With: Gill (born 197x)
Date: 12 July 2016
Where: Swansea, Wales
In 2002 when working 'out of town' five days a week for Accenture I went along to the Bristol Panthers kick-abouts where I met a fun bunch of locals including Gill. In fact, Gill isn't a Bristolian; she's decidedly Welsh. Now married to Julie, Gill's back in Wales, living close to the beach in Swansea with three* cats and their lercher puppy Finn. Gill kindly got in touch to invite me to stay when I passed through on my way from Emily's to Bridgwater to get my bike serviced. In fact Gill is one of the people who advised Zoe and me on the purchase of our Thorn bikes back in 2008, which added a certain nice symmetry to my visit.
Soon after my arrival Julie and I walked to the local Bargain Booze while Gill prepared a delicious roast chicken. The three of us sat in the garden with our respective choices of beer or cider while the dinner cooked. I was tremendously grateful for their hospitality, including the opportunity to put some stuff in the washing machine and get it dry overnight!
The following morning Gill and I discovered Julie had been ill in the night, so we let her sleep while we took Finn for a walk along Swansea's famous sandy beach. It was great to have an opportunity to catch up with Gill, whose perspectives I always find interesting. A highly experienced psychiatric nurse, Gill works in a ward for men at serious risk to themselves and others. Amongst other things we talked about the challenge of being 'the only gay in the workplace'; when colleagues express homo- and trans*phobic views are we always responsible for calling them out when this heightens the risk to ourselves?
In common with most of my conversations this summer in the UK we talked about Brexit, and the bitter irony that rural Wales voted to leave the EU whilst being one of its economic beneficiaries.
Notwithstanding, Gill is very happy living in Swansea where she and Julie both work less than full-time and enjoy a really healthy work-life balance. When I asked what she likes to do with her free time she said she mostly walks the dog, reads, and spends time with Julie and with her elderly mum who lives in Mumbles. This sounds like bliss to me!
Gill explained that Finn's exuberance can sometimes cause ructions with other dog walkers. I always enjoy Gill's softly lilting yet expletive-filled anecdotes, rivalled only by the aural treat that is (Glaswegian general nurse) Julie.
We stopped at the Brynmill Park kiosk for a tub of local Joe's icecream [I wanted to try an interesting flavour but Gill said I should have vanilla] and a Welshcake before returning home just in time for me to hurriedly reassemble my gear and rush off to catch my train to Bristol. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Julie, who was still sleeping. Thank you both for hosting and entertaining me. It was lovely to see you so relaxed and happy!
Anyone who read Walk #40 (my final, solo walk of 2016) will remember that I wrote this:
"I'm not able to include the original Walk #19 in this series; I never heard back from my friend after sending my account. It's possible something I wrote felt uncomfortable. What I think more likely is I completely forgot to ask if I could include the walk in this series beforehand, then sent her the account out of the blue. A bit like walking into a friend's bedroom with a boner saying 'so, sex then', without any prior discussion. If you're reading this all I can say is I am very sorry, for pushing whatever button I pushed. If you ever want to tell me I will listen. If you don't want to, that's also OK."
After a nervous (three month!) wait, Gill wrote: 'If it's not too late I would love our walk to be included... The only addendum is that we have three cats not two.' Phew! So, an important life lesson for me: Sometimes people take a while to respond because Life; it doesn't necessarily mean You Fucked Up. Noted, with considerable relief!