Dateline: Sunday 17th July 2016
I had mixed feelings about visiting this event in the centre of Bristol. Local television news had been carrying stories about local people actually complaining about this free event, moaning about the amount of alcohol being consumed, and the potential for rowdy behaviour. Nearby shops and supermarkets were being exhorted to limit the amount of alcohol they were selling to any one individual over the weekend. It seems to me that there is something quite dark and brooding about contemporary British culture – seemingly to have a good time, out with one’s friends, automatically requires the carrying of a large case of cheap beer or cider acquired from a supermarket all-to-happy to sell the stuff as a loss leader, being pretty much pickled by 9am in the morning, and making lots of rather anti-social noise. Quite how any average British socialite can enjoy anything in such an inebriated state is quite beyond me. But there we go…
For me, the attraction was to photograph the rich colour and spectacle of this waterfront event, one of two colourful, and free, events in Bristol over the summer. The other is the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in August; last year, it was so successful that the gates had to be closed to new admissions to ensure safety for those already inside. Wow! Yes, the Bristol Harbourside last Sunday was very busy, with visitors being herded around the quays and streets in a one-way system – give them due credit, the organisers were doing all they could to relieve bottlenecks and avoid criticism about overcrowding. But all-in-all, it was a really lovely atmosphere, come the finish, in the sunshine and fresh air. People seem to respond to sunshine somehow, their mood altogether lighter. I have no idea how things developed later in the evening – I’m not the sort who wants to hang around like a war correspondent if there is the slightest possibility of things getting at all ugly. But what I found in the mid-afternoon was a great opportunity for a family day out, perfectly safe, and hugely enjoyable. Well done, indeed, to the organisers.
There were tall ships, narrow boats, sail boats, ex-industrial steam tugs, a Royal Navy vessel, a working 35-ton steam crane, trips along the Bristol Harbour Railway, fairground attractions, artisans and food vendors all doing a roaring trade. Good to see! And we even had chaps out in the middle of the harbour on hover board contraptions powered by water jets doing all manner of aerial stunts. It all looked like great fun, albeit only for pros, but I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed the bellies full of harbour water that these performers must surely have been consuming. Ugh! Heaven alone knows how many immunisation shots these chaps would need to keep out the harbour’s resident germs…!
So, enough blabber from me… I leave you with a simple gallery of images of the afternoon. Here’s to an equally successful event in 2017 🙂