New triumph….a new chapter for 2017.

Since the earlier part of this year my life has been somewhat ‘intense’. This has meant my blog has been put on hold for a few months whilst I focused mainly on job searching and dealing with other personal issues, as well as some occasional days out with my camera to preserve my sanity. Fortunately, I have had some great days out and have some new stories and photos to publish on here in the coming weeks.

The realization in February and March, knowing my job was soon coming to an end in mid April, having to be made redundant after only 8 months in this last job…… left me feeling rather low and at times very despondent. Inevitably, the situation of looking for and applying for and then attending any interviews became rather scary and bought on several panic attacks. In addition to all this I was having to ‘adjust’ to being on two new medication for my diabetes, which also had some rather unpleasant side effects.

Then I had to consider the next stage of my life……starting a new job, settling into it, meeting new people, becoming acclimatized to the new working environment, learning about the job what to do what not to do and so on. At times it became quite difficult…..but throughout all of it, I knew I couldn’t give up and therefore had to ensure it all didn’t become too much of a burden for me.

I believe as you get older, that despite your many years of experience and proven skill sets, it becomes a lot more difficult to compete for jobs, especially with the younger graduates that companies want to take on so that they can ‘mold’ them into shape, and into the image that the particular company wants them to be.  What has become more apparent these past couple of years is that employers are not prepared to pay better wages and so willingly take on youngsters for minimal pay in the name of apprenticeships.

This time however, financially, I was actually in the position where I could allow myself up to a maximum of around 3 months to find and start a new job without having to worry about paying the bills or having to sign on with the DWP and have to claim benefit for being unemployed. The turmoil and stress of that alone, having to fill in forms, attend weekly meeting at the local job centre, keep a record of proof that you were looking for and applying for jobs was something I did not want to have to go through again with them. This time I held the Ace card, and was in a position to be a little bit more selective about what jobs I went after, and whether to accept or not, the first job that came along that I was offered….simply because it was a job, and not because it felt right for me.

Realistically, I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I did not want to be dictated to by the DWP or be answerable to them. I worked out my plan, first stage was to update my CV,  I shortened parts of it made sure I kept to the truth but made it a little more interesting and eye-catching to read and posted it on several reputable job sites. I had to work out a routine of job searching, setting up email alerts, covering so many hours per day on the computer looking at and applying for jobs, filling in application forms and so on. And in addition to this I knew I also needed to ensure I had proper breaks on the days in between, and got out into the fresh air and ate regular meals to ensure my diabetes remained well-managed, have plenty of exercise and kept my mind focused on other things such as my interest in wildlife and photography and day trips with a local coach company.

To my surprise, within a matter of 2 days of posting my CV I had quite a selection of different agencies phoning me up….I have seen your CV online on either CV Library or Monster etc and I am recruiting for a job which I believe will be just right for you. Great I thought, some real interest, then came the crunch….wrong location, too far to travel (everyone assumes you drive a car) or it was part-time hours, a temp only position and so on.

I did attend several interviews only to find that I received the feedback I had done really well…. but only just narrowly missed out, and was in a few instances  a close 2nd choice, when it comes to jobs, unfortunately there is not silver or bronze medals…..you just simply have to go for and obtain gold. In another couple of instances, someone had just that little bit better experience having already worked in a commercial office and the other job someone had already had experience working in an insurance office background, in another job I missed out purely because although I had a great administration background and wealth of experience, they believed I would become bored in the particular job and therefore felt I was over qualified!! The most annoying part about that was that I was never given the chance to find out or disprove them. I have always felt that you can’t actually get bored in a job, on if you let it. Even when there are quiet times there are still always things one can get on with.

There was another job which I had to say no to because the salary was ridiculously low, I told the recruitment consultant about this in our meeting, and that I couldn’t afford such a low salary, I was only interested in getting an interview for the job I had actually applied for through her recruitment company. I did get the feeling she wasn’t listening to me, and her mind wasn’t fully focused on dealing with me in the office, which I thought her attitude was very rude, she put me through for the interview anyway for the one I wasn’t interested in but didn’t put me up for the interview I actually applied for, but instead she had got jobs on her board that looked as though because they were only £7.50 to phr she was desperate to get people interviewed for them so she could get them of the board and get her fee for getting the jobs filled. In the end I reluctantly agreed and  just thought anyway the job interview experience would be good for me. When she phoned me about the outcome of the interview, I said no the money was way too low, her response was ‘Why did I not tell her this at the time I was in her office? Suffice to say I chose never to deal with her again.

Then, there was one was for a customer service colleague for a big ‘financial company’ based about a mile or so from where I live. When I attended the interview, I was shown a round a very large office, it was not what I expected and didn’t like the idea that it was in actual fact a call centre, and realistically lacked that personal level of customer service. The company came across that they were more concerned about achieving call targets, and answering the phone quickly, dealing with it and moving onto the next caller without really seeing the problem through.

As an experienced customer services administrator I am more interested in dealing with that one customer, giving them the best service, resolving the issues and completing the task before moving onto the next customer (may be I am just a little old-fashioned in my attitude of what proper customer service is all about!!) When I was asked at the end of the interview if I could see myself working in that office, I had to think hard and be careful what I said. I thought to myself, firstly, I desperately needed to get back into work, the salary and bonus system were good, it was closer to home, I didn’t mind working the odd Saturday on a rota system with a day off in the week, there was a good pension available and the job was permanent, and there was a structured training process….. but somehow I just couldn’t visualize myself working there, instinctively it did not feel right for me personally. I didn’t like the idea of a big call centre  and it made me feel uncomfortable. In the end I had to be honest and said not really, and added that I couldn’t see the job as a customer service role at a level that I have been used to. When I left the interview I had hoped that I had said the right thing to ensure they didn’t offer me the job. As it turns out a few days later they phoned me, they were impressed with me at the interview but took on board what I had said at the end and therefore had decided not to offer me the job. This was a big relief for me.

Two days after that particular interview I attended another interview for a rather well-known company whose humble beginnings started in Birmingham in the same year as I was born in 1965. When I read the advert on Indeed, for me it sounded like a really great opportunity. The salary was lower than I have been used to, but still adequate all the same, but having said that the job details, which would be in customer services appealed to me. It was exactly what I was used to, but in yet another different business background. There was room for progression, benefits, pension and logically being paid a lower salary meant paying lower tax. When I applied for this job, I suppose I really didn’t expect to be contacted by the company, I believed I would just be another application, my CV would not appeal to them and it would go on the no pile of applications.

I have learnt over the past five years that for every 25 job applications you make, whether via an agency or directly to a company, you would be lucky if you heard back from 1 or 2 of them.  Since February I have made, well over 350 applications on-line through job sites and agencies,  most of which I already knew I was over qualified for, or for which the job never really existed, or they were still advertised externally even though internal employees were going to or had already filled the posts. Worst case scenario, if I couldn’t get a job soon I would have to contact the DWP and be answerable to them, and so needed proof I had been applying for jobs in the meantime.

Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call on the Tuesday morning and asked if I would  be able to attend an interview at their UK Head Office in Birmingham (where the job would be based) for that Friday 23rd June at 2 pm. Of course I would. As usual I did my normal research on the company prior to the interview.  The chance to work for such a great company was now becoming more realistic, all I had to now do was prove myself at the interview.

On entering their big head office, I introduced myself at reception and said I was there for the job interview and who it was with. As I was about 25 minutes early I didn’t mind sitting down waiting in the reception area, and I picked up an old book about the story of the Michelin brothers and what they did, what they were responsible for inventing in the old days  (a bit more valuable research to show my interest about in the interview)

The time of the interview came around, I was met in reception by the customer services manager, then taken to an office and introduced to one of her colleagues and so the interview began. Some how I immediately started to feel relaxed and at ease, and for once had a little bit of confidence, and felt an element of positivity, and said to myself its time for me to shine. The interview, which included a couple of tests, lasted just over an hour and a half. Instead of one job available for a customer service advisor, there was also now a second job available for a customer service administrator. I was asked which one would I prefer if I was offered the job. Either, I replied, I had experience in both roles singularly and as a combined role. A couple of times I even made the two interviewers laugh. I had already thought long and hard the day before, and wrote them down in my notes, about what questions to ask them. Overall, I left the interview feeling a sense of relief it was now done, and I also had a thought at the back of my mind, I really would love to be offered this job…..it just felt right! I was advised that there were going to be more people interviewed after the weekend, and I would be advised of the outcome asap.

Last Tuesday morning, 27th June,  I received the phone call, and to my total surprise I was being offered the job as customer services administrator, they had apparently already made up their minds when I left the interview Friday afternoon. I was asked when would I be able to start….and so a brand new chapter in my life starts tomorrow (3.7.17) Obviously, I am very nervous and a little bit scared, but at the same time I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life, meeting new people, and working with a new team, and learning a new business.

Throughout this entire process these past few months, the most difficult thing I have found myself doing is to try to be and to try remain positive. I knew I would get a new job, but the burning question was how long would it take, and would it be right for me.

Start Where You Stand Poem – Berton Braley

Start where you stand and never mind the past
The past won’t help you in beginning new,
If you have left it all behind at last,
Why that’s enough, you’re done with it, you’re through.

This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned.
Don’t give the vanished days a backwards look,
Start where you stand.

The world won’t care about your old defeats
If you can start anew and win success;
The future is your time, and time is fleet,
And there is much of work and strain and stress.

Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand new trial right at hand.
The future is for him who does and dares –
Start where you stand.

Old failures will not hold, old triumphs aid,
Today’s the thing, tomorrow will soon be.
Get in the fight, and face it unafraid,
And leave the past to ancient history.

What has been has been; yesterday is dead;
And by it, you are neither blessed or banned.
Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead –
Start where you stand.

 

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

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A Very Lucky Escape!!

Having got home tonight I surveyed properly the damage to a tree which sits…..or should I say did sit outside my bedroom window and flat balcony. The roots torn up across our lawn, and the tree trunk snapped off.

A very lucky escape

The fallen tree outside my bedroom and balcony window. As you can see my balcony is the top white one and my bedroom the first window in from the balcony.

This morning on my way to work, it was still very dark and I was in a hurry to catch my first bus in to Birmingham. On leaving my flat I was shocked to see that the tree had been torn down by the gale force winds in the night and early hours of this morning. I have to admit that last night I was scared of the creaking and groaning of the tree….and in fact a lot of those in the area. The wind tends to cause so many sounds that can be eerie and unnerving at times. Yesterday was nicknamed ‘Wild Wednesday’ and with gale force winds reaching 100 mph in most of the UK, it’s no wonder it was called that!

It was only tonight I realised what a lucky escape I had last night, had the tree fell just a few feet to the left it would have come crashing down in to my bedroom window and balcony, and who knows I might not have been here to write my blog story tonight. Sends a shiver down my spine, and I don’t mean because of the cold.

Living in a built up area, and having a top flat in a two storey building, I have realised over a number of years how lucky I am to be protected from the elements, unlike so many others, especially in more rural areas. We have canals near by where I live and a local ‘Mill Pool’ close  by I have known in the past on occasions  for these to cause flooding, and indeed I have been aware of some trees having come down in the area in the past when we have suffered exceptionally bad weather conditions.

This tree has been here longer than I have lived in my little flat, and I have been there some 15 or so years. In fact one of the reasons I chose this flat was because of the tree right outside my bedroom window, a mere few feet away. Imagining waking up every morning and opening your bedroom curtains and seeing it in front of you, in the early part of the winter full of red berries inviting the birds the feast on it. In the summer the beautiful green  leaves, and the numerous different species of birds that have them singing to you. On a couple of occasions I have been fortunate to see Woodpeckers, Thrushes and a different selection of Tits and Finches. alas no longer will I have that pleasure.

The devastation this British weather has caused  over the past couple of weeks is unbelievable, when something this significant happens in your own life, it makes you realise how lucky you are compared to those who have been a great deal less fortunate, and for some who have paid with their lives. Tonight I realise just how lucky an escape I have had.

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Many thanks for stopping by, and please stay safe.

Every thing is ‘ticking’ over nicely!

The past  few months has given me very little time to do a great number of things I wanted to do, other than settle in to my new job as a Services Administrator.

Unfortunately my photography has been somewhat limited, and despite only a couple of outings since my holiday in April, I have had very little time to get out and about to the extent I would have liked and have only managed a few jaunts close to home.  Having said that I really do not mind. I love my new job, and they are a smashing team of people who I work with.  And despite all my initial anxiety  and feelings of lack of confidence of being able to start afresh after all these years it seems that for the ‘time’ being everything is ‘ticking’ over nicely.

For those of my newer followers of my blog, who are not aware, I landed myself a new job in March of this year, after being made redundant from my last job, a position which I held for just over 20 yrs in a very well-known, long-established UK optical company. Having took my early release in December on health grounds, I decided to take a 3 month break to get myself well again before looking for a new career.

In March I was fortunate to be offered an administration post in a top notch watch supply/distribution and repair service company not very far from where I live, Inter city watch group. And I’m very pleased to say everything is going well at the moment and ‘ticking’ over nicely. Sorry folks couldn’t resist that little ‘wind up’.

Anyway all jokes aside, it has been a hectic few months for me, but I have to say for the first time in several years I do actually look forward of a morning to getting up and going out to work. No longer does it feel like a routine chore to have to get up and go out to earn an income. There are the down sides to this career change, but a small price to pay, financially I have taken a large pay cut in comparison to my old job, but having said that I don’t have the stress in this new job, which has to be a good thing.  My redundancy has seen me comfortably through paying the bills with minimal worries these past few months, as well as a couple of luxuries, including a holiday, new camera and a couple of new items that I needed and had put off buying for a long time.

As a result of less stress in my new job, it has meant that my physical health has been improved and so has my mental health. How long this will last no one knows, but for now I have been and am making the best of this time in my life that has given me chance to reflect a little more positively. I can’t however just throw caution to the wind, and believe that all my troubles are over for good, that is just not me and it is not in my makeup, severe and sometimes prolonged bouts of anxiety are a huge problem for me, although on the surface many would not think so, I do still have a lot of concerns about my future, and some major current on going health issues with my dad, who has recently had major sight problems.

Over the past month since all this has come about with my dad, it has made me even more aware of how important my photography is to me. Being able to go out any where including down my local woods, or canal and see the simple colourful beauty that this world of ours has to offer, things that as we see every day we take for granted, simply because it is always there, its only when someone close to you loses their sight that it hits home just how we take these simple pleasures for granted.

Summer time has to be the most colourful time of the year, especially so here in the UK. The recent spell of  extremely hot weather has not been to my own personal taste, that is simply down to the fact I don’t like the heat. This hasn’t prevented me from taking my camera out in  my bag every day and hope to get a few minutes here and there capturing new wildlife, flowers and insects that are to be seen at this time of the year.

It greatly saddens me to think that my dad will no longer be able to distinguish colours or objects, no longer be able to see properly and therefore fully enjoy all the things he has done for so many years, his gardening, fishing, reading and even watching his favourite films and programmes on TV or DVDs, due to Macular degeneration disease, which  now affects both of his eyes.

Anyway I have included a few of my most recent photos, some simple and yet beautiful things that we are able see and yet many still take for granted.

A couple of weeks ago whilst on my way to work, I was a little bit early so I was able to stop off by the canal not far from where my new job is, and because it was such a beautiful bright warm sunny morning, I went down the embankment with my camera in the hope of getting a few worthwhile shots. In the space of 1/2 an hour and a short walk later I was pleasantly surprised by what I was able to capture, and keep for looking back on in the coming years ahead.

The following are a selection of photos I have taken over the past few weeks either along the canal, my dads garden, local woods and even off the main road near where I work and loads of poppies grow.

Hope you enjoy this ‘little splash of colour’.

Many thanks for stopping by.

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Forget the coffee……wake up and smell the flowers instead!

Were already our first week into March, and over these past few days there has been a feel of  spring in the air.

Don’t you just love this time of the year? I know I do. There is a sense that winter is now behind us, and the better weather is on its way, but for me personally spring is like a new beginning, a fresh start.

One of the first real signs for me are the crocuses poking their little heads through the earth and making their appearance after laying dormant these  last few months, and then with a little warmth and sunshine they put on their smiley faces. It’s a wonderful sight to see whole areas on grassland carpeted in these amazing little flowers, a lovely mixture of lavender, gold, white and deep purple.

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After spending yet a few more hours on the computer Tuesday searching the online job sites for vacancies, I started to get a little restless and frustrated, so decided to get out and about for a couple of hours in the bright warm sunshine with my camera. I wasn’t really that sure where I was going, I just got on the first bus that came along near where I live and ended up jumping off it a mile or so up the road and picked up another bus which after about a half hour journey took me to a place called Bournville. For those of you who are lovers of Cadbury’s chocolate, the place might well sound familiar!!

This is a place I would love to do a tour of one day, umm heavenly (reminder to self…I must add this  on my list of to do things.) Anyway that wasn’t on the agenda for today, however directly opposite the entrance to Cadbury’s is a very small but pleasant little park called believe it or not Bournville Park, and there to greet me as I entered the park was a  huge carpet of these  beautiful little crocuses. With the lovely bright sunshine and warmth, along with a few bees and all these flowers and my camera at the ready it was a little piece of paradise. If you look close enough you can see how busy the bees have been with all the pollen on their legs.

Here are a few of the many photos I took, I do hope they help brighten your day.

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Many thanks for stopping by.

Autumn glory in the Lickey Hills.

Another goal achieved!

A few months ago, some of my regulars may remember I sort of made an attempt to visit a place called the Lickey Hills…….unfortunately though on route I got a little bit lost and ended up instead at a place called Waseley Park near the county borders of Birmingham and Worcester. I had a terrific day there and was able to enjoy taking many photographs.

However, despite the change of destination that day, I have remained determined to visit my original choice of the Lickey Hills. This is a vast  area of natural beauty, which is  situated on the Birmingham Rubery and Bromsgrove border (Bromsgrove being a part of the county of Worcester)

This is a place that my brother and I visited many times with our parents when we were young children. So in reality it has been some 35 years since I last visited there, and I guess a lot has changed in that time. Situated just below the country park entrance is a golf course, and two watering holes!!! The first watering hole is for the wild bird life and is called the duck pond……for obvious reasons, and is situated behind the second one which  is called The Old Rose & Crown…..this one for us humans. This is a fine old public house and restaurant and is ideal for a drink or two to cool down after climbing the hills.

I believe in away my patience was being tested in getting there!! Having caught my first bus from home in to Birmingham city centre, I found my connecting bus x64 which after a short wait turned up, only to find that 3 bus stops later through town, we were told we would have to get off because the bus was changing its service number to the 98 and was doing  a slightly different route. Not a good start to the journey!!  I thus waited for the next bus which was due in 5 to 6 minutes time, however this turned up 20 minutes late. What next I thought, are we going to break down or something. Oooops, guess I shouldn’t have thought that. Three quarters of the way into a 50 minute journey……..our bus broke down. At this point, I was questioning myself……what if I am not meant to get there? Or may be I was being tested to see how really determined I was to get there or to see if I would give up so easily.

Having waited a further 20 minutes, the next x64 bus turned up and took us the rest of the journey. Having reached the bus terminus, I asked the driver how further to go to the Lickey Hills, only to be told this one doesn’t go that close and I should have gone on the 98 bus (which turned out to be the one that the earlier bus I got off was being changed too!!!) It appears that the two services start off in Birmingham and end up at the same terminus in Rubery, but do a slightly different route around the outskirts. Luckily enough a very nice driver at the terminus on the 98 bus put me right and said he stopped at a stop only a few minutes away, which was close by the road that lead to the Lickey Hills Country Park. My patience and perseverance had been well and truly tested, because I think normally by this time I would have given up and gone back home. But this time I was determined not to be beaten, and I finally made it to the entrance. I do believe that had I have given up this time, then I don’t think I would have attempted the journey again in the future.

The weather was perfect for the climb, but it sure was one heck of a climb (so glad I had my faithful old walking stick to help me up there) but it was very exhilarating. I had to make regular stops for resting my legs for a few minutes at a time, luckily enough there were plenty of benches along the route and so this made a big difference for me and thus made the walk that little bit easier.

I loved the combination of the beautiful autumn scenery and the peace and quiet up there, and further more coming up from the one side of the country park there were very few people. The air was so clear and you could clearly hear all the different birds singing. Most people had however taken the easier option of approaching from the other side…..from the main road and up to the main car park, thus missing the incredible forest scenery.

My goal was to reach the top of  Beacon Hill and the ‘monument castle’ in order to see the legendary views across Birmingham on one side, and Worcester on the other. All along the route I was able to take many photo’s of the beautiful forestry scenery, and on reaching the top of  Beacon Hill I was just in time for the setting sun. And I managed to spend a peaceful and relaxing 1/2 hour up there taking in the fresh air, beautiful scenery and stunning views…….and of course a few more photographs.

I had only two remaining goals to achieve this year to visit two more of my  favourite places. The main town of  Worcester itself, to spend a day in this charming little town by the river. And an idyllic  little place called  Foxton Locks. Unfortunately lack of transport won’t allow me to visit this beautiful little area just outside Loughborough nr Leicester. However I have to say I am very pleased that I have been able to make all these different  journeys this year, because it has all added to my own incredible journey of recovery from depression.

Here is just a small collection of some of my favourite photo’s (19) The rest of the photo’s can be seen on my Facebook page under my name  Sue Westwood, please feel free to visit.

 

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Many thanks for stopping by.

 

Setting myself a challenge!

As my regular readers will have been aware these past few months I have been under some considerable stress following an extremely bad start to this year and have been unfortunate to have suffered a further couple of major setbacks to my recovery.  As a result of this a lot of insecurities and bouts of anxiety came to the surface again. However, through a combination of increased medication, determination, hope and being kind to myself, my recovery is now starting to slowly but surely take effect……at least I hope it is. I’m glad I have my blog, which is my journal and I able to record and share certain aspects of my life……this is the only way at the moment I am able to communicate with anyone, as is my photography which for me is another way of communicating and sharing my experiences.

Although my lack of confidence, especially around people and crowds is still a big problem, as is the ability to converse with anyone, I decided a couple of weeks ago to set myself a huge challenge……….huge to me, but simple for many others, I had hoped in order to regain some of that lost confidence and self-esteem.

Apart from going to and from work during the less busy times of the day, and spending my lunch breaks and a spare hour in the evening after finishing work down by the canal I haven’t been able to find the confidence to get out anywhere else. So I decided it was time to set myself a challenge a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, on the day off from work I chose to carry  out this challenge (which was the other Wednesday after the session with my counsellor) it became far too hot with the weather which made me feel unwell and also alas my nerves got the better of me, and as a result having only got as far as the train station to go from Birmingham to Worcester I bottled out and went straight back home. Depression and anxiety = 1 —- Me = 0.

However, despite that unfortunate set back I was determined not to give up that easily. As a result I set myself another challenge for today. I wanted to  go somewhere with a lot of people…..but not too overly crowded. The chance to go to either Worcester or Stratford Upon Avon  for the day appealed to me, and so I headed to the train station once again. Having got into Birmingham with it being extremely crowded, I bottled out yet again. Oh dear….Depression and anxiety = 2—-Me = 0.

Instead of going straight back home this time though, I ended up diving into the Odeon cinema and ended up watching the film Prometheus, (which by the way was brilliant) and so whilst immersing myself in that I managed to somewhat calm down. After a couple of hours in the cinema I emerged once again back into the light of day and into the centre of Birmingham, which by now had become a lot less crowded and noisy. Rather than go home, I pushed myself into going for a walk and hopefully do some photography.

Less than a mile from the main Birmingham city centre is our infamous Broad Street, and along this street is a maze of interesting statues and buildings which includes Centenary Square, the old Council House, Birmingham Art Museum and Gallery in addition to this it is an area that is composed of bars, clubs, pubs, restaurant’s and hotels including the Hyatt. As you make your way down Broad  Street, there are numerous side roads which lead off the main street and down to the various sections of the canal, known as the Gas Street Basin. This is an area of Brum one can get easily lost in, and one can actually lose yourself! Having headed down an alley  called Atlas Way, I realised that was what I did actually  need was an atlas!!  This stretch of waterway is the Birmingham & Worcester canal, and for the next hour and half I had a very pleasant and relaxing walk along the canal pathway. The whole area of waterways is full of amazing places to have a bite to eat, whether it be a light bar meal, snack or a fine dining experience, including the chance to dine in style on board one of several narrowboats/barges. For those who must have retail therapy you can enter the world of the The Mailbox further up the canal via its maze of pathways, bridges and even more pathways and bridges. Birmingham is full of interesting places to visit, historical statues and buildings and this is why I suppose it makes it a top tourist attraction in the UK outside of London. It really is a little bit of paradise away from the main hustle and bustle of a major city centre.

I have to say that despite having to force myself out today and almost failing at the first stage, I was very glad I made this  later in the day effort. At that time in the evening the crowds had somewhat dispersed, and although there weren’t too many people about, there were a fair few, who were also out to enjoy a pleasant relaxing walk, and being by the water was far more relaxing than actually attempting to get there. It had been a few years since my last visit to this area of Brum.

On my walk back to the city centre to get the bus back home, there were various groups of people setting up tents and such, putting up buntings and flags to get ready for tomorrows Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I was able to take more photos of the area. It struck me that despite the modern business city that Birmingham is, how well the old and modern architecture blended in and complimented each other so well.

Despite not being able to make the journey to Worcester today, I did walk a section of the Birmingham & Worcester canal, so in a sense I suppose I did see Worcester in one way!  Depression and anxiety = 2——Me = 1.   I’m catching up! Perhaps next time I will get where I want to go, and accept, achieve my own next challenge…..third time lucky!

Here are a few photos I was able to take.

Many thanks for stopping by.

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Never judge a book by it’s cover!!

Whilst on the bus Friday evening coming home from work, I overheard a comment which I found fairly annoying, and typically judgemental of our fair City.

Two young girls, I would estimate in their early twenties, where talking about the night clubs and pubs in Birmingham and it’s surrounding areas. One claimed that the only thing Brum ( nick name for Birmingham) was any good for where the pubs and clubs up Broad Street, and the designer shops in the Bull Ring, other than that Brum held no other interest either now or in the past.

I couldn’t help but smile and tut  inwardly at the same time for their ignorance and lack of knowledge of Birmingham’s history and places of interest, but after all it wasn’t their fault that they were not to realise the significance of how Birmingham has for well over a hundred years ago played a major roll in the shaping of this country.

Although I live in an area of Solihull, which is on the outskirts of Birmingham, I have always had a keen interest in the history of Birmingham, and have collected several books over the years on the history and development of this major UK city.. My father was born and raised in an area known as Knowle in Solihull, which is mostly country and farm land. On my mothers side of the family they were all born in Birmingham, and for most of their lives my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins have all lived in either Birmingham or Solihull area. I have worked near Aston, which is about half a mile or so outside the City Centre,  for these last twenty years.

Birmingham is steeped in history, and it is worthwhile remembering it played a significant part in the development of industry and commerce in this country as well as in Europe.

As a child, I can remember our frequent family shopping visits to the  Bull Ring markets, which were built in the early 60’s.  It boasted one of the biggest outdoor markets in the UK, and adjacent to this via the Woolworths store, was the indoor market. In addition to this we also had another market further up the road known as the Rag Market, this also consisted of an indoor and outdoor market. You could literally get anything at these markets……if you couldn’t get it at the Bull Ring, you had little chance of getting it at any other market anywhere else. The whole area was situated below the Rotunda Building, which still stands in all it’s glory as the landmark of Central Birmingham, and Birmingham itself is the central point of the West Midlands.

As a child growing up in the 70’s, I saw a great deal of what we now refer to as  ‘ old Birmingham’  and the ‘old Bull Ring’. And I have to admit over many years I have seen a very large number of changes going on in Brum……but it is still one of the best places in the UK to visit for art, culture, historic buildings and leisure. The city itself is always updating and expanding, and is a hive of activity day and night.  Similar to the City of London, Birmingham has its own financial sector, consisting of an area of banks, building society’s and insurance companies.

So lets see what else Birmingham is historically known for!  Probably the most well-known and favourite chocolate in the world….Cadbury’s.

Birminghams past history includes the old Longbridge car plant , originally known as the Austin Motor Co Ltd, where in the 60’s they built the Austin car and which in the  and 70’s’ and 80’s was once one of the biggest car plant employers in the Midlands and UK along with the Rover plant in Solihull (of which the Rover is still going very strong despite turbulent times in the past), and I am fortunate to be able to say is only a five minute walk across the road from my flat.

In addition to these two car plants, Birmingham also had the Fort Dunlop plant, unfortunately although this is now no longer in operation, it too employed a significant number of  people over the years and again became an historical landmark for Dunlop products sold all over the world, including of course Dunlop tyres. Another icon of business was Lucas Aerospace.

New Street station (now under a major modernisation programme) is, and always has been a major rail link across the UK. Major shops like Lewis’s, which hundreds of thousands of people each year used to come and visit before its closure in the early 80’s……it was at one time known as  the Harrods of Birmingham. Rackhams is still going strong which is yet another iconic store.

In addition to all this Birmingham has a rich network of canals, which during the early part of the last century was important for transporting good across the country which played a major part in Birmingham’s economy and major industrial development.

Many famous people, actors, politicians, sports celebrities, musicians from all over the world, over the years have have graced Birmingham with their presence.

There are just too many places to mention, but I wonder how many of my blog readers, especially from the UK have heard of some of these places old and new:-

Broad Street, Alexandra Theatre, The Hippodrome, Rackhams, Birmingham Cooperative Society, BBC Pebble Mill Studio, ATV Studio (some of the programmes recordered in and around Birmingham…..Crossroads, The Golden Shot with the late Bob Monkhouse) The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham Art Museum and Gallery, Spaghetti Junction, Aston Expressway, Aston University, Birmingham Childrens Hospital, The Jewellery Quarter, West Midlands Police HQ, Birmingham City Football Club………oh and I suppose I had better mention that other football team….. Aston Villa!

Many famous people born in or came from  Birmingham, Ozzy Osbourne  (singer/musician), Don McClean (comedian), Ian Lavender (actor), Jasper Carrott (comedian), Terence Rigby (actor), Toyah Wilcox (singer), Pat Roach (wrestler turned actor), Trevor Eve (actor), Martin Shaw (actor), Tony Hancock (actor/comedian), Tony Britton (actor) John Wyndham (writer) Neville Chamberlain (politician/PM) Robert Kilroy Silk (MP/presenter), Murray Walker (commentator), Steve Winwood (musican/singer) Lenny Henry ( comedian) James and Oliver Phelps (actors of Harry Potter fame)……….and the list is endless.

So you see….Birmingham does have a great deal to offer past and present, it is full of remarkable history, entertainment and culture……..far far  more than most people can imagine, it’s not just a city that has great clubs, pubs, restuarants and designer shops……Birmingham is a lot more than that, and I hope it always will be.

I love Birmingham.