A grand day out! Sweltering heat, massive hills, art & giant marshmallows


Despite the sweltering heat and glorious sunshine, on Friday me and my amazing

Exhausted, sweating like pigs, but happy

Exhausted, sweating like pigs, but happy

boyfriend Andy (and of course who can forget Winnie) jumped in the car and submitted ourselves to over three hours of swerving lunatic drivers, scar-tearingly bumpy roads, and squinting to see digital road maps due to the bright sunlight as we drove to Bristol – all in the name of street art, and, well so that I could do one of my challenges.

The car journey, which as usual saw me scoff my own weight in haribo sweets (well, if you can’t do it on a car journey when can you?), was something of an achievement for me. After more than a decade of Crohns/Colitis, I am still getting used to the idea of not having to race to the toilet every five minutes doubled over in crippling pain. Of course, even though I now have Winnie I still have my moments, but compared to the urgency and, ahem, accidents, my toilet habits are a breezy walk in the park these days. Only 10-weeks-ago (before my surgery) the idea of even the shortest of car journeys sent me into a flurry of minor nervous breakdowns. For more than a decade of my life I would go to the loo at least five times before getting in the car, bob around on the doorstep impatiently telling people to “hurry up before I need the loo again”, and once in the car I lived in constant fear of traffic jams, as they meant it could be hours before the next service station and chance for me to go to the loo. Honestly my fear was so severe that break lights activating ahead on a busy motorway, or the word ‘diversion’, or even ‘next services in 30 miles’, sent my blood pressure through the roof…I would start sweating and, usually the moment such a delay occurred my evil disease would kick off and naturally I would need the toilet at the one time that there was no way I could go!!

Traffic lights used to send me into cold sweats, now I just sit back and enjoy the ride

Traffic lights used to send me into cold sweats, now I just sit back and enjoy the ride

So, understandably my relationship with travelling, especially in cars (don’t get me started on my humiliating experiences with public transport) is one that I associate with pain, fear and panic. So I was very surprised that despite the unprecedented heat, and the fact that Winnie was kicking off, and Oscar (remaining colon) was spitting mucus out of my stomach, we had an event free and rather pleasant car journey. In the three-hour journey we only stopped once, and that was more so I could empty my weak bladder than because Winnie was full – though I have to admit that, probably to the surprise of other nosey passengers staring in through the car window, I did keep checking Winnie for status updates every half an hour – better safe than sorry.

Ok, so what exactly had we driven all the way to Bristol for? 

As part of challenge #No33 I have to visit 30 things on the Visit England 101 things to see in England before you die, and search for Banksy’s art in Bristol is one of the 30 challenges I chose. So Andy very kindly booked us a hotel and agreed to drive us to Bristol for a weekend of traipsing around a city looking for art – something that isn’t really up his street (he’s more sport, I’m more culture – that’s the truth).

I have to say that I was over-the-topily excited about this trip. The night before I had spent hours looking on the computer at things we could do when we got to this city, which by the way sounded like a cultural Mecca. I can’t even begin to describe my excitement when I discovered that we would not only be able to search for the famous Banksy works, but scattered around the city were 80 giant Gromit statues, which had been decorated by famous designers, illustrators, musicians, and authors. Everyone from Michael Buble (yes I know, I have no idea how to get the accent over his name) to Quentin Blake, and the creator of Where’s Wally – I was like a little kid in a massive sweet shop, I even downloaded the special Gromit app (such a child #lol) – in the end we only saw about 10 but ah well c’est la vie!

Me & one of the 80 Gromits

Me & one of the 80 Gromits

So after checking into the hotel (we got an excellent last-minute deal on the Doubletree – we’re not that posh!) and a quick change later, me, Andy and Winnie hit the streets of Bristol with one aim – to find something to eat. We quickly stumbled across our first Gromit, which was just outside the hotel, before heading down to the Quayside where the whole of Bristol appeared to have gathered for a drink. I won’t get into it, but after waiting for rather a long time outside a well-known chain Italian restaurant and being ignored, we decided to spread our wings and explore further afield, which with Winnie behaving herself was not so much of an issue, or so I thought until we climbed the steepest hill in the world to get to Cafe Rouge.

On the way we spotted our first Banksy – hurrah! So a couple of pictures later and we kept

The first one!! SHOCK and RELIEF!!

The first one!! SHOCK and RELIEF!!

climbing past the rows of nightclubs until we got to the restaurant, by which time we were both sweating buckets and gasping for a drink – you could say we had earned our dinner! (we went to Cafe Rouge because I had a voucher and all 101 of these adventures combined is not going to be cheap so best to scrimp and save where possible) It was a lovely – well the same as any other Cafe Rouge – restaurant, which had an amazing view of Bristol University, which we both mistakenly mistook for the Cathedral until we explored later that night. The only downside was the gang of over-excited and tipsy graduates who were squealing their heads off, singing old kid TV theme tunes, and kept shouting loudly in Spanish – which made me think they had been language students. By the time we left I had a very bad headache, but had enjoyed my first salad post surgery 🙂 and Andy had indulged in his  ‘never let him down’ dish of duck.

At the restaurant - we only had one drink each - i promise!

At the restaurant – we only had one drink each – i promise!

Even though both of us only had one drunk we were a little tipsy and exhausted and decided to call it a night (we’re WILD), but on the way back to the hotel we stumbled across a frozen yogurt take-out that was still open at 10PM WOW!! And it did lactose free frozen yogurt, we just couldn’t say no to that!!

Anyway the next day I might have had a little strop after not being able to find a Starbucks immediately to satisfy my morning coffee urges…and poor Andy had to put up with my having full-blown paddies as we traipsed up that bloody hill again to get a frapaccino in the now unbearable heat. I was a little happier when I’d got my coffee, I think the ice and the caffeine combined with a little bit of air conditioning really helped to cool my rapidly spiralling out of control totally over-the-top temper, so then we could get on with what we had come to see – the Banksy street art.

The only problem is, finding a Banksy in Bristol is like finding your keys when you’ve lost

Yep another one...nightmare to find

Yep another one…nightmare to find

them, you can’t find them when you want to, but you stumble across them unexpectedly when you’re no longer searching for them. We found that first one quite by chance, and the second one (the girl with the balloons) when we turned the corner after our meal. But after that it became much much more difficult. Traipsing through Bristol, up and down the steepest hills I have tried to tackle since my surgery in temperatures reaching 30c was not easy at all. We explored the roughest parts of the city, where drunk people gathered in the streets, and went up alleyways stinking of spray paint as Andy’s special Iphone ap directed us into possible drug dens in search of the best street art the city had to offer.

Three hours later, exhausted, sunburnt, dripping with sweat and feeling like I had just run a marathon with lead weights attached to the backs of my knees, I gave in and decided I simply couldn’t search any longer. My legs felt like they were going to give way from under me and I was sweating from places I didn’t know existed. As we collapsed in the park under the shade next to some teenagers who were smoking some very funky smelling weed, we took our shoes off and gulped down the water, before reflecting that despite the temperamental

WHOOP another Banksy

WHOOP another Banksy

iPhone ap we had done rather well (even if one of the Banksy’s had disappeared by the time we had trudged miles to get there (some idiot painted over it no doubt)), and had not only seen some of the most WOW street art in the UK but also ventured where few tourists had ever dared to venture before.

Winnie was surprisingly well-behaved the entire day. I think, like everything, in the heat she just gave up, decided there was no point and declared the day a stoma holiday! So we sat and had some free fruit in the park and enjoyed lapping in the Pride festival atmosphere. I had never been to Pride before and it was an incredible event to experience, with the hot weather and music blasting people where scattered all over the lawns and grassy embankments just kicking back, enjoying beer and basically enjoying life.

I had really wanted to watch blast-from-the-past boy band Blue, but as we joined the

Another Banksy - squee!

Another Banksy – squee!

packed crowds I realised not only was I not going to be able to see them but Winnie was likely to get crushed in the process. Now I like Blue’s music but not enough to end up with a dented stoma! Anyway my decision not to see them perform was sealed by the band not coming on stage at the correct time, we waited 20 minutes and then with the onset of heat exhaustion decided not to ruin an amazing day by ending up in a&e and decided to call it a day.

We made it back home to Andy’s country home at around 8.30pm after stopping for supplies, once home we grabbed showers, tucked into a

AMAZING ART

AMAZING ART

yummy tea, and passed out. I woke the next day to my muscles screaming like they had been put through one of those Iron-man challenges and spent the rest of the day walking like a Cowboy (people must have thought I had had far too much fun!). So due to my exhaustion we spent most of the day sunning ourselves in the garden, Winnie had a few moments, but after being well-behaved the day before I forgave her. I even treated her to giant toasted American marshmallows on the BBQ later that night – MMM the best medication EVER!!!

So if you’re looking for a good weekend of exploring and you love art, head to Bristol. It was nothing like what I expected…it was a fusion of the old with the new, the traditional with the modern, obscure and at times terrible and verging on vandalism graffiti. It was one of the best and most random weekend’s me and Andy have had, and the best me and Winnie have spent together. So give it a go – a word of advice though, don’t go during a heat wave and expect to get much done!

The giant marshmallows - such a treat MMMM

The giant marshmallows – such a treat MMMM

the giant marshmallow have made me soooo happy

the giant marshmallow have made me soooo happy

If you didn’t see it on yesterday’s post below is the slide show of pics of the trip to Bristol. ENJOY!!

 

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Me & Winnie disagree with vino & bounce along close to Jessie J and our brave Dad…


So I’m exhausted today 😦 let’s just say that I had far too much fun this weekend, which if you have IBD

(which includes Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis) is a recipe for disaster. Even before I had Winnie attached to my poor tummy I always found that my crazy Crohns or Colitis liked to pop up at the most inconvenient of times. Let’s put it this way….I would be feeling just slightly like a normal human being for a few days and would have just tried to live a little, go out, let my (very short) hair down and act like a normal 20 something-year-old when BOOM my illness would rear its ugly head in a kind of Peek-a-Boo “Here’s Johnny” way.

So yesterday was Father’s Day and I wanted to do a short V Blog to tell you about how amazing my Dad, and my family are and how important they have been in my journey through this illness. I love you DAD!!

So this weekend my poor, and extremely understanding boyfriend (I suppose you could call him my “better” half) decided to host a BBQ at his stunning house in the Cheshire countryside. His house is what we in the Ghetto call “something else” or “Mega Dope” (I’m sooo down with the kids). It is far too big, with massive gardens, and when you stay over you wake up to the sounds of cows mooing and birdies singing….it is paradise just miles from the city 🙂 I love it there!!! But Friday was the first time I have stayed there since my operation, and as a lady I had to take just about everything but the kitchen sink with me so that I could survive just two days! Well it is hard looking this good all the time #bigheaded

Anyway, anyway, anyway. On Friday night I made us both a healthy tea of pasta and veggie sausages and goat’s cheese. Which was YUM! Then we watched The Following, which, if you haven’t seen it is AWESOME, but terrifying, and being a proper wuss I spent half the time hiding behind a cushion and smudging my freshly painted nails by gripping my boyfriend’s hands so tight.

THE DRESS - I would never have worn this b4 Winnie - she is so much more cool than me

THE DRESS – I would never have worn this b4 Winnie – she is so much more cool than me

Then on Saturday the real fun began. We woke up to typical British horror weather, as you always do in England when you have an event planned that requires spending any time outdoors! I got dressed up in festival style clothes (no rain was going to stop me and Winnie wearing our new extra colourful maxi dress) and made massive amounts of healthy pasta salad to counteract the enormous amount of fatty meat he had purchased for the grill. Then I basically let him get on with it!

Anyway the BBQ was going well, my boy was enjoying being the MAN of the house, you know being in charge of burning the meat 🙂 – me man, me fire, me meat, me burn – and I basically carried things backwards and forwards and played being the hostess. We had a bit of rain which came after most people had arrived and the skies finally opened after the CLOUD OF DOOM finally shed its load after threatening to do so all day. It meant that around 10 adults decided to cram themselves into a very small Wendy house – amazing to say the least 🙂

So, after not drinking for around three months, I shunned alcohol all day despite people asking me again, and again, if I wanted a drink. I was even fairly careful with the fizzy pop, being aware that one sip too much would mean a whole day of Winnie flying into a paddy and blowing up with hot air in a fit of rage. But in the evening I decided to have my first sip of wine, and, guess what, I DIDN’T LIKE IT!!! For the people reading this that know me (which is probably all of you out of kindness to me) you will know that I love a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc – or two, or three (obviously I’m not an alcoholic but I may have a bottle or litre or two hidden under the sink #joke). So me not liking any wine is, quite frankly, extremely weird. I must have managed to have a drink at around 10pm, and only had about a medium glass…..I was WASTED 😦 which I suppose is great if you want a really cheap night out, but I just wanted to chill out and now I felt like I was going to fall asleep dribbling in a heap on the floor!!!

That was all I had…well, ok, that’s a lie…I may of had one tinie little gin, which I regretted the moment I put it to my lips and decided i didn’t want it (it was the gin that done her in…how true, how true). So I set about tidying up while the others played Pictionary in the living room and headed to bed having eaten only around half a sausage and a handful of pasta twirls. Everyone else was pretty drunk – I mean when I woke up the next day the house had been drunk so dry even a cactus would have died after weeks in the desert – which made it even more infuriating that I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus and everyone else was fine. I mean how unfair #wtf!!!

The morning after - trying to finish this really dreadful book (comment comment comment)

The morning after – trying to finish this really dreadful book (comment comment comment)

I probably felt as bad as I did the time at University that the Cheerleaders (yes queue laughter, me, Rachel, who can’t sing or put one leg in front of the other was a cheerleader) and American Footballers all put money together for me to drink a dirty pint made up of around 20, or it could even have been 30 (yes I was that popular) shots of black sambuca. Think banging headache, red-eye, hair all over the place, stomach cramps, nausea and dry mouth – it must have been a real special moment to wakeup next to me that day – mmm sexy!!!

Also I suddenly remembered that I had to finish Stephen Fry’s autobiography by the end of the day or I would break the “Read a Book a Week” part of my 101 challenges and have to start all over again. Which, I must stress, was not going to happen. So, with a gang of bleary eyed and far too enthusiastic guys in the house, I attempted to race through the remaining 200 pages of the book, which by now had become boring and tedious like all self-imposed chores (like ironing and hovering) eventually do when you are forced to do them…..

OH I FORGOT THE MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT OF THE WHOLE WEEKEND!!! During the BBQ I had to empty Winnie a few times, and to do this I have a special (well a clothes line) peg to well peg up my dress so that I don’t make any mess. So I had done that, and around 2 hours later I needed to empty her again (which is almost a record amount of time for Winnie). I think you may have guessed it…I got to the loo and couldn’t find the peg so decided to just hold my dress out of the way…that’s when I discovered I had been sat chatting to all mine, and my bf’s friends for the past two hours with a pink peg clipped to the side of my dress!!!! Humiliating!!!

£5 bag of sweets – and they didn’t help

Later in the day, after I went back to bed for a few hours to try to sleep it off, which, well you’ll see from the pictures,  didn’t work. Me, Andy and Winnie went to Chester – errrr – Rocks!!! (I say err cause there is not much that Rocks about it I’m afraid – it is more of a pop thing, which I can’t say I mind, being a little teenie bopper – this does NOT mean that I hit Teens over the head with a mallet – at heart I love pop music)…. We saw Charlie Brown (?), some girl off the X Factor called Amelia and Lawson (some boy band I said I had never heard of but secretly love them)!!! I bought a bag of sweets to try to thicken up Winnie’s output as she had massively disagreed with the sip of alcohol and was stropping around like a moody teenager filling up with hot air and yucky poop – and it was the most expensive medicine I ever had costing me £5 for a bag of sweets. THANKS CHESTER RACECOURSE FOR NOT LETTING US TAKE OUR OWN FOOD AND DRINK!!!! ARGH!!!

I’m going to let you all into a secret now – I LOVE Jessie J!!! I don ‘t know why so many people don’t, I mean when I said I wanted to see her to some of my mates they were like “oh no…why?”, but she is fantastic. I love that she is unique and she doesn’t take any shit…I mean she doesn’t care what people think at all, does she 🙂 I got all excited when she got on stage and I started dancing like a freak!!! I even saw some parents looking at me with horror and even (you’ll laugh at this) move their children slowly away from me thinking I was a drugged-up Nutter!!! I think the people with me, Andy included, were totally humilated….there was never a better time to think “move away…we’re not with her…we don’t even know her”!!

Jessie J – “Its ok not to be Ok” good for you!!

I mean she was incredible, and all round entertainer who even said some truly from the heart things to the teenagers in the audience that I thought were just inspirational. She said it was ok to be who you wanted to be and to not worry what people thought or what people wanted you to be – that it was ok, not to be ok, and to cry and to feel like crap and to want to not do things people want you to do. I guess that struck home with me and what I am going through at the moment….I know I come across as happy-go-lucky, but behind my smile I can be seriously messed-up at times, this illness can seriously mess you up – I mean it’s draining emotionally as well as physically – but without all this pain I would never have become the person I am today for better or for worse!! Sometimes with Crohns, with a Winnie, I think it has to be ok not to be ok….I think It’s ok for us to breakdown, to feel and look like shit, to just want to curl up in a ball and cry, to hurt, to feel pain – just as long as at the end of it you pull yourself together and realise I WILL BE OK!!! I will not let this illness, this stroppy Winnie and this crap get me down…I AM STRONG, I RULE THIS ILLNESS IT DOES NOT RULE ME…

So with all that gibber jabber going round in my head Jessie (that’s how close we are….perhaps I should call her J) started singing my favourite song Who You Are. And, I am not ashamed to say actual tears started pouring down my face as she sang “tears don’t mean you’re loosing, everybodys brusing, just be true to who you are”. I think I just couldn’t believe that after all the pain, blood, poop, near death, stress and well years of not being ok with this horrible thing, with this crappy crappy illness, I was stood in a field with amazing friends, and an amazing man, and listening to a live music concert of a mega superstar telling me that ‘it’s ok not to be ok”…..when Andy asked me why I was crying I said “I am just so happy”…and that guys is the truth!

We finally got home after almost getting crushed by heaving crowds trying to get out of the tiniest exit in the world…God knows why they didn’t open the gates. I eventually was allowed through the gates by saying I was being bashed to death in the crush and had had surgery…the security guard didn’t look like he was having any of it and I almost had to show him Winnie and Oscar, but believed me when he saw how bent double I was -PHEW!

Anyway, this has been really long….so enjoy watching a really silly video of me dancing to Lawson at Chester Racecourse….the shame!!! (I looked like a freak, back away from the crazy woman kids). I call it the IBD Freedom dance!!!