It is a real joy to be part of a circle of friends who enjoy hunting for things. Whether it be hidden TfL features, elephants, gorillas, or eggs, if a city has enough of them, we’ll hunt them out. The animals and eggs were deliberately created for finding – London’s hosted the Elephant Parade and the Egg Hunt in aid of charity in recent years, while Bristol (not to be outdone) had gorillas two years ago. This year, Bristol has dogs. Gromits, to be precise – you know? As in Wallace and…? Created by Bristolian Nick Park in Aardman Animations Bristol studios.
I would not be kidding if I said our trip had been long in the planning. I can’t remember when we first heard that it was happening, but our 165 message Facebook thread about this trip began on the 14th of January. That, my friends, is what I call advance preparation and planning! [My ISTJ loves this, and it's ridiculous contrast to my London friends who are led by a load of ENFP's who never plan anything in advance!] By April, we’d booked hotel rooms and by the beginning of July, our dinner location on Tuesday night was booked. [Pieminister - the only logical place for us to have dinner while in Bristol. Two passions combined!]
And thus, it came to pass that last Tuesday, 8 women, 3 girls and one baby gathered in one city to hunt out up to 79 Gromits. I began the trip one-up on everyone else, having discovered the lone London Gromit on the platform at Paddington station (from which point trains to Bristol begin). We knew we wouldn’t get all of them, as several are outside the city (like the several at Cribbs Causeway and one at Cheddar Gorge), but we were going to have a good bash at getting all those within the city – with a specific aim to beat the 44 the father of two of our party had already spotted.
These trips are something of an endurance test. On the first day we must have walked at least 7 or 8 miles, with a total of 36 Gromits. The second day involved fewer dogs, but a significant amount of up-hill walking, culminating in some Gromits by the Clifton Suspension Bridge. We were dog tired, but very pleased with our total of 56 (or 57, for me).
Did we feel silly wandering around a city clutching matching maps and hunting out bright coloured dogs? Not a bit of it! Yes, virtually all the people we met along the way had small children with them, but I bet they couldn’t have found 56 Gromits in two days – very small children have no stamina! I expect they would have cried upon being told that another 5 Gromits had to be ticked off before an ice cream could be consumed – we didn’t, we simply obeyed orders and marched on…
It was a huge amount of fun, as Jenni’s fabulous video ably demonstrates:
Oh, and yes, I had a favourite, there was a hands-down winner in that department – No.4 Vincent Van Gromit:
I had a suspicion that at night, this might prove to have an additional tribute to Van Gogh, and having seen the tweet below, I was proved correct. Genius.
Vincent Van Gromit at night. pic.twitter.com/NXOpHIpuWE
— Chris (@TheSkoot) August 8, 2013
As summer activities go, this was a pretty good one. There are photos aplenty if you want to see the other Gromits (I have a Flickr set and so does the superior photographer Gill), but the best plan is to try and get to Bristol before September 8th and see them for yourself.