These Pages Fall Like Ash -City Wide, Bristol

Perhaps you've noticed them? Wooden book in one hand, smart phone in the other, searching for an elusive signal. They nod and smile knowingly at each other, and then move on. Over the past few weeks a tale of two cities, one Here, the other There, has been unfolding. Developed by Tom Abba and Duncan Speakman with creative input from Neil Gaiman and Nick Harkaway, These Pages Fall Like Ash is the first project of its kind and very much an experiment.

Imagine if two cities could exist in the same space, at the same time. Neither may be aware of the other's existence, but what if they began, in places, to overlap? These Pages Fall Like Ash tells the story of two people who have become separated between these two alternative realities. Their memories fading, it tells of their journey and determination to reconnect.

Part of this story is written in the pages of a beautifully crafted wooden notebook but, sections of narrative are missing and instead hidden (on Raspberry Pis) in locations around Bristol. Released in phases, these elements are site specific, enhancing the reading experience. There are yet more gaps within the pages of the book, and at each location, which the reader must fill in: thus moulding and shaping the story as it moves towards its conclusion.

Set within the boundaries of the old city, These Pages Fall Like Ash has taken me to areas that I rarely visit and, made me look afresh at that which has become so familiar. It has been a welcome escape from the daily grind and fuelled my imagination. With echoes of the past and tapping into anxieties for the future, I'm sure I've caught glimpses of where present day Bristol overlaps with the dystopian, tidal city of Portus.

As an aside, these wanderings around the city, snatched around lunchtime, during a coffee break, or a rare afternoon off, have taken me past some of my favourite eating spots/vendors. A meander through St Nicholas's Market brimming with choice; a quick coffee at Small Street Espresso; an indulgent salted caramel and banana sundae from Vee Double Moo on Brandon Hill; finally making it to the Three Tuns -the new home of Meat and Bread and remembering how much I like the pizzas at Hen and Chicken.

A place I'd like to mention, that I often over look, my head turned by goat curry, pie, pit barbecue and pasteis de nata, is Source Food Hall and Café in St Nick's Market. Although I didn't eat in the café itself, M and I tried some of the goodies baked on site and sold in the food hall.

Not usually a fan of Scotch eggs -put off by the sweaty, India rubber hard, neon crumbed varieties eaten during the picnics of my childhood; I was swayed to try their decadent spin on the snack. The egg, medium soft was rolled in well seasoned duck confit, dotted with chives and coated in panko breadcrumbs, giving it a light and crisp shell. A delicious improvement on anything I've tried before.

Their rum baba was also a little different. Brioche like, and soaked in rum syrup to the point of collapse, they 're split and filled with vanilla whipped cream and, steadily becoming an obsession.

Finally, we tried their sour cherry and salted caramel chocolate brownie. Brownie, I think, is a misnomer. A dense square of chocolate truffle torte, sticky and sour would be more accurate. If you ever require a chocolate hit, this would really do it justice.

Now, back to These Pages Fall Like Ash. Intuitive and exciting (with the occasional technical hitch), I look forward to seeing how the idea develops and wait on tenterhooks for its next instalment.


Labels: , , ,