What a wonderful day. What a special day. The sort of day you’re looking forward to and feel excited about from the get go. Today we were meeting up with my boss and her husband. I say, “my boss” but Terese is so much more than that…friend, amazing support and just an all round wonderful, caring person. Terese and Bruce are over to visit their daughter and grandchildren and their extended family, so with us both being in the same country at the same time, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch up. Birmingham beckoned.
We set off, motoring along the motorway and Steve took the opportunity to put one of his Christmas presents to use, by slotting Billy Joel into the CD player and singing along, with loud and enthusiastic accompaniment.
“Sing us a song, you’re the piano maaaaaan…”
“Uptown geeeerrrlll, you’ve been livin’ in an uptown weeerrrrllld…”
“Tell her about it, tell her all your crazy dreeeeaams…..”
Songster Steve filled the confined space of the van with his duets and hurtled along the highway with his high notes and high spirited vocals. Entertainment on demand!
We hit Birmingham and navigated our way through the city streets, before walking up to the Cathedral where we were to meet Terese and Bruce. It was raining, so we layered up and plodded through the precipitation, up to the lovely Church of St. Philip. We’d been here on our last trip to England, when we had a brief visit to Birmingham for a day, to visit the Brooks factory to get Steve’s broken bike saddle fixed. It was nice to be back. We walked around the cathedral and then ventured inside, where we were greeted by the Canon. I had just begun to read the information about this cathedral that started life as a mere parish church, when I looked around and there they were coming through the door…Terese and Bruce. I don’t know who beamed the broadest, Terese or myself! Hugs were shared, to go with the beaming smiles. It was so good to see her. I couldn’t quite believe we were both there, in the same country, in the same city, in the same place. It was wonderful!
We strolled down the street to the Great Western Arcade, which was beautiful. It dates from 1876, when it was built by the Great Western Rail Company, as a tunnel to link railway stations. It still looks grand and elegant. We took ourselves into a lovely vegetarian and vegan cafe for lunch and sat and talked and chatted and caught up and talked and chatted and shared stories of home and travels and talked and compared visits to places we had all travelled to and chatted…it was special and splendid. The lunch was also deeeeelicious! I had puy lentil sausages with turnip and sage mash and red onion gravy, which was magnificent, warm, comfort food on a wet and chilly day. Steve had mushrooms stuffed with leeks and bulgur, with braised red cabbage and roast carrots. Then we all had dessert too, which for me was tropical fruits of “burnt” pineapple and pomegranate with a coconut custard and Steve opted for the vegan affogato. It was so nice and it was another one of those meals that I didn’t want to end!
Time to be an honorary local again and sneer at the weather, slick up and go for a roam in the rain. Bruce and Terese were the perfect tour guides and took us for a stroll around the city, which was great because we saw parts of the town we hadn’t seen on our last visit. Then for an extra bonus, we met up with their daughter Kathryn and her two delightful children. We sat and talked in the warm, cosy snug and the day was just getting better. Then off we went again, into the soggy city and continued our stroll along the canal. The city was still looking so pretty and festive, with all the Christmas lights and being dark so early, they shone brightly and gave our stroll an extra magical feel. It was just special, to be walking along, talking and catching up and getting to spend an afternoon with friends from home.
It was finally time to say cheerio, so we said our goodbyes until we catch up again in Tassie, but it was such a super day. So lovely to see them and it was wonderful to have the time to see and talk to Terese after being away for so long. A highlight.
We set off to find our hotel and Steve did another champion job of navigating with the added obstacles of heavy rain, dark, peak hour traffic and road works. This was made more challenging by the fact that the Sat Nav couldn’t decide what road we were on and which direction we should go.
“James! You’re not helping!” admonished Steve.
Despite the confused James, who seemed to be having a “Dodgy Dave” moment, we made it to our hotel.
What a fab day! Apart from meeting up with Steve’s mum and dad and their friends Rob and Lorraine, earlier in our trip, we haven’t seen anyone from home all year, so to have some time with Terese and Bruce was just fabulous. Birmingham was “breeyant” and “brill” because it delivered another magic day shared with friends. Our trip is nearing an end, but it’s still giving us topping and ripper days right up to the end. We’ll drain every last drop of greatness from it, up to the very end! Our bucket of golden moments is already so full, but I just know it can take a few more drops…we’ll be squeezing them in there, every hour of every last day. Just watch us!