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12 Incredible Aerial Shots of Bristol

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bristol from above

‘Bristol by­­ Balloon’ from Bristol instagrammer and student Patrick Metcalfe

On my 10th birthday I picked up my very first camera, and 13 years later I’ve never been more engaged  with photography! I love the combination of the technical knowledge, creative freedom & exploring of the great outdoors that it can offer on a daily basis, whatever the weather.

I joined the popular image-sharing platform Instagram back in 2014 and this has been the main source of inspiration and drive for my photography over the last 3 years – there are some superb Bristol-based ‘Instagrammers’ out there!

Originally from Kent, I’m a current Master’s student of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol and it was in my first year (all the way back in 2013) that I was first given the opportunity to take my camera into the air by flying with the university’s hot air ballooning society. The society, known to most as BUHABS, celebrates its 31st birthday this year and offers students & staff the chance to get involved with the operation of the iconic Bristol University balloon. As well as being trained in how to help with the operation of the balloon (known as ‘crewing’), the society offers frequent flying opportunities which can take you over the city of Bristol.

After my first flight, armed with my camera, I was hooked – and I’ve returned to the skies in the balloon on many occasions since then to fill up my camera’s memory card with photos of Bristol from the unique perspective that the hot air balloon offers! Unlike the increasingly popular consumer drones, having your camera in the basket allows you to take up heavy zoom lenses and it’s a lot easier to spot compositions with your own eyes than via your smartphone screen.

I like ballooning so much that I now hold a position on the society’s committee, as well as travelling to hot air balloon gatherings across Europe – with the annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta being my favourite, of course!

The photos I’ve captured from the air, some of which are featured in this article, have helped my photography to reach a wider audience than I ever thought possible – I have recently started selling prints of my work, as well as having it featured in venues and publications across Bristol. It generates a small but welcome income that I use to support my university studies (& photography kit, naturally).

In this article I have chosen 12 of my favourite Bristol images I’ve taken from the Bristol University hot air balloon – I hope you enjoy them!

1. Totterdown

totterdown

The repeating patterns in this group of houses in Totterdown leapt out to me when seen from the air, in fact I’ve actually taken this shot on two separate flights across the city. It’s not hard to be hypnotised by this image, and it’s turned out to be one of my most well-known compositions.

2. Broad Quay Birds-Eye

broad quay from above

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice this was taken before the infrastructure developments started in the city centre for the metrobus. This was actually shot on my first flight in the hot air balloon – and what a memorable flight it turned out to be!

3. Cumberland Basin

cumberland basin

From the ground they don’t look like anything special, but I really like the curves of the Cumberland Basin junction when viewed from above. The Bristol Ferry was an added bonus to complete the composition! This is an area I’d love to get the chance to shoot again from a different angle – fortunately flights from Ashton Court Estate can frequently pass over this area when the wind direction is right.

4. Hotwells & Cliftonwood

hotwells from above

This was one of many colourful Bristol scenes that I couldn’t float past without capturing on my camera. It’s now become one of my best-selling prints!

5. Clifton & The Suspension Bridge

clifton suspension bridge from above

Another of the spectacular views that Ashton Court take-offs can offer – this time looking north-east over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton Village & beyond to Southmead Hospital. It’s a great feeling to float past the White Lion Bar terrace and give a wave to the people enjoying drinks in the evening sunshine.

6. The SS Great Britain

ss great britain

One of Bristol’s many historic attractions, Brunel’s SS Great Britain. She was built in 1839 in the same dock where she now rests, having carried passengers and cargo all over the world for nearly a century! Having been sunk and left to corrode off the Falkland Islands in 1937, she was returned to Bristol and has been restored into a fantastic museum.

7. Kaskelot

kaselot from above

The tall ship Kaskelot was actually built over 100 years after the SS Great Britain, in 1948, and still sails around the UK. On this particular flight she was moored by Lloyd’s Arena which made for a simple composition, with the straight lines leading the eye to the ship. This image was also processed into a partial monochrome to further highlight the Kaskelot, which was lit up in a lovely golden colour from the low evening sunlight.

8. Shimmering City

bristol sunset above

Hot air balloon flights are usually in the early morning or evening, when the temperature and wind speeds are lowest. The low sun at these times creates long, dark shadows which give a high contrast with the bright sky. In this image the sun also casts a bright glare from the river, making the scene look magical.

9. A Lot of Allotments

bristol allotment from above

Whilst not particularly Bristol-specific, I had to include this birds-eye of a group of allotments that passed under the basket on a recent flight over east Bristol. There are scenes like this all around the city that may not look particularly special from the ground, but when viewed from above they are transformed into something completely different!

10. The Avon Gorge

avon gorge from above

I was surprised at just how small the Avon Gorge looked from the air, considering how high above the river you feel when crossing the Clifton Suspension Bridge! It’s also amazing to see all the way across to the Severn Estuary and Wales when just 1000ft above the ground. I’ll never get tired of the views that ballooning offers!

11. Queen Square & Park Street

Any Bristolian will tell you that Park Street is one of the steepest roads in Bristol, but from the air it looks significantly flatter! The view from the top of Wills Memorial Building has the same perspective-distorting effect. I like how the trees surrounding Queen Square stand out in the foreground of this image, surrounded by the building of central Bristol- it emphasises the importance of protecting these green spaces within our cities.

12. The Harbourside

One of my favourite places in Bristol is the Harbourside, so to see it from the air was something extra-special for me. Lloyd’s Arena in the bottom-right is occasionally used as a take-off location for balloons and it’s high up on my ballooning wish-list for obvious reasons!

Enjoyed these photos? You’ll find more on my social media accounts: Instagram @paddyo.11 or on Facebook as Paddyo Photography.

If these have got you itching to get airborne, I can’t recommend the experience enough! There are lots of commercial ballooning companies in the Bristol area who fly throughout the year and these balloon rides make excellent birthday presents. In my opinion, hot air balloon flights should be on everyone’s bucket list!

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Hyde & Co’s Launch Impressive New Cocktail Menu

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A year has passed since Bristol’s finest cocktail bar last refreshed its menu, and it’s all change again at the secretive and stylish Hyde & Co.

2017’s The Last Carnival introduced us to a glamorous world of burlesque, cabaret and circus, showcasing a mastery of cocktail creativity. Midnight in Paris picks up the tale…

The scene is set in 1920’s Paris; a dangerous world of decadence and daring. A jewel heist in the French capital has caught the attention of private detective Kinsey Moran, who must follow a trail through the city’s drinking dens and backstreets to bring the culprits to justice.

From the imagination of talented local designer and bartender Gareth Aldridge, Midnight in Paris’ beautiful story and artwork sets Hyde & Co. apart from the outset – but it’s the variety and quality of the cocktails that tempt visitors to sample daring new concoctions.

With sultry jazz playing softly in the background and a décor embracing the elegance of the roaring 20’s, drinkers can now enjoy a new selection of the bold and innovative cocktails for which Hyde & Co. is known.

Traditional French spirits including Calvados, Cognac and Chartreuse blend beautifully with spice mix, bitters and liqueurs, creating bold new flavours with a nod to classics like the French 75, Sidecar and Kir Royale.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, the gin-based Tribune caught my attention, but the breadth and depth of choice is highly impressive.

Tribune cocktail

‘Tribune’

You can dip into Midnight in Paris at Hyde & Co from Tuesdays to Sundays, 6pm till late. Check out the Hyde & Co website here, and find them on Twitter here. For more reviews and write-ups from @cjcallaghan, check out his Best of Bristol author page.

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A Response To ‘Gentrification By Instagram’

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Bristol Skyline sunset

In response to Bristol 24/7 and Thomas Oxley: ‘Gentrification by Instagram’

First of all I should say to those that do not know me; I was part of the @igersBristol team for two years, so this article really was aimed at a lot of my friends and peers.

The reason this article will not be impartial isn’t because of my ties to those involved, but because it is a grossly unfair opinion piece with unfounded accusations, and it’s seemingly based on fuck all else but a desire to be controversial.

I really do love Bristol and the diversity of its people, their passions and their beliefs. What I’ll never stand for is someone telling anybody what they should, or should not create, capture, or share.

Bristol is a city that built a reputation on its creativity, and a community that supports each other. There is no room here for crab mentality, or negativity towards any other person’s craft.

I understand that most people don’t live in the pretty, colourful Bristol we see on Instagram and in the wider press. It’s not all ‘Sunday Times Best Place to Live’ shite, where you walk your kids to school without swearing at them, past colourful houses, through the park or along the river.

I understand this because I grew up on a council estate in East Bristol. I believe most of us had tough upbringings in a city that is rife with drug use, poverty, inequality and racial tension.

🎉 INSTAMEET NEWS! 🎉 • As part of our #igersloveGloucesterRoad campaign, we are hosting an Instameet in two weeks time! ———————————————– 📅 Saturday 25th February. • 🌍 – Brunswick Square, St. Paul’s. • ⏰ 13:00-16:00. ———————————————– We’re going to be weaving up Cheltenham/Gloucester Road, taking in some of Bristol’s most vibrant communities, including Montpellier, Bishopston, St. Andrews and Ashley Down. We’ll try and navigate via some great pieces of graffiti, lovely green spaces and stunning terraces! 🙌🏼 • If you haven’t really explored Gloucester Road before, this will be a great opportunity to acquaint yourself with the surrounding areas. If you love Gloucester Road, well then I don’t need to encourage you. 😅 • England aren’t playing in the Six Nations that day so I don’t want any excuses. 🤓🏉 ———————————————– Photo by our very own @richimal_bristol! ———————————————– Shared by @antimitch! 🤙🏼

A post shared by Instagramers Bristol (@igersbristol) on

The mixed views of Bristol held by many, shouldn’t be grounds to curse those that choose to focus on either the good or the bad. If you want to “Make Bristol Shit Again”, crack on.

If you want to campaign and protest the injustices people in this city face, from the homeless, the refugees, the poor, the ethnic minorities. Please, please do.

Or if you’d prefer to shine a bright light onto the things that make Bristol such a fantastic city to live in, as many people do extremely well, then have a fucking field day as there’s lots to shout about.

@IGersBristol is a community of people that do the latter out of pure passion, immense pride and an unwavering attachment to Bristol. Building friendships, educating, and broadening minds along the way. To question the integrity of people you’ve never met is a lamentable act, for which you are being rightfully admonished.

I’m focusing on @IGersBristol, I’ll reiterate not because of personal bias, because in my opinion, they are the inspiration for a large amount of feature accounts in Bristol. The foundation of the account, community and hashtag is to shout about what you love, to share your Bristol.

A lot of folk’s favourite part of Bristol is indeed the floating harbour, not Withywood nor Knowle. Although, if you look a little deeper you’ll see there are plenty of other Instagrammers who strive to document the “real Bristol” that is claimed to be missing from social media.

You’d also have seen the meets and events arranged across BS1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 and beyond. Events that took us way beyond “the square mile from the Suspension Bridge to the Arnolfini and from the Create Centre to the top of Park Street.”

I respect opinion pieces, and the conversations we have every day on social media and in the press, but myself and my peers cannot stand by in light of such vitriol.

Bristol’s “gentrifying” Instagram community have made it clear that no amount of hatred will stop us doing what we do, because we love it, and we love our home. Why don’t you join in sometime, Thomas? Everyone is welcome.

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There’s A Gin Bus & A Rum Bus Coming To Bristol!

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Open top bus gin tour

The Foozie bus series is returning to Bristol!

After the hugely successful Foozie bus series last year, Bristol will again play host to the Gin Bus and Rum Bus this summer, but with the added addition of the Pink Gin Bus set to make it even better and more fun than last year. If that’s possible..

If you find yourself unfamiliar with the boozy bus series, the long story short is booze, open-top vintage bus, scenic tour of Bristol. You can skip to the end for tickets now if you wish.

For two hours you’ll cruise around Bristol on a summery afternoon, in an open-top Bristol Lodekka bus from the 1950s, with a drink in hand and fellow gin or rum lovers for company.

Open top bus gin tourFor this years series, Foozie has teamed up with Martin Miller’s Gin, who use classic botanicals and Icelandic spring water to create the world’s most awarded gin of the last decade.

Fans of pink gin will rejoice, because the first ever Pink Gin Bus is happening, with Pinkster Gin providing the pink stuff.

Those who prefer to dabble in the wares of the rum industry, fear not, as you will be equally well catered for. Your rum bus comes complete with Old J Rum, who will be creating the menu with their incredible range of spiced and flavoured rums.

Open top bus rum tour

Foozie are also partnering with Seedlip, who will provide their non alcoholic spirits. Seedlip is the world’s first distilled zero-alcohol spirit, and it tastes incredible in cocktails and with tonic.

Fentimans will be perfectly pairing some of their botanically brewed beverages with the

gin and the rum to create a selection of drinks menus that are totally unique to these bus events.

If this sounds like a great way to spend two hours of your weekend, that’s because it is.

Follow the links below to bag yourself a ticket right this second, and get 10% off using the code BESTOFBRISTOLBUS10 at checkout.

The Martin Miller Gin Bus

The Pinkster Gin Bus

The Old J Spiced Rum Bus

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