The Gap Year: January adventure

(oops, rather late again.  Sorry, overtaken by lack of sleep.  More of which another time).

People, in January we went to Birmingham for three days.

I know, I’ve been there before.  He has too.  So where’s the adventure? you ask.  In my head, is my reply.

I’m realising that ‘adventure’ is as much about our mental approach to things as it is about the physical aspect (travel, challenge, distance, difference.  Add your own words in here).

I’ve long thought that ‘adventure’ can be doing the same things but experiencing them differently, or going to the same places but seeing them differently, and this year is underlining that for me.  It doesn’t have to mean travelling far away (though it might mean that), nor does it have to mean spending lots of money (but it could involve that).

Years ago when our children were very young and money was very tight, a holiday could be a visit to our ‘holiday home‘.  This was our own house, but lived in differently for those few days.  (These days called a ‘staycation’ I think).

One time, during an autumn school holiday when we’d both taken time off work and felt very much in need of a break, come Friday evening I told the boys we were off to our ‘holiday cottage’ and we bundled ourselves into coats gloves and scarves and walked down the road to the nearby linear park (a former railway line, now part of the Two Tunnels Greenway) to see the badger sett.  It was getting dark, they’d never seen it before,  we came home to hot chocolate.  It was a great start to a long weekend of picnics, walks, and just being on holiday together.  Every day there was a treat of some kind or another.  Yes some of the picnics turned out to be indoors on the floor (to avoid the rain), but that was fun too.  After all, we didn’t normally eat our meals with our fingers sitting on a cloth on the floor.

And what on earth does that have to do with Birmingham?  Well, on the face of it nothing.  But it captures for me the way we can transform the everyday into the special just by how we think about it.

So – back to Birmingham.  We travelled by train, which didn’t take long from Bath.  We could have gone there for the day if we’d wanted, but decided to make a few days of it and stayed two nights, at the Quaker study centre near Bourneville.  We both enjoyed it (though it was a bit far from the centre for Malcolm’s preference).

Mostly we walked around exploring Birmingham’s craft and industrial history – the canals, the Jewellery Quarter, the gun-making history.  Some of those industrial buildings and structures are magnificent.  I can bore for England on the subject of beautiful brickwork, encaustic tiles, decorative brickwork, decorative ironwork and the like.  (We now have a daily limit on how many times I’m allowed to draw attention to them, and some handy abbreviations – BBW = beautiful brickwork; BIW = beautiful ironwork.  You get the picture….)

We visited the public library, the art gallery and museum (including the stunning Staffordshire Hoard exhibition), and the cathedral.  We drank coffee and ate cake (as you do).  We enjoyed ourselves a lot.  And then we came home.

Till the next time.

(all the photos bar one are Malcolm’s)

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Detail of inside the public library (this one’s mine folks)

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About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
This entry was posted in Gap year, Local, Reflections on life (and death), Seeing differently, Travels, Uncategorized, Walking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Gap Year: January adventure

  1. Malcolm says:

    “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” The internet has various opinions about whether or not this is an accurate quotation from Marcel Proust (the context in which it occurs in A La Recherché….. appears to a remembrance of music or art, rather than travel). Accurate or not, I think it rather neatly echoes your post.

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  2. Marian says:

    “I can bore for England on the subject of beautiful brickwork, encaustic tiles, decorative brickwork, decorative ironwork and the like. (We now have a daily limit on how many times I’m allowed to draw attention to them, and some handy abbreviations – BBW = beautiful brickwork; BIW = beautiful ironwork. You get the picture….)”
    — this gave me such a laugh this morning, Deborah 🙂 . I too have quite a penchant for architectural detail such as ironwork and brickwork — basically anything that can be seen to be thoughtfully crafted. (Although I’m also a big noticer of the mundane — things which people design/build/maintain that no one pays much attention to, like ductwork for instance!)

    Love the photos, as always, and coincidentally — speaking of industrial cities — I just finished reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. I imagine the architecture in Birmingham would closely resemble that found in Manchester/the fictional Milton?

    And yes, I’m in total agreement with your take on “adventure” and the idea behind seeing things with new eyes.

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    • Oh yes I’m absolutely with you on the small details that make a difference. And yes, those C19 buildings in Manchester and Birmingham have much in common – celebrating industrial wealth, pride and crafts in a way not so often seen in contemporary buildings, which often seem to be about erectile height and showiness (‘mine’s bigger than yours’), or pile them high and sell them for a lot of money.

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  3. Lucille says:

    We had a similarly minded adventure to York overnight on Monday. Things were not all open but we took what they had and dodged the rain quite successfully. I enjoyed the train journey with our senior railcard discount for First Class very much.

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    • Oh yes the SR discount and First Class is ace! Only used it once so far, but the delays on our trip to Cornwall combined with GWR’s lamentable failure to respond to Malcolm’s claim for delay compensation resulted in not just a full refund of what we’d spent but also a complimentary pair of First Class tickets to use anywhere on the GWR network – so I foresee another First Class trip down to Cornwall ahead…
      York’s on my list of places to visit – been there once overnight for a work conference with only time for a quick early morning wander.

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  4. plot34 says:

    Fairy lights in a library – who’d have thought that possible! It’s all about perception. Thanks to the upcoming changes to IR35, I’m likely to have more time available during the week for local adventures! BTW, I also admire the (mostly) Victorian attention to detail and finish in even ordinary buildings. There’s a real sense of pride and care given to those buildings.

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    • Yes the inside of the library is magical (shame though that cuts have resulted in considerable reductions in opening hours). Sorry to hear about impact of IR35 – keeps coming back to bite people on the backside.
      Victorian buildings are ace aren’t they – Manchester and Birmingham both have that pride and care as you put it, and we saw something of the same in Lille recently.

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