27 October 2015

2015: Something To Remember...

2015 has been a year that's kept me on my toes, I got a job at the beginning of the year to help kick-start my China fund. Scaling back my blogging to only four posts per month allowed me to get on top of the quality rather than the quantity, its all working out good from my view. I took local trips to Leicester and Walsall, also going further to Cambridge before China. 

A new adventure was waiting for me but in the meantime I had to keep myself going with my blog and seeing new places in England. I chose Leicester during April 2015, finding a reasonably priced train from Birmingham made it much easier to access somewhere interesting from Bilston. Like many places that I visit I didn't really have a clear plan but knew that there was something to do with King Richard III. Leicester served me something that I appreciated, a city that gave me something to blog about. I chose to check out the Town Hall because it looked nothing like I had imagined Leicester to look like, I was impressed! Moving forwards to the cathedral to see where that King Richard III had been buried under a car park! I got my snaps at the tombstone but I didn't appreciate the dawdlers taking their time, just take your photos and move on! Oh, sightseeing can be stressful with such fools around L! 

Getting the Town Hall and burial sight of King Richard III done I was damn right hungry! Following the signs and my iPhone map I found myself slightly outside the city centre on the 'Golden Mile'. It's no secret that Leicester has a huge British Asian population, I was of course looking for some good food to complement my day out in Leicester. I didn't pay attention to the vegetarian restaurants because I like my meat, so I settled on a Dosa that turned out to be an Indian pancake like wrap. I chose a chicken Masala Dosa with a Chai to drink, it was a winner! Whenever I go to a Indian neighbourhood in England I try to find some Indian sweets because I just love them! Stumbling across one sweet centre I hit the jackpot for sure! Not content with just my sweets I took a random left turn along the Belgrave Road to find an ordinary Indian discount store, after finding some divine incense sticks I was good to go! My day in Leicester took my mind off work and spiced up my life! 

Once I got the idea in my head of seeing Cambridge I simply had to go and explore! Picking a time that suited my messed up work schedule I booked my Megabus to Cambridge, blagging a bed for the night in Birmingham for the night wasn't a problem because that's what brother's are for! Getting down to one of England's premier university cities took longer than I thought it would of but I was there early enough. Hitting the River Cam had to be done, I chose 'Scudamore's Punting' to take me past the regal schools and sights along the river had to be done. Catching a glimpse of the iconic King's College made me feel very accomplished! As picturesque and regal Cambridge fared to be I just couldn't imagine going to university in such a busy place that was littered with tourists! Seeing how the other half study, I got a glimpse of Downing College I felt far removed from my time living at the Maltings! 

The ITV television series 'Grantchester' had recently been on the telly-box, planting a seed in my head to maybe walk down the canal path from Cambridge to see that pretty village but I didn't have the time because unfortunately my coach back to the West Midlands returned the same night. I tell you that getting away from my daily life for a little while was refreshing, taking some time out to relax in the Midsummer's Common was the tonic that I just needed. Feeling thirsty I found a really nice pub by the Megabus stop called the Clarendon Arms to find a lovely pint of cider in a well preserved 18th century time. I found that being away from Birmingham had its drawbacks but if I planned my trips with a little more thought and preparation I didn't see living in Bilston as a bad thing. Cambridge had class but I had to leave that fine university city behind me because I had to make some money for my fast approaching adventure to China. I know that I made the best of things B!

Keeping things a lot closer to home I decided to stay on the 529 National Express West Midlands bus just a little bit longer one day to find myself in Walsall. I worked at a nearby hotel so I had the pleasure of taking that bus on a regular basis but I would always have to get off half way, I had been to Walsall but my curiousity got the better of me that May afternoon. Being close to Bilston, the town of Walsall also has had a strong industrial reign. I saw for myself that things haven't been easy for this leather made town but I noticed that certain parts of the town centre were on the up and up! Taking a nose around the New Walsall Art Gallery allowed me to see some interesting modern art exhibits that I wasn't expecting to see. The upcoming Waterfront project looked to be quite progressive for the town as it was being built during my May 2015 visit. Being close to going away I had to keep things within my budget! 

Finding the Walsall Leather Museum schooled me good and proper about this West Midland's town vast history of working with leather. Dating back to around the year 1400 there was a booming trade beginning in the workshops and tanneries of Walsall. All hasn't been lost because their are still businesses who produce Walsall made leather products for the UK and international markets. I'm sure that some products go to Liberty's of London and to the Far Eastern nation of Japan? Feeling peckish I found a new place to eat, a small yet inviting eatery called 'Micky's Steakaway' saw to my hunger pangs for certain with a lovely bit of steak and chips. My day in Walsall was very alternative but I enjoyed seeing the questionable parts of town as well as the newer elements, I know there's hope out there for Walsall! All this working and lack of international travel had got me seeing some local haunts for sure! Yes, I enjoyed my outing to Walsall! So, here's to something different!

The mid part of 2015 had been building up to my departure from Bilston for London, I would boarding a very important Eastern bound flight so my goodbyes were in order. Back in the city of my birth I had a few days spare when I wasn't sorting my Chinese visa, when I have time for a blog that's always a good thing in my book. Catching the Docklands Light Railway to Limehouse allowed me to see London's Limehouse Basin with all the swish apartments that used to be part of a completely different operation. Once a powerhouse for unloading cargo from the rest of the world this corner of East London worked for the money, now the money sits in shiny glass investment towers. I wouldn't mind having a dockside apartment but I need the money, honey! Hitting up Poplar to see if I could find some 'Call The Midwife' Realness but I didn't see Nonnatus House but I looked high and low for it! London Town always amazes me!

Revisiting a place that looked drab and down, I took a chance on London's Columbia Road Flower Market. I didn't buy any flowers but loved the wide array of beautifully coloured blooms that were for sale. Managing to escape the hoards of people I found 'Cake Hole' in the back of a charming antique shop, that pot of tea and piece of chocolate orange cake definitely hit the spot! With my Chinese visa secure in my passport I only had time for one more day sightseeing in the big smoke before my Sri Lankan Airlines flight would be taking off from London Heathrow Airport, I had one final place in mind. Go! Serving one of my favourite London postcodes I chose E17, Walthamstow to toast my final London blog before going to China. I loved Hoe Street and the overall Turkish feel of this corner of North East London. I found Ayran, Turkish tea and many more of my favourite Turkish foods. So, I know that the mid-section of 2015 was something to remember without a shadow of a doubt B!

Never Forget!

Joseph Harrison 

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