Media and Northcliffe, with a profit forecast of approximately £30 million – that debt-free dowry from the Daily Mail General Trust was a lovely gift, no? And they absolved you of responsibility for the deficit on that pesky old final salary pension scheme. Ah, Local World! You are to localism what urinal cake is to mountain freshness.)

And now you presume to inherit our work. We were writers, Local World, photographers, not “content providers”. We were bound together not only by our city, but by a love of language, of striking image. Our editors consistently backed our individual judgement and allowed us complete freedom of expression. As a result, Venue inspired a loyalty out of all proportion with the pittance it paid. Local World, we put our very heart and soul into our catalogue of work. And if you think you can now simply walk in and trample on its remains, then you can, with the very greatest lack of respect, fuck the fuck off.

Because we, the undersigned, do hereby assert our full rights under copyright law. It really would be for the best if you were take a moment to visit this page on the Venue website. Sit down, take a deep breath, and pause and reflect on this: “This website and its content is the copyright of the individual authors credited.” Please be assured we did not pull this phrase out of our collective arses, but out of legal statute. And if we perceive so much as a single full-stop, a solitary pixel of our work when your shameless hijacking is unveiled, then you in turn can expect to perceive a court summons. We are, to put it in terms you regularly use but cannot hope to understand, passionate about defending our legacy.

Sincerely,

Robin Askew

Lesley Barnes

Tony Benjamin

Melissa Blease

Anna Britten

Darryl Bullock

Charlotte Butterfield

Jay Chakravorty

Hannah Chapman

Matt Collins

Marc Crewe (deceased)*

Stephen Dalton

Ellen Doherty (deceased)*

Carl Dolan

Rebecca Ewing

Kristen Grayewski

Elfyn Griffith

Tom Hackett

Mike Harley

Steve Henwood

Gareth Jones

Nic Matthews

Tamar Newton

Huw Oliver

Julian Owen

Emma Parkinson

Kid Pensioner

Tom Phillips

Leah Pritchard

Pat Reid

Jo Renshaw

Andrew Rilstone

Stuart Roberts

Anna Rutherford

Mark Simmons

Delia Sparrow

Joe Spurgeon

John Stevens

Campbell Stevenson

Nick Talbot

Lou Trimby

Tom Wainwright

Cris Warren

Ben Welch

Kirsten Williams

Kate Withers

John Christopher Wood

Adam Workman

Steve D Wright

Nicola Yeeles

*Because if there is an afterlife, and we don’t add these enduringly lamented names to our treatise, we’ll never hear the end of it.

1 Comment

Filed under Media

Remove the question mark BBC Radio Bristol, a rape victim is never to blame

A series of posters have been put up all over Bristol highlighting some of the lingering myths around blaming the victims of rape. The campaigns message is simple: There are no excuses for rape and the victim is never to blame: Whatever they were wearing; However much they’ve had to drink; Even if they’ve said yes to other sexual activities.

It remains a depressing reality that such an advertising campaign is needed in the first place. Sadly though, they really are.

The campaign group behind the posters says that 3894 women and girls in Bristol aged 16-59 are victims of sexual assault in a year. This statistic becomes even more shocking in the context of there only being about 140,000 women of that age living in Bristol.

The campaign primarily focuses though on removing any lingering doubts that a victim is, in any way, to blame if he/she is raped. It is not a question – a victim is not to blame for being raped.

This is a point that BBC Radio Bristol failed to pick up on when they tweeted about these new posters asking the question:

Well, Radio Bristol (and local radio’s obsessive compulsion to make everything into an interactive question)…no, a victim of rape is never to blame for being attacked. By even asking the question I think you have missed the key slogan of this campaign: There are no excuses for rape and the victim is never to blame. 

Remove the question mark BBC Radio Bristol. A rape victim is never to blame.

Follow the conversation on twitter #noexcusebristol

3 Comments

Filed under Gender, Human rights, Media, Social comment