Monday 26 June 2023


After we completed yesterday's blog we went for a meal at Za Za bazaar, a buffet restaurant just across Pero's Bridge, which we had booked on Saturday. In part this was re-visiting the place we went to 9 years ago but we had heard positive reports about it since.

As we left the boat, it was still very sunny and hot - space was at a premium for quay-side sitters!

We managed to obtain a quiet (comparatively!) table in a corner. The layout of the food was as we remembered with a wide variety of dishes from different world cuisines. Somewhe re between street food and comfort food rather than haute cuisine, it aims to be  popular and open to families, groups as well as individuals. We did rather stand out age-wise!

Much more so then we remembered from our previous visit, the staff were very friendly and chatty. Most are students, particularly those from oversees doing a Masters. As we left, even the door security chap was keep tlo chat about himself! Not really a chance to take photos but just one to set the scene.

The restaurant was heavily recruiting support for its objection to a planning application by a developer to close the restaurant and rebuild as offices, putting all the staff out of work. We suspect that there is perhaps another side to the story but it would be a shame to see the vibrant waterside area disappear into yet another set of offices. The sum of the businesses is more than just the individuals and it could well precipitate a complete chance to the character of the area.

We walked back in the twilight via Queen Square, a large open space surrounded by posh terraced houses. At the centre is a statue of William II. We suspect that those who planned it did not intend to spoil his dignity by becoming a permanent perch for the local gulls!

According to Wikipedia, "The square was named in honour of Queen Anne, who visited Bristol in 1702, and it became the home of the merchant elite." However, the state of the harbour eventually drove the wealthy to move up the hill to Clifton, away from all the nastiness in the water!

In the gathering twilight we could see the rock/pop concert still continuing in the Amphitheatre across the opposite side of St Augustine's Reach.

We had planned to visit first the M Shed museum just across on the other side of the harbour. It contains, amongst a lot else, recent curations regarding the slave trade history specifically the Colston statue that was famously duped into the harbour three years ago. However, when we checked the opening times we discovered that it is closed on Mondays!

We had three other options for this morning - The Georgian House, The Red Lodge (both museums with free entry) and also M & S for a shopping opportunity for Christine who has several vouchers burning a hole in her purse. Google told just that it was located not far from the second museum.

We followed the same route we had taken yesterday as far as the cathedral and then climbed up the steep Hill. Street. At its top are the imposing buildings of Bristol University but the Georgian House is in a side street just before the top.

The Georgian House was built for John and Jane Pinney when they returned from the Caribbean after two decades running the plantations which John had inherited from an uncle. Although they were in poor condition when he arrived, aged 22, he was very wealthy by the time he left. The house is now kept much as it would have been when he lived here. It became a museum in the 1930s when it was gifted to the Council by a local clergyman.

John later inherited two other properties in this country and also bought himself a country house 35 miles from here is Somerset where the family spent much of there time. In general, this house became the centre of John Pinney;s new business: a merchant supporting the sugar and slave trade. He probably made even more money from this venture than the plantation itself.

Although very much a family home, in practice it was set up to impress, not only that the owner could afford various luxury features (like elegant cornices in the major room) but also that he was no push over and guarded his wealthy extremely carefully. No-one was expected to try to pull a fast one on him!

We learnt a lot about the family and the place from talking to several of the staff who were both enthusiastic and well informed.

One room is set up with a detailed account of John's approach to owning a plantation. On the one hand, he sought by the standards of the day to be a good owner and to treat his slaves better than most others. On the other han, he was quite clear that slavery was not a problem: "Since my arrival I have bought 9 negro slaves at St Kitts . . .  I was shocked at the first appearance of human flesh, exposed for sale. But surely, God ordained them for use and benefit of us; otherwise his Divine will would have been made manifest by some particular sign"

Soon after returning to England, he sold the plantation but retained some interests as when the plantation owners were compensated for losing ownership of their slaves (as their 'property') John received considerable sums.

After we finished our visit we walked back down the hill to our next destination: The Red Lodge. This too is in the care of Bristol Museums. This property, although at first sight not dissimu]ilar gto the previous house, was actually very different. It was built as part of a large estate and house, just below the present building. 

It was primarily intended for entertaining - one owner was a leading member of the Elizabethan court. Visitors needed to be impressed and 'royally' entertained. 

The original garden would have been much larger and this knot layout is modern, based on a design set into one of the ceilings in the house.

In 2020, work to repair one of the floors revealed an hitherto forgotten well which was probably at the time the house was built the main source of water.

Over the centuries the house had had many different uses - in the mid 19C, Anne, Dowager Lady Byron, bought it "for the purpose of rescuing young girls from sin and misery. and bringing them back to the paths of holiness" She entrusted the running of the school to a remarkable woman Mary Carpenter who had particularly enlightened views, including an avoidance of corporal punishment. This is aid to have been the first girls reform school in the world. MAny of the girls went on from here to find good jobs as domestic servants, something they would not otherwise have been able to aspire to.

Leaving here we followed the directions on our phone map to the M and S store in the city centre. Along the way we spotted three violin shops, one specialising in bows. We cannot recall ever having seen such before. And then three all at once - like buses!

Alas, we could not find the store and were then told it has now closed. Thanks Mr Google! Time then to head back to the boat for a very late lunch.

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