It was a week before Christmas, me and the Mr had broken up and I found myself living in the spare room of my mums and dads. I had 5 days left before I was back at work after a long annual leave I’d requested thinking we would be in a far away destination together, however things don’t always turn out the way you plan and the furthest I had been was the local shops.
Something had to be done.
Two things frustrated me 1. I hadn’t been away anywhere even though I was on holiday 2. I couldn’t spend the next few days moping around with nothing to do and little privacy. I’ve lived independently away from from my parents for almost 10 years up till now and it feels, strange.
I ordered a chrome book with next day delivery, as not to schedule time on a shared computer and began searching what I could do with the little money I couldn’t really spend on my credit card. I searched hotels nearby, places I could get to by train, hotels with Spas, European deals and so on. Nothing was calling out to me.
Then I remembered someone I knew went away to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. They drove but all of them were accessible by train too, so I investigated some more, Birmingham and Manchester both had small free art galleries I could visit, Liverpool has the Tate but there wasn’t anything exhibiting that excited me.
The more I Iooked into Birmingham the more right it felt. The gallery, museums, shops, hotels were all in one area, easy to explore in a day and a half and less chance of getting lost and not being able to find my way. Better still there was a coach leaving the in two days time and was half the price of a train journey. Altogether, £60 to get away, see some Christmas lights and explore somewhere new seemed pretty reasonable. I found a copy of Me before you by Jojo Moyes for 90p at the local charity shop, packed an overnight case and I was set.
There was a third reason for my short get away, I felt I needed to get out and not delay my solo adventures for in the future, I was prepared for many. I wanted to do it while afraid, while vulnerable, while it felt so very real that I was not 1 part of a 2 person party, I was just 1 and all it represented. New beginings, celebrations, starting over.
While in Birmingham, I explored and had some down time too. Though a drastic change felt right, I felt anxious too, so much so that each time I went out my chest hurt and as much as I wrapped up in a scarf and sipped hot drinks, I couldn’t entirely put it down to the cold weather, it was pscyhological too. I was still healing and self love called out at me so I listened and this is what I got up to on my solo trip.
I walked to town and was greeted by life – from the fruit and vegetable markets to the man playing the saucepans, it made me smile. Hotel Britannia is siutated right next to Odeon Cinema and is very cheap and chearful. It has the ‘one night with your boyfriend’ or ‘one night away on business’ feel to it, it even had the choice of smoking or non somoking rooms, wow that brought me back to my teens! It was musky, everything was brown and the bathroom smelt of cleaning fluid that I was determined to erase with my body spray. But it was spacious, a bed, chair, table, bath etc was all I really needed, I came to like it’s quirks.
I settled in by mid afternoon and set off to find the art gallery, I knew it would only be small as it’s called Museum and Art Gallery, they always are when they put historical objects with art on the walls. It was something though and there were two paintings I liked Rachel by Patrick Heron and An instrustial town by Lowery. There were cabninets of pottery and fine jewlwey from around the world and interesting caligraphy. This statement by David Kindersley 1969 written on the rim of a bowl was powerful and themed perfectly ‘TRUTH IS SIMPLE IN IT’S LANGUAGE REQUIRING NEITHER STUDY NOR ART.’
Early evening I walked around the shops and long German Christmas markets that were the main feature of the area, it was busy a little like London but not as hectic and a more cheery vibe. I bought fried potatoe and mushrooms with garlic sauce and ate alone standing up at the pop up stalls. A new experience and I wondered if I looked ‘werid’ eating alone but soon realised a lot of people do and what does it matter anyway?
I walked past the markets once more, this would be my only evening here so I wanted to take in the Christmas lights, big tree and busy markets as much as I could before heading back for an early night. There is nothing like that locally at Christmas, there just seems like so much more joy when even if you don’t celebrate Christmas there is celebration and lights around.
I bought a hot choclate with cream and walked some more, smiling at the sights and strangeness of this whole expereience.
That night I had an hour long bath while reading Breathe magazine, there was no time limits, no rush, no expectations, it was bliss. I made some yogi tea and made a start on the note books and new year planning sheets I had printed, I went to sleep early, a saxaophone played in the distance.
I woke up early and did a yoga set, I was about 30 or so days into Radiant Body Kriya (and contiuned to 40 days.) I ate a buffet style breckfast and a lot of it too as I wasn’t sure when I would next eat a full meal.
I went out for a walk first thing at 8am, I’m very glad I did, it was peaceful, the sun was rising and town was completly quiet. Only a few people around, so I took photos and went back to the hotel to do more of ‘what I want to happen in 2017 worksheets’. I drank more yogi tea and ate chocolate fudge I’d brought with me and looked up opening times and route to get to Birmingham Library. One of my brothers had mentioned he’d heard it was good a few days before my trip and wanted to check it out. Plus libraries are somewhere warm and interesting to stay for a few hours. I left some tea and the rest of my fudge for the cleaner and I was off.
Birmingham Libray is within easy reach from the town, it’s signposted all the way and so big you can see it from a distance! A great big square structure with gold all around, wow this was some library. Esculators took you to each floor, from them you could see circular rows of shelves of books, with Christmas lights around, it was the most magical library I had ever seen. I went to the Art floor and choose books from the rows, yes rows, of art books. I sat and read Outsider Art by Jean Louis Ferrier and read all about the lives of outsider artists Douanier Rousseau, Gaston Chaissac and Aloise.
I spent the last hour of my time in Birmingham taking more pictures, I bought two pretty scarves for a fiver and walkied around the Christmas markets once more that had opened for the lunch crowds and ate my faveourite fermented vegetable dish – Saukerought.
I made my way back to the coach station and waited in the lounge, I later realised I was in the wrong lounge and completely missed my coach. The staff member was so helpful and put me on one to a town near to me where I could make a transfer.
I didn’t mind much as my extended waiting and journey meant I read all of Me before you book and after I was settled back in my own bed I rented it from Itunes for £1.99.
A trip away was just what I wanted and needed, I felt it on a soul level as well as a literal sense. I needed to get out of a small room in a small town and just be spontaneous. When we step out of the norm, the ordinary routine of life we make way to be spontaneous, to live more fully present and in wonder, this is where my solo adventure begins.