Bristol guide for when the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is rained off

If you read my food and drink guide to Bristol, you’ll know that we were there for the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta we never saw due to the rainy weather.

We got to the Fiesta as it started to rain, and, as my friend described it – without hot air balloons it was nothing more than a scabby fair.

We took a couple of photos by the Bristol sign then got the shuttle back into town.acs_0184Here’s some fun things to do at short notice to keep entertained without a Fiesta.

Go on a Banksy run

I’m a fan of Banksy (getting to Dismaland was one of the best days of my life ever).

So being in his hometown for the weekend I was pretty desperate to see some of the work. We decided the most efficient thing to do would be to run around the lot.

Starting at our Ibis Hotel, we ran up to Stokes Croft first to Mild Mild West, then up a crazy steep hill to and around in a few circles to the Rose Trap which was framed on a yard wall.

Then around a few back streets back through Stoke’s Croft, we found the Well Hung Lover depicting a naked man hanging from a window. We approached from ground level but then scaled the stairs to view from the bridge closer.

From there we ran across the College Green past the Cathedral, down some stairs to find You Don’t Need Planning Permission To Build Castles In The Sky.

We saw Girl with a Pierced Eardrum as part of our walk on the second day (read on).

💸 Free!

📍 Mild, mild west, Jamaica Street, BS1 3QY

📍 Rose trap, 26 Fremantle Square, BS6 5TN

📍 Well hung lover, Park Street, BS1 5HS.

📍 Planning permission, 99 Lower Lamb Street, BS1 5TL

See below for further Banksy art in Bristol (walk around the marina).

Bowl at The Lanes

I’d read about The Lanes while researching Bristol and as soon as we decided to leave the Fiesta we went straight there.

It’s a classic indie-vibe bowling place for adults with craft beers and pizza and a photo booth in the corner.

The service was quite odd, we asked when the next alley was available and we were told 5.30, we agreed and paid, he wrote down 6pm on the ticket, we questioned it, then said it was actually 6.30. We didn’t get a receipt for the payment either, and it was about 4.30pm so we were a bit concerned we’d come back and there would be no record of the booking.  It also took generally ages to be acknowledged at the not particularly busy bar and also when we returned to play.

That’s the bad stuff out of the way though, we had fun bowling and finished out drinks on the mezzanine level watching people in the karaoke booth and had a go in the photobooth.

Having read Tripadvisor reviews of The Lanes I would just recommend getting a receipt for your advanced booking.

💸 £6 per game, per person

📍 The Lanes, 22 Nelson St, Bristol BS1 2LE

Play board games at Chance & Counters

When we booked our bowling we went for an early tea, walking up the Christmas Steps to Asado, and en-route we noticed a cute bar with board games piled high in the front window, so after bowling we went back there.

“Do you have a booking? If you don’t have a booking we’ll struggle on a Saturday night!”. Bums.  The girl took my number anyway in case a table became available, but noted the four other paper chitties in the waiting list.

We just went over the road to the Christmas Steps bar (which was very cute and oldy worldy) and within about 5 minutes had received a call that Chance and Counters had a table for us. So exciting!

So this place is SERIOUS about board games.  The games we saw in the window were for joker novices like us.  The long wall of the room was organised like a library of highbrow board games.

We were shown to a table and given a short induction to the place.  We could pick a game ourselves or wait to speak to the Games Master who was employed just to talk to you about games and make recommendations!

I’ll be honest though, it was pretty awkward when I asked him for Guess Who (they didn’t have it). They also served different beers and had an amazing cocktail list with table service, and the tables seemed custom made in heavy wood with a sliding drinks holder.

We started by choosing our own game (KerPlunk). After that we asked for advice and he surmised that we were after something silly and not too serious so he brought us the most fun game EVER…

KLASK!acs_0186It was like air hockey but you moved your slider thing with a magnet from underneath.  It all got a bit giddy and we lost the ball and couldn’t find it anywhere. I do hope they found it after the bar cleared out.

We finished by playing Jenga and then Dobble which was like a super fun Snap game. For children.

Chance & Counters is highly recommended!

💸 £5 cover charge per person

📍 Chance and Counters, 20 Christmas Steps, Bristol BS1 5BS

Walk from Clifton Suspension Bridge to the harbour

The suspension bridge is an iconic landmark of Bristol and not to be missed.  I’ve always wanted to go San Francisco and feel like I’m not as desperate to go now (ha, not really).acs_0187We’d gone to Clifton for brunch first and then walked over to Observatory Hill where you could get amazing views of the bridge.

It took 33 years to complete the bridge under Brunel’s instruction, who was appointed as the engineer after a couple of rounds of competition to complete the work. It opened in 1864.

From the suspension bridge we walked the ‘Zig Zag’ down to the floating harbour and saw the old Clifton Rocks Railway, which was an underground funicular railway.acs_0188From there we walked along Hotwell Road by the side of the old floating harbour, over the water and to the Marina.  Here there’s lot of boats that people live on, with gardens better kept than most houses!acs_0190The marina is just a stone’s throw from Banksy’s Girl with a Pierced Ear Drum, which we stopped to photograph, before walking past Brunel’s SS Great Britain (peeping over the fence) and then popped in to M Shed industrial museum (very busy on a rainy day!) to have a quick look at the restored Banksy’s Grim Reaper.

💸 Free!

📍 Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bridge Rd, Bristol BS8 3PA

📍 Banksy’s Girl with Pierced Ear Drum, Hanover Pl, Bristol BS1 6UT

📍 Banksy’s Grim Reaper, M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN

Our walk was well timed to finish just before our booked coach back to Manchester.

🔖 We travelled with National Express (£59.40 for two, return) and stayed in the Ibis Temple Meads (£171 for two nights) booked through Expedia.

📚 Read my food and drink guide to Bristol.