KATHERINE MACALISTER samples some of Bristol’s newest attractions while revisiting old haunts.

Revisiting old haunts can be a dangerous business, especially on romantic weekends away.

And Bristol holds so many rose-tinted memories for me, teenage moments caught for ever in the eternal optimism of those heady days when the world was full of possibilities and love lasted for ever.

The tired, harassed woman who washed up on its shores for the weekend two decades later was a far cry from that glowing 16 year-old.

But that’s the magical thing about Bristol.

It’s such a wonderful city that within minutes of stepping out of the car in Clifton Village, the waves of excitement were washing over me once more.

Checking into the welcoming foyer of The Rodney Hotel, in the heart of Clifton, we ran to our top floor room with views sweeping over the city, dumped our bags and disappeared out the door.

With a two night weekend break planned, there was no time to lose.

The Rodney’s popularity speaks for itself, and on the night in question its restaurant was fully booked.

So, determined to keep the ghosts at bay, we headed off to the newest place in town The Lido, for dinner.

What a memorable evening.

The Victorian swimming pool has been recently renovated and brought back to its former glory, with the added bonus of a two-storey glass-fronted restaurant surrounding the pool, serving delicious, locally sourced, inspiring food to its packed out diners.

And as I watched a lone swimmer ploughing up and down the turquoise water, while I ate a superb meal, washed down by some fabulous wine, chatting all the while to my lovely husband uninterrupted by sticky hands or homework, I felt the layers of domestic obligation peeling off, leaving me lighter and happier than I’d felt in ages.

Saturday was spent eating breakfast in the infamous Primrose Café before wandering around Clifton’s independent shops.

We peeled off later to Cribbs Causeway for a more serious spot of retail therapy, being spoilt for choice with the recently completed Cabot Circus to choose from as well, before meeting up with friends in Pizza Provencale that evening, where the pizzas are served in giant wicker baskets and the wine flows like water.

A pub, a bar and a club followed, and we returned to The Rodney in the early hours of the morning, collapsing on to our comfortable beds.

But after a long lie-in, even our headaches couldn’t dull the fact that we felt better, about everything.

Old age is still a long way away and romance is there when you make the effort to get away from it all. In fact the only question left was when can we go back? Say maybe February 14th?

* l The Rodney, right, is at 4 Rodney Place, Clifton, Bristol.

Call 0117 973 5422 * The Lido is at Oakfield Place, Bristol. Call 0117 933 9530 * Pizza Provencale. 29 Regent St, Clifton, Bristol. Call 0117 974 1175 * Primrose Cafe, 1-2 Boyce’s Ave, Bristol. Call 0117 946 6577