Three Line Tales : The secrets of Zed Alley

three line tales week 57: unicorn this way

photo by Fleur Treurniet via Unsplash


The alleyway smelled of oil and clogged drains, it rattled with chip trays and balls of greasy paper that the wheelie bins trapped and kept. The place wasn’t marked on a map and it didn’t have a signpost, though years back someone whispered Zed Alley and that name passed from one person to another, becoming more solid as the years rolled by until it belonged.

When folk think of magic it doesn’t come alone, it comes with half-melted candles and old, heavy books written in secret languages and cloaks with stars and moons stitched in gold thread … not with half-eaten burgers and broken tarmac.

But then what people think isn’t always clever or sensible or right and Zed Alley held more magic than a warehouse full of candles, more than a thousand crumbling spell books. Because there you would find Miss Hollow’s stable for unicorns  …


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. Always an inspiring photo to prompt a wayward tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Here is the real Zed Alley in the centre of Bristol – much nicer than my make believe version. And for more strange Bristolian road names, see here.

Zed Alley

  © Copyright Neil Owen and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence


16 thoughts on “Three Line Tales : The secrets of Zed Alley

      1. Zed Alley presumably gets its name from its zigzag configuration. Rather neatly it joins a small group of thoroughfares the names of which begin with Z, and that includes Zetland Road in the Redland areal. (Sorry, that should be ‘area’.)

        Now the hunt is on for street names beginning with X …

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course – I’d often wondered why it was called Zed Alley – I assumed it came at the end of something, but your reason makes much more sense! I’d never noticed that it zagzagged close to Redland. I used to work on Zetland Road years ago, in a rather nice flower shop. Their was a Mexican restaurant next door and when we worked late our boss used to treat us to fajitas! Lovely it was 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s too odd…I know I hadn’t seen that photo from Blarney Castle. I think we have a picture of it. And the Zed Alley in Bristol reminds me of so many side streets I fell in love with, in the UK. Your writing is prosey in this piece, I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bill. Yes, much of ‘Brizzle’ isn’t too glamorous – it being heavily bombed during the war and therefore subject to some horrific 60s brutalist architecture – but it does still have some wonderful nuggets in the centre of town, some buildings dating back to Bill Shakespeare’s time and earlier. Many of which seem to be pubs, weirdly. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, perhaps Zed Alley isn’t filled with magic, but it would be nice to feel it could be, if only we could look a bit closer. And magic can definitely be found where you least expect it, I think. Thank you, Joy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do love that idea, that magic could be hiding around the corner here in our real world. That’s one of the big appeals of Harry Potter for me, and also of tales where fairies and elves are hiding behind the foliage out in the woods.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Me too! Who needs to be transported to another land when there’s the possibility of magic at your fingertips? That’s the appeal of urban fantasy for me too – the ordinary world tipping over into the extraordinary. The possibilities … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful description of Zed Alley — I would hate to miss the opportunity to visit the stable for unicorns — now I know how to find it.
    It’s been a while since I ventured far from home — nice to read your words again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lorraine – lovely to hear from you. We’ll pack some food and go search out that stable together, I say. Best leave a trail of breadcrumbs though … 🙂


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