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A Bradders and a Bumpkin - a Cornish Walking Tale.

Did I ever tell you about the time I went walking in St. Ives with walking Queen, Julia ‘Bradders’ Bradbury? No! Then buckle your belts for this short novella/blog is dedicated to Bradders herself, and tells the story of when I spent an entire day walking and filming in my beloved Cornwall, with Julia flipping Bradbury...

Monday 16 October 2017 - it was a typical morning at work, nothing much was happening, I was checking emails and daydreaming out the window. Then I noticed my phone flashing and a notification popped up, ‘Julia Bradbury has sent you a direct message.’ Now, those of you who know me will understand my excitable reaction to the fact Julia had messaged me. I squealed, jumped out of my seat and waited a few moments before opening it. I didn’t want to seem too quick off the mark in replying, I wanted to seem a little cool (yeah right!) So, I waited a whole 30 seconds before reading the most fantastic message from Bradders herself.

Before I go into details, let me explain a little more about Bradders and me. I have followed Julia’s work and adored her from afar for years. About 13 years to be exact! For as long as I can remember, Julia has been a consistent part of my life – she is a huge part of the reason why I started Cornish Ramblings and has been a force behind most of the decisions I’ve made over the years. Julia unknowingly (well, she knows now because I’ve told her more than once) helped pull me from the rubble all those years ago when I was in a bit of a dark place, and with her guidance and good advice, positive posts and honest words, her passion and vigour for life and appreciation of the littlest of things, I have had the courage and ability to grow out of that insecure and sad girl and into the more stable, positive and driven woman I am today. I still have my dark days, as does Bradders, as does anyone who can suffer a little with their mental well-being now and then. But with the occasional nudge from Julia and a reminder there will be sunshine after the rain, I've turned my life around. As well as Julia, I also have my family and close friends to thank for being such an integral and significant part of my life.

A few years ago, I finally met Julia at an event in London. After 10 years of watching her on the telly and getting the occasional reply to my Tweet from her on Twitter, there she was, in all her glory sat only a couple of metres away from me. We’d interacted a little on social media and she knew I was going to be there at the event. But what I didn’t expect was to be recognised by her amongst the audience and then enveloped into a massive hug. She felt like an old friend and put my skittering nerves at ease with just a smile. Fast forward to now and not only have I spent many occasions with Julia, her sister Gina and some of the lovely people from The Outdoor Guide, mainly Holly their wonderful Content Manager. But I now blog occasionally for The Outdoor Guide and am in regular contact with Bradders who continues to advise me, listen to my ramblings of what I’ve been up to, put me at ease if I’m having a slight breakdown and occasionally sends me a message to check in and see what I’m up to.

Now, without being too smug about it, since our first meeting in London back in 2015, Julia and I have exchanged many messages so seeing her name pop up on my iPhone screen (not an ad!) back in 2017 shouldn’t have made me too giddy. But I still get that excitable ‘Julia Bradbury just messaged me’ feeling no matter how many times I hear from her. And this day was no exception. Except the huge difference being this message would tick another item off my Bradders Bucket List; to go for a walk with Julia Bradbury in Cornwall.

Never in a million years did I think I’d meet Julia, let alone go for a walk with her. But on Tuesday 17 October 2017, I woke up with the same feeling I get when waking on Christmas morning. Having received the message the day before that Julia was heading to Cornwall to do some filming for a new tv show, and that I was invited to join them, I hastily booked the day off and got through the rest of the day at work on adrenaline and repeatedly looking at the messages she’d sent. That evening I spent about an hour or three deciding what leggings, coat and walking boots to wear before heading out for a late-night loop of Truro to try and release some of the adrenaline that was hindering me from sleeping!

9am the following morning I made my way to St. Ives where I would be meeting Julia and the film crew. You may have seen it on ITV, the programme we were spending the day filming part of was called Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks where Julia and Ore Oduba took us through a countdown of Britain’s 100 finest rambles and ambles – did you see it?

Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba - Britain's 100 Favourite Walks

Starting at the harbour, I had enough time to stare out to sea and compose myself before Julia turned up. I found the cameraman and producer and made idle chitchat as I kept one eye on the road in anticipation. Finally, just after 10am, Bradders arrived. Out of the car she gets and suddenly I am surrounded by her infectious laughter, loud energy, warm smile and familiar embrace. Julia flipping Bradbury, what a day we had – one I certainly will never forget.

Boots were pulled on whilst Julia and I had a brief catch up before we headed down to Lambeth Walk beach. Here we were to meet up with a fisherman, Julia’s first interviewee and the start of filming. With a camera crew on a quiet beach at 10:30am, we started to attract a bit of attention. Standing amongst it all as people looked down at us, I started to see the phones come out as Bradders was recognised, and I felt a sense of euphoria to think I was a part of it all. As I stand there taking it all in, Julia comes up to me and asks how her hair looks! Of course, I said it looked lovely (because it did) but after a bit of hairspray, a final check of her make-up and a cheeky smile just for me, she bounds off and begins.

Julia is one of the most professional women I’ve ever met. Having been in this profession for many years, you can see she knows what she’s doing. How she goes from not so serious Bradders straight into work mode Julia is fascinating. As they filmed her striding up and down the beach, a fishing boat pulled in and off came a huge crate of mackerel.

After a few takes, we loaded up our backpacks and all the equipment and made our way towards the town where we stopped off at a lovely little café for a cup of tea. Here, Julia and I managed to have more of a conversation whilst the crew set up the next scene. It was lovely standing out on the cobbled streets of St. Ives in the sunshine, drinking a cup of peppermint tea whilst having a natter. No matter how nervous I was that morning, Julia made me feel completely at ease. It’s a skill that comes naturally to her and what makes her so personable on telly as well as off. A few times, as I rambled on about nonsense whilst she smiled and nodded at me, completely absorbed in what I was saying, but also tuned into what was happening around her (I don’t know how she does it!) I had to pinch myself. Here I am, little ole Cornish Bumpkin Jody, having a conversation with Bradders as if she were someone I’d known forever.

Even writing about it now makes me smile.

Tea finished, back to work we go. Whilst Julia was doing her thing, a few curious passers-by came up to me and asked what we were filming. In my most professional manner, I explained as much as I was allowed. Everyone knew who Julia was, she is a friendly and familiar face that most will recognise from her days on Countryfile, or her series on Wainwright Walks and most recently, her Australia with Julia Bradbury or Famous, Rich and Homeless series. I could see from their faces how much she is loved and how popular a TV personality she really is.

The next part of the walk/filming took us across to Porthmeor beach and Clodgy Point, a lovely grassy area up from the beach giving you fantastic views of Tate St. Ives and the beach. On route to our next location up on Clodgy Point, there was a whisper of ‘does anyone else need a wee?’ Having been so distracted all morning, I suddenly realised I was desperate but with no toilets nearby we had to think of a different solution. I was getting prepared for the possibility of a wild wee when luckily, a lovely lady had seen all the commotion as we wandered past her house and came out to investigate. To cut a long story short, after a fond welcome upon recognising Julia, we were invited in to her home where Bradders and I ended up using the lady’s toilet. I’m sure it’s not everyday you get Julia on your doorstep and I’m sure she’s left with the fond memory of that time Julia flipping Bradbury and her weird sidekick came in for a wee.

With it fast approaching early afternoon, Julia and the crew spent the next hour filming and walking before we pulled over for a spot of lunch – fish and chips overlooking the beach, how Cornish can you get (there wasn’t a pasty shop nearby!)

As we munched and chatted, I asked about her children and family. Julia asked me plenty of questions in return about work, life, walking and I told her all about Cornish Ramblings and the adventures we’d been on. She also asked how the family were – particularly my Nan who I took to meet Julia up in Birmingham back in 2016 for her 75th birthday. My SuperNan, as she’s more commonly known to me, is also a huge admirer of Julia’s and we often chat fondly of Bradders when I pop round for a cup of tea. Nan always says, ‘have you heard from Julia? Send her my love won’t you’. So, when I had the opportunity to take Nan for a surprise trip to the NEC in Birmingham to meet Bradders, I was very excited. Julia was her usual wonderful self and got Nan and I up on stage where the audience sang her happy birthday, and then we got to hang out together for a while. The entire journey home to Cornwall, Nan didn’t stop talking about the day we’d spent with Julia. It is one of my most treasured memories which I will hold dearly of my SuperNan and I.

Once we’d refuelled on carbs, it was time to load up the cars and drive (yes, drive) to our next location; Zennor. Without giving away too many trade secrets, the walk was done in various sections and not necessarily in order. With a camera crew and equipment to lug up and down the undulating Cornish terrain, some of the walk was skipped in order to get the right shots. With so much equipment and a lot to squeeze into a day, the 12-mile walk had to be cut into manageable chunks. It was all very exciting as we convoyed towards the coast. I was in the car with Julia and the producer of the show and we nattered the whole way, me in a bubble of complete bliss. As we pulled up to location, we met a chap from the National Trust who would be taking us along the coast at Zennor. Making our way down the steep fields, we reached the coastal path and trekked single file to a good point where Julia could be filmed. When we reached a suitable point, we stared out at the magnificent view as the crew set up the equipment and got the right lighting. Bradders had passed me her camera at the beginning of the day and when she saw I wasn’t too bad at taking photos of her, she said for me to keep hold of the camera all day and snap away. At the start I was a little nervous to be taking pictures of her as she confidently directed me to what she wanted. But after spending a day in her company and feeling totally at ease, I began to suggest good angles and backdrops, all of which she gladly allowed me to do, and stood in position without hesitation.

After a good walk along the coast, we made our way back to the cars and off to our last location; the pub! With the sun starting to dip, we took a few atmospheric shots of Julia and the crew along the coast before pulling up to The Tinners Arms in Zennor. A small but beautifully quaint and typically Cornish pub. As we pushed the door open, a sudden burst of warm light and friendly chatter hit us. A round of cider awaited us at the bar and then the final part of filming for the day before Bradders and the team could put their feet up and relax. You may remember from the beginning of this short novella that the fisherman had caught a huge box of mackerel. Luckily for us, the mackerel had made its way to The Tinners where after it was freshly caught, had been cooked and prepared especially for us…yum! A mouthful of mackerel and a swig of cider for Bradders and then cut, she was done for the day.

As the cameras went away, we piled around a table beside an open fire to continue our drinks and chat about the day, as the Aggie Boys sang sea shanty’s in the corner. Looking around and seeing Bradders drinking her pint beside me, I was a little overwhelmed and knew that as soon as I got home, I’d be full of adrenaline whilst being sad it was over. So, to make the most of the little time I had left, I took an abundance of selfies with Julia and hugged her several times (sorry about that peach!) before we all went our separate ways.

Saying goodbye to Julia was hard, but as I drove home beaming, I couldn’t help but think how perfect the day had been and how lucky I was that I got to spend the day, rambling in Cornwall, with Julia flipping Bradbury!

‘Surround yourself with people who add value to your life, who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday, who sprinkle magic into your existence, just like you do to theirs. Life isn’t to be done alone – find your tribe and journey freely and loyally together.’

Alex Elle

A message to Bradders

Dearest Julia,

Thank you. For all the years, all the messages, all the smiles and for all you do, not just for me, but to all those who adore you from afar like I once did, and still do when I can’t see you in person. You are a powerful woman who uses her 'celebrity influence' for nothing but good and your passion for topics such as homelessness, the climate crisis and mental health is truly commendable.

Thank you for being a kind and generous soul who has made one Cornish Bumpkins dreams come true, and for being the most positive role model I could ever have hoped for. None of us are perfect, you and I are no exception, but the day we had in St. Ives was perfect and I cannot express my gratitude to you enough for allowing me to join you.

I look forward to many more catch-ups with you in the future, but until then will continue to adore you from Cornwall - hopefully one day soon, you will be back and can join Cornish Ramblings and I for a walk sometime!

Bradders, you are an absolute legend, a wonderful Mama, an inspirational woman and hilarious human to be around. I’m grateful and honoured to call you a friend – thank you for everything.

Love Bumps x

You can do the St. Ives to Zennor walk, just click the link and download the route here;

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