Busy busy busy.
Uni has picked up massively, keeping me quite busy during the week, but I have been trying to get out and about on the weekends. Keeps me sane.
Plus London is only a train ride away, who can say no to that!?
In the past 6ish weeks I’ve been to London twice, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cardiff, and celebrated Bonfire Night on an RAF base in Cosford.
Gear up for a few history lessons… everything in England is so… historical. They like to remind me that it’s because their country is a wise, mature adult, whereas the US is still a child who occasionally throws tantrums and doesn’t really understand the world (their words, not mine!)
Stratford is known as the birthplace of Shakespeare. Above his said to be his house! It’s old.. like a lot of the town. It really is lovely. There are nice little streets that are just for walking. Loads of nice indie shops to look through, and of course plenty of Shakespeare related memorabilia. James and I went for the day and just wandered. We stumbled upon a local farmers market where we bought some fresh bread and lovely cheese which we ate in the sunshine for lunch (I’m a bit sun deprived, it will probably come up often). Then we had a cuppa tea at possibly my favourite tea shop so far, and I’ve been to some great tea shops!
This shop had hundreds of teas! They helped you decide which tea to have based on how you like your tea, I had something almondy, quite different, but fantastic! We walked along the River Avon which runs through the Town alongside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The River Avon translates to “River River.” When the English first arrived they asked the local people what the River was named, the people replied “Avon,” meaning roughly “it’s a river guys..” the English took this to be the name of the river and the result is a lot of Rivers named“River River.” Sillies.
That’s basically what I know about Stratford. Lovely town.
*Hour away driving
*Not particularly wheelchair friendly unfortunately. As with many British cities because of their age.
Doesn’t get much better than Welsh accents. I can’t say Cardiff in my head without a strong, maybe somewhat exaggerated Welsh accent. They are my favourite. Sorry Scotland/Ireland/England… there is just an undeniable charm to Welsh accents.
James and I went to Cardiff for a few days and split our time between friends and wandering the city (James went to Uni in Cardiff and lived there the following few years before returning to Birmingham).
James and I are pretty predictable when exploring. We find basically every bookshop (he finds the scifi and I find the psychology), a local market, and some nice tea shops. The more quirky, the better! We also spent a few hours walking around the park in the amazing sunshine (again, you’ll notice there is a sun outside of Bham). We made the brilliant purchase of Hive during this trip (above photo) and spent a good portion of our time drinking tea and playing Hive on various streets and in various tea shops.
This is the Millennium Centre, an art and theatre centre as far as I understand. I don’t know what it says, but it looks (and I’m sure sounds) cool. Plus..
Cardiff is beautiful. I would move there in a heartbeat.
*2 hours on the train
Had the pleasure of hosting my brother Jonathyn for the weekend! Jonathyn is a year older than me, he is currently studying in Paris. He recently had a long weekend and my amazing mum got him tickets to come see me 🙂
The first day Jonathyn was here I showed him around my neck of the woods, Bham! He enjoyed the markets, the Bull Ring, and his first proper fish and chips.
James, Jonathyn, and I went up to London and stayed in Palmer’s Lodge Hostel (which was cheap and really good!). I’d like to say we went all around the city and saw all the sites complete with history lessons, but really we marched around not really going in any particular direction while singing Disney songs, talked to crazy people at restaurants and people living in hostels (ask James for an impression, absolute highlight), and bought 9 sandwiches in one go at Boots.
And it was great! We enjoyed ourselves, and did manage to see the ‘main’ sites like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Thames, and of course Buckingham Palace.
We came back and tried to watch some fireworks for Bonfire Night and had dinner with James’ family. Jonathyn tried some mulled wine, but isn’t sold.
I loved being the one who knew what everyone was on about for once! I acted as Jonathyn’s translator for the weekend, no doubt he will repay me when I go to Paris. Every few sentences I would get a confused look from Jonathyn and explain a word, or correct his use of one. For example, “arg, my pants are all dirty” “Jonathyn… TROUSERS!” I also worked to correct his pronunciation from “BirmingHAM” to “Buuh-ming-gum” and “mid-lands” to “mdlns” 🙂
*2 hours on the train
Went with the lovely Silcock to her family home on the RAF (Royal Air Rorce) base in Cosford. We watched a brilliant firework display and a massive bonfire on the base. Celebrating failure like only the Brits can do.
I had to explain why Bonfire Night is celebrated to 3 year olds for a programme this week. I’ll explain it here as I did to them: James I was crowned king of England! *can you put a crown on your head?* A mean man wanted to set the Houses of Parliament on fire! *shocked face! Can you throw this tissue paper fire?* Luckily the guards caught him and shouted “STOP GUY FAWKES” *can you say stop!* and no one was set on fire that day, except Guy Fawkes, who’s effigy is not burnt every year to celebrate his failure. *Huray!*
Ok, might not have put quite all of that in at the end. But you get the idea. Anyway, it’s a good excuse for the Brits to celebrate, since they don’t have a proper “Huray we’re a country” celebration day. That would just be too patriotic. As it is I think they are less rooting for Britain on Bonfire night as rooting against Fawkes.
Here I will insert a bit of patriotism for the both of us:
Mad pumpkin skills!
I’m mourning the lack of Downton Abbey tonight, writing this whilst watching “I’m a celebrity get me out of here” with my housemates. Yeah, quality viewing.
As I think about it, don’t know why I’ve spent so much time traveling when I can just sit at home and experience British culture via watching celebrities on TV fighting with each other over who has to eat the cockroach first.
You’re missing out.