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It's Party Time .......

We had been given our orders, “Do not arrive before 5pm”. No problem. Our plan was to mosey on down to Bristol, firstly calling at the Clifton Suspension Bridge and perhaps take some photos or videos for use on Instagram, before making our way to the house where we were staying.

Come on, you should know us by now; the best laid plans etc. We had a leisurely morning with a cooked brunch around 11am with the intention of leaving just after mid-day. We were ready, but then decided to post a reel before leaving. Yet again we encountered problems, no arguments this time, just frustration, but we eventually managed to succeed on our fourth attempt. Why is life so complicated? Surfing my twitter account the previous night an author asked a question along the lines of “what part of the writing process did you find most challenging?” My answer was, “Marketing and the IT involved in Marketing, especially social media apps.” So, we were later in leaving than planned, but that was not a problem as we had time to kill before arriving at the Airbnb.

What was a problem was first, the 40 minute hold up on the motorway, followed by the lack of parking at the bridge, which combined with the road noise made recording spoken videos impossible. Plus, being on the bridge it did not look particularly special – I think one needs to look at it from a distance to get the full impact. And before the historians start trolling me, I very much appreciate the significance of the bridge and its designer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I was also looking forward to touring his ship, the SS Great Britain, if we had the time during our stay.

Okay, the bridge was a failure, so onto the next planned step of our day, cross the bridge into Clifton Village and find a nice pub to while away an hour. The spanner in the wheel? Traffic; which was virtually gridlocked. A combination of schools being out and early leaver workers resulted in us being in a worse queue than on the motorway. Turning right towards the village was proving almost impossible, but traffic was moving left – the direction of the Airbnb, so decision made. We headed left and hoped to spot a pub along the way. There wasn’t one and then the sat nag was telling us to turn left onto our destination street. But we were early! Judy was desperately in need of a wee so we would just have to face the consequences of being early.

There were nine of us staying in the house for the weekend – I will just add that Judith and I are not good at sharing space with anybody, let alone strangers – but it was lovely to finally meet the ‘mother-in-law’ and catch up with the ‘brother-in-law’ and his girlfriend, plus meeting the ‘bride’s’ best friend from her schooldays and her partner. If I’ve got this right, there was three Englanders, four South Africans, one Dutchman and one Spanish born Dutch lady in the house, and the Dutchman's spoken English was better than ours. That first night it would be fair to say that we had a good time, a late night to bed and a few hangovers in the morning.

Another brunch on Friday morning before heading off into Bristol City centre. We are not big shoppers and after finding Judith some new tights we headed off for the waterside to explore. We stopped for a coffee in a small park alongside a church with a small cafe. Whilst sat outside in the sun a homeless ex army man approached everyone asking for any change to enable him to afford a bed for the night. We were the only ones to offer him some money in exchange for a booklet. Homelessness is a very emotional and personal issue to Judith and this encounter upset her. Browsing the booklet, I pointed out that her good deed had resulted in us getting a map of the city centre (it was a t the back of the booklet). The map allowed us to plan a route alongside the various quays, but the more we walked, the darker the skies became and just as we were nearing the SS Great Britain, the heavens opened. Well that put paid to any tour of the ship, it would have to wait until another day. The rain was not for going away so we decided to head back to base as we were close to a bus stop. We needed a number 4 and one was due in 11 minutes according to the display. By now the rain was biblical and the bus stop full of wet schoolchildren, it was as manic as the Clifton traffic. One minute to go for our bus and then the message changed to ‘Cancelled’. Bugger. We had to wait another 20 minutes before the next one. Taking our seat on the bus, Judith’s phone pinged. By the time she got it out of her handbag and read the message the bus was stopping. “Get off now” she said to me, so I did. It transpired that her son had messaged her to say he was in a pub with Judith’s niece (on her ex’s side) if we wanted to join them. They were a 16 minute walk away, back down the hill we had come up in the bus and very close to our cafe. We had a wonderful couple of hours catching up on all the gossip before getting a taxi back to the house for a night of takeaways’, alcohol, women’s football (England v USA) and an early (uncomfortable) bed.

Saturday; party day. Another late brunch followed by a lazy afternoon before heading back into town for the ‘do’. It was a lovely intimate venue with several levels, some inside and some outside. Judith made it her mission to take photo’s of everyone; it was a great way of finding out who everyone was i.e. friends of the ‘bride’ or ‘groom’ and for those who did not know who Judith was, to learn she was the ‘groom’s’ mother, or as quite a few said, “The author”. Hey, all our hard work is paying dividends. There was also a large Cornish contingent, many of whom had been friends of both Judith’s boys and as frequent visitors to our house, were well known to us as well and it was great to catch up with them. However, there was also much sadness too, as inevitably questions were asked about Judith’s eldest son (I can say no more here, but the full story is in the book). Judith managed to put a mask up as she did not want to spoil the party for her other son, but she did have a couple of tearful moments.

By the end of the night we were both knackered – Judith's 5 year old grand niece had insisted on dancing with me for what seemed like two hours – but at the end of the party, accepted an invite from one of the Cornish lot to move onto a spoons pub for a last drink. Arriving back at the house, we were surprised to find it in darkness with everyone in bed. Young ones have no staying power these days it seems!

An early rise – we had to vacate the house by 10am – a quick shower and coffee and off we set for home and our own, wonderfully comfortable, very large bed,

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