Blogs from West Midlands, England, United Kingdom, Europe


Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Birmingham May 1st 2015

I should sheepishly admit that when I first thought this trip up, I imagined that any route from the UK to China would be a toss-up between the hot sands of the middle east and bleak snowdrifts in Siberia. With a little bit more digging of course, it's easy to blow away those stereotypes. Also, whilst it would be great to be able to just set off towards the rising sun one day, the reality is that various practicalities remain: What is the shortest route (old car!)? Can a standard front-wheel drive travel those roads at that time of year (old car!)? What restrictions are there for tourists with a vehicle at the various borders (foreign driver with a foreign old car!)? Is any region too dangerous to risk (not an old armored car!)? My first ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Birmingham May 1st 2015

Fair warning, this first post will be a little cheesy. I'll cut that s**t out after this. I've mentioned the idea to a few people across those years, and as you can see, I meant it. I know I'll look like a bit of a tulip if we don't make it past Surrey, but hey, the die is cast. Roll on May 1st 2015. So I like travelling. Caught the bug in 2001 through the BUNAC exchange program, spending a glorious, heady, eye-opening summer on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, hand-making fudge in huge copper cauldrons. The people I met, friends I made and things I saw, I will never forget. I have forgotten how to make fudge. It wasn't enough though, and that trip did teach me that most important lesson: If you want ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Dudley September 17th 2014

Woolly says – I had put my paw down with, well a firm paw! Earache all the way down the hill and past Dudley Zoo, will she never stop! He’s very cute when he’s riled! Our discussion had resulted in my begrudgingly agreeing to go along with his royal fur-ness and re-visit for the 28th time (yes you have read that correctly) the Black Country Museum in Dudley. Having taught in Dudley Borough for more years than I care to remember this is the yearly school trip (if you’re lucky, I had to do it three times during the one academic year!) that every pupil goes on and that requires teachers to accompany them, namely me, but in fairness it was a place that Woolly had yet to discover so lead on mammoth! Woolly says – ... read more
Cobbled Streets - Copy
Nice and Cosy in here - Copy
I'm NOT using THAT - Copy

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Birmingham September 16th 2014

Woolly says – Having experienced the delights of Stratford I was rather chuffed to find out that our evening’s entertainment was to be at the theatre. Being a cultured type of mammoth I knew I would be in my element hob knobbing with the elite and famous. As I made my entrance I awaited the salutations and celebrations of my arrival, not a thing! There were plenty of people milling around but no one seemed to realise that I had arrived, all I could hear were whispers about cats, shouldn’t that be Mammoths! I stomped up the stairs closely followed by Jo and daughter Zoe and plonked myself in our seats, daughter Zoe was clutching a magazine with a picture of some cats eyes and Jo was burbling on about cats as well, what about the ... read more
Found One
A Citron Tree
Across the Grass

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Dudley September 14th 2014

Woolly was looking a little jaded following the birthday celebrations of the night before. Woolly says – She can talk! With copious cups of tea and coffee consumed I hustled Jo and daughter Zoe outside to meet up with friend Daisy, who was joining us for our adventure. I had been looking forward to this outing for weeks and having begged and pleaded with my big brown eyes Jo had finally succumbed to my charms and said she would take me to Dudley Zoo. We’re going to the zoo tomorrow, the zoo tomorrow…….. He is hard to resist sometimes and although I’m not a lover of zoo’s it was the first time since our Safari in Portugal last year that the mammoth would see some animals. Woolly says – Even better than the animals is the ... read more
Extra Cute
In the Courtyard
Snack time

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Birmingham August 30th 2014

A visit to Birmingham (also known to the locals as 'Brum'), the UK's second largest city, probably does not figure on many tourists' schedules when visiting England. It's had a tough life. But there's no reason for it not to be on the itinerary and the local tourism machine now promotes a 're-invented and reinvigorated' city. If you look past the very impressive 'Bullring' shopping centre, by no means the 'largest' or 'newest' in the UK but something of a local icon of which the locals are very proud, the city has plenty of history and culture on offer. In particular, in a city which was at the centre of the industrial revolution in all its gritty glory, you might not expect to find the most modern and largest public library in Europe. Built with some ... read more
Library exterior
Birmingham Library - or the Starship Enterprise.
The Brum 'Golden Boys' who made the revolution possible

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands August 27th 2014

They all have links to the West Midlands towns of Bloxwich and Waslall - the former of which is home to family and the reason for my fourth visit in 30 years (the first as an eight year old on his first overseas trip some time back!) Bloxwich was a sleepy village until the industrial revolution saw demand for the local coal, ironstone and limestone explode. It has been a village for at least 1000 years, as is recorded as such in the Domesday Book (the survey of English counties ordered by William the Conqueror in 1086 - don't mix that date up with 1066 - Google it! - to ensure he was getting all the taxes due to him). Once the canals (and much later the railways) arrived in the West Midlands to allow the ... read more
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Anyone?
Sr Dora, in Walsall's market square
The contentious Lady Di statue

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Birmingham June 25th 2014

Current Mood: Sad to leave. Happy 3rd Birthday Josh xx Love you mate! After a Fun filled Six weeks of hanging out with the lads, eating with my Family and wondering back and forward from wales it was nearly time to say goodbye to everyone and head off to Koh Tao for another Dive Course. Yes that’s right guys I was getting my head back into the books. Before the tears though we would have one last bash. This would come in the form of a three year olds birthday party. Planning had been going on for weeks. There was a tonne of food. Dad brought over a box full of samosas from his Alum Rock buddies, everybody turned up with boxes of beers and I was to be in charge of the BBQ. As per ... read more
Harry, me and Kieran
Extended Brothers, Sisters and Babies with other halves
me and Kieran

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Birmingham May 30th 2014

Current mood: Feeling Loved. Since 2006 when I left the UK I’ve travelled through and wrote about towns and countries spreading from Beijing in China to Bali in Indonesia. I have Looped Australia and Quaked in NZ but I’ve never had the opportunity to travel or write about any adventures in my good old Home Country. So after a few visits from my family to me in Australia I thought it time to get off my arse, onto a Qantas Business class flight to the UK and get about exploring good old Birmingham and its distant surrounds. The Business class flights are officially the end of my being able to travel haha. We have to try it once in our lives though I guess. Typically the simplicity of packing up my scuba gear and jumping on ... read more
Keeping up with my fluids
Zacs new Bird
P and Me at Nightingale pub. whooooda thunk it

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Wolverhampton April 19th 2014

G’day! Not long now- I shall be leaving in approx four hours for Dubai. As I’m going Stir-crazy in anxiousness/ excitement I thought I best take some time out to write the blog I promised about the Working Holiday Visa. Just a bit of background to the workforce in Ausralia- their population is 23 million. At any one point there are about a million backpackers in the country, that is alot of tourism and casual work to be done. Being as backpackers are a fundamental slice of Aus labour market, the government created the Working Holiday Visa. (Subclass 417) The visa is initially for a year and if you want a second year you must complete 3 months of ‘ seasonal work’ in the rural parts of the country. Examples of this include fruitpicking, animal husbandry, ... read more

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