A grand day out in Bristol
When our son Rory left home, I wondered whether it would be the end of family holidays. Thankfully, that's not been the case. I'm not sure if this is because he genuinely enjoys our company or whether he's lured by the offer of a free trip.
Last week we tempted him and his girlfriend Amelia to join us in the Cotswolds for a few days. We rented a stunning property in Lower Mill Estate and dangled the carrot of free dinners, a full fridge and a hot tub.
The kids were keen to explore Bristol on one of the days so we tagged along, sensibly splitting up when we arrived. Whereas the younger pair were in a shopping mood, Dougie and I were keen to do more traditional sightseeing. That is until we realised Wallace and Gromit were in town.
Gromit Unleashed 2 has returned to Bristol for the summer: a charity sculpture trail, raising funds for Bristol Children's Hospital. Dotted throughout the city and the surrounding area are over 60 giant sculptures of Gromit, his pal Wallace and arch enemy Feathers McGraw.
With this new focus, I challenged the youngsters to a competition. Without downloading the app or maps which show the location of each sculpture, photograph as many as possible before our rendezvous at 6pm at the top of Brandon Hill.
Dougie was a man on a mission. No sooner had we split up, he spotted our first Gromit. Click. Photo taken.
From then on, as we ambled along the harbourside walk, supposedly admiring Brunel's magnificent SS Great Britain, Dougie homed in on small crowds. Where families gathered, a sculpture was sure to be found.
I texted Rory and told him we were up to six: he'd only spotted one. Competitive Dad was overjoyed.
By 5pm we had encountered over a dozen, including a bronze tribute to the voice of Wallace, Peter Sallis. Nick Park, the animation's creator, had designed this one himself. I cuddled up to the cheese-loving inventor on his bench in Millennium Square.
We headed up to Brandon Hill earlier than planned to find another, sadly Wallace-free bench. We were in the ideal position for some balloon spotting. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta was taking place and there were plans for a mass ascent at 6pm, if the weather was kind. So far the wind had been too strong and there were doubts if this evening's ascent would take place.
I logged into Twitter and waited for the results of the pilots' meeting which would determine if the balloons would fly. The official account said wait and see. @WindyMcWindface, on the other hand, stated categorically, 'No chance mate'.
As the kids joined us at the top of the hill, with their paltry four sculpture spots but bags full of shopping, the sun was shining but the weather blustery. Another check on Twitter. The ascent was cancelled. Windy McWindface was right all along.
Disappointed but still upbeat, we meandered down the hill, found a restaurant and made a toast to our grand day out. That was cracking, Gromit!
You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk