i miss england

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I just found something that I wrote back in September, and it makes me miss England so much, but it also makes me so very happy that I had a chance to go back to England this spring.

miss england. miss birmingham. i miss flat 5. i miss working at my desk with tea biscuits and a cup of Twining’s fruit tea in my striped mug with the window wide open and the cool english air bathing me in fresh thoughts. i miss knowing that if i needed distraction, i lived with wonderful people that i could go to for serious, thoughtful, or hilarious conversations. 

miss the walk to Tesco. i miss going to Costcutter with Molly so that we could buy junk food we really didn’t need (Cadbury caramel eggs!). i miss those nights where we both were up until the wee hours of the morning. i miss planning adventures with her and Will and my other friends and flatmates. i miss the adventures that we had and even the ones we never got around to. i miss missing them—when they weren’t at the flat but i could hardly wait to see them again, knowing they’d be back soon. i miss our pizza nights and our curry nights. i miss going to the library for group revision sessions.

miss those crowded evenings where we all attempted to cook our own dinners at the same time and the kitchen was full of references to Rachel’s crowded little corner. i miss making the quote wall, and quoting the quote wall, and trying to explain the quote wall to others as they gave us blank stares. 

miss walking along the canal. miss discovering more things about our lovely city.miss the accents and the different spellings. i miss the british attitude, the british weather, the british food. 

miss my life in england. miss the colours, the smells, the sights, the moods. i miss the rivers and lakes, the hills and forests, the cozy villages and the sophisticated cities.

when i left england, i said it would never feel the same because i would never be able to call it home even when i came back for visits. well, england will never be the same, but i’ll never stop calling it home. when i return, it will be a new england, full of new colours, new smells, new sights, new moods. and i can’t wait to become a part of it.

love, elizabeth

Swimming lessons. #birmingham #england  (at Worcester & Birmingham Canal)

Swimming lessons. #birmingham #england (at Worcester & Birmingham Canal)

Hello again. #uob #birmingham #england  (at University of Birmingham)

Hello again. #uob #birmingham #england (at University of Birmingham)

Oh my goodness golly, I’m leaving for England today!!!!! #england #uk #birmingham

Oh my goodness golly, I’m leaving for England today!!!!! #england #uk #birmingham

3 days! I’m so excited to get back to Birmingham! #uk #england #birmingham

3 days! I’m so excited to get back to Birmingham! #uk #england #birmingham

5 days till England!!! #england #uk #birmingham

5 days till England!!! #england #uk #birmingham

I’m having a really tough week trying to sort out all of my paperwork from my year abroad (and also trying to fix the ceiling leak that destroyed my laptop and flooded my kitchen!), and at times it feels like I would have been better off if I had never gone over to England. No sooner do I think that, though, than I think of all the amazing times I had in Europe, and I know that no matter how hard the aftermath of my year abroad is, I don’t regret it at all.

As I wrote this post, I recalled many of the incredible times I had in Birmingham. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to call this place home.

When I look back at Birmingham–at those moments I really felt at home–I think of the cozy mornings I spent sipping tea at my favorite coffee shop. I smile at the thought of all the hours I spent in the Waterstone’s bookshop. And of course, even now that I’ve been back in the US for three months, not a day goes by that I don’t recall all of the wonderful times I had in Birmingham with my amazing friends.

Love, Elizabeth

Just more photos of flowers and then some giant mushrooms that Molly and I discovered.

The photos don’t convey the full story behind the ten minutes that we spent trying to get a good photo of us two on those mushrooms. We piled our bags on top of each other and then propped my camera on the bags. I set the timer on my camera, but I couldn’t get on my mushroom (and stay on it without sliding off again) before the camera flashed. Finally we got an okay shot and decided to call it quits.

Love, Elizabeth

Spring in Birmingham

It was incredibly warm and sunny today, so I made sure to take my camera with me when Molly and I went into the city centre. I was really obsessed with all of the beautiful flowers we passed (I think my grandma’s passion for gardening might have rubbed off on me a little), so I took a ton of photos of them.

Love, Elizabeth

Snow! (Taken with instagram)

Snow! (Taken with instagram)

The Balti Triangle

Everyone from my flat went out yesterday to look for the Balti Triangle. We’ve tried to get to this section of Birmingham a few times but always got lost or distracted. This time, we actually made it there. For those of you who don’t what a balti is (I don’t think we have it in America—at least not in Cincinnati), it’s a kind of curry that was said to have been invented in Birmingham. In fact, Birmingham is sometimes referred to as the curry capital of England. The Balti Triangle had a lot of curry houses in addition to some of the most beautiful fabric and clothing shops I’ve ever seen. My flatmates and I explored for a little bit before choosing from one of the many curry houses for lunch. It was a a fun day, and it was nice to see a new part of Birmingham.

Love, Elizabeth

Birmingham by night

Dan got back to Birmingham yesterday, which was really nice. I had worked on my essay all afternoon, and by the time he got here, I was feeling a little run down. He could tell I needed to get out, so he suggested that we go see a movie or have a coffee at Starbucks or whatever I wanted. It was already dark outside, and I decided that it would be nice to see the stars.

So we took the train to Longbridge, on the outskirts of Birmingham. From there we took a bus a little bit farther to Lickey Hills, which is eleven miles away from Birmingham’s city centre. Although it was dark, the clouds were reflecting enough of the city’s light that we could see well enough to find a path to climb up the hill. The path was very winding, so it took us about fifteen minutes to get to the top of the hill. When we finally did, we had a beautiful view of all of Birmingham. We also had a view of the hill just next to us, which was taller than the one we were on. We decided that we should definitely go climb the taller hill.

We found a path down the first hill and discovered that we needed to walk across a golf course in order to get to the other hill. As we walked through the golf course, we saw someone with a flashlight in the distance. For some reason, we thought that it was a police officer or something (it was only about 6pm, but I think we were paranoid because it was so dark out, and it felt like we were breaking all sorts of rules being there), so we ran and hid behind some trees until the person had passed, and then we sneakily made our way to the base of the hill. We got there, but then we couldn’t find a good path to climb it, because so many of the trees and plants were overgrown.

All of a sudden, we saw the person with the flashlight just behind us, so we charged through the bushes and sprinted up the hill. Afraid that the policeman was right behind us, we kept running until we were about halfway up the hill. We slowed down for the rest of the way, and when we found a bench near the top of the hill, we sat down for a few minutes to catch our breath. Then we moved on to a clearing, where we saw a small castle thing, which looks like this during the day (photo courtesy of Wikipedia):

Lickey Hills Toposcope

We climbed into it and looked across all of Birmingham. The expanse of glittering lights was beautiful, and we could just barely see the city centre in the distance. It was pretty warm out, and I had worked up a sweat running up the hill, so it almost felt like that nice temperature of existence, where you don’t notice that it’s hot or cold. The night was cloudy, so I didn’t get to see the stars, but every once in a while, the full moon would pop out from behind the clouds. It was so beautiful, and I think Dan and I each had a spiritual moment from the view. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night.

There were other people on the hill, and we realized that the person we had seen with the flashlight was probably not a policeman but just a park-goer who had been practical enough to bring a torch to see in the dark. But I think we’re still pretending it was a vicious police officer with a lust for blood; we just barely escaped his wrath.

This particular hill was called Beacon Hill, because at one point it was part of the countrywide network of beacons. There were men keeping watch day and night, and if they saw a threat of invasion (or if they saw a beacon from one of the surrounding hills), they would send out a beacon to warn others. I love that so much of England has some form of history attached to it. In the States, a hill is usually just a hill, but at the same time, I don’t think I paid as much attention; when I do get back home, I’d like to make it my goal to keep my eyes open for things like that.

Love, Elizabeth

P.S. I’m making pretty good progress on my essays, but I probably won’t make another post until after I turn in the essay that’s due on Wednesday. Until then, I love you all!

This week, I wandered into the city centre a lot. I needed to go to the Post Office every day, and while I was there, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore. I thought I knew most of the city centre, but I discovered a lot by walking down the side streets that led to other shopping arcades, malls, plazas, and parks. I finally went inside the city library; I actually have to walk through the library building to get to the city centre, but I’d never been inside the library part. It’s just an ugly concrete building, but the book selection was great. They have books in pretty much every language and on every subject imaginable. I think I’ve found my new study place!

The building with all of the circles on it is the Selfridges store, which is part of the Bullring Mall. I’ve been there before, but I don’t think I’ve shared any pictures of it before. That’s the iconic building that’s in pretty much any brochure or website about Birmingham. I’ve heard it’s supposed to look like a handbag, but I don’t see it. I think it looks like someone let Salvador Dali design a building. People seem to either love or hate the architecture in the city centre. It’s very modern, because everything was refurbished just a few years ago to get rid of all the ugly old concrete buildings from the 70s. Personally, I love the crazy architecture, but I guess it’s not very elegant so I can see how someone might now like it.

It’s been really warm, and I haven’t needed a coat all week. Yesterday, I wore a sweater when I was out, and I ended up taking that off and walking around in my tank top—three days before Christmas, and I was dressed for summer! It’s raining now, but it’s still about 55 degrees outside.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be volunteering in London at a shelter for the homeless for a few days over Christmas. I’ll try to post while I’m there, if my hostel has internet. I’ll probably be back in Birmingham on the 27 unless I leave for my next adventure straight from London. We’ll see what happens.

Have a very wonderful Christmas, everyone!

Love, Elizabeth

This is what the lake next to my flat looks like. When I got home from Cardiff yesterday, the sun was shining brightly, the sky was clear and blue, and the grass was lush and green. As I walked up the path to my building, there were even some flowers that had bloomed since the time I left just days ago. It’s so hard to believe Christmas is only about a week away when it looks so much like spring!
Love, Elizabeth

This is what the lake next to my flat looks like. When I got home from Cardiff yesterday, the sun was shining brightly, the sky was clear and blue, and the grass was lush and green. As I walked up the path to my building, there were even some flowers that had bloomed since the time I left just days ago. It’s so hard to believe Christmas is only about a week away when it looks so much like spring!

Love, Elizabeth