Just Life,  Travel

A Love Letter to Bristol.

Hello friends and happy Friday! It’s hard to believe it’s been ten days since I arrived back in Atlanta. Thankfully my body has adjusted (that five hour time change was a doozie for at least a week) … but looking back over all the photos and video from my trip, I can tell there are definitely still parts of my heart and my mind that might stay in Bristol for a while (or at least the “three to five years” that Sara will be living there).

I toyed with the idea of making this post fit my typical Friday TGIF format, but in the end, I decided not to force it. Some of the things I love about Bristol – the time change (I loved staying up past 10 o’clock and sleeping til 7 am!), (strong) tea, (lots of) green space, gin, Fever Tree tonic 🙂 – fit the frame perfectly, but so much of it – the history, the seamless blending of old and new, the river, the diversity, the dairy, the bread, manners, the weather … and seeing Sara, more or less comfortably settled into her new home, well … here you go!

The River Avon winds through Bristol. Parts of it – this is just few blocks from Sara’s flat – are narrow

and parts are a lot wider.

The blend of old and new is everywhere. 

and so is Old. This is the organ in Bristol’s Cathedral. You can hear it in the video below.

There are hills. (and Hills. and HILLS.) which – of course – make for great exercise and spectacular vistas.

We walked (uphill … only on the way there) to Clinton to see the famous suspension bridge the first Saturday we were there.
The next Saturday, we hiked to Victoria Park and saw this view.

The last day I was there, I walked to Cabot Tower and climbed to the top.

It’s a steep climb! Those provious two photos were taken from that little arch way up at the top!

Bath is a 15 minute train ride away. Seriously y’all. 15 minutes! The day I visited was the only full-on rainy/windy day of my entire trip. But still, I had fun. and this yarn shop is delightful. (check out my Instagram for more details and photos)

I went to help Sara set up her flat. We arrived there Tuesday, August 6, mid-day, tired and a little wet, with six suitcases … to an empty flat. Thank goodness it was clean (even mama’s impressed clean) with carpeted bedrooms because neither mattress arrived that day so we fell onto a sheet on the floor that first night … after cold showers (yep, the hot water wasn’t turned on). It’s amazing what a credit card and the internet can do (combined with a few tools and a lot of assembly competence and a mama who got to know the UPS deliveryman). I took these photos a week later

and Sara cooked this delicious meal the following Saturday evening.

Last, but certainly not least, I mentioned to a few of y’all that one of my main goals was to find a good local pub for Sara. Turns out local brewery Left Handed Giant has a brewpub just few blocks from her flat. It’s right on the river (just a few doors to the left of the buildings you can see in the second photo of this post) … and the IPAs are delicious! They also have a pizza oven … so not quite what I pictured for “pub food” but more than what I expected for “pub brew”.

And of course, here’s the video.

I think the video tells much the same story as the photos – except with more of the travel part. Not gonna lie – even coming from the eastern US, it’s a full night to get there and a full day to get home. Delta connects to most points in Europe through Amsterdam … which is an hour further east and that adds time and hassle to the trip. I made a similar trip last fall when my mom and I took our Danube River cruise and I was prepared. Happily, both flights were easier this time and I had two seats to myself on the flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta. I hate to jinx future trips, but y’all – it was OK. even enjoyable. I read. I knitted. I walked the aisles. I made friends with the flight attendants. I think I could do it again. Well of course I can do it again! Sara’s coming for Christmas and I’ve told Marc we need to have a trip to England planned before we put her on the plane … it sure makes saying Goodbye easier when you know a Hello is coming soon.

Finally, I don’t want to leave y’all with the thought that I loved everything:

  • I never did learn which way to look before stepping off the sidewalk to cross the street.
  • It was only with Alexa’s patient answers that I could translate Fahrenheit to Celsius, which is good because the “hob” (aka “stovetop”) and the oven were both calibrated in Celsius.
  • Many of the cafes had outside dining areas, which were – sadly – populated by folks who were smoking.
  • It was ridiculously hard to find pretzels. Sara and I share a love of pretzels. Hands down favorite snack.

minor glitches for sure (well, except for the crossing the street part … thankfully, the drivers there paid more attention than the ones around here.)

Wishing everyone a fantastic weekend – with only minor glitches 😉

I’ll see you back here on Tuesday!


  • Kat

    What a brilliant recap of your whirlwind trip! I think it is awesome that Sara is coming home for Christmas (oh man, that is really so close!) and I hope you are having an awesome and LONG weekending!

  • Honore´

    Oh wow! Thanks ever so much for sharing your trip (and Sara’s digs). So much of the old + new; (sortof reminds me of Wash DC…it’s changed so in the past 5-8 years – lots of new apt bldgs on any available square foot of land.) I know you are super glad you went and totally looking forward to the holidays…and your trip back with Marc!

    Enjoy the weekend!


  • Sarah

    It really looks like a wonderful trip and makes me long to visit England again (I’ve only been once, when I was 14 — something tells me I’d appreciate it a lot more now!). Sara is really lucky to be able to have this experience and that you were able to go to help her get settled in! I know Bristol is a ways from London, but we now have a direct British Airways flight from Pittsburgh to London — just saying!

  • Bonny

    Thank you for the travelogue! Having helped Ryan move some distance in the US, I could only imagine the further complications of a move abroad, but it sounds like you dealt with them well. I love the combination of old and new, and how old means really old in England! I also like your idea of having a hello planned before you have to say goodbye, and will put that into practice myself. John travels to the UK fairly often and he says (sometimes out loud) right-left-right to remember which way to look when crossing the street. He’s been grabbed back by the elbow loads of times by UK colleagues and chided for “failure to look properly”.

  • Carole

    Thanks for this wonderful recap of your time in Bristol. Sara is so lucky to have had you there to help her with the apartment and all the other details involved with such a major move!

  • karen

    love the highlights and the lowlights – I would not be a fan of all the outside smoking… but better than inside? assuming inside is smoke free. I also would forget about which way to look for cars… Glad you had a fun trip and her apartment looks great!

  • Sara

    Luckily, pretzels have now been procured.

    Thank you for coming and documenting and sharing everything. I don’t know how I would have done it otherwise.

  • Vera

    What a beautiful and fun post. I loved seeing all the pictures. Nice to know that your girl will be home for Christmas and YES! You and Marc need to plan a trip over there before she leaves again. Happy planning!!

  • Vicki

    HILLS! Edinburgh was the same, and lots of stairs! Bristol looks like a wonderful city and I hope you visit often(-ish). Kate’s heading to London next week, and eyes on a more permanent jump over the pond. Maybe when we finally meet face-to-face it’ll be in the UK!! 🙂

  • Kym

    I took the whole long weekend “off” from my computer, so just catching up now. It looks like a fabulous adventure, Mary — for Sara AND for you! I enjoyed following along on IG when you were there in Bristol, and I love seeing the highlights here again. Thanks so much for sharing! Here’s to a great experience for Sara — and many more delightful trips for you. XO

  • Margene

    Your organizational ability were instrumental to Sara’s well being and comfort in settling in to a new country and a new space. She will enjoy her neighborhood that much more due to your due diligence! You’re a great mom. I loved learning about Bristol and seeing its mix of old and new, the wonderful mix of nature and city. Thank you for sharing the experience with us!

  • Patty

    Thank-you for the great tour of Bristol! It looks like Sara has landed in a wonderful community. So happy you were able to go and help and get to know her neighborhood. I think that’s why I loved The Dogstars and the Kent Haruf books so much…they make me feel closer to Dan! My favorite part of this post… it sure makes saying Goodbye easier when you know a Hello is coming soon!