Thursday, 5 February 2015

Another Ruby in Another City

So having not posted for a bit I handed the pen over to Emma, my son's girlfriend, to write about Stokes Croft, a particularly niche part of Bristol of which Emma is a native. You may be asking if this is true to the nature of my blog but hey, it's A Ruby in A City just not THE Ruby in THE City - OK!

Emma at The Pipe and Slippers

A visit to Bristol would be incomplete without a night out in Stokes Croft. Where better to experience that unique Bristolian spirit than on a small stretch of road that proudly declares itself a People’s Republic?  That’s right, The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (to give it its full title) exists to promote the area and its people through creativity and social activism. The buildings are adorned by vibrant street art; a breakdancing Jesus, Banksy’s ‘Mild Mild West’, and the provocative ‘Think Local Boycott Tesco’ demonstrate Stokes Croft’s commitment to fostering talent and independence within the community.

But enough of all that and down to our true purpose: some good old-fashioned drinking! We begin our journey at The Canteen a cafe, bar and live music venue that stays busy throughout the day and into the night. Keeping it local we sample both the Independence, an ale brewed by the Bristol Beer Factory, and the Ashton Press cider. Among the crocheted lampshades and hand-painted furniture the atmosphere is cosy and relaxed. Strangers are encouraged to share tables, artists spread out their materials and a low murmur of voices pleasantly fills the room. Come the evening however the tables will be pushed aside and the cavernous space filled with live music and some serious skanking. I’m not one to use a cliché lightly but with beautiful (sustainably sourced) food, a splendid range of drinks and free live music every single night of the week there really is something for everyone at The Canteen.

Onwards to the Pipe and Slippers where we sink into wingback chairs next to the fire and sip the fearsomely strong Philosopher cider. Don’t be fooled by the name and rather Sherlock Holmesesque decor however, the Pipe and Slippers can get as lively as the best of them. A DJ booth is stashed innocuously in the corner and a blackboard boldly proclaims Thursday to be ‘Slow and Low’ while on Sunday we can look forward to the ‘SkyLion Reggae Party’. Once again Stokes Croft shows itself to be the belle of all balls with a place that can offer both port wine on tap and a 1am licence. Come in early for a quick pint in a cosy, old-man pub and the vast array of local scrumpy might just persuade you to stay until closing.

Our third and final stop of the evening is Full Moon the gatekeeper of Stokes Croft and a personal favourite. The best thing about Full Moon is the large outdoor area between the bar and its sister venue Attic; perfect for enjoying summer evenings this expanse also plays host to an independent traders market every weekend. This courtyard is a great space to chat with friends or make new ones (the giant, psychedelic mushroom statue provides a good talking point as well as handy chair if all that cider is getting to you). It wouldn’t be Stokes Croft if there wasn’t provision for some sort of dancing and Full Moon does not disappoint with DJs playing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That being said the dance floor is effectively just a corridor opposite the bar so if you really feel like throwing some shapes I would recommend heading across the way to Attic where there is ample room.

By this point our brave odyssey around the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft had left us slightly worse for wear and though I would love to regale you with tales of Lakota, Crofters Rights and other such places the adventure must end here. Let it be said that in true Bristol style Stokes Croft will draw you in with its laid back, community vibes but may just entice you into dancing till dawn before having a quick snooze on Turbo Island (don’t ask). A magnificent mish-mash Stokes Croft definitely requires a follow up visit.

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