The Bristol knittivity

Knitted figures at night by the Clifton Suspension bridge

The Bristol Knittivity

Life size knitted nativity figures ~ Bristol knittivity in Sainsbury's
These life size nativity figures have raised over £150,000 for a local hospice

The Bristol knittivity has become a familiar sight  in shopping centres around Bristol just before Christmas. However I thought you might be interested in the story behind its creation.   A few years ago a group of friends who worked at St. Teresa’s catholic school in Horfield, Bristol started a knitting group called the knutty knitters. When Christine, one of the group became ill with cancer and  sadly died  her friends decided to do something to raise funds for St. Peter’s hospice where she had spent her last weeks. St. Peter’s hospice is the only adult hospice in Bristol and each year they care for about 2,500 patients. Care is provided free of charge but the hospice costs about £20,000 a day to run. About £15,000 of this comes from legacies, donations and shop purchases.

The ladies decided to use their hobby to raise funds and the Bristol knittivity was the result.  Eventually the seven knutty knitters made 13 figures, 3 kings, 2 shepherds, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, an angel, a donkey, a sheep, a lamb and a camel. Each figure used up to 7 lbs of wool and took about 9 months to knit. The talented ladies even made their own patterns.

Each year St. Peter’s hospice choose the figures for one of their charity Christmas cards and  photograph them against a famous Bristol landmark  like the Clifton suspension bridge or the Cabot tower.

Knitted figures at night by the Clifton Suspension bridge # Bristol knittivity
The Knittivity by the Clifton Suspension bridge was a best seller for St. Peter’s hospice a couple of years ago.

The future

The knutty knitters have raised over £150,000 from the knitivity but unfortunately this will be the last year it will be on display as it is getting old and worn. In my photo taken in a local supermarket  the poor donkey and camel are showing the effects of too many children trying to ride them. The knutty knitters have knitted a smaller version of the nativity for display at St. Peter’s hospice and I have heard that there may be knitted penguins on tour next year.

Buy this year’s knittivity card

For those people who are old enough to remember the two Ronnies sketch, my favourite card from St. Peter’s hospice this year has to be Four candles

This post is linked to The grand social for blogging grandparents

 

The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the past

The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the Past

I was a child of the baby boom generation born just after the war.  Growing up I remember large bomb sites in the centre of Bristol in particular the area around Castle Park  which was covered with grass and purple buddleia.  My husband who is older than me can even remember going into air raid shelters to escape the blitz and the big street parties which marked V.E. day in 1945.

However when I saw a walk advertised on the “Walk in the past” website “the Bristol Blitz,”  I realised I did not know very much about the actual details of the blitz itself.  My mother who was a teacher had taken evacuees to Cornwall and my father lived near Bath so they had not experienced it directly.

The Bristol Blitz memorial

Many people know St. Peter’s church which is in the centre of Castle Park close to Cabot Circus shopping centre and the galleries.  It was  destroyed during the blitz and only the shell remains.  It is kept as a memorial to the 1,299 civilians killed in Bristol whose names are listed on a board outside.  The area round Castle park had been filled with narrow bustling streets and small shops before the war.  St. Peter’s Church

The shell of St. Peter's chuch in Castle Park
St. Peter’s church was destroyed during the Blitz. The shell has been left as a memorial.

 

Before the war the government did not think Bristol was  a major target so did not make much effort  to protect the city.  The Germans however disagreed.  There was a large aircraft  factory in Filton and Avonmouth was an important transatlantic port.  Bristol was also a vital railway hub for South Wales and the South West.  Pilots could easily find the city at night by simply following the rivers Avon and Severn.

1941-1942 Blitz

There were several major air raids in 1941 and 1942 in which thousands of houses were completely or partially destroyed and many civilians were killed or injured.  Many eyewitness accounts exist.  People recalled how at first they watched the flares and bombs and thought it was   a rather grand Guy Fawkes celebration.  However they quickly realised the horror of the destruction and how the centre of Bristol would be changed for ever.

Our walk

We met by St. Peter’s church and looked at the names on the war memorial

This picture was given to my parents as a wedding present in 1947.We explo

and then explored  the area round Castle Park and the site of another ruined church St. Mary Le port .   We also looked  at pictures of the rather beautiful

This rail was embedded into the grass just feet away from St. Mary Redcliffe Church. It has been left to show how narrowly the church escaped damage

old Dutch house (right)which was destroyedduring the blitz and other photos of the pre war city.   we then headed  to St. Mary Redcliffe church and saw  a section of tram track which narrowly missed the church.  We next  looked at the ruins of Temple church, close to Temple Meads railway station which was originally a round temple owned by the Knights Templar.  Temple Church

We then climbed to Beckinghamham Road in Knowle where a large unexploded bomb nicknamed Satan lay undiscovered under the road for two years.  It  was estimated to weigh 1800 kgs and was one of the largest bombs to have been dropped in England.  It would have caused considerable damage if it had gone off  but instead was paraded through London for V.E. day.

Reflections

This walk was very different from previous walks looking at the medieval city or for Tudor   architecture as many of the walkers could remember being told stories by their parents or grandparents who had lived in Bristol during the blitz .  Some knew   the people who used to live in the houses that had been damaged or destroyed.  We also talked to some of the current occupants of Beckingham Road .  It was a real experience of living history  which brought the past vividly to life.

If you enjoyed this post you might like Roman Londinium A walk in the past

A grand day out. Gromit unleashed 2 in Bristol

The Horn Bridge at Night

A Grand day out in Bristol

Gromit from the Gromit trail as one of the paw patrol characters.
This Gromit was designed by the Paw Patrol team and is at Chew Valley lake.

 

Wallace dressed as a space man sitting with a cup of tea
Wallace raising money outside Bristol children’s hospital.  Payment can be made here using a contactless card.

There is a brand new Wallace and Gromit sculpture  trail, Gromit unleashed 2 running in Bristol from 2 July to 2nd September with over sixty sculptures dotted around the city and surrounding areas  to raise money for the Wallace and Gromit Grand appeal for Bristol Children’s hospital and the St. Michael’s hospital special care baby unit.  Bristol children’s hospital treats more than 100,000 patients every year and cares for patients from Bristol and the South West of England.

Many of the figures have been painted by well known artists and represent famous Bristol characters like W.G. Grace, the cricketer in my photo.  The Lego design team have created a model using over 30,000 bricks and the Paw patrol team have also painted a Gromit.  Aardman animation which produced Morph, Creature Comforts, Shaun the sheep and Chicken run as well as the Wallace and Gromit films is based in Bristol and Nick Park , a founder of Aardman studios is a patron of this appeal.

New for 2018

For 2018 Wallace and Gromit are joined by their arch enemy Feathers McGraw and are positioned in iconic locations around Bristol and surrounding areas. The detect-o-gromit app is available to purchase from app stores for both iPhone and android for £1.99.   It has both short and longer trail routes and includes a pedometer which rewards you for 10,000 steps and has more details about the work done by the children’s hospital. A trail map is also available from the Bristol tourist office and Bristol museums. More information can  be found on the Gromit Unleashed facebook page.

The first Gromit unleashed trail and the Shaun the sheep trail raised £6 million for Bristol children’s hospital and this time they are hoping to do even better. Sculptures are  auctioned off at the end of the season and many end up at well known locations.

If you live near Bristol I think it would make a grand day out for you and your  family.  It will also help you all to get fitter while having fun and discovering new parts of the city.

A sculpture of Wallace dressed as W.G Grace
A figure from the Gromit trail, Wallace dressed as the Cricketer W.G. Grace by Downend Cricket club where he started his career.

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First bus have a day family ticket for £8.00 if purchased through their app which allows a family of five to travel throughout the Bristol Inner zone and includes a 10p donation to the charity.