Until recently we'd lost touch, but Bristol has brought us together again - we work out that we haven't seen each other for ten years.
She has Scoliosis (an abnormally twisted spine) which affects her posture as well as her breathing and makes her prone to really horrible chest infections. Apparently Frida Kahlo was one of the first patients to have had the same spinal surgery that she herself had in her teens. In spite of her disability, or perhaps partly because of it, she's plucky, determined, gregarious and driven. We meet up this evening, my first night here, and head out for something to eat.
Pink Floyd and Nick Drake are being played on a small boat moored on the floating harbour where we're served tapas by smiley well-spoken student types who may quite possibly be a little stoned. We chatter merrily, catch up on a decade's worth of life - and it's lovely (even though the toilets are out of order). Afterwards I see her off by bus and walk back to my hotel in the dark; the city centre streets, though alien to me, still seem busy and safe.
Earlier in my room I'd been looking out at this unpretty view, and I like it. It's that easy shabby reality which contrasts with the more antiseptic aspirations of corporate hospitality on my side of the glass.
There are Christmas snowflake decorations stuck to one of the windows of the buildings overlooking the back yard, (saves putting them up again in December I s'pose) and feral pigeons flirting on the ridge tiles... and gulls! All of them make me smile. We don't get many gulls round my way, so I poke my head round the voile to observe this one who appears to be posing for a fashion shoot or something.
Yes, yes, these pictures could be taken almost anywhere, I know - but I'm glad it's here!