Severn Beach no longer boasts the attractions of its heyday. Bristol Open Doors and family history drew me there. Climbing an asphalt plant’s tower and visiting a muddy beach probably did not feature that high on most people’s weekend agenda. They missed a real treat, even though the tide was out. The views over the River Severn into Wales were spectacular. I fear my photos do not do them justice. The experience highlighted the changes that have taken place in my lifetime and since the time of my paternal great-grandmother.
My childhood memories are of an industrial area spewing out fumes and smog. This is a place that I only really saw from the motorway at speed. I reflected on the change in air quality. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I could see clearly into Wales from the top of the tower with fantastic view of the two Severn bridges. Present-day family and family history span both sides. I have crossed those bridges countless times. This vantage point was fresh.
Cabot’s New World
Bristol was the European Green Capital for 2015. The city is proud of its association with the explorer John Cabot. Cabot set sail from Bristol in 1497 for the New World. I could see evidence of the transition to a new world beneath me in Cabot Park. I noticed the many wind turbines on the horizon and solar panels on the roof below.
We haven’t reached the New World yet. Our boat seems even slower than Cabot’s Matthew. The car park was full of cars. Many delivery trucks sped past. I didn’t need to be close to know that these were not electric vehicles. The fat-free yoghurt advertising made me reflect how the food the British diet is much healthier and adventurous than it used to be. Smoking has declined and the air we breathe is now cleaner thanks to legislation.
The rail freight terminal reminded me of long-term consequences when politicians get it wrong. Beechings’ 1960s rail report means that Somerset and the West Country is heavily dependent on road transport today. Decisions were taken purely on the grounds of profitability. Rail is now seen as the greener transport option. Many of those old rail routes cannot be reinstated, as many of the connections no longer exist. The waterways are largely forgotten. New rail routes would cause uproar.
Back on the ground, I noticed the work that has been done to deal with winter flooding. The waterways seemed incredibly dry during my visit. I observed the different levels as the turbines turned and more lorries thundered past. A hotchpotch of the new and old.
When I arrived on the promenade, I noticed the Severn Beach Heritage sign for the paddling pool that my father had often mentioned. I noticed a new tea shop, near the site where my great-grandmother used to work. It was a hot day… the perfect excuse for a Severn Beach ice cream in memory of family.
Will Severn Beach still exist so that my great-granddaughter or -grandson be able to revisit the site one day?
© Karen Netto (Andrews)
These pages illustrate my love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. I love sharing. This blog is a showcase for my own photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics.
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