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

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?

Five pieces of advice I wish I’d had…

Twenty years ago… To my eleven year-old self, I wish someone had advised me that physical health and fitness is as important as intellectual challenges and being sociable. Also, don’t worry about how popular you are, this is just one life stage, there’s much better to come!
Fifteen years ago… At sixteen I would throw that careers advisor’s words back in her face and advise myself to do Chemistry. I wish I’d received what I tell people now, study what you want, there are no limits at university and in life, you can do Psychology with English Language, you can do Mechanical Engineering with French. Stick to what you want to do, don’t listen to anyone else because you might just end up scraping a pass at Economics and regretting it for the rest of your life.
Ten years ago… At 21 I was in Spain, and already enjoying the best piece of advice I’d ever had, two years previous one of my Italian friends (Erasmus in Leicester) told me, “Katherine, Don’t study on your Erasmus year, just party – all the time!” Luckily my grades there didn’t count for anything on my Leicester course, so I did indeed do just that! Back to uni though for the final year, I wish I was advised that hard work pays off, you cannot rest on your laurels because you enjoyed the class, you have to deliver in the exam. Read the books on your course, don’t just skip through or find the plot on the internet.
Five years ago… I was 26, I was advised to start a pension which I still pay into. But I wish I had been advised to start saving for a deposit on a house, or at least start managing money better. At that point I didn’t care, I was going on holidays, moving out of my parents and having a taste of real freedom again, I was still planning to go to Spain in the long run, so it was the least of my worries.
One year ago… Start exercising, regularly. Physical health and fitness is just as important as having a job you love, a wonderful fiancée, and a loving family. You’ll regret it when you’re older. And I’m still telling myself this now.
Looking at this, is it really advice I wish I’d been given? Or advice I wish I’d listened to? The media, friends, family, every conversation results in a piece of advice, every question you ask, every doubt you have, every motivational picture you see on instagram imparts advice. From “Don’t wear red and green together…” to “This mortgage is better for you because…”. It’s easy to blur the lines between the conversations you have and the things you see on TV, for example, every advert suggests you need this thing, it advises that this thing is good for mood, lifestyle, social status, health etc. You talk about products between friends, skincreams, pension plans, new cooking sauces. Everywhere you look, advice, advice advice!

#100happydays Days 14 – 20

Day 14 – I went for a run – with my tree trunk legs – so the feeling of taking my shoes off afterwards was brilliant, followed by a hot shower. I really do need to get out there more.

Day 15 – My car was being repaired so I had to get the bus to work. I’ve often said I’d like to work in the city centre and walk through the hustle and bustle every morning, and on Tuesday I did – and found the trees at the Peace Gardens full of blossom!

Day 16 – We went for a little walk through town on Wednesday evening, to take photos that we’re hoping to use in our wedding. Here’s the library to show our lovely sunset walk through town!

Day 17 – Calming stressed girls down since the dawn of time. A calm chocolate moment at lunchtime during a very stressed day at work.

Day 18 – First day of the Bank Holiday weekend and we went to eat in the evening at a local Mexican place, Chilacas. They are finally getting the fact that Mexican is not just tacos and tequila, they now do Jarritas, and Guava is my absolute favourite so I was very happy to discover these in the UK.

Day 19 – The buttonhole flowers from my sister’s wedding. We had an invitation to see them in Nottingham for viewing the wedding and honeymoon pictures. Cue making biscuits and getting very excited!

Day 20 – The wedding photos, a lovely reminder of a beautiful day. My sister as per usual, messing with the technology until it’s perfect, nothing changes! A lovely lovely day of laughing and nostalgia.

Legs like Treetrunks

I went for a run, around Bristol Street and the Ring Road. If I did it again I’d do it reverse, the long down-hill of the Middleway made me lose stride and I felt uncomfortable in my shoes. Since we moved house I’m looking for new routes that don’t involve too many main roads – where we lived before was so close to the canal it was ideal.

Not my photo, but City Centre running!

Not my photo, but City Centre running!

Last time I went running a friend of mine showed me how to work the app on my iPod, so I can now track my pace, distance and time. I must remember to make a proper playlist too, I was stuck with Adele followed by Lana Del Rey to start off with this time! Then Revolution by the Beatles kicked in and I picked up the pace. It probably really helped that I was running with Daniel too, seeing him run off 20 metres ahead made me a bit more motivated than running alone.

We did about 4.5km (just over 2.5 miles), and my Random Moment of Delight actually came at the end while stretching. Not because we stopped, but because I felt I could have carried on. My pace and technique aren’t fantastic, but I’m sure I’ve said before that I’ve always grown up thinking “I can’t run, not with these tree-trunk legs!” Apparently I can…

#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