Bristol vs the world

A travel (and sometimes fashion) blog about exploring Bristol and the rest of the world, one post at a time.

Category: Museums & Galleries

Read all about it: The Times Newseum, the Paintworks


I’m just back from ten days in beautiful Portugal (much more on that later – so many blog in my head!). There’s nothing like a holiday to make you realise how much you overlook at home. I’ve said it before, but, despite constantly being on the lookout for new bars, restaurants and shops in Bristol, there’s plenty I think about doing and just simply don’t get round to. When you’re on holiday, you want to cram in everything that sounds of interest, because who knows when you’ll be back. Why don’t we apply the same principle at home, especially to temporary exhibitions? So our new resolution is to act more like tourists our my own city. Whether it’s stopping for a rest on a bench by the harbourside to watch the world go by, treating ourselves to a spontaneous drink ‘just because’, going on road trips to nearby towns and countryside, or making sure we actually go to the things we say sound interesting (well, money permitting that is!).

So a day after getting back and still in holiday/resolution mode, we popped down the road to visit Read All About It, The Times‘ ‘Newseum’ exhibition currently in the Paintworks’ event space.

The exhibition explores The Times’ archives and the delivery of news from 1785 to the present. It has displays on key events such as war, photographing Everest and the expedition to climb it, and JFK’s assassination, and features artifacts such as original copy submitted, typewriters, Dictaphones and notebooks. There’s information on codes used for some stories and five animations that compliment the displays. And the photography on display is incredible, too.

In the centre, there’s also a display of smartphones constantly updating with news from outlets such as Reuters and ATP. When seen next to the rest of the exhibition, it really is amazing how immediately we can get information now – and how much of it there is out there.

Bristol Culture Newseum

You can also print off the front page of The Times from a day of your choosing – we went for our birthdays (though realised later that we should have gone for the day after to get the news from our actual birthdays. Oops!). Though if you choose a date before 1965 (I think? Some time about then), the front page will just show notices and advertisements – imagine that selling a paper today!

Although very interesting (and free!), the exhibition is quite small, taking 30-45 minutes or so to get around. It’s also, as you’d expect, Times-centric, concentrating on how they delivered the news and big stories for them and so it’s certainly not a comprehensive discussion on the evolution of news delivery. For example, I don’t think I saw a single mention of blogging or Tweeting, even though there are probably some comparisons to be made (for example, one correspondent in the ’80s got travellers to deliver censored information – I suppose travellers blogging and tweeting about countries they go to, things they’ve seen from places where news, and certainly uncensored news, isn’t so forthcoming might be today’s equivalent?).

As such, although interesting, the exhibition’s probably not worth a special trip from too far away unless you’ve got an interest in journalism, or the history of the news. That said, that does kind of contradict my new ‘go and see something if you think it sounds interesting’ mentality, so if you like the sound of it ignore me and go! And it’s absolutely worth popping into if you’re in the area. Alternatively, you could make it into a bit of a day trip and combine the exhibition with a drink in Bocabar upstairs, a wander round Arnos Vale or a visit to some of the many other lovely places in nearby Totterdown/Knowle.

Overall, if you overlook the Times-promoting-y/probable data gathering-ness, this is an interesting exhibition. A few gaps as you’d expect but worth your time if in the area or you’re interested in the subject area.

Read all about it! The secrets behind the news, The Times Newseum
Entry free
Open 10-6, until 9 July
The Paintworks Event Space, Bristol, BS4 3EH

Photo Credits
Middle and bottom: Bristol Culture
Top: My own, please credit if using





Cultural Copenhagen

Design Museum Copenhagen garden

Although we spent a lot of our time in Copenhagen eating and drinking and possibly even more just wandering the streets (no, not like that), we also found time to visit a few museums too.

It’s worth noting that there’s definitely an ‘off’ season in Denmark – most things seemed to be more fully open from about the time the Tivoli Gardens open in mid-April until the end of Summer. This meant that in a number of the museums, not all exhibitions or areas were open. But on the plus side, they were also relatively quiet. So if there’s nothing you’re absolutely desperate to see, then I’d definitely recommend an out-of-season visit.

Design Museum Copenhagen display

Design Museum Copenhagen shop

Design Museum Copenhagen Wegner Exhibition

Design Museum
John’s a Design Engineer and we both love wooden, mid-century furniture so a visit to the Design Museum was always a must. In one half, the museum showcases key design themes, pieces and designers while in the second, the focus is on the more traditional. Our knowledge of historical Danish design was (is) limited, so we were quite suprised by the look of the older pieces.

We also saw the beginnings of a new exhibition (it didn’t open fully until a couple of days after our visit) – Wegner, ‘Just One Good Chair’ which was already looking really excellent.

Also excellent was the (free!) exhibition catalogue we were given on arrival. Thick paper and beautifully designed – I guess we should have expected nothing else considering the museum we were in!

Great shop too – as with everything in Copenhagen, it’s slightly pricey, but there’s some gorgeous products in here. We managed to restrain ourselves and came away with just a large (A4) postcard, but the wallet damage could easily have been much worse!

The details
Bredgade 68 / 1260 København K
Nearest Metro stop: Kongens Nytorv
Entry: 90DKK. Free if you’re a student or under 26 (something we very conveniently found this out a couple of days before my 26th birthday. Guess where we headed the next day..!)
Closed Mondays & some bank holidays

Carlsberg Glyptotek Copenhagen

Winter Garden Glypototek

Winter Garden Glypototek2


Peter Bangs Vej 145  - 2000 Frederiksberg   DK
Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket

When I was talking to my manager about my plans for Copenhagen, this was the first place she recommended. Even if you’re not interested in the collections, she said, the building itself is amazing.

Walking into the main courtyard of the Glypototek, I understood exactly what she meant. Called the Wintergarden, it’s like a huge greenhouse or orangery full of trees and plants and fountains and statues and benches. Unexpected and breathtaking. My manager was right – even if you’re not too bothered about the art, it’s worth making the most of the museum’s free entry on Sundays just to see this.

And if you are interested in art, there’s plenty more here to explore, from Egyptian mummies in a basement to rooms and rooms full of statues (so many statues! And busts. And bits of statues and busts) to Danish art to French masterpieces by Gauguin and Cezanne among others. Sadly the latter section was closed when we visited, which was one of the areas we were most interested in, but we still spent an hour or so in the other rooms and marveling at the building itself.

The details
Dantes Plads 7 | DK-1556 Cph
Nearest station: Central Station (Københavns Hovedbanegård)
75DKK (Adults). Children under 18 go free.
Free entry on Sundays – we thought it would be heaving as a result but it didn’t seem to be.
Closed Mondays & some bank holidays

Danish Jewish museum

Danish Jewish museum

Copenhagen Royal Library Garden


Copenhagen Royal Library Garden

Danish Jewish Museum
There was an unwritten rule of city holidays in my family. If we found ourselves in a new city with a Jewish museum, then my Dad would gravitate towards it. When I was younger, I just didn’t get it. Sure they were interesting – but how different can each Jewish museum be? How much more can they say?

But as an adult (allegedly), I have inherited this gravitational pull. It’s like there’s some kind of magnet that gets passed through Jewish blood and kicks in when we get to about 18. I’ve also learnt that Jewish museums can be, are, very different. I’m ashamed to admit I knew very little of how Sweden helped Danish Jews during the war. The exhibits focusing on this area were the highlights of the museum for me. The other displays were more focused on Jewish culture through the years, featuring items like Torahs and clothes.

It wasn’t the best Jewish museum I’ve been to, but it was interesting to hear a new side to the Second World War story. And the building itself, jutting walls and interesting lighting, is stunning; it was designed by Daniel Libeskind, the man behind the Jewish Museum in Berlin – along with many other projects. Although exploring the museum itself will probably only take an hour or so of your time, being able to see inside the building is justification enough to pay the entry fee.

It’s also set within the small, peaceful Royal Library Gardens, the perfect place to just sit and stop and think (or not think!) for a little while.

The details
Købmagergade 5, 3
1150 København K
Nearest station: Kongens Nytorv
50DKK (Adults), or 75DKK for main and special exhibition (special exhibition wasn’t on when we visited). Students and pensioners are 40DKK/65DKK. Children under 18 go free.
Closed Mondays. During off-peak season (01/09 – 31/05), only open 1-4 on weekdays (open all day at weekends).
It’s worth noting that the museum is closed on some Jewish holidays (i.e Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) as well as national Bank Holidays

experimentarium copenhagen

OK, this one’s not quite as cultural as the other museums we visited – but it was a whole lot of fun! The Experimentarium is a science museum full of hands-on exhibits. Test out your fitness and strength, learn about Danish inventions or see inside your body. It’s really aimed at children, but that doesn’t mean that big kids can’t spend a good couple of hours here playing around. Go in the afternoon though – apparently it gets very busy with school groups in the morning.

I highly recommend if you fancy a laugh for a few hours. That said, when it moves back to Hellerup (their main building is currently being refurbished and expanded) then it’s probably quite not worth the trip for adult-only parties. Though the expansion may add lots of extra features that prove me wrong (and the architects’ designs a Google Image search throws up are undeniably intriguing).

The details
Trangravsvej 12
1436 Copenhagen K
Nearest station: Christianshavn Torv
Children 3-11, Students & Disabled: 105DKK
Adults (12+): 160DKK
Under 3s and Disabled helpers go free
Closed some bank holidays
(No I haven’t just missed a line – it’s open on Mondays!)

We also visited the lovely Viking Ships Museum in Roskilde – you can read a little more about it here

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Picture Credits
All pics that aren’t mine link to original source
Design Museum exterior, shop and collection (3rd pic): Design Museum website
Glyptotek exterior and interior statues: Glypototek website
Experimentarium from accross the water: Location CPH
All other pictures my own, please credit if using

A morning in Roskilde

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum


During our time in Copenhagen we decided to make use of the extensive railway network and take a trip out to Roskilde. Perhaps most well-known for its music festival, Roskilde is also a really pleasant area to just wander around. The main street in the town admittedly isn’t hugely exciting, but just beyond that, past towering Roskilde Cathedral, it becomes greener, the buildings more traditional. And then you see the vast fjord beyond. Copenhagen isn’t exactly a hectic city – far from it – but Roskilde is that bit slower, calmer, quieter.

We ambled through a park and down to the Viking Ship Museum, where we spent a good couple of hours looking around the main exhibition and boatyard, clambering over their exhibition ships and trying on the Viking costumes, before eating an ice cream overlooking the fjord.

The perfect way to spend a relaxed morning in Copenhagen.



Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde fjord

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum


Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde Cathedral



Getting There
We went by train. Roskilde is in Zone 7, a ticket for which costs DK 108

Viking Ship Museum
Open every day except 24, 25 and 31 December
Open 10-4, or 10-5 22/06-31/08

Adult: 80 DKK (October-April), 115 (May-September)
Students: 70 DKK (October-April), 100 (May-September)
Children up to 18 go free

All photos my own, please credit if using

Basildon Park, Berkshire

This weekend we made the most of the National Trust Free Weekends and visited Basildon Park, situated near Streatley and about halfway between Didcot and Reading.

Set in over 400 acres of grounds, Basildon Park is a Georgian country manor house which was restored in the 1950’s by Lord and Lady Iliffe; it fell into disrepair following a chain of unfortunate events in the early 20th century which culminated in property developer George Ferdinando selling off many of the fixtures and fittings. It was then used by troops in World War II, and following this lead was stolen from the roof and a fire blitzed the principal floor, all of which seemingly marked the house for demolition.

Fortunately that didn’t end up being the case. And now you can not only explore the mansion and its gardens, but there are also three signposted walks of varying lengths which allow you to explore the grounds.

Undertaking one of these walks was my favourite part of the visit. Even on the free weekend they were really quiet (albeit at 11.30am, not long after the grounds opened). Although obviously looked after, and featuring strategically placed benches for rests and taking in the scenery, the grounds still felt natural and, well, like the countryside. It was also just really relaxing. Sat on a bench overlooking the main manor house, we were completely in the open yet felt like we were alone; it was a really lovely, peaceful experience, if a little surreal – something that seems more common to ‘reflective’ scenes in films and television programmes than a Real Life Sunday Morning! (Perhaps this is why the house has starred in the films Marie-Antoinette, Pride & Prejudice and Dorian Grey, according to Wikipedia.)

I’d definitely like to go back armed with my walking boots and a flask to do one of the longer walks (we only completed the second shortest on this occasion, which took us just under an hour at what was a leisurely pace for us). You can find out more information about these walks here.

The manor itself was also pretty interesting. In their restoration, Lord and Lady Iliffe were faithful to the manor’s 18th century origin, the fixtures and fittings all reflecting what might have been the house’s original features. Each room comes with a written guide to tell you a bit more about the features inside. I don’t know whether we would have paid the extra to go in normally, so it was good to have the opportunity to see what we would have been missing. I particularly like the grand piano that visitors are encouraged to play – it definitely adds something to the atmosphere, even if the tunes we heard probably weren’t quite the same as the ones I imagine the Iliffes were entertained by!

That said, much as the grandeur of the rooms is interesting, I think my favourite part had to be the 1950’s kitchen – mainly because I’d be quite happy to have a very similar one of my own one day (a girl can dream!).

I also have to mention the second-hand bookshop attached to the gift store. Manned by just an honesty box, and featuring a big wooden table in the middle of the room, the shop invites you to browse the reasonable selection of titles on offer (better than the selection in most non-book-specific charity shops, anyway). Even better, unless marked all books are £1, or 50p for children’s. I came away with a barely touched copy of The Beach, which I’d been meaning to buy my own copy of for some time – bargain!

Would I go back to Basildon Park? To the grounds, definitely. Sure you can go for walks in the local woods for free, but it is nice to do something a bit different occasionally. And these walks offered really spectacular views, both of the surrounding countryside and of the bluebell-carpeted floors. Also, the woods don’t serve cream teas (which I will definitely be treating myself to next time – they looked amazing!). I probably wouldn’t pay the extra £4 to go inside the manor again, but definitely appreciated the opportunity to have a look at something we wouldn’t normally be able to justify paying for.

That said, we are now very tempted to join the National Trust. An annual membership for 13-25 year olds is just £25 (a little over £2 a month), and cheaper if purchased online by direct debit. You essentially pay for it with three – four visits to sites a year. Not bad at all, especially considering that until recently we were paying £9.99 a month for a LoveFilm membership we barely used! (Membership for over 25s (for the National Trust, not Lovefilm) is a bit steeper at £53 a year, or £88.50 for a joint one – paying by direct debit will get you 25% off – but that’s still a pretty reasonable deal when you think about just how much you get for it).

Still not sure whether National Trust sites are for you? I’m pretty sure we’re not what you’d consider to be a typical member, especially based on the demographics of the others visiting on Sunday. I’m 24, would usually choose a city or beach break over a countryside holiday and enjoy city living. John usually has to be coerced to museums, and tends to be much more interested in the present than the past. But we both equally enjoyed our day at Basildon Park. A lot. I think I could pretty safely say that both there, and other National Trust sites, offer something for most people (I daren’t say everyone, though it may well be true…).

The other thing the trip did was remind us how lucky us Brits are to have so much history on our doorsteps that is being kept alive by the National Trust. After a week of rain and hail and sitting on your 40-minute train home very, very damp, it’s pretty easy to get down on Britain and vow to move to Australia at the next possible opportunity. This weekend, and browsing through the huge variety of places participating in the Free Weekend for this blog, made me remember how much we actually do have going for us on our little island. More than enough to make the occasional soggy train journey home worth it, that’s for sure.

Visit the Basildon Park website for more information on opening times, prices, activities and events.
More information on National Trust membership can be found here.
A few more photos available on Flickr.

Belem, Lisbon

Today’s post focuses on Belem, an area located about 6km west of the city centre – an excellent excuse to hop on one of the gorgeous little trams for a ride. You need to get route 15, and I recommend picking it up from either the Praca Comércio or Praca Figueira – we first attempted to get on at Cais Sodre but it was completely full by that point!

Belem is most famous for its Jeronimos monastery and for having, allegedly, the best Pasteis de Nata in the city at Pasteis de Bélem. But there is much more to this beautiful – and quite calming – area of Lisbon. It’s definitely worth at least a half day of your time, and ideally a day. Just make sure that day’s not a Monday!

Jeronimos Monastery
Most people venture to Belem to visit the impressive monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its magnificence commands your attention, the building quite striking in both size and details in the Gothic architecture. It’s undeniably one of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen, religious or otherwise.

The tombs of many important Portuguese figures can be seen her, arguably most famously Vasco Da Gama, one of the most successful Portuguese explorers in the Age of Discoveries. In fact, the monastery is built on the site where he and his crew spent their last night in Portugal before leaving on their voyage to India.

Some parts of the monastery can be seen for free, but unlimited access will cost you €6. It’s open from 10 – 5, hours extending until 6 in summer. Closed Mondays.

Torre de Belem
Dating from the 16th Century, the tower, like the monastery, is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was intended built both to be a defence system for and ‘ceremonial gateway’ to Lisbon. Today it serves as a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discoveries.

You can enjoy the building’s outside for free (which is what we did), but if you want to explore it more thoroughly it will cost you €4 (unless you have a Lisbon Card – then it’s free!). It’s open from 10am – 5pm, or until 6.30 in summer. Closed Mondays.

Museo Berardo
Discussed in more detail here, the Museo Berardo is a must-visit modern art museum. And it’s free!

Discoveries Monument
Built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, the monument is situated on the edge of the Tagus river. It took us a while to work out what it was depicting, but it turns out those featured are notable Portuguese figures: poets, explorers, cartographers and more. We’d probably have found this out quicker if we’d known there was an exhibition space inside the monument! (There’s also a lift that offers visitors views over Lisbon.)

I particularly liked the floor mosaic infront of the monument that depicted the world and routes Portuguese explorers once took. Though so does everyone else, meaning getting a decent photo op isn’t so easy!

The exhibition space below the monument is open 10-6. No prizes for guessing the day it’s closed! (Mondays…)

The Docks
Walking to Belem Tower, you will pass some pretty docks. Perfect if you like boat porn, or just want to stop for a drink.

Pasteis de Belem
Based on those we tried during our time in Lisbon, this place really does do the best Pasteis de Nata in the city. You can read more about it here. A must-visit in Belem.

Other Attractions
Belem is home to a whole host of other museums and gardens, from the Coaches museum – a collection of royal coaches – to tropical gardens. You can find a whole list on the excellent Go Lisbon website.