Birmingham and Beyond.

On a whim, Simone and I booked a flight to Birmingham thinking we would be able to visit the U.K.’s second biggest city and make an escape to see the English countryside while we were there. We were able to do the former, but the latter proved to be much more complicated than we anticipated. Getting to the Cotswolds is no easy feat on public transportation, which meant we were left to explore the cities of Gloucester and Stroud.

I think from this trip I learned more about laughing at the small stuff, and we did a lot of laughing. Between the fact that we were unable to figure out a way to the Cotswolds plus it was raining, so we ditched our plans to see a film at the cinema (I feel very British even as I type that last bit because Americans go to the movies, not the cinema), and we had no way of printing out our boarding passes (thank you Hampton Hotel of Birmingham), and that we had to stay in Oxford in a little cafe because it was too cold to be outside and we couldn’t board an earlier train (read: rigid public transportation policy). There was really nothing to be done in these moments, but laugh at the predicament we were in. To share these moments with someone else, which could and likely would have been stressful alone, made them silly. It’s a funny thing (literally and figuratively) how sharing an experience with another person causes my perspective to shift as well; by nature I tend to take myself too seriously, but traveling with a friend causes me to see our experiences in a different light.

I was reminded all the more of the simple joys there are to be found when things aren’t perfectly planned or even when plans do exist and they fail to hold up. There is more peace, more ease. We did far more wandering on this trip than any I have taken in the past, and while we battled feelings of needing to make our time “productive” and “well-spent,” I believe that laughter came because we had space. We didn’t have to fret about catching a train on time, or a reservation to uphold; we had the necessary space to enjoy what was around us and before us (I’m talking about you goat’s cheese pie).

Coming back to Mallorca, I witnessed a family on the bus genuinely enjoying themselves, with the father making his daughter coil over with laughter, and I thought about the sweetness in those moments. They didn’t appear worried about a timetable, they were together and happy to be with one another. I experienced those moments this weekend. I want more of those moments. I’m going to continue to try to cultivate those moments going forward. Because in the smallest of spaces, there takes root the joys that we build our stories upon.

img_1234These canals were so autumnal. Birmingham was just what the doctor ordered for these midwestern gals; lots of color on the trees and crisp air. img_1235img_1236img_1237img_1238Sweet Simone, helping us navigate to the best place for lunch. img_1241img_1243img_1244img_1250The Bullring has put shopping malls to shame.img_1258And it was also our first taste of Christmas. No going back now!img_1252img_1255img_1395Christmas Markets in Birmingham. It’s a must I make it to the real deal in Germany!img_1397img_1360Gloucester Cathedralimg_1369img_1370img_1361img_1368img_1374Can I just say that there are a ridiculous amount of hair salons in the U.K.?! I couldn’t even believe how many we saw in each city we went to. How do they all stay in business when there are three in one block?img_1376The historic docks of Gloucester.img_1381Christmas is in full swing in the U.K. With no Thanksgiving to celebrate, they are plowing right into the merriest of seasons. Christmas markets had just opened in Gloucester so we had our share of sweet samples and fill of Christmas decor. img_1382img_1385img_1387St. Paul’s church in Birminghamimg_1388img_1391img_1392img_1394St. Phillip’s Cathedral of Birmingham. So many cathedrals everywhere we go! England, you were brilliant!

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