Bristol: Looking for Cassie’s Bench
This title may look a little weird for those who do not know the famous British show Skins. For those who know it, it looks like evidence. Why should someone visit Bristol and not find that bench? There may be plenty of reasons, but let’s come back to my huge love for the series, shall we?
Skins is about the stories of a group of young friends that have all different kind of troubles in their lives and are struggling to keep going. They only have two common points: they’re friends and they live in Bristol. Among them, one of the most loved characters, the anorexic & depressed Cassie. She often likes to sit on that bench where she can see the whole city and think.
That was one of the things I put on my first bucket list: find Cassie’s bench. So, when the opportunity came for me to visit London, I decided to extend my trip to Bristol, even if only for few hours. I needed to see how far I had come from feeling as depressed as Cassie, to feeling free.
So, on April 21st, 2014, at 8 AM, I took the Megabus from Victoria Station in London, to Bristol, looking forward to sit on the top of Brandon Hill, on Cassie’s very own bench. It took me almost 3 hours (and many attempts to suppress giggles due to the boy sitting in front of me that could not stop swinging while asleep) to reach Bristol. It was a very sunny and warm day, luckily.
The city was really enjoyable, more than what I thought it would be from what I saw on the series. Actually, so enjoyable that I started going in the wrong direction, to the city center, because I followed the crowd. First lesson ever learnt on a trip: never ever go on an adventure without a map if time is ticking. Thus, I could not visit everything I planned on visiting besides Brandon Hill, but that was just a detail for me.
I spent almost an hour looking for the park. Problem was, every time I tried to find an information desk on the city maps, it just sent me back to another city map. So I got a bit lost, and seeing the clock ticking did not help me to keep calm and carry on.
But I finally found it. After many turns, I finally found the right way and I ended up at the edges of the park. I climbed up, and almost all the benches were taken. Luckily, as I showed up, the closest family left the one they were sitting on, and I ran toward it, literally. And you know what? At that precise moment, there wasn’t any woman on earth as lucky as I was, because it was THE bench. I knew it at the exact moment I sat on it. That was it. I made it.
I know it may seems weird, even ridiculous, but it was so important for me. At that exact moment, I knew I was living my dream, I was doing it right and that I could never go back from where I started. My life had changed for good, and so did I. It was unbelievable. I knew I was meant to travel, to make discoveries and to make all my dreams come true by myself, and only myself, as a true independent human being. It was fuckin’ amazing.
So next I had lunch there, watching the seagulls flying all around Brandon Hill, feeling the sun warming my face and listening to children laughing while playing. I just kept telling myself, “I sat on Cassie’s Bench, I can die in peace”. Then I listened to the song “Wild World” sang by the cast on the last episode of the first season, blessing life and my family, especially my grandma that paid for my trip as a birthday present, for their incredible support.
I do not know how I made it to stand up and leave the park. I honestly don’t know. I just remember reaching Park Street and walking up to the University (which is beautiful). Then I walked to the “Christmas Steps”, which unfortunately were under construction. I kept the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge for next time. Because one of my main rules is to leave things unseen, in order to have a very good reason to come back. And I don’t say it because of the Bench, but Bristol is definitely worth coming back to.
By Kelly Videira