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Bristol: Things to Do and Places to See!

Part 1: Shopping

If you’re moving to a new place for the first time, the sheer number of activities, places, views and accommodation available to you can be completely overwhelming. This is particularly the case in Bristol, where diversity and variety is what defines it. From the sublime to the scummy, the quirky to the classic, the civilised to the very, very silly, Bristol has it all.

Spen Languages is based just off Stokes Croft, the heart of Bristol’s cultural quarter and self-proclaimed ‘people’s republic’, and a two-minute walk from the shopping capital of the South West, Cabot Circus. From here we have the perfect vantage point to assess much of the fun, practical help and latest trends developing in the area. Our mission, as much as to provide language classes that will equip you with formal and casual, written and spoken English, is to provide a social and practical element to our students moving to Bristol for the first time. We want you to make friends as well as learn a language, and discover this city whilst having great fun along the way.

Navigating your way through the attractions and people of this glorious, challenging city can be a minefield though, so we thought a little To-Do guide might make the journey a little smoother. Find below the first part of the Spen Languages guide to Bristol: Shopping. Give them a visit and let us know what you thought!

Side note: Last week, we looked at slang, and how it integrates into the English language and culture. This week we’ll include slang into our descriptions to give you a taste of how and why it’s used. Try looking up the slang you don’t understand, or ask us to explain it in your next lesson. To make things slightly easier, we’ve written the slang we use in bold.

Feeling Flush?

Try the top-notch offerings of Clifton Village. Clifton, set against the breathtaking backdrop of Avon Gorge and dominated by Brunel’s dramatic trademark Suspension Bridge is populated by Bristol’s wealthiest and most discerning occupants. This is immediately apparent when you set foot in the ‘village’, whose mish-mash of beautifully preserved shops, bars and hotels give the impression of both a holiday village and a museum at once.

Artisan boutiques and pre-loved designer shops line the buzzing streets, interspersed with Aladdins’ Caves of antiques, tiny but perfectly formed delicatessens and dusty little book shops.

We would particularly recommend Village Green, which specialises in revamping pre-cherished goods, giving them a new lease of life and presenting them in an attractive and accessible setting.

If you’re looking for attractive talking points to give your home a splash of style, try ‘Objets de Desire’. As they say on their website, they love all things fun, unique and beautiful. What more could you ask for?

On a Decent Budget?

Cabot Circus is the one for you. Offering a vast array of high street shops that you’ll know where you are with, as well as budget and high-end apparel and accessories, you have the world of commerce at your fingertips. With its trademark glass arches providing both natural light and protection from the Great British weather patterns (expect sunlight, snow and rainstorms all within the same half hour), this is a refreshing and attractive alternative to your traditional shopping mall. Also available for some light relief from retail is the Showcase Cinema de Lux, airing all the latest box office hits, and Jungle Rumble crazy golf is situated on the first floor, has its own café bar, and always provides a few laughs away from the hubbub of the shops.

If you’re looking for something more alternative, take a wander up Gloucester Road. Packed with independent shops, this is the perfect place to do your food shopping with independent green grocers, butchers, fishmongers, cheese mongers and bakeries. In amongst these you will find an abundance of charming gift and clothes shops, and bars, cafes and restaurants to suit your every desire.

If markets are more your style, try St Nicholas’s covered market on Corn Street. With everything from rare stamps to jewellery available, this is certainly the place to come for unique but affordable gifts. It even features the flagship stall of Bristol’s very own clothing brand, Beast. On Saturdays, the options are opened even further with the presence of a whole different set of traders, offering foodstuffs, unusual clothing, jewellery, books and much more. Perfect for all your Christmas shopping needs!

Feeling Thrifty?

There is any number of fantastic charity shops dotted around Bristol. Charity shopping has become a very popular alternative to buying new in Bristol, and most Bristolians not only donate to, but frequently buy from the ever-increasing number of these high street alternatives. Amongst a multitude of clothes and accessories from all eras and in all states of repair, you will find hidden gems a-plenty, at very reasonable prices. We would particularly recommend the Salvation Army community shop (which you can find just around the corner from the launguage school, on the intersection between Stokes Croft and Ashley Road), and the St. Peter’s Hospice shop on Whiteladies Road, Clifton. Not only will can you bag a bargain, but you’re also helping some very worthy causes in the process!

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