when i first ventured across the pond some three years ago, my mom alterted me to the fact that in the middle of england there resides very distant relatives of ours and that i should try and contact them. contact them i did, and the time spent with them (called sue and arthur from here on out) back then was incredible. adding in the years and correspondence between then and now, they have become less distant and more like family in the truest sense.
the day after our night with the temptsters, we boarded yet another bus (buses being the cheapest transports around for those whose planning doesnt reach beyond a few days), this time to the middle of england to see the relatives. the bus ride and wait thereafter saw the most heavy and prolonged rain storm we bore witness to while in england. somehow, they found us amidst this storm, the secretly re-located bus stop (truly, it had moved so recently that there were no signs pointing drivers to it, anywhere along the inbound routes to it) and bad senses of direction all around. the lovatts (s & a) have purchased a newer/fancier VW camper van since the last time i saw them and they treated us to picnic of sorts in it while we waited out the traffic that stalled them for a good few hours on the way down to pick us up. eventually we made the way up to nuneaton, the town of residence of said lovatts. the first day in nuneaton, we travelled to the warwick castle and learned all about warwickshire, the war of the roses, the torture techniques of medieval times, how to trap eels, medieval machinery.
(castle, sue & arthur and melissa. i lovatt!)
(arthur flanked by st. george's cross)
(shootin the townspeople)
we then drove to conventry to see the ruins and renewal of their cathedral.
the next day held the black country living museum. one of the best museums we went to, hands down. the black country is in the midlands, but the exact boundaries are quite loose. it served as the industrial (specifically mining) headquarters of england for many years. coal mining, steel mills and iron foundaries grew in size and prominence as the years went by, thus producing an atmosphere blackened with that mining and milling and refining and a landscape gouged, stripped and devoid of any of the natural beauty of the midlands that we were able see while taking in that history. the living museum is comprised of buildings from the golden (or greyish-black) era of the black country mining times, tore down and rebuilt brick by brick on a few acres in what used to be a train yard.
there was also a boat ride through the old limestone tunnels.
(opening, then more tunnels)
(legging the crap out of those tunnels)
(the stranger ive locked necks with was probably bummed on my odour)
(slade is from the black country)
along with the eden project, this museum served to impress the importance and beauty of preservation, reclamation and history while also reminding us of the ugliness of history and the cost industrialization can incur on landscape, people and communities. after the lessons of the black country, we picniced in the camper van until we got kicked out of the parking lot and then we retired for a lovely vegetarian feast.
(so long, farewell)
another bus to victoria station and we had just over forty eight hours in London before boarding a plane to the continent.