Ever since I settled into Sinclair House, I’ve been told I live very near the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge (as pictured above). The bridge has become the symbol of Bristol ever since its creation in 1864, and is considered the must-see spot of the city. Last night I met my friend, Paul, for dinner and after remarking that I didn’t understand the fuss over Clifton Village (my neighborhood, which ironically happens to be the posh part of Bristol), he lead me through a park only a minute from my flat. After walking through the quaint stone pathway, I immediately felt silly and unimaginably lucky as I looked out over the row of lovely shops, cafes and ‘Austenesque’ houses before me. So, this is Clifton!
Following Paul down the cobblestone streets I soon realized we were headed towards the Bridge. The sky was misty and though it wasn’t dark yet, the lights outlining the Bridge gleamed against the impossibly green hills. “If you’re afraid of heights you might not want to step on the bridge. The first time I came here was when I was little and I wouldn’t let go of my father.” (All of the British men I’ve met here are such gentleman). It wasn’t until I stepped on the Bridge and looked down at the Avon Gorge that I realized how high we we really were; thousands of feet off the ground. All of the corners of the globe I’ve been blessed to see, this one hands down, beat them all. On one side I could see the stony bluffs with a castle-like structure resting on top, and on the other the greenest hills sprinkled with Clifton dwellings (mansions, really). Anyone would feel tiny looking down at the river and up towards the hills and bluffs. As I took in the beauty, I noticed a sign: “Samaritan’s Care, Call Day or Night” with a number listed. Even in the midst of such deep beauty, the Bridge is also home to tragedy.
I couldn’t be a better spot to study Romanticism, and it’s really no wonder it all started here. Despite the alluring architecture and charm of the shops and homes, its the hills and bluffs and rivers that make Bristol special. The beauty is humbling and satisfying all at once. The Bridge is certainly wonderful, but even more wonderful is that not one can take credit for the view but our Creator. And the wonder and sheer delight of the scene surprised me. Modern life, for all its achievements, cannot imitate that natural beauty.