Gromits have made our summer
HAVE you done it then? Did you find them all? Did you pose underneath the ears, or were you a more "lean on top of his head" type a person?
Gromits, I mean.
The Gromit Unleashed trail has been the highlight of the summer. Perhaps the best idea of 2013, along with names on Coca-Cola bottles.
It's strange; when I first heard about the Gromit Unleashed Trail I wasn't that enthused. I've seen the films like everyone else, but didn't understand the attraction beyond that. Then I saw my first Gromit in Castle Park. Stood alone, looking happy that he was allowed out by himself. Then, a few minutes later, my next one in Cabot Circus, and a few steps away from that, the Buzz Lightyear one at the cinema. I was hooked.
I'll admit I still have four to find, but it just means a trip out to the airport and Cheddar Gorge, easily done before the week is through. Some friends have looked at me curiously. "You drove all the way to Westonbirt Arboretum to see a Gromit, take a photo, and then drive back? And you didn't have a look round?" "Errrrr, yep. There was no time." was my candid response. I was proud. I was a Gromit hunter. I wore the badge with honour!
I even planned a trip to London last week. I'd just finished the Heart breakfast show (filling in for Ed, Troy and Paulina... I'm now back on my normal drivetime show) and got the 11 o'clock train from Temple Meads to Paddington. True, it was nice to see my friend Charlie for lunch in Leicester Square. And nice to catch up with my friend Tim over a coffee before he emigrates to America. But the real highlight? The excitement of searching around Paddington station for the original Gromit. Phone in hand, guided by the app, I was too embarrassed to ask for help. Would Londoners understand why a 34-year-old man was looking for a statue of a plasticine dog?
I found him between platforms 8 and 9. Satisfaction. It's been like an addiction. I ran the hills of Ashton Court to see the zebra one. I jogged through the garden centre in Bedminster to spot another. I explain the addiction to friends around the country and they look at me puzzled.
Yet when they arrive in Bristol, they see the two Gromits at the train station and they too are hooked.
It has been amazing to see families spending time together, maps in hand, following the trail. The cries of happiness when another one can be ticked off the list. All the great photos, with the kids faces happy and proud next to the statue. It may sound corny, but I really think the Gromit Unleashed trail has brought people together.
Once again, Bristol is leading the way doing something quirky and above all fun.
And let's not forget all the thousands of pounds they will raise for Bristol's Children's Hospital, which is of course at the heart of the idea.
I've loved it and I will miss the Gromits when they are sold to new owners and go off to live elsewhere.... So, here's to the 80 Gromits of Bristol, 2013. You've made our summer.