2 Oct 2013

Arnos Vale: a secret world of Victorian graves.


When James and I moved into this area, we knew nothing about it, it was a gamble based on the only house we could afford to rent that had both a roof and panes glass in the window frames but we have really landed on our feet.  


But since moving to Bristol I have had a lot of time on my hands.  James works ridiculous hours and I no longer have the luxury of all my nearest and dearest residing on the doorstep.  I am finding it temptingly easy to sink into the habit of hermitude, since my first cabin-fevered week, unpacking with minimal human contact, I realised that the huge expanse of free-time I am lucky enough to have pre-baby should be better utilised.  At some point in Cardiff I think I forgot how to do things by myself. 


So I have been consciously making the effort to do things by myself instead of waiting for company.  Every day I have set myself something to do that, in a past life, I would have waited until someone had time to accompany me.  
From this, I have developed a true love for Arnos Vale, my favourite place in this new area.  Less than five minutes from my front door is 45 acres of Victorian Cemetery, surprisingly hidden in the centre of busy city.  Not since my 'goth' phase (aged approximately thirteen and three quarters and involving too much borrowed eye liner and an oversized spiked dog collar) have I considered a cemetery a fun place to hang out but Arnos Vale is something else.  There is nothing maudlin or morbid about it, it has fallen back to nature and is an overgrown wilderness of ivy, trees and graves.  Walking in is like entering a cobweb, endless winding paths stray and interconnect, occasionally I convince myself I have accidentally left the grounds only to spy more graves in the undergrowth.


Every few days since moving in I have gone to walk around the grounds and I have yet to take the same route twice.  I can't decide which is more magical, the fallen graves or the abundant growing life.


  1. Oh this makes me nostalgic for Brizzle!

    Hello, by the way! I'm Fran...I was an undergrad in Bristol until last summer and I'm living in foreign climes over here in France.

    I've been following your blog for a while...I've commented a couple of times a long time ago, but thought I'd say hello again, else it feels like I'm eavesdropping!

    Anyhow, in amongst your other posts, it's lovely to see snapshots of Bristol (even if it makes me a bit homesick!)

    1. Hello!
      I do remember you from your previous comment! and it is actually weirdly nice to know you are still reading :)
      An undergrad in Bristol must have been so much fun - I am still getting my head round how much there is to do around here! Compared to living in Cardiff, Bristol constantly seems to have something exciting going on. Any suggestions of anything epic I should be doing in my last free pre-baby days? I am still blown away by Arnos Vale.
      Brizzle aside, I do hope the foreign climates are worth the homesickness x

    2. Oh yes, I love your blog!

      I've been thinking of things to suggest to do and places to visit and realised that most of my favourite Bristol haunts revolved around food or parks! I was in a student house near Gloucester Road (around St Andrew's park to be precise). I used to love going for a wander through the allotments down near Montepellier (where there is also a city farm and a climbing centre inside a church...), taking my revision and/or knitting out into St Andrew's on a sunny afternoon, wandering around St Pauls looking for graffiti and vegan restaurants with visiting couchsurfers, concerts at the Canteen in Stoke's Croft. I love living out in the mountains here, but occasionally I miss the slightly grimy but very exciting alternative cultural feel of those bits of Bristol, as well as the mix of cultures and ethnicities...


    3. No lie, being pretty vast these days, food haunts and parks are about as ambitious as I am getting! I have been googling lots from your suggestions - I can't believe there is such a neat looking farm so close - and it is celebrating Apple Day on Sunday?! Amazing.
      Thank you so much! Xx

    4. Ooh, I'm glad to be able to suggest unknown places! I'll keep on racking my brains and scribble down some more when I've thought of them! xx