The Woodwards, warm beer and chips

Having left Italy, our first stop was Birmingham Airport and then Derby to visit the female side of the Woodward clan.  Matt’s sister very kindly picked us up and gave up her bed for us for 2 nights so that we could catch up with her and their mum and aunty.  It was really nice to see them to go shopping with them and  to swap stories.  It’s good to see that everyone’s alright and have a chance to catch up in person.  Skype is a wonderful thing, it helps you to feel connected even when you’re really far away, but nothing replaces the option of hanging out with your family in person.

Matt and his sister having a good look at her new scarf from Singapore

Shopping with Mum 🙂

We had a lovely tea in some nice gardens, wandered around Derby shopping center; and Matt started on his long list of English foods that he needs to taste before we return!  He had a lovely steak cooked by his sister and we got to re-experience English fish and chips for the first time in 20 months.  Chips just aren’t the same in Oz are they?  They’re all frozen chips and no curry sauce for starters!  Matt, of course, opted to add item 2 from his UK foods list and add a Pie-Minister pie to the equation!

In Marks and Sparks Matt was spoilt rotten by his mum as she bought him various t-shirts and ties – lucky boy! 😉  It was really nice to catch up with them all and very generous of Matt’s sister to drive us around, share her home and cook us all dinner 🙂

On the Tuesday we headed off back to Birmingham to catch up with Matt’s Dad who had come all the way from North Wales to hang out with us.

Yes, this IS a PINT of WARM BEER... and he LOVES it!

We went up to Solihull and headed to Whether spoons where Matt began re-aquatinting himself with English beer and burger deals. We had a wander around the shops and saw a film together before heading back to the pub for a carvery.  Quite a chilled day really.

At the end of that day, Matt’s sister  drove us all the way back to my Mum’s place! Thank you! 🙂

Mum has set me up on her car insurance so that we could get around and catch up with everyone.  The next day we wanted to spend some more time with Matt’s Dad so I had to drive into Brum.

I’ve always been more than confident driving in Birmingham.  About 2 weeks after my driving test in ’07 I forced myself to drive to the center of Birmingham town centre to get sheet music so that I’d get over the fear of driving in cities (of course I told mum I was off to Sainsburys..) Since that day, I’ve always found driving in Brum very natural and easy.  BUT….what a difference 20 months living in Adelaide makes!  With it’s relatively quiet and extra wide roads and my car with no gears the drive was very different to back home!  I drove to pick Matt’s dad up (about 30 mins) and was exhausted by the time I got there! Very interesting.  The roads felt really thin, there were buses, people and random bad drivers flying all over the place and whilst I was keeping and eye on all that I had to remember to change gears, in a sports car, without letting it stall.  I’ve never driven a sports car in my life before!  After a few days I was used to driving in the city but i was really surprised at how I responded to something that was so easy and natural before.

Spot the criminal in Birmingham City Center

Shops boarded up in Birmingham Post Riot

Poor ol’ Matt’s Dad got to experience me driving the car, nervously into the city center and we explored.

Now, you may have heard on the news that there has been a “little” disturbance in the cities of England of late.  It was really sad to see so many shops with boarded up windows and “open as usual”signs.   It was also very interesting to see which shops were targeted: Spec Savers (Sun glasses?), Car-phone Warehouse (Mobiles)etc.  It’s been even more interesting watching England respond. Facebook has been full of people saying “RIP” to “Broken Britain” – What’s interesting is the perception of what Britain is… isn’t it made up (at least in part) by YOU, you British people you?  I could rant on and on about community responsibility, how we all have to take some responsibility for our own countries culture… blaming others seems to be a major part of that…  anyway… this isn’t a post about riots  😉  I did like the big screen in the center of town showing images from cctv to help the public identify the perpetrators! Thankfully, I didn’t recognise anyone.

It was great to catch up with Matt’s Family in person (rather than virtually) and to have a wander around some of our old haunts to see what has changed / stayed the same.

Matt and Dad

I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t have been taken pictures of shops that were once houses built in 1571!  As Matt snapped these photos someone walking past loudly stated that he had no idea why anyone would want a picture of that….  Britain…. we have Heritage and history!  Move to a country with only 200 years of history and suddenly wattle and daub built in the reign of King Edward the VI seems very exciting indeed and beautiful too!

2 Comments

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  1. Adamfozzy 7 years ago

    As your editor I need to make a few suggestions. I loved the writing, detail and comment but your sense of time is woeful. How could you head back to Birmingham on Tuesday after our wedding was on Monday and you had 2 nights in Derby. Also you say you passed your test in 07. Surely you mean 97. I could be wrong and you have invented a time machine. If so, I can have a go please please…

    • Author
      Anonymous 7 years ago

      I’m not surprised I have a time machine… I keep losing and gaining 8 hours every couple of months 😉 You are correct however in assuming I passed my test in 97 but looking at 97 makes me feel old! so 07 is best ;0) We did stay Tuesday and Wednesday in Derby though! 😉

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