'Bristol Insight' logotype and page-title

Welcome to our second e-Newsletter. The big news is that we have been nominated for a 'Tourism Activity of the Year 2011' award, along with two other nominees. This is a huge achievement for Bristol Insight and is recognition of all our efforts over many years. We also have two interviews: one with Mary Cook, one of our newly qualified guides, and another with 'Mr Brunel' – not the real one but a young actor who is portraying the great man. Other stories feature 'Dennis' (our new 'buggy-friendly' bus), an exciting Wildlife Tour on the Downs on June 5th, and news of the Great Western Chorus whose members include two of our own guides!

Awards Nomination – ‘Tourism Activity of the Year 2011' nomination ...
'Mr Brunel' – We interview actor Simon Strain about his new role ...
Wildlife Tour – Book now to avoid disappointment! ...
A Guide Speaks – Mary Cook tells us about being a guide ...
Choral Tour – The Great Western Chorus go to the USA ...
New Bus – Read about Dennis, our buggy-friendly bus ...

Enjoy the Newsletter!



Awards logoFantastic news! Bristol Insight has been nominated for the ‘Tourism Activity of the Year 2011' award. As well as celebrating business excellence within the tourism and hospitality industry, individuals and teams are recognised for their contribution to making the city such a key destination. Can we win it?

The award is sponsored by Bristol Airport. Our fellow nominees are The Glass Blowing Experience at Bristol Blue Glass and The Keeper Experience at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. All the winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Bristol Marriott City Centre Hotel on Thursday 2nd June, when businesses from across the industry (including us!) will enjoy a night of celebration.

To find out more about the awards and who else has been nominated, go to www.visitbristol.co.uk.


Simon Strain as BrunelYet another interview for this roving reporter as I track down ss Great Britain’s new ‘Mr Brunel’. I found him at the Avon Gorge Hotel, eating chocolate biscuits and enjoying the view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of his finest pieces of work! His name is Simon Strain and a huge fan of the man he is portraying. Simon is a 27-year-old professional actor who has lived in Bristol for seven years. His father was an engineer in the Navy and it was he who instilled in the young Simon a love of all things engineering, and in particular Brunel himself. He persuaded Simon to apply for the role, which was judged ‘X factor’ style with the last four applicants selected by public vote. Two made it to the final, and the trustees chose Simon as the winner.

"His role will be to promote the great man and his ship"

“It is an absolute honour to portray the man who changed the world,” says Simon, who worked extremely hard during the judging process. He received his challenge in an envelope, which was to perform a major speech to the panel at very short notice! His next challenge begins when he starts working for the SS Great Britain on Saturday 28th May, where his role will be to promote the great man and his ship while sharing anecdotes with the public.

He was the perfect interviewee, a very pleasant and humorous man, with a great future ahead of him; maybe the next ‘Brunel’? Read more about the competition and Brunel’s ss Great Britain at www.ssgreatbritain.org.


A peregrine falconTake a trip on this unique tour on Sunday June 5th with Mandy Leivers from Bristol Zoo on board, as we explore the wildlife in the Gorge and on the Downs. Mandy is the Avon Gorge and Downs Biodiversity Education Officer and has a wealth of knowledge about this outstanding area of Bristol. Don’t miss out – book now. It should be a great trip!

Although positioned on the edge of the city, the Downs feel like open countryside. It runs along the eastern edge of the Avon Gorge and is important for wildlife, with large areas of limestone grassland brimming with wild flowers. They are also a great place for bird-watching as over 65 different species use the site. The Avon Gorge is nationally recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and internationally recognised as a Special Area of Conservation.

The tour is on Sunday 5th June 2.00–4.00pm; pick-up is in Guthrie Road, Clifton (at the back of Bristol Zoo). £10.00 adults £4.00 children; pre-booking is essential. For further information and bookings, contact Mandy Leivers on 0117 903 0609 or e-mail mleivers@bristolzoo.org.uk


Mary Cook, who qualified recently as a guide, has kindly provided me with an interview in which she talks about why she became a guide, a few things she never knew about Bristol, guiding mistakes and some of her favourite parts of Bristol.

Mary CookWhat made you become a Guide?
“I became a guide mainly because I’m incredibly proud of being a Bristolian, and wanted to give something back to the city. I love showing off this incredible place. It's so easy because it's so lovely!”

Any mistakes during training?
“I’ve made a few blunders along the way, most notably when I referred to Russ Conway as ‘the famous one-fingered pianist’ when actually he had one finger missing! I was also completely taken in when I told passengers that the Grand Prix was coming to Bristol next year. I’d read it in the paper on April 1st!”

What do you like most about Bristol?
“My favourite part of Bristol has got to be the sight of Clifton Suspension Bridge as the bus drives under Plimsoll Bridge; I get a bit tearful every time I see it! Christmas Steps and St Nicholas Market are other favourites. Having a cup of tea and a cake in the Bristol Cathedral café's garden on a sunny afternoon is brilliant.”

"I know that this is a great city, but I had no idea of the wealth of diversity we have"

Is there anything you learned about Bristol that you didn’t know before your training?
“I had no idea how old the Christmas Steps were. It's such a shame that they've been obscured by modern office blocks at the bottom. I like to point them out on the tour and urge passengers to check them out for the great history and atmosphere.
I knew that Bristol had a famous pirating history but I had no idea that Blackbeard came from Redcliffe. Bristolians – the best at being bad!!!
I know that this is a great city, but I had no idea of the wealth of diversity we have here. From a busy city centre and shopping area to the green spaces of the Downs – and only 2 miles apart. The architecture is amazing, from the Georgian terraces to the new foyer at the Colston Hall. It's a cliché but Bristol really does have something to offer everyone – especially if we held the Grand Prix!!!
I knew that Brunel never got to see the Suspension Bridge finished, but I had no idea how fond he was of it, and that it was one of his first major projects on his own. I always tend to think that geniuses like him would be un-emotional but he referred to the bridge as ‘my first child, my darling’.”

Visit our about us page to find out more about the Bristol Insight team.


The Great Western ChorusWe provided an open-top bus tour recently for two of our guides who sing with the Great Western Chorus of Bristol. The Chorus are winners of The British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) 2010 Champion Chorus, and Dave Clarke and Steve Sessions arranged a fundraising tour of Bristol to enable them to compete in the World Barbershop Championships in the USA in July.

The bus tour was followed by a visit to a pub where they held a raffle and sang songs from their repertoire! Their motto is ‘Fun Singing Well’ and their music is a cappella (unaccompanied voices) in the barbershop style. The Chorus, comprising over 40 members, will be travelling with some supporters and in their one week of competition will, amazingly, sing only 4 songs.

To find our more about the Great Western Chorus, visit www.greatwesternchorus.com.


Our 'Dennis' busWe have just acquired ‘Dennis’, a low-floor step-free bus, with easy access for buggies and those with limited mobility. “We are pleased to be offering parents an easy way to enjoy our sightseeing service by reducing the stress of bringing their children’s buggies with them," says Nicola Padden, Bristol Insight's Marketing Manager. "Now they can simply ‘wheel on and wheel off’ when they use this bus.”

The bus’s floor can be lowered to allow easier access for children’s buggies, and it has a space for three buggies on board. It also provides improved access for those with limited mobility. ‘Dennis’ can also be hired privately for weddings, school and children’s parties, works-dos and socials, and corporate events all year round.

For more information on our timetabled tour visit our map page, or call the tour enquiries telephone hotline 01906 7112191. For private hire options on board ‘Dennis’, please go to our private hire section.


Return to Top