|This entry is dedicated to…|
|Corgee, next time|
Jim and Chris (the Welshman) invite me to lunch with them at the pub. We walk down the hill past a mile-long line to see Banksy to the Whitehart where I order a vegetarian lasagna and they order "Scream Burgers". The food comes and the Scream Burgers are just oozing meaty goodness and sauce and smell sooo good. Sometimes, life is hard.
We watch the cricket match over the meal - England vs. Australia at the stadium in Cardiff (which I recognise from my travels there). Never has a sport been so thoroughly analysed as cricket. The bats have little microphones in them, high-speed cameras around the wickets and the stadium allow 3D reconstructions of the ball's trajectories which, in aggregate, give you a very unique perspective on how the game's being played. Thermal imaging shows the heat of the ball's impacts. And, of course, the stats.
As I watch the match, I am taken by the idea that it will last all day, for five days. Hundreds of points will be scored - there's a lot of patience here. Jim and Chris explain that it's a "civilised" sport, the fans compliment each other's teams - no riots or flipping of cars.
This is in contrast to the football World Cup matches I watched with Steffi and Marijke in Alaska - beer and chips flying, yelling at the computer screen, commenting idly on how Berlin will be a sea of chaos in the wake of the match. I'd never understood football fans till that day… As Jim and Chris look on, burgers slowly evaporating, I know that I don't yet grok cricket.
I've wandered half the city searching for a place to eat. I know - on some abstract level - that I'm hungry, although there are no indications of that, no feeling of that. I pass by restaurants exhaling luxurious food-odours into the night, look at the prices, look at the food names, and feel no desire.
Bristol, familiar now, slides by. I make a few phone calls near the Full Moon hostel, where I spent my first night. I wander past the bombed-out church from the Second World War. Finally, I wander to the Watershed. The food isn't cheaper, but it's time to make bold choices!
The barman fetches the veggie chili, commenting on how he does things special for Australians and then apologising profusely when I purposely pull out a Minnesotan ID.
|I'm wandering Bristol again - with a GPS this time. I discover a gate, and then, a secret park. It rises up out of the city and the trees hide the buildings - there's a hill all covered with long, waving yellowed grasses and the illusion of limitless space. Getting to the top, I see that it's illusion only and head to the Cabot tower.|
The pictures above I took later in the week - it was raining this time. And I hunted through the rain with my umbrella, searching for the geocache. Just before leaving Minneapolis, Corgee and I had gone on a similar hunt. We found the first cache on our list - her first geocache ever - hiding up atop a barbed wire fence that had emeshed itself with a tree. Climbing up, we extracted the X-TREME skateboard geobug. The next hour and more was spent searching for a second cache, till we were running out of time. "But, failure…" she said, and never was a voice so dejected.
|I'd hoped that we could drop that bug off during a planned visit, but, alas, the visit didn't work out. And now, poking through the rain with my umbrella, I am determined not to fail. A good half-hour or more later, pretty much soaked, I discover false stones in a brick wall. The cache is mine and the skateboard has a new home. "Success."|
I walk home through the night along the Avon river, leaving the harbour and its boats behind. Suddenly, I'm at the locks and there are signs saying it's a "working area" and that pedestrian traffic isn't allowed… but these, surely, are merely guidelines. Walking past the lit windows of the watch station, I give a wave to the night operators - they wave back. Treading through a mass of steel cables and operating equipment, I pass by the wood-encrusted locks to the city.
|Now the older docks are passing me, decrepit and falling, a timber at a time, into the murky Avon below. The fences here have the philosophy that it's better it's better to kill intruders than let them kill themselves on unsafe equipment.|
The Clifton Suspension Bridge
Now I'm climbing up through the trees and cliffs around Brunel's hundred-and-more-year-old creation.
There's another vista from the top before I head home through the dark woods where Jim later tells me homosexual men hide out and pose possible dangers. Naturally, nothing bothers me.
|Lying down in the field on the way home, I try my first long-exposure sky shots, but they don't quite live up to expectations.|
It's Friday and Friday means it's time to leave and, for others, it's time to arrive. A message appears in my inbox:
help us out! we are 5 girls visiting bristol and we need a place to sleep! if you have space available for 5 cool gals please let us know. we are not high maintenance we have sleeping bags and can sleep on the floor or even camp in the garden. thanks!
I'm leaving - this means my room will be empty. Why not offer it, along with my meager ensemble of worldly goods, to complete strangers? I do so.
oh hell yeah! thatd be so cool thanks! we're excited to see bristol! so what time would we need to be there by and where is it or where should we meet you? thanks for the appreciation of my book tates. maybe you shouldnt read the little prince and keep it as you know it, but i did like it a lot. raina
So that's settled, I'll leave the key for Raina under a tree by my abode, but now I still need to get out of town and, to that end, launch a massive search of Northern Wales in the hopes that, somewhere, there's a place for me. Finding one, I prepare to depart, but now I'm immersed in dreaming up corruption-resistant data storage techniques and time slips by, then Steve and I have a talk, and more time slips by, and now, there's not time to leave the key under the tree.
I debate. Responsibly leave the key and miss the train? Find an alternative place and risk having the key be lost? If only I had a reliable friend in Bristol. Someone who'd be available at any hour of the night to give my key to the girls. Someone who could give them directions and food, make them feel welcome.
The Falafel King looks down from on high, my garbled story having just rushed past him. "Reepeat deis.", he commands. MummbleGush! He stares at me, his eyes burning with regal authority, "I will do this thing for you. Give me the key." Genuflecting the while, I obey.
The key safely in his hand, I realise I've forgotten the laptop - my way of communicating this to the girls - at the school. Running back, I leave a message, and then take the fourth taxi ride of my life. The ceiling is high, the ride relaxed - the antithesis of my first harried ride. The driver, a Somali, and I discuss piracy, his family at home, and Afrika. Afrika, he says, is beautiful. I must go there, he says.
And then, with only a little more running, I make it to the train just as the last people are boarding. The doors swish shut, and I'm on my way.