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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 16:46 GMT
Bristol: 'It has it all'
Bristol Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge is a gateway to the city
Sally Challoner

As the final six cities battle it out for the title of European Capital of Culture, Sally Challoner argues that 'perfect' Bristol deserves to win.

I always gasp as I catch sight of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Spanning the majestic River Avon, it symbolises Bristol's pioneering industrial past, and is a stunning gateway into my favourite city in the world.


Think of a city and you do not automatically think of open spaces - but ours is blessed with parks

Of course I am biased - but the fact the newsroom where I work is full of people who have come to Bristol for jobs - and stayed, must say something.

Bristol has it all - just gaze upwards and the sky will often be filled with hot air balloons - shapes and colours to take your breath away.

Saris and singing

A stroll down Park Street or Whiteladies Road reveals new bars, restaurants as well as theatres that bring shows seen nowhere else.

For a taste of Bohemia, go to Totterdown, St Paul's, Easton.

Caribbean fried plantain, halal meat and smart saris can be bought in Stapleton Road.

There is an opportunity to learn hat-making, pottery and singing at the Folk House.

I have only lived here 36 years but our city has a rich history.

Film fans

Isambard Kingdom Brunel - one of the greatest engineers Britain has seen - still leaves his mark in the shape of the suspension bridge, the magnificent railway building at Temple Meads and the ss Great Britain.

Wallace and Gromit were born in Bristol, as was actor Cary Grant.

Bristol docks
The local community "works together"
His films are still shown occasionally at the Arnolfini or Watershed cinemas.

But cinema-goers are equally likely to find ground-breaking wildlife footage, a short film festival, or the best of foreign movies.

Prefer theatre? The Bristol Old Vic theatre school has turned out some great talent - Brian Blessed, Jeremy Irons and Daniel Day-Lewis to name but a few.

And at the Hippodrome Jesus Christ Superstar has played, as has Postman Pat.

Top West End shows start in the city on nationwide runs.

Family favourite

Think of a city and you do not automatically think of open spaces - but ours is blessed with parks.

The Downs on a Sunday morning is speckled with joggers - who pass families flying kites, cycling or picnicking, or couples strolling hand in hand.

As for attractions, our zoo is not just for entertainment - it is a world leader in conservation.

This is not surprising when world-class wildlife programmes are turned out here by the BBC's Natural History Unit.

And the "virtual zoo" at the tourist attraction At Bristol was named family attraction of the year in 2001.

Visitors can walk through a rainforest, control a human brain and work a water mill.

My children could spend days there - and have done so.

Add to all that a community that works together - from council estate to posh flat, and the feeling that this place really is alive - and you have my perfect city.

See also:

30 Oct 02 | England
30 Oct 02 | England
17 May 02 | UK
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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