I might not have made use of Celtic Manor’s pool and spa during the mid-December SRHE conference in Wales, but I invited Aongus to join me out west for the weekend following SRHE so we could make up for missing out on those amenities. The Manor was already booked, but I found rooms in Newport (in Wales, for Friday night) and Bristol (in England, for Saturday night) so we could relax and explore new sites.
We stayed at the quaint and reasonably priced Knoll Guesthouse on Stow Hill in Newport. It was a great value! This stately Victorian home was built in 1897, a year after my former home in Portsmouth, Virginia. The gorgeous stained glass surrounding the entry vestibule delighted us. Also noteworthy were the cooked-to-order breakfast and the friendly and knowledgeable host, Barry Peters.
Belle Vue Park
Barry from Knoll Guesthouse suggested a visit to Stow Hill’s Belle Vue Park and gardens. Despite the rain, we admired the park’s Victorian-era bandstand, conservatories, and tea house, all restored but dating back to 1894.
St. Woolos/Newport Cathedral
Then we found St. Woolos (aka Newport Cathedral) which has a lovely Romanesque design. Our experience was made complete with a very talented choir singing delightful Christmas carols.
We wandered through the shopping streets in the center of town, admired Calatrava’s innovative pedestrian bridge, and purchased salads-to-go before dashing to the Newport train station, en route to Bristol Temple Meade train station.
Mid-day o Saturday, we boarded a train for Bristol.
Around Temple Meads Station
Entering Bristol via Temple Meads Train Station is always a delightfully Victorian experience. The splendor of this station’s exterior is unforgettable. I’d booked a room at a luxury hotel a short walk from the station, which would give us a place to store our bags the following morning when we checked out.
Mercury Bristol Holland House and Spa
This Mercury Bristol Holland House and Spa are located directly across the street from St. Mary Redcliff Church. We booked in for massages in the hotel’s spa.
St. Mary Redcliff Church
We spent several hours exploring St. Mary Redcliff Church, which was adorned with Christmas trees donated by local organizations.
Old Town and Waterfront
We walked through Queen Square and the Old City on Saturday evening, visiting St. Nicholas Market and a restaurant in the charming (but grungy) Old Stock Exchange.
The next day we retraced our steps through Queen Square as we headed toward the Watershed craft market and then walked along the quays to Brunel’s SS Great Britain (which we had not enough time to see). Heading back, we stuck to the path along the northern side of the river, so we could catch the best sun.
On the way back to the hotel to pick up our bags, we made a stop at Bristol Cathedral and listened to the choir practice.
We enjoyed two lovely pies, and then headed to the train station for our trip home!