Sunday, May 22, 2011
The other side of Stokes Croft
After the riots last month it would be easy to dismiss Bristol's Stokes Croft as a no-go area but yesterday it showed its sunny side in a festival that had everyone out on the streets in the most peaceable possible way.
We went down to check out the Str-eat stalls in the Bear Pit. No, we didn't know what the Bear Pit was either and it seemed uncool to ask but it's the huge recessed paved area in the middle of the St James roundabout in front of Debenhams and the Premier Inn. There wasn't much action around lunchtime (they surface late in those parts) so we drifted up Cheltenham road where people were milling round happily in the sun and ended up at The Runcible Spoon, a new café we'd heard good things about.
It was great. Good sarnies and stuff on toast (I had beef and horseradish, my husband pressed brisket and piccalilli - surely this summer's most ubiquitous pickle? - and some first rate chips that tasted like deep-fried roasties.
It was really well-priced as you can see from the blackboard. (A gin and tonic, should we have fancied one, was just £3. We stuck to cider.)
There was a large wall of graffiti opposite complaining about the new Tesco which provoked all the trouble, urging locals to boycott it. Which seems to me exactly the right way to deal with it rather than smashing windows which hurts the very local traders the protesters claim to be protecting. If you don't like it, don't shop there. Simple. And vote out the councillors who put it there.
Just up the road there's a great vintage clothes and antiques shop and cafe called Cox and Baloney where you can buy pretty teapots and cake. And, hire Babycham glasses, apparently. That too is very Stokes Croft. And very Bristol.