stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ladies' weekend away

There we were – all eight of us, arrived safely in the Bristol YHA. Ladies on the town for the weekend to celebrate Gill’s birthday - a little retail therapy, some laughs and maybe a bit of culture.

The Youth Hostel is in a great location – a converted warehouse right on the cobbled waterfront, next to the Arnolfini galley. Excellent access to the town centre, just a stroll along the old dockside away.

Right , first we’ll sort out our rooms. Four to a room. Off we go. Janet has the keys “Six and eight” she says, and walks into room number six. “Oh, foldaway bunks, and oh… someone is in one of them!” A male voice slowly replies “plenty of room for two”. Janet backs out, turning the key ring upside down in her hand. “ Errr…rooms eight and nine. Ooops!" Those of us in room nine wonder whether a reciprocal visit will happen in the night. (It doesn’t, and the rest of us haven’t even seen him!)

The weather is wonderful – lovely crisp autumn weather, with sunshine and powder blue skies. We shop till we drop, amazing the local yoof with an exuberant group hug before launching ourselves into the Galleries shopping mall. At the end, most of us have something new that we can wear in the evening, on our excursion across the new footbridge to eat in the Watershed café/bar. Thoroughly recommended! Great food and a very relaxed atmosphere plus a smoke free zone. And quite cultural too. We wander about a little afterwards, enjoying the Saturday night buzz.

Back in the hostel there is a coffee area with comfy sofas. One of our company strolls elegantly up the spiral staircase, and from our vantage point below we notice a stylishly swinging price tag. Everyone surreptiously checks their own new items!

Sunday morning turns out to be Remembrance Sunday, and we have the added bonus of city streets empty of traffic, as they are closed to allow the civic dignitaries to walk to the Cenotaph. The Lord Mayor is in open horse drawn coach, with mounted police escort (nearly all women). The alderman in their red cloaks walk solemnly in procession behind. Jean has fits of laughter watching them hurriedly sidestepping the fresh horse poo. Most grin back.

We watch the two teams of young soldiers firing the gun salute over the docks to begin and end the two minutes silence. I’ve only ever been in small towns or villages for this, and its moving to see what looks like a whole city turn out – young and old. A round of spontaneous applause greets the veterans as they march or wheel past.

The party has spit into two at this point – more shopping is required by some, while the rest of us head for the newly developed waterside area. I have a moment of pure bliss, walking along – hearing the bells of the cathedral drifting across with their poignant half muffled sound. I want nothing else at that moment, am totally happy in the instant – the warm sun and the wonderful sound, a full tummy and good friends. Riches indeed.

We decide we would like to spend an hour watching Mystic India – a film on at the Imax. Its just about time, and so we go into the new building. The whole area reminds me of a 3D cyberworld on the net called Activeworlds. The light; water features of shiny aluminium walls with a thin sheet of moving water falling down them; small trees with golden leaves and an air of emptiness – the similarity is uncanny.

Anyway, I buy Gill and myself tickets, and enquire the prices. The young guy lists theadult prices and all the various concessions. “I don’t feel adult “ mutters Gill. And we realize we have been given two concessionary tickets! I don’t mind but Gill is a long way off retirement age, ha ha! Then it dawns on us that our tickets say “Aliens of the Deep”. “I don’t want to see Aliens of the Deep, I want to see Mystic India” I wail. “Come back this evening” says the lad. “ Cant! We leave in two hours!” He has to go through the embarrassment of calling his supervisor to cancel my transaction and get a refund. Gill has slid off out of sight, in case her comparative youth is realized!

Happy Birthday Gill. And thanks for the memories!


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