• Impressions of Bristol

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    Okay so a lot of stuff has happened and I’m going to do another one of these.

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    Squirrels

    Seems like an odd thing to start on but why the fuck not?

    There are far fewer squirrels in Bristol -even taking into account that you see less of them in winter than you do in autumn.

    I still hadn’t seen one when on the walk to work on my second day I heard a rustling in the bushes and leaned in to see what I thought was a squirrel but turned out to be a homeless man.

    Walk to work

    The walk to work takes me all of seven minutes… Five of which are spent walking along the River Avon… On nice mornings that is just as magical as it sounds.

    Coffee

    As I suspected from our first trip here… One of the other things that makes Bristol remind me of Wellington is the comparatively good access to non-disgusting coffee.

    By comparatively I mean “within the United Kingdom.”

    I have found two places that are far better than anything we ever found in London.

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    BBC Magazines

    I probably love my new job. 90% sure that I do.

    In many ways it reminds me of my halcyon print era at the Herald… But without the negativity of (then) poor senior management and a dying medium.

    Essentially what I mean is that the people are young, fun, friendly and generally fantastic.

    And I know that this sounds like an Emmy acceptance speech but it is genuinely one of the great honours of my life to work for the beeb.

    In fact I’m not really sure how I am going to top that as far as organisations go.

    Oh! And I arrived in time for the Christmas party! And it’s ‘bring partners’! So, so very different to back home.

    My Magazine

    I can best describe BBC Focus as a homegrown Wired magazine. It’s sci/tech without being tipping too much into either.

    It’s actually a very fine line. If you go too sciency then you only appeal to hardcore nerds but if you tip too far into technology -especially consumer tech- then you end up in the same category as T3 or other gadget magazines… And they are haemmorraging readers.

    As it stands, BBC Focus has had double digit percentage growth in readers and mag sales.

    Like Wired, it covers a topic area that really needs an editorial team to ‘guide’ you through it. Otherwise there is too much to learn.

    Here are some weird facts I read in the last 12 issues:

    1. Conspiracy theories function as a psychological device to excuse apathy… They relieve guilt. If you think 9/11 was a US government conspiracy, for example, then you don’t have to face up to the fact that the last few decades of US foreign policy have been misguided
    2. The eye is actually an extension of the brain
    3. Tequila can be used to make synthetic diamonds
    4. Fish were the first animals to ‘speak’ to each other over 400 million years ago. It would have been a series of grunting sounds
    5. Pigeons can discriminate between video images of themselves and can differentiate between Chagall and Van Gogh. This makes them as smart as 3 year olds
    6. If technology in cars had kept pace with technology in computers a litre of fuel would keep the entire UK moving for a year
    7. The average Brit consumes 2 KG of tea each year
    8. If you cut yourself in a vacuum you would bleed blue/purple
    9. Casual games are addictive because they exploit our brain’s desire for order… As a commited Chaoist I assume this is why James likes Sudoku and I don’t

    Christmas Markets

    Just by work, on the banks of the river is a Christmas market.

    Like the name suggests, you can buy all manner of Christmas crap there, as well as German food, beer, mulled wine, etc. Like a community of travelling Germans.

    Leon, Monique and I went there for dinner last (Friday) night.

    Oddly almost everything was closed.

    And a boarded up amusement part beside a ruined church with only the carousel lit up looks very very Buffy. I was most impressed.

    Anyway, one of the few things that was open was this large portable German pub… Complete with oddly sounding delicious beer, Bratwurst, etc.

    The insides were painted to look all wooden and Ye Olde… It was quite a cute effect.

    One of the paintings on the wall clearly showed a Ye Olde fair but in the Summer time.

    I deduced from this that the pub folds back into a caravan and spends its year travelling Europe going from festival to festival. I say deduced because everyone who worked there was German with a limited ability to understand any of our accented English.

    I will just point out that if the Germans are such fans of this free-spirited, caravan-travelling life then maybe they shouldn’t have put tens of thousands of gyppos to death in camps during the war.

    The apartment

    I love it but the cleaners our letting agent used really took the piss.

    When we did the inventory yesterday the place was filthy. We were all commenting on it and then went to check the water metres. Not a DROP had been used since they last checked when the previous tenants had moved out.

    Tell me exactly what kind of cleaning job you can do without water?

    Also we accidentally ended up smack bang in the middle of the gay district for gays. This is literally the equivalent of living on K Road in Auckland.

    You can’t actually tell from walking along it… It doesn’t look too seedy or boho or anything. But if you google ‘gay bristol’ and click on the map you’ll see we are literally surrounded by about 15 ‘gay friendly’ venues.

    Plus we have a spare bedroom: come visit.

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