SEEDS OF CHANGE – Many of our most beautiful plants have come from far-flung lands, brought to us by intrepid Victorian explorers. It was their dare-devil stories that inspired me to write my third novel, The Naked Name of Love, about a Jesuit priest in pursuit of a rare lily in Outer Mongolia.
But I never considered that many of our most brilliant botanical finds made their way here in the hulls of ships as ballast. Ballast – the mud used to weigh down trading vessels when they docked – was picked up from countries all over the world and then dumped near Bristol’s Floating Harbour. And so we ended up with seeds from Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean sprouting here in the south-west. Artist, Maria Thereza Alves, has created a a floral tribute to our city’s trading history: on an old concrete barge floating off Castle Park in the heart of the city, she’s planted seeds that reflect the global routes travelled by Bristol merchants.
GO BRISTOL! – We’re on holiday this week. In Bristol. Where, er, we actually live. I’ve been planning on writing about what a great place Bristol is and how everyone should come and hang out here for a bit – so at least I’m following my own advice. For once.
Bristol is a beautiful city, tall, honied stone Georgian houses and candy-coloured terraces, bisected by two rivers with nature-rich pockets, such as The Downs, home to the Bristol whitebeam and the Bristol onion, which are found nowhere else. It’s a city founded on the wealth of the slave trade (part of the inspiration for my non-fiction book, Sugar: The Grass that Changed the World, and my latest novel, Sugar Island) and is today a contemporary home for world-class grafitti and culture: The Bristol Festival of Ideas runs all year round, my other favourite festivals are The Bristol Festival of Literature, The Affordable Art Fair and Bristol VegFest.