I just enjoyed 10 days in England and, while there, I was told a few times that I need to post more pictures of my day-to-day shenanigans. In turn, I began to think that I really ought to blog a little more. This is about the 5th reprise of this site. Hello, again.
Last time I visited my home-country was in 2012 and that was for my brother’s wedding. This time I was going to visit my new-born niece, Aliya, but there would also be a little more time to be a tourist. And I do feel like a bit of a tourist in England now. I’ve been in Canada for seven years. Time flies.
Landing in Birmingham was a little hairier than I was previously used to, as Hurricane Gonzalo was dissipating, but still making its presence felt. The plane was banking from side-to-side in gusting winds just feet from the runway. I’m usually pretty comfortable flying, but I did grip the arm rest a little extra hard. The touchdown ended up being incredibly gentle, and there was a little muted applause from other passengers.
My first day back in England was mostly relaxed. I popped into my old home-town of Kidderminster to buy a UK simcard for my phone, mostly so that I had data without paying through the nose for roaming. I got a simcard for about half the price I pay in Canada and got more features – just sayin’. Later that day, I got to meet my new niece, Aliya. She is tiny, at 6 weeks premature, and looks startlingly like by brother.
Day two was a visit to Merry Hill. Shopping in England is generally done on the high street, but there are shopping malls and Merry Hill is one of them – though it is affectionately known as Merry Hell to many. My Mum was terrified of buying any clothes for my upcoming birthday, so she patiently followed me around dozens of shops, many revisited, while we searched high and low for the perfect jacket. I didn’t even know what I wanted. I think I drove her and my wife completely nuts by the time we were done. We stopped off at an ASDA Cafe (Walmart type store which often includes a cafe) and had some pretty dire food. I had a burger for £4.50 ($8) which is cheap, but the patty was so dry, I think it may have been found on the floor. But then, ASDA Cafes aren’t aimed at me. They are aimed at old people who have lost their sense of taste and like to sit together at table and reminisce about the good old days of rationing.
Day three consisted of a long walk from my Mum’s house, along the River Severn, to my step-grand parents and then back again, via Stourport town centre. The River Severn is the longest river in England and it’s a great place to spot birds… though maybe less so at this time of year. We did see a Kingfisher, though. The River Stour and The Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal also both run through Stourport, so there are lots of canal boats/narrow boats. Interconnected canals and rivers mean you can get pretty much anywhere in the country in one of these, and some people even live in them.
Day four was spent with my Dad in Worcester, the county town of Worcestershire, as you may well intuit. It is home to an impressive cathedral (which we didn’t visit this time) and Worcester Guildhall, the local government building (which we popped into). The walls are lined with paintings of Worcester’s past mayors. The weather wasn’t so kind, so after grabbing a few bits and pieces, we were on our way.
On day five, we attempted to go for a quick walk behind my Dad’s house. He has long garden that stretches back, descends several levels and eventually comes out, via a wire gate, into some woods. It reminds me of The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. There are fresh water springs in the woods, wooded areas, ponds and openfields – but it had been raining and has become a little overgrown, so we didn’t have much look. Later, we went in to Birmingham City Centre, had a greasy breakfast, did some shopping, visited the new Birmingham Library and stood around like tourists taking pictures of Birmingham City Hall.
On day seven, we took a trip from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway, a heritage steam railway line still decorated in a Victorian style. We enjoyed a market in Bridgnorth, but the point is the train experience which is, of course, a peculiarly British thing to enjoy.
Day eight was my birthday. It began with another walk along the river and then another through Wyre Forest, one of the largest ancient woodlands in Britain. Not the best time of year for animal/bird spotting, be mostly saw a variety of tits (relatives of the chickadee and titmouse). We went to a local pub for my birthday.
Day nine, we travelled into Wales to go Red Kite spotting. We took a scenic route that would take us through the Clee Hills in Shropshire, near the Worcestershire border. Sheep roam freely and there are good views of patchwork green, even in the drizzly rain we had.
Red Kites almost became extinct in The UK because of poisoning, nest destruction and egg theft, but have made a comeback thanks to conservation efforts. We went to a farm where these birds have been fed meat for a number of years. It was pretty startling to see so many, though we missed the bulk of the action due to a cock-up based on daylight savings time changing a couple of days earlier! Note: not my photo.
Our remaining full day in England was spent re-visiting Kidderminster and Worcester to try to pick up a few bargains on clothes, which are generally cheaper in England… at least at value end of the market 😉
I spent a bit too much, I expect… based on having to mess around with my case at the airport, to get it down to the correct weight.