We asked local stand up comedian and BS4 aficionado Mark Olver for his recommendations on where to go in this leafy suburb of south east Bristol...

Beeses Riverside Bar

Beese's Riverside Bar, Credit: Beese's Riverside Bar

I have lived in Brislington all of my life (apart from university and a few years "at sea" in Cotham, Clifton and Redland). Many parts of Bristol have changed in the past 30 years but I doubt any area has changed as dramatically as Brislington.

Yes areas grow, get trendy and become home to posh bakeries and hot yoga studios, but Brislington has ACTUALLY changed. Let's start with the 2 biggies.

Arnos Vale Cemetery

We used to play hide and seek in its vastly overgrown maze of paths and steps, using it as our adventure playground. 

It is now one of Bristol's most beautiful and versatile venues. If you want a peaceful stroll around hundreds of years of Bristol history it's there. If you want a lovely meal you have Kate's Kitchen. Cinema? Comedy? Theatre? Opera? Wedding? All of these things happen there, all of the time. 

In the early 80's we would play Releaster (which might be the Bristolian word for Tag) and now you can go to craft fairs and have history walks. I think it might be Bristol's best kept secret. 

Arnos Vale Cemetary

Arnos Vale Cemetery, Credit: Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust

Paintworks

When I was 12 I was THE GREATEST PAPER BOY in Bristol, Fact. Morning rounds, evening rounds and even the dreaded Sunday round. One of my routes included the warehouses, factories and garages in the site that is now known as Paintworks. 

It is now home to BocaBar, a place where I have learnt the correct way to pronounce the word Calzone. It's a great place to sit outside if it's sunny and they also have some great food; snacks, sandwiches and specials during the day, amazing pizzas in the evening. It feels like 2 or 3 different restaurants under one spacious roof. Oh, and they've stopped automatically giving out plastic straws to try and do their bit for the environment. 

>>>Stay at the luxurious Paintworks Apartments during your visit to Bristol.

Bocabar

Bocabar, Credit: Bocabar

Also in Paintworks is The Tube Diner run by Tom. It consists of two of those fancy silver caravan things - one for Tom to cook in and one for customers to eat in. Great breakfasts, lovely lunches. 

It does get quite busy and it has been known for customers (muggins here included) to help out ferrying plates of pancakes to waiting "strangers" if things get too crazy.

Bristol Blue Glass

Buy some amazing gifts and items for your house, or go through a door at the back of the shop to watch the glass being blown in front of you. 

Bristol Blue Glass

Bristol Blue Glass, Credit: Bristol Blue Glass

The Black Castle

Not the best pub. It's ok. It could be better. But no other building in Bristol plays tricks on your mind like The Black Castle. It looks like a weird modern theme park version of a shrunken fairy tale castle, built in the early 90's maybe, to lure in people on their way to Avonmeads to bowl and cinema. 

It was actually built in 1750 as a folly, part of the estate of William Reeve (which also includes Arnos Court hotel and the park across the road). There are secrets and theories and tunnels and ghosts and nuns and conspiracies. It's all there. Along with potato wedges and scampi. 

The Black Castle

The Black Castle, Credit: Wikipedia

Beese's Riverside Bar

It's in Broomhill technically, but when will Broomhill get its own page here? Beese's is usually accessed by boat, but you can also sneak through a housing estate and down a bumpy lane to end up in a gorgeous corner of the city.

It opens odd hours and caters to passing pleasure cruises but also lets in drivers and walkers. Sit and eat, or just go for a walk up and down the Avon. 

>>>Take the scenic route to Beese's with Bristol Packet Boat Trips. 

Beeses Tea Gardens

Beeses Riverside Bar, Credit: Shonette Laffy

Nightingale Valley and St Anne’s Woods 

One of the most magical and unexpected walks in Bristol. Along a little stream in a valley, accessed through entrances off suburban roads, where you'll be transported back decades.

There is even a gorgeous bench for excellent and scarily close views of trains entering Temple Meads. 

Nightingale Valley

The entrance to Nightingale Valley, Credit: Jon Chamberlain

Sparke Evans Park

If you join the cycle path behind Temple Meads you can walk into Brislington along the riverside; it's quieter and you end up in Sparke Evans Park, a gorgeous, flat, secluded park, surrounded by an industrial estate, with a bridge across the river that takes you into the heart of Arnos Vale. If you’re around on a Sunday it’s also worth visiting The Fruit Market in nearby St Phillips. 

Bonus recommendations (not technically in Brislington, but near enough!)

The Knowle

Not far away in Knowle/Towtterdown (as Totterdown gets more popular it has crawled up The Wells Rd). Sunday lunch is amazing and needs booking in advance, but food is served all day. And it's up a hill, so the views across Bristol are amazing. 

The Knowle, Bristol

Image: The Knowle, Credit: The Knowle

Jubilee Swimming Baths

I can't swim but it's a gorgeous building.

Harts Bakery

Located in the arches underneath Temple Meads station, it's close enough to Brislington and pretty perfect. Incredible food, brilliant staff, specials changing every day (their Friday sandwich specials are mind blowing).

Harts Bakery

Goodies from Harts Bakery, Image: Harts Bakery

Oh, and if we are doing Harts Bakery then we have to do the Bristol Wood Project and The Dogs Home - two charities who do incredible work and sit comfortably next to two of Bristol's most popular venues; Motion and The Marble Factory.

See Mark at the Bristol Comedy Garden on Sunday 18 June and various comedy gigs throughout the city, all the time (he's a hard worker).

You can also find out more about the area on the #igersloveBS4 instameet walk from 1-5pm on 24 June. Follow IGersBristol to find out more.

Mark Olver at the TIC

Mark Olver helping out at the Tourist Information Centre as part of Comic Relief 2017, Credit: Destination Bristol

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