February 2013: Back To Bilston!

My American experience came to an end on the 15th of January 2013, bringing me back to Bilston! It's back to the markets both outdoor and indoor, the famous chip shop and many other quirks that make Bilston special. From Newark, New Jersey to Bilston, West Midlands I can safely say it feels really strange to be back! The market was where I went, well after being home!

Landing back on to British soil was one thing, getting back to the West Midlands was a complete other story. As the signs changed and the landscape grew more industrial I knew that Bilston wasn't far away. I had just spent close to a year in New Jersey and New York, it was time to get back to the good stuff, but I really needed the comforts of home. The Major called me back without haste on the same day that my Virgin Atlantic VS2 flight landed into London Heathrow Airport. My first week back home has been great, hearing the familiar tones of the Bilston accent, I don't care what anyone says we have a different way of speaking compared to those Wolverhampton folk! A new chapter called me back to Bilston, I thought I was ready for this change WV14?!

Nothing changes, I recognised the usual sights as me, my auntie and cousin made our way towards Bilston town centre. Pete's pantry passed us by with the same looking shop front, we have a few long-standing businesses that have lasted the test of time and recession. B's got an outdoor and indoor market that serve the local shoppers just fine with whatever bits they see fit to buy each week. It was funny to the usual sights of the locals gassing about their business and how they spent their Christmas and New Year's during 2012. Getting our bits and bobs we went to the necessary places without wasting any time because the cold and slush was horrible to deal with! Funnily enough this isn't my first Bilo' blog, I posted 'Bilston... No Place Like Home!' Life, I'm actually back in Bilston! Well B, for now anyway!

Bilston keeps it simple, whether that's been a habit or just the way things have turned out? I can identify certain similarities with Bilston and the Ironbound District because both places are famous for certain types of foods and lots of small businesses operate along one high street. Both winters in New Jersey and the West Midlands played no games, I was greeted with a bleak first few weeks of weather that's been snowy and wet. My Newark winter was freezing with lashing of snow and a healthy serving of ice that made walking to Newark Penn Station perilous to say the least. Bilston's High Street is still going strong, not a lot has changed over the year I have been in America but I wouldn't have it any other way. The Ironbound was only thirty minutes away from New York City by train, whereas Bilston has the Midland Metro to connect it to Birmingham. Oh, I am going to face the facts and get on with university!

I have to say that my visit to Bilston and reason for blog was completely random! Most of the shops remained the same since the last time I had been to Bilston's High Street, many staples such as Pete's Pantry Bakery and David Clark's Men's Outfitters are still trading, these shops have been a part of Bilston for a considerable amount of time. It is great to see that these businesses are withstanding the test of time! Newer additions such as Argos and Specsavers have made their mark on the high street, offering a range of local and mainstream brands for the towns people to benefit from. If the truth was told I did miss the outdoor and indoor markets in strange way because Bilston has a formula that keeps something alive for this town, the economic downturn has been cruel to some parts of England but Bilston has kept on trading throughout this tough time. Things come to an end naturally, I'm back to the town that I call home with new eyes and the desire to move forwards. In time I will.

St.Leonard's Church stands at the beginning of the shopping parade, a timeless fixture of Bilston that has not seemed to change over the years. There was a church on the corner of Wilson Ave in Newark's Ironbound that was close to my apartment, something about that church just wasn't the same compared to Bilston's own St. Leonard's Church. I do think that the St. Leonard's Church looks exceptionally picturesque in amongst the wintry snow that has recently fallen upon the region. This church as been a prominent feature of this town for a serious amount of time, I remember visiting here on school outings from my first primary school in Bilston after moving from London as a young boy. Not matter how much I want to leave Bilston for better opportunities I always find myself coming back for more! Seeing St. Leonard's was nice but every time I come back to Bilston it grounds me. How I try to leave, life always brings me back!

Well, I'm back to Bilston for the remainder of the winter holiday from university and it won't be long until I'll be back in the city of Birmingham. Being away from home did make me miss Bilston and it's many quirks but I left for America for a reason to work and to see that my future will not be spent in Bilston even though it's where most of my nearest and dearest live. Not much happens in good old Bilston but home is where the heart it, so I'm not going to be shady about that fact because that would be out of order. Yes, it was bizarre to see Major's after one year of Brazilian culture from living in Newark's Ironbound District but that time has gone and I'm looking to the next phase of university in Birmingham. Major's chips still taste the same, also after living in America for close to one year it was amazing to get some real cheddar cheese! I wonder how it will feel to return to Bilston in the future after I've been away again? It's true to say that Bilston never ever changes! No, it won't! 

Bilston, I'm Back!

Joseph Harrison


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