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Tigger went off at 6:40, leaving me to catch up with her in due course. Later, I received a text from her telling me that the 205 (that useful bus that connects us with Marylebone and Paddington stations and other points of interest) was on a diversion, lengthening the journey time.
I decided to leave at 8am as this should get me to Paddington in plenty of time for the 9:30 to Bristol Temple Meads. In fact, I reached the station with 45 minutes to spare which I filled by looking in W H Smiths and the other shops, trying to ignore the disgusting fishy smell emanating from the sushi bar.
Now, at 9:30, the train lumbers slowly out of the station and we are on our way. A white butterfly flits among mauve flowers on rough ground beside the track and a plane, like a tiny silver dart, crosses a blue sky streaked with white clouds.
I hear from Tigger that she is in the taxi on the way to the drop and at 10:18, she lets me know that the package had been delivered and that she is on her way back to meet me. Because of unspecified problems earlier in the day, my train is delayed, as was Tigger’s. We expect the reach Bristol at 11:25.
I have brought reading matter with me (TPM) but I prefer to look out of the train window at the countryside and all the other curious and wonderful sights on view.
My train reached Bristol at 11:35, having lost still more time. We had arranged to meet in our usual rendezvous, the cafe on the corner near the station. Then we took a bus towards the SS Great Britain.
When I started out this morning, the air was quite cool and I worried that I wasn’t warmly dressed warmly enough. During the train journey I felt slightly cold. I was therefore surprised when I emerged into the streets of Bristol and found it was quite warm.
The bus stopped short of the Great Britain to change drivers so we disembarked and found ourselves in front of Spike Island Arts Centre and decided to go into the cafe there for lunch.
We emerged into what seemed a tropical climate. The sun beat down and the heat was energy-sapping. We walked slowly to the Great Britain and entered the dock. It is customary to start the visit by going “under water” to examine the hull.
The “water” is a transparent surface surrounding the ship at what would have been sea-level. Usually, the surface is covered with water to give a realistic effect but today it had been drained as work was being done on the outside of the hull.
Notices warned that this area was extremely hot. It was. It felt like being in an oven. We took a quick look and were glad to go topside again. By now, however, the ambient temperature had risen still further and below decks, the atmosphere was stifling.
We paid only a cursory visit because of the heat and then walked along the old docks, stopping for a drink at a cafe. Then we moved on – slowly – taking photos here and there but feeling overwhelmed by the heat.
My off-peak rail ticket allows me to travel at any time but Tigger’s is limited to the 1600 train so we now began to move – slowly – towards the station. We made our train with a couple of minutes to spare.
It looks as if this train is subject to delays like this morning’s, though for different reasons. The heat seems to be affecting things here as well.
The air conditioning in the carriage is welcome and we are slowly cooling off, helped with cold drinks from the buffet. After suffering the cold weather of this winter it seems churlish to complain about the heat as well but it is uncommonly hot so that any activity seems hard work and even sitting in the shade offers little relief.
The heat affected us greatly today and slowed us down. On a cooler day we would have spent more time aboard the Great Britain and explored the city further. In the circumstances, we felt we had done enough. It hardly needs be said: we shall return!