Shropshire in the Sun

It was a bank holiday and we went out exploring a nearby Medieval castle and a village little changed since the industrial revolution. With the wedding nearly two months behind us, we’re still taking advantage of the free things to do around the Midlands for an unusual day out, to enjoy the tranquil lull after four months of non-stop running. As we explored the castle, and wandered along the river with our ice-creams, I remembered my childhood visiting French castles and tiny northern villages, and realised I’ve always been a daydreamer, walking carefully and inventing stories in my head :

This room might have been a drawing room, or an armoury, there were no battles fought here but imagine the nobleman wishing he could prove his might over this area. The King came here, maybe he made some important decisions here, right here leaning against this wall in all its glory with tapestries and candles, with a burning fire and gazing pensively out this window at the valley surrounding the manor, the same valley that surrounds us seven hundred years later when all that’s left is a tangle of stones and stories and imagination…

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Acton Burnell and Ironbridge

These old track ways, leading up to the door of what is now the tourist information office – once used for transporting goods from the bank of the river to the warehouse. Now that I work in logistics I think of the money that changed hands, the deals that were made, shouting and running – businessmen with their warm coats overseeing the commerce. A tender of rolled cloth is unloaded from a barge, it reaches the shore and positions itself within the ruts carved in the stone floor. Setting off a loose cutting falls and gets caught in the wheel, the whole tender spills out back into the river, ruining its load. The worker pushing the cart is fired on the spot, a valuable consignment from China is ruined, he walks the two miles home to his family of six children not knowing how he’ll feed them tonight…

Written for Ailsa’s Travel Theme : Tangle

Acton Burnell Castle is cared for by English Heritage and is free to enter

Ironbridge Gorge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, looked after by English Heritage and free to explore

Inside the Suitcase

Her folded clothes, neat pairs of high-waisted trousers, mini-skirts and shorts, brand new t-shirts, smart blouses her mother had sewn for her more formal dinners – or in case she meets a gentleman. Underwear of course, a nightgown, a coat and jumpers for the evening, and a new bikini. She also had a one-piece that her mother insisted she take, in case she meets a gentleman. Hanging up on the front of the wardrobe and with strict instructions from her mother to unpack and hang back up as soon as possible is her beaded dress that sparkles at the trim. Light blue, not a bright skyblue that’s the colour of the daytime, or a midnight blue that comes with the last bus home, but that magical blue that appears on the opposite side of the sky to the sunset.

She adds a small washbag with soap and toothbrush, it’s green leather with a monogrammed CA in the top corner and seems to have much better craftsmanship than everything except the dress. There will be a shop to replace what she uses, she’s not sure how she’ll wash her clothes but her mother tells her to look after everything. Two books follow, a romance and a collection of essays – to give her an interesting conversation at these dinners. She includes a small notebook with a photograph of her family glued onto the front, telling her mother she would get homesick easily. It’s empty except for five addresses – her parents, two of her closest sisters who now live in the countryside to the south of the city and two close friends from work. She checks them again and slots her boarding card in the middle of the book as she lays it neatly on top of the pile.

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She picks up her perfume from the top of the small table beside the window, there’s a photo of her sisters and a small pink candle that’s nearly burnt out. She dabs a little on her neck and drops it into another bag with her notebook, the brown leather with warm metal clasp sits next to the suitcase. She walks over to the case open on the bed and closes it shut – closing her life here and now.

Taking a moment to reflect, she hasn’t told her parents she’s not coming back. They wouldn’t let her get on that ship if they knew, she kept her secret for three years while she worked for the ticket, and in her brown leather bag she also carries an envelope with £100.00 is hidden away in the lining, she’ll exchange it for dollars or pesos or anything else she needs to get by. Her plan is to leave at the furthest port from England, she’ll watch the ship fade into the distance at sunset and she knows she’ll cry. Her parents will beg her to come home and she’ll cry and she’ll regret it, but those feelings won’t last forever. Overwhelmed for a moment a she feels the tears coming already and as she resolves herself she takes her suitcase and walks confidently out of the life that was hers for twenty English years, knowing that the world is nearly hers.

A post for Ailsa’s Travel Theme : Interior, based on a suitcase that belonged to my father’s aunt. All I know is that she used it for a cruise on the SS Canberra. I’ve guessed at her age, the initial on the address label we have is a C Asbury, I don’t even know where she went but the fact that we have the suitcase shows that she did come back. We’re using this for cards at our wedding, to fit into our vaguely international theme, a fitting reuse I think!

Bon Bons and Floral Gems and Bubble Gum and Kali

I talk a lot on here about being British, not being British, being part of that enormous world citizenship, travel and culture and discovery. Then I walked down the Coventry Road and spied a newsagents. And I’m not ashamed to say I bought some sweets, in sheer Random Delight. Something pulled me in, it might have been the smell, or the shade on a sunny day, or a tiny ping of nostalgia in my head.

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Newsagent, Coventry Road

My actual #100happydays finished yesterday (I’m way behind on my Sunday postings) but this newsagents would have been today’s. Selling sweets and magazines and a random collection of wares at the back (toilet roll, toys, greetings cards, baked beans), the newsagents must be up there among the Great British Institutions. Also known as the Corner Shop, emphasis on the first syllable as though it’s all one word, it must be part of the collective childhood upto about 1999. With the turning of the millennium childhood might have changed, these giants turn up everywhere, I bet there’s nearly one on Baldwin’s Lane now too!

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Ruining a childhood near you!

For a split-second in there, the newspapers were on the counter instead of on the rack, I was transported back to the time we’d wait outside school, begging our parents for 20p to run down to Lacey’s News, all the sweets in jars behind the counter, the blonde lady and the black-haired man with a moustache who ran it, they had a big yellow dog too. We’d spend what felt like half an hour in there, choosing our sweets carefully, a quarter of this, six of those. Then wandering back down the road to our Moms ready to go home from school.

From Lacey’s to Naj to the Corner Shop in Sandy Hill, then I grew up and now my corner shop is a Spar, the next corner is a Tesco Express. That split-second brought back all that innocence, then I step back outside to the dirty Birmingham roads.

What has given you a split-second of childhood this week?

#100HappyDays

I’ve signed up to the 100 Happy Days challenge, it’s three and a bit months of finding something happy every day, delighting in the small things. Every Sunday I’ll post seven photos of the little things that made me happy each day that week.

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#100HappyDays

I love the Random Moments of Delight challenge, and while I don’t post as often as I should I really could fill the day with the little things that make me smile! We all say we haven’t got time to do what makes us happy, we work all day and then by the time we get to the evening we’re too tired to do anything. We have no active energy to get out the house, to call up our friends because it’s easier to just watch telly than risk bringing your friend down with a little moan or a rant.

So let’s make it more passive, let’s see what happiness happens to you – you can’t get out of work early enough to go to that yoga class, but at lunchtime you went out for some fresh air, filled with the wonderful smell of the bakery that reminded you of your grandparents baking bread and you smile inside and feel so warm with the memory. Passive happiness that we don’t necessarily realise is happening because we’re not laughing, nor do we feel that exhilarating energy or that surge of pride of living.

I sent the link to my Mom, I’m so happy she has signed up too! Sometimes you just need to remember that no matter how stressful life gets there is always something to make you smile, even just on the inside!

I start today, 1st April. So I haven’t even been to work yet, but I’m full of excitement to find my moment for today. The Brownie leaders are taking the Guides on a small trip to a local pet shop for that Bunny Challenge Badge, so I’m full of optimism even now!

First Anniversary

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First Birthday Chilanga : Exported

Yes, one year ago today, I had the day off work – very bored – and decided to start a blog. My very first post was about American Football, because we were in the middle of the main season of the NFL, and watching the Denver Broncos every Sunday.

Then let’s face it, things got a bit boring so taking general topics made it a lot easier to write. And here I am, Chilanga : Exported. I enjoy the blog, it’s like I’m talking to everybody but nobody.

Thank you to all my lovely 90 or so followers, your comments and opinions have kept me motivated and happy while writing about a lot of different things, and I just hope I can keep you entertained for as long as I can!

Q & A – BritishBloggerSelection

During my Erasmus year, 2003/2004 I had another blog, on LiveJournal – Katty’s Little Adventure. I don’t even remember the username or password so I can’t link to it here. It told the story of my Erasmus year in Spain and then France, it was mainly full of snippets of nights out that I could remember the following day, or other little in-jokes we had between us. One of the things we did a lot, was quizzes! So #BritishBloggerSelection this week has taken me back to a nostalgic time of sitting in the Sala de Ordenadores at Residencia Pignatelli in Zaragoza…

Why do you like blogging? – I’m not a big social network user, so this is an outlet I can have that facebook just doesn’t provide. Facebook is for my photos or arranging nights out, the blog is more like an open e-mail to my friends that I don’t see very often, and a chance to explore things in a bit more detail.

How did you come up with your blog name? A chilango is a person from Mexico City, chilanga is the feminine form. I’m marrying my Mexican, so I’m becoming more and more chilanga every day. And Exported, that refers to both my job in freight forwarding, and the fact that I am a chilanga in the UK.

Where from the UK do you come from? Originally, and still living in Birmingham. In order : Birmingham UK, Leicester UK, Zaragoza Spain, Pau France, Leicester UK, Sheffield UK, Birmingham UK. In my city I’ve lived in Hall Green, Moseley, Ladywood, and now hoping to move to a new housing development in Edgbaston. On the property ladder at last!

Favourite colour? This is Yellow, without doubt. And Silver, and Turquoise and Purple. I just love bright colours.

Do you like Lana Del Rey? I loved her Summertime Sadness song, and I listen to her to cool down at the gym. Lumping her in with Florence and the Machine, Lorde, Goldfrapp’s A&E etc., I like slow songs that sound like a fairy-tale that you can just lose yourself in, they are good day-dream walking songs.

Hidden Talents That You Have? I can catch, netball team and I’m still good at catching things as they fall out the kitchen cupboard before hitting the floor. And jump, at school I was one of the last three or four left in the high-jump but lost the competition in my teenage modesty because would not take my skirt off to get a higher measurement.

Celebrity Crush? None that I care to say here, I don’t bother much with celebrity. I don’t see the point in taking an interest in the lives of people we will never meet, who will continually make is feel inadequate and who have no idea who we are. Ok, fine! Gael Garcia Bernal and Romain Duris!

Favourite Blog Of All Time? I like Lady of the Cakes, she’s living my dream of living and working in Spain. That was my original plan but life took a turn and I couldn’t follow it through. The plan was to move to Zaragoza and surround myself with Spanish. I’m secretly quite glad it didn’t turn out that way, I love my life here in Birmingham with my Danielote and wouldn’t change it for the world. And Brummed Out, I get to hear about other things that are going on in Birmingham here.

What made you want to join #BritishBloggerSelection? I’ve been in the blogosphere for about a year, but haven’t really got much involved until now.

Reading back, this actually sounds really daggy like I’m back at uni! We spent hours coming up with the “coolest” answers to the endless quizzes.

British Blogger Selection

I am… 30, British, European, blonde, shy, hedonistic, short, sister, daughter, fiancée, prometida, guërita, supply-chain coordinator, brummie, chilanga, English, happy, Master of Arts, fluent, Guide Leader.

British Blogging

British Blogging

Twenty things that define me. I joined this blogging community : #BritishBloggerSelection. And it made me think about my personal identity. A few weeks ago I wrote about language and identity, but what else makes an identity? My passport might say British Citizen, and I might get a lump in my throat when I hear Rule Britannia at Last Night of the Proms, and I did get all excited when we won everything in the London Olympics – but I feel more like a citizen of the World than of my corner of Birmingham, in Great Britain.

Being British at the 2012 Queen's Jubilee River Pageant

Being British at the 2012 Queen’s Jubilee River Pageant

Individual but Universal. That’s another theme explored in Laberinto de Soledad (Octavio Paz). One alone but part of the whole. I’ve always been keen to surround myself with other languages and cultures, even when I was small. Like there’s no point in saying I’m British because I’m also European, I’m also Brummie, and I’m also a person – like these identity barriers shouldn’t exist because we are all important and we all laugh and cry as people of this Earth.