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

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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 Days 1 – 6

Day 1 : My Guides have been badgering me for ages about Rock Climbing, so I finally booked it for after Easter. Couldn’t wait to give them the letter and see their faces light up!

Day 2 : Listening to the radio in the car, Danny Dyer’s version of “Selfie” by The Chainsmokers made my giggle all the way to work.

Day 3 : We’ve been in our flat 8 weeks, and finally have curtains in the bedroom. Waiting for payday, and finally getting a decent night’s sleep made me happy on Thursday morning!

Day 4 : I was invited to a Go Karting night with ex-colleagues from my old workplace. Lots of fun with familiar faces.

Day 5 : We never take advantage of the market in Birmingham, so we went and bought all our meat for the next three months, and saved loads of money doing it!

Day 6: The happiest day, knowing it is less than one year until the happiest day of our lives!

#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!

Daffodil Gardens

I snapped these little lovelies in my Mom’s garden this morning. It’s beautiful weather at the moment, and the daffodils are beaming! It’s my Mom’s first proper Spring in the house, so the beds were full of daffodils, light and bright and welcoming. Days like this make me wish I had a garden, I love her house – it’s got that real vintage character, beautiful gardens and it comes alive when we are all there together. Hollywood, Worcestershire is worlds apart from the noisy and throbbing US namesake, being in the countryside is wonderful (I couldn’t do it permanently), walking next to fields, with horses, and village shops!

But then I get home to the heat of the city and I see the sun on the balcony and the little Indian family having a little picnic in the park and I love my flat and I put the daffodils that I picked in my Mom’s garden in the vase and I sit back and enjoy the heat after the horrible rainy Winter and I hope that this Sunday afternoon lasts forever.

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Multi-Daffodil!

 

Random Moments of Delight

Ancient Aztecs : The Rabbit in the Moon

You might know that I run the local Guide Company, and obviously for various child protection laws in place I don’t really post about the girls at all. But this week’s travel theme from Alisa is Ancient, and we recently played a game that made me think of this straight away. Inspired by my travels, I wanted to give them something Mexican, so we told my girls and the Brownies the ancient Aztec story of the Rabbit in the Moon for the Division’s Bunny Challenge Badge to learn about Rabbits in other cultures.

Teotihuacán from the Pirámide de la Luna

Teotihuacán from the Pirámide de la Luna

Gather the girls together and tell them the actions they must do during the story when you read out certain words:

  1. Quetzalcoatl – flap wings like a bird and hiss like a snake
  2. Rabbit – bunny hopping on the spot
  3. Moon – lie on the floor and point at the ceiling*

Then begin the story :

The ancient people of Mexico are called the Aztecs, and the most important God was called Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, who took the form of a human to walk the earth with his people.

Ladywood Bunny Challenge

Ladywood Bunny Challenge Badge

As a simple man he walked in the Mexican desert in the heat of the day, walking until he grew thirsty and hungry. He kept walking in the desert until to grew dark, and the sky filled with stars and a blank silver moon. When Quetzalcoatl had walked so much that the hunger and thirst grew too strong, he sat beside the path, suffering in a way he never had as a God. Near to him he noticed a small rabbit eating alone in the dark. “What are you eating?” Quetzalcoatl asked. “Grass, would you like some?” said the rabbit. Despite his uncomfortable hunger, Quetzalcoatl said “No”, as this simple meal is enough for a rabbit, but hardly suitable for a human. By the light of the moon, the concerned rabbit asked Quetzalcoatl what he would do, “Die of hunger and thirst probably” he replied. Getting nearer to the human, the rabbit gave Quetzalcoatl another offering, “I know I am nothing but a small rabbit, but if you are hungry you can eat me.” Touched by the kindness of the rabbit, the man gently picked him up, and revealing his true form as the feathered serpent God. Quetzalcoatl raised the rabbit up to the sky, taking as high up as the moon, where the image of this kind rabbit was imprinted onto the blank surface of the moon. As he did this, Quetzalcoatl told the rabbit he was no longer just a small creature, that his portrait painted in the light of the moon would forever tell the story of his kindness to all men. And with this reward he returned the rabbit to where he found him.

Quetzalcoatl‘s story teaches us that even if food is just fuel need to continue your journey, it is also a gift and a kindness.

* The older girls decided to change this action to bending over and taking their skirt over their head “mooning” at each other!

Glace – Artisan Ice Cream in the Ciudad

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Escondido en las callecitas de La Roma, se encuentra un heladería preciosa – Glace – que venden sabores raros pero deliciosos. Como los días de invierno mexicano son tan diferentes de los de Inglaterra, normalmente tomamos un “helado diario” en las placitas de Coyoacán, Querétaro, y claro en la Ciudad.

Glace in Mexico City

Glace in Mexico City

Nos fue recomendado por el padre de Daniel, y después de un par de horas en explorar los Parques de España y de México, encontramos Glace para probar un heladito diferente de lo normal de vainilla o guayaba. Situada al fondo de un calle casi anónima, nunca lo verías si no supiera. La tienda de madera y la dama muy amable dan la impresión de una operación muy artesanal y llena de pasión por el sabor. La dama nos permitió probar casi cada sabor, de miel con lavanda hasta el té verde. Si estoy honesta, no me recuerdo el sabor que tomé, creo algo de canela. Una delicia inesperada en las calles de La Roma y La Condesa.

No me recuerdo los precios, ni la dirección, pero el blog Sin Mantel me ayuda : Ensenada 8, $30 el sencillo y $50 el doble, @glacehelado.

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Hidden away in the beautiful backstreets of La Roma is Glace, a beautiful little ice-cream shop selling unusual but mouth-watering flavours. As Winter days in Mexico are so different to those we have in the UK, we usually enjoy a “daily ice-cream” in the little plazas and squares of Coyoacán, Querétaro, and of course in Mexico City.

It was recommended to us by Daniel’s dad, and after a few hours exploring Parque de España and Parque de México, we found Glace for an ice-cream, out of the ordinary flavours of vanilla and guayaba. Located at the end of an almost anonymous road, you’d never see it unless you knew it was there. A wooden shop front and very friendly assistant gives the impression of a very rustic operation with a passion for flavour. The girl let us try nearly every flavour from lavender honey to green tea. Honestly though I can’t remember what flavour I had, cinnamon I think. A lovely little unexpected delight in the streets of La Roma and La Condesa.

I don’t remember the prices or the address, but the Sin Mantel blog helps me out here : Ensenada 8, £1.30 for a single, £2.20 for  a double, @glacehelado.

Random Moments of Delight