I didn't anticipate the heatwave back in May, when I arranged for Lewis, the plumber, to fit a new bathroom. Ooh, the summer holidays! I thought. I'll just go out on day trips with the dog for however long the job takes, to the seaside and Dartmoor, and to see friends on the canal, and to (re)visit lots of the places still on my places-to-visit list. Except that as I write, it's 32°C and forecast to get hotter still, and I'm slumped on the settee at home in a pool of sweat, while power ballads emanate from the traditional, plaster-encrusted transistor radio that accompanied the impressive number of tool boxes Lewis brought with him (see above). Cwtch might be a dog, but I'm not a man and neither of us are mad enough to go out in this.
Except, of course, dogs do need exercise, especially collies, so we have been out, just very early in the morning, before it gets hotter than unpleasantly hot and sticky. One place I had to go was town to pick up a lampshade, so we took the opportunity to wander from Castle Green down to Brunel's Buttery on Wapping Wharf.
View from Bristol Bridge
I used to spend a lot of time on Spike Island when my kids were small, as my son who has autism was captivated by the boats and the water and the cranes, and above all, the harbour railway. It's nice to wander down there every now and then, and remember how he enjoyed it.
Looking back up to St Augustine's Reach and the Arnolfini
With the hike in temperatures, I've made efforts to take Cwtch to places that are going to be cooler-ish, by their very nature, which means woods. One of these is Badock's Wood, which nestles in a small gorge on the River Trym, and is an old favourite of mine. To get there you have to negotiate a field or two, which are currently so dry they crunch underfoot.
It's too hot up the top even for Cwtch and the crows to make much of a game of it. The temptation is to head down into the gorge as quickly as possible. Not that there's much of the River Trym to splash in (though I have seen it completely dry before now).
A sad thing is that the carvings we took so much joy in seven years ago, and then were dismayed to find damaged, have now been totally wrecked. You must surely be devoid of creativity and empathy to carry a chainsaw down to the wood and do this.
I've been visiting the lower part of the wood for years, but it's only comparatively recently that I've realised there's more to the fringe of trees that runs along the top of the gorge than I'd imagined.
It's a long way down!
There was a shrine in one part of the upper wood, with deflated balloons and dried up flowers. For all that there are some who prefer to destroy, others return to a place that's special to them and find solace there when they need it.