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Bristol-Oporto Association Events

The Bristol-Oporto Association arranges a wide range of events on a Portuguese theme. New events are regularly added, so keep checking this page. Past events have included cinema, wine tastings, performing arts, jazz, choirs, fado, barbecues and quiz nights.

A  group of musicians from Oporto will be offering a free workshop to the  first 20 people who sign up. It will take place on Sunday  7 July at 3pm and repeated again at 4pm. It will take place at MShed  in Bristol’s harbourside. Below more information.
Name:  “767 Miles to Bristol  | Percussion  Workshop”
Description: SONS  DO DOURO is a contemporary percussion musical project from Oporto that  uses unconventional musical instruments, such as: barrels, vintage  baskets,  hoes and other objects that transformed into rhythmical musical  instruments, which give it a unique singularity, capable of transporting  us through time, between the memories of the past and the future of the  Douro Wine Region, transformed into an "evolving  and living" landscape listed as World Heritage in 2001 by UNESCO.
Date:   Sunday 7 July      Time:  15:00 for one hour and 16.00 for one hour.
Sessions:  2 x 1 hour
Participants:  10 maximum for each session.
Inscriptions:    Please book your place and send your email or mobile no via the Sons do Douro Facebook site:

Last night (13/04/19) we had our annual BOA dinner at the pleasant surroundings suppled by the Henbury Golf Club. A fine time was had by all on the 35th anniversary of the founding of our association.

Chair Liz advised members and friends attending that  it was on 1th April 1984 that our twinning agreement with Oporto was signed by the Mayors of both cities.  Translated into years this means as a twinning we were 35 years and 2 days old and.  It was good to see that we were still ticking over well.  During those years we had made good and lasting friendships with many in our twin city.  It is quite a wonderful thing to come to our twinning association through many and varied interests. The one area we particularly have in common is a great affection for Portugal and for Porto.    
Social events are popular and much enjoyed – we will continue to keep you posted of future events through emails and Diário our Newsletter. It is also worth mentioning that through fund raising and donations over the years we have supported and continue support a surprisingly wide variety of projects that are connected both with Porto and or Portugal.   If you know or hear of any person or small group that could benefit from grant support – please do remember to let us know.   
A  mention of Porto Quay on the Harbourside in the centre of Bristol.   There is a sign close to the small elevated round lookout area near the  cross ferry.  On the opposite side of the Floating Harbour is the SS  Great Britain.  The area is currently in the later stages of its redevelopment and that and the old gas works site with its character stone buildings are looking pretty good.     
Important  to add that during what has been a difficult year or two for this  country with Brexit looming over us it would  would be a good time to  emphasise how much we have benefitted over the years from our good and special relations  with our European friends.  Never has it been so important to keep this alive.                                    

The evening was an  opportunity for long standing members, friends and for a number of new  members to meet up.  Important as the twinning's biennial trip to Porto  was coming up shortly this June. In the attractive surroundings of the Club House all enjoyed an aperitif of dry white or ruby port with background music provided by The Perfect Cure a duo of local musicians. An evening dinner combined with listening to traditional English, Irish and Scottish country. music. After much foot and finger tapping at tables a good number made it to the dance floor.  A lively end to a very sociable evening.
Membership of our  twinning has grown over the past year as more get to hear of us.  For  anyone interested in or who has a connection with Porto or matters  Portuguese now could be the time to come and join us.
Something about wine:
Bristol and its  connections with the wine and port trades goes back many centuries.   Locally Corsham court the home of the Methuen family came to prominenece  due to the signing of  the Methuen Treay signed 27 December 1703 (popularly known as the "Port  Wine Treaty") This helped to establish trading relations between England and  Portugal. The terms of it allowed English woollen cloth to be admitted  into Portugal free of duty; in return, Portuguese wines imported into  England would be subject to a third less duty than wines imported from  France. This was particularly important in helping the development of  the port  industry. As England was at war with France, it became increasingly  difficult to acquire wine, and so port started to become a popular  replacement.   
Portuguese wines have  enjoyed something of a rennaissance in recent years and some brands of  good quality table wines are among best sellers with large importers. We  hesitate to name them as stocks may dwindle as a result!  

As a twinning we  often organise wine tastings when we can get to try the more less  familiar wines.  Bristol has of course a great history with the Taylor,  Symington and Cockburn families in particular having connections with  the city.  Several local independent wine merchants stock a wide variety  of different Portuguese wines so there is always a good opportunity to  try something different.

Another wine tasting!

On a mild November evening, members gathered in the Undercroft of St Mary Redcliffe for another entertaining wine tasting with Alan Wright of Clifton Cellars (  Fortunately, this time, forward planning by Liz had ensured that the occasion was not marred by the bell ringers choosing to practice on the evening!
Alan brought along a selection of Portuguese wines from all over the country – delicious whites from the north and the east, rich, deep reds from north, west and south and a luscious, honeyed sweet wine from the coastal area close to Lisbon.  Enjoyment of the latter was definitely enhanced by the accompanying Pasteis de Nata.  As Alan said, these wines are still not as well known to British customers as they should be.  
It’s always difficult to choose just one favourite but, for me, the star of the show was Quinta do Romeu’s ‘Westerlies’, a red wine specially blended for a voyage from Porto to Bristol in the century-old sailing ketch Bessie Ellen.  Alan, along with several other members, had tasted some of the cargo the previous Sunday at Underfall Yard and was impressed enough to bring along some bottles for us to enjoy.  
The evening concluded with the usual fantastic buffet from the wonderful in-house catering team and our grateful thanks go to them as well as to Alan and his wife.
Ian Abrahams

The Bessie Ellen

As a Twinning Association whose special links are with Oporto we were understandably excited when we heard the traditional sailing ship the Bessie Ellen was sailing from Porto to Bristol laden with port wine, olives and almonds just as in bygone days.  
Preparations were put in place to give her a warm welcome.  The Underfall Yard where she was due to be moored had offered up space for the producers to display their goods and wines inside the Yard building among the historic pumping station exhibits.
Anton Mann of Xisto Wines was much involved with the voyage and with the wines carried on board. He was keen to promote the small producers who transported goods in this way.  In the event the ship was unable to finish its journey because of completely unforeseen circumstances.
However this did not deter producers and visitors of which there were many who came to the Underfall Yard over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of November.
The surroundings were very atmospheric, much in keeping with the era of the ship.  Colourful stands were set up by the small producers of the wines and other products on board.  Wine tastings were popular both with the public and with members of the wine trade keen to find new suppliers.
The Bristol Oporto Association had a stand inviting visitors to find out more about our twinning link and about the great trading history of Bristol with Porto and particularly with its port and wine trade. We had a great deal of interest over both days with many enquiries about our twinning link.
There are few traditional sailing craft of this type still sailing and being used as a working ship. It is hoped this idea can be replicated in the near future and that we are able to say that Bristol’s  historic link with the wine trade  and with Porto is still alive and well today.


An annual favourite and an opportunity to meet up with other members, BOA friends and family making it a very sociable occasion.      
Any challenge on the weather front can be met, but this year the sun  shone for us and everyone enjoyed the ‘garden games’ of croquet, boules and quoits with plenty of pasteis de nata on hand.

Keep up with these events and others either here or on our Facebook page.

Upcoming events for your diary:

THE QUIZ BUG - Not one but two quizzes this Spring!  Our Association Quiz held at the Eastfield Inn, Henleaze attracted a good number who challenged themselves and on occasion our quizmaster over correct answers. BITA (Bristol International Twinning Association) also held their annual inter- twinning quiz. We may not have won this time but we are proud to have been the only twinning to have fielded two excellent teams.

SUNDAY 9th SEPTEMBER - TREASURE HUNT in Clifton starting from 2.00pm – further details to follow.

TUESDAY 13th NOVEMBER 7.30pm Autumn Wine Tasting at the Undercroft St Mary Redcliffe Church.

Portuguese Gourmet Dinner at the City of Bristol College Autumn Term. Date and details to follow.


Dates are Saturday 8th to Thursday 13th JUNE. A 5 night stay two centre stay in Porto and in Bragança.
We first spend time in Porto staying in the heritage Ribeira area and visiting nearby Aveiro famous for its canals.  We then travel to explore the area of north east Portugal staying in a hilltop pousada.  The itinerary includes a visit to Miranda do Douro and Alfandega, a tour of Bragança, a Douro boat trip and a rosé wine tasting. Places will be reserved on the usual first come first served basis.  Please let Liz Gamlin know if you are interested.

Bristol now has its very own wine, but don’t worry if you’ve never seen it on the shelves.  At present, there’s just one small problem: the label is missing some key information, so it isn’t legal to sell it in the UK yet.  But I have tasted it!
That was at a wine tasting evening arranged by the Bristol-Porto Twinning Association – a group that fosters links and arranges exchange visits between Bristol and friends in the Portuguese city with whom we have had trading links for many centuries.
The event was hosted by Alan, the owner of Clifton Cellars, one of Bristol’s best independent wine merchants.  He brought along a selection of wines which truly showed how far Portugal has advanced since the days when it was only known for Mateus Rosé. Aklan has an excellent blog about wine here.
The tasting included 2 very different whites: Quinta de Gomariz’s vibrant, citrussy Alvarinho (aka Alboriño) from the Vinho Verde region (£13.99) and Lagar de Darei, a richer and subtly oaked bottle from the Daô made from the local Encruzado variety (£11.98)
Of the reds, Patraô Diogo’s Aragonez- (Tempranillo) based red (£12.85) is a fascinating and rare representative of the tiny Colares region on the coast west of Lisbon.  Its sandy soils have resisted the phylloxera bug and so vines there can be planted on their own rootstocks.  The Vinha da Mouro (£13.50) from the Alentejo showed a lovely southern warmth and richness and brought the evening to a happy close.
The ‘Port O’Bristol’ is from a traditionally planted vineyard at the far eastern end of the Douro Valley. Produced by Ramos Pinto’s winemaker, this was brought over in barrel from Portugal in a sailing boat and bottled in Bristol.  There’s a tiny production and this is the first vintage of a wine that is certainly a ‘work in progress’ at present but one that is worth keeping a close eye on.
If you are interested in joining the Bristol-Porto Twinning Association, please go to this page, download the membership slip, attach a cheque and post it to the address on the slip.

our recent presence at the Bristol Harbourside Festival, Paulette North of Ujima Radio (98FM in Bristol) invited us to an interview. Your webmaster duly appeared at the appointed hour on 29th September. The results can be heard on the Listen Again section on their website here.
Search for Outlook  with Paulette 1pm hour 2 of 2.

Our chairperson, Liz Gamlin and your webmaster were recently invited to Bristol Community Radio (BCfm, 93.2Mhz, site) for an
interview and to publicise our association. The results may be heard here - look for Silver Sounds 11:00 26/11/15. We hope
we managed to reach out to more people and to give an informative interview.
As always, feed back to webmaster.

BOA chairperson Liz Gamlin and BITA co-ordinator Alix Hughes  met with Dave Trigger, the Castle Park ranger on 19th November 2015 to discuss the  situation regarding the Oporto ceramic floor. The ceramic piece of  public  art is entitled “only dead fish float with the current” and was created  by Spike Island artist Vic Moreton in the famous traditional Ceramica  do Douro factory in Oporto, after his design won a competition with  artists from both Oporto and Bristol. The piece  was unveiled in 1993 as part of the revamped Castle Park’s huge range  of new public art. The Oporto ceramic has been lovingly repaired by Dave  Trigger each time it has been damaged by weather or park users. Sadly  it has now reached the stage of being beyond  repair and the BOA is leading the discussion to have it removed and  perhaps re configured on a wall along Oporto Quay. The BOA would like to  hear your views on this.

Please send your comments to the webmaster.

Tree Planting in Castle Park, Bristol

Representatives from the BOA joined members of the One Tree Per Child team and councillors from Oporto in Castle Park on 9th October 2015 to plant a tree. Deputy Mayor Felipe Araújo and Deputy Councillor Luis Assunçião from Oporto City Council were in Bristol to attend the Eurocities Environmental Forum and took time out to plant a Sorbus Bristoliensis. Twin city Oporto want to send us one of their Portuguese Oak Trees in the future and we will be sending another sorbus bristoliensis to Oporto for their National Tree Day in November. The sorbus bristoliensis only grows in the Avon Gorge in Bristol, and we are thus quite proud of it.
The aim of the tree planting was  to symbolise the growth of the link and to mark Oporto’s celebration of our European Green Capital Year. The idea originally came from a conversation in Oporto with Bristol City Council’s head of sustainability, Alex Minshull and the project was progressed by Alix Hughes from the BOA and Richard Ennion from the BCC parks team.
From left to right:
Maureen Gillet’s (committee member) partner, Cllr Mark Wright, Maureen Gillett, Richard Pople, Richard Ennion, Cllr Felipe Araujo, Alix Hughes, Cllr Luis Assuncao, Will Fawcett
 Councillor Dr Mark Wright (Lib Dem councillor for Cabot Ward which includes Castle Park) and Councillor Felipe Araújo
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