Bristol And Back
So after the ear infection cleared up the shoulder injury happened – I don’t know how, might be tendonitis, but that was almost under control and then plantar fasciitis (painful foot thing) made an appearance and then the shoulder thing came back worse and the pain robbed my sleep and everything is a disaster without the respite of sleep. Yes, undeniably, this was the scenario. Yet also one does not wish to be defeated by this, it’s one layer of reality only. Reasons to be cheerful is a nice long list too. Family, friends, garden, van, beach, moors, rivers, woods, an actual sunny summer!
So I was tired when I drove to Bristol, had to stop at Taunton Deane services to attempt a power nap; compromised with a fresh walk and a punch of coffee. Finding Temple Gate car park took an additional travel round a busy block, but I made it, I met my friend Jen and sometime over the last 27 years her hugging skills have improved.
Jen loves an itinerary so we went to the ferry for a mini tour. Being on water works for me. Bristol has a chunky tidal river, a history as thick as the mud, I’ve always liked it. No enslaved humans were brought ashore here, they used to like to tell, but now they will admit that the boats passed through and the profits invested in grand buildings and no one’s hands are clean. They give apology, and look to broaden that history further though it is not pleasant.
Off the ferry we wander, stop for a lunch – I eat all the olives, Jen takes the dough sticks. We both take a top up coffee.
We The Curious is a science museum of sorts, this is our next stop. It’s the planetarium show we’re after but there’s no stopping us playing on exhibits – the place is pouring with grandparents taking grandchildren out for the day – my crew would love this too – meanwhile I do the ‘Ohh!’ and ‘Ahhhh!’ on their behalves. Where else can you create rain, weigh a brain, change the genetic make up of a nematode worm, visit each light in the Summer Triangle?
In the planetarium tiredness and the relaxation of star viewing drifts me from outer to inner space more than once.
After that we drift, looking at the riverside, the fresh graffiti, worn out locks, low bridges, plaques of old seafarers. We drift to a pub that was rebuilt in 1845 after a terrible fire, have a glass of wine on the quayside. We pick up a tour – Blood, Booze and Buccaneers! In which we follow a pirate around various pirate history related bits and pubs of old Bristol, gleaning bits of truth and enjoying stretches of fiction. There’s a parrot that tells us which is which, of course. It’s different and fun and Jen even sings a bit of shanty (with the rest of the group) which is unprecedented involvement when we’ve switched to strictly non alcoholic beverages.
It ends late enough for us tired things, we walk back to Jen’s hotel and my car park, we say good bye, excited for future plans (Cornwall, Brighton, anywhere the rest of our gang can gather.)
Deep breath. Dare not drink more coffee. Put Sat Nav in place and accept that confusion, roadworks etc., may lengthen the journey – actually find that a couple of last minute lane changes constitute all of the drama. Arrive at my brother’s house, can’t remember exactly which one it is till I spy the number on the gate. The gate that Mr built, you’d think I would know!
Blame tiredness, I’m too tired to fight it now, and my shoulder is hurting. Take herbal tea, take painkillers. Sleep is not easy, I can’t get comfortable.
Really, I say to my body, is this a reaction, a fear of getting too comfortable and losing creative drive? Pack it in! Nothing will get written if I can’t focus on the page – I’m so tired, you must stop.
It didn’t seem to be listening.
Morning arrives. We all tumble from beds – my niece aged three says come and play! My brother says see you soon – he has to go to work (but the next day is his birthday and he’s off to Wooky Hole!) My sister-in-law cooks me basil eggs, brews more coffee, bakes a sponge for a strawberry roll birthday treat. Little Niece and I build a dinosaur, draw a dinosaur, draw balloons, cut up paper, run a shop, take all the Playmobile people to the toilet, check that we have water bottles in our handbags. In her world is me, Auntie, her parents, her grandparents, herself and many dinosaurs. I follow her, hollow-tired, still smiling.
Deep breath, time to drive home. I remember the way. I stop twice for air and coffee, my shoulder keen with pain. It is effort, this journey.
Get home, put feet up, attempt rest.
Go to work – teaching, luckily, no big care work shift. Pull my eyes open for a few hours. Dig deep. (Suffer in training, survive in battle – we all have our battles.)
Down at the beach Dog gets her run, it’s her we came for, the onshore wind is cold.
Take a warm layer just in case of swimming.
At the shoreline, the wind is cold, the sea warm. Before I even know about it I have waded in, the waves are pushing me over, I’m jumping in foam, laughing. Diving under swell. The sky bursts orange-pink, up in the deepening blue a moon sliver shines. Get out, wrestle off the wet stuff, under my fluffy robe, realise the rest of the dry stuff is back at the van. But I have my robe, I wear it home. My ears are full of water – is this circle of discomfort restarting?!
Night comes. Sleep comes.
In the morning I can hear, my shoulder aches a little. Both feet firmly on the floor.