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Wander & enjoy the diversity...it feeds your soul “What is more miraculous than the moment?” Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh

Celebratory Weekend!

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 8 March 2008 | Views [2002] | Comments [2]

Birmingham, UKA Special 30th Birthday Weekend with my daughter, Kirsten. 

Birthdays have traditionally been very celebratory in our family.  This year is extra special because Kirsten turns 30 and I turn 60 – YIKES!  When I think of the number 60, I think of my grandmother in her floral cotton housedress and apron!  She was sweet and she looked grandmotherly, but…I can’t think 60!  I can tho’ think mother-daughter activities!  Nothing like that bond – think mother bear & cub! 

Since both daughters enjoy living & roaming the world, I have learned how to stay connected via Skype conversations, e-mail messages, packages, text messages, photos, & of course visiting!  Although I had just traveled with Kirsten in Nepal & India, when her birthday month arrived, I found myself pouring over her baby photo album - connecting with that time when I fell in love with her and with motherhood.  I enjoyed finding things to send via e-mail & to box up – baby pictures, balloons, party horns & making chocolate chip, walnut, oatmeal cookies and rice crispy bars.  As I was taking pictures of her baby book to send to her, I was nostalgic for those motherhood times, so…I got the box off, but… that same afternoon, with my husband’s strong suggestion and encouragement, I also got a ticket to go see her!  Decadent – MAYBE, but…also an opportunity to help carry back some of her “stuff” to Oregon – not a cheap thing to do –even by ship!

Chuck’s perceptive nature had apparently picked up something…my feelings, even tho’ I hadn’t said a  thing about my time spent with her baby pictures.  In addition, as a family, we value time & money spent on experiences rather than material things, so when he said, “Why don’t you go see her?” it resonated.  A week later, I flew 5,820.4 miles to help her celebrate her 30th birthday and to help her prepare for leaving.  Although I contemplated showing up at her door unannounced, I’m glad I didn’t.  She arranged a room for me in her dorm at the University of Birmingham and worked ahead on her class final papers, so she would have time to see a little of England with me. 

She & I shopped at the outdoor market where we got supplies for her birthday potluck supper with class friends.  We made tortilla soup & 7-layer dip, while other friends made specialties from their own cultures including multiple delicious desserts.  It was fun to watch them learn how to do Iranian dancing and to celebrate International Women’s Day with so many interesting international women!

The next day we bought train tickets to see Stratford-on-Avon, but…the trains were not running??  We walked to St. Martin Church (St Martin's Square is one of the newest squares in Birmingham, located within the Bullring Shopping Centre) - listened to the bells & the organ music – so lovely!  With the sun out - we also took advantage of a canal tour – the city is beautifully connected by canals, previously used as a cheap way to transport coal, but now updated for tourists, local leisure transport, or vacation touring.  Afterwards, we lunched at a barge cafe – so nice!  It’s a beautiful city – friendly (a British couple gave me a ride from the airport to Kirsten’s dorm), livable - walking spaces (no cars), beautiful parks (over 8,000 acres of parkland open spaces) & convenient buses, trains, etc.  The city centre consists of numerous public squares. 

Monday, Kirst showed me her campus - University of Birmingham is located close to the city centre, where she is finishing her MA in teaching English.  I met other classmates when they picked up their test essay packets.  We also took in an English movie, “The Other Boleyn Girl.”  Interesting to see & a perfect activity to do on a rainy, cold day!  A day that was predicted to be the worst storm in a decade!  It was cold & windy, but…the worst???

Birmingham is home to three universities and two university colleges.  The University of Birmingham is a British Red Brick university located in the West Midlands of England.  Founded in Edgbaston in 1900 as a successor to Mason Science College. 

We also saw the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the main art gallery and ‘free’ museum in Birmingham.  It has renowned displays of artwork that include a leading collection of work by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the world's largest collection of works by Edward Burne-Jones.  I LOVED it – interactive & FREE!

Cadbury World is a museum showing visitors the stages and steps of chocolate production and the history of chocolate and the company.  It is a walk away from where Kirsty lives, but instead of paying about $30 to tour, we bought several candy bars & called it good!  We also packed up 2 very small boxes of books & papers to send home - ended up having to repack into 4, half-empty boxes to ship surface mail, that cost $50/box!

Due to Birmingham's diverse population, there is also a diverse variety of religious buildings in the city.  In the 1960s, Birmingham Central Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Europe, was constructed for the Muslim community of the city. 

As a perfect follow-up to the movie we saw, we visited Warwick Castle in Warwick.  The history of Warwick Castle began in the 10th century.  Legend has it that the first fortification of significance on the grounds of Warwick Castle was erected by Ethelfleda, the daughter of Alfred the Great, in the year 914.  This almost certainly replaced older wooden fortifications, which had proven ineffective against marauding Danes who sacked the town during the reign of her father.  This fortification was part of a network built to protect the Kingdom of Wessex.  The majority of the remains date from the period of Norman rule.

After the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century, William the Conqueror appointed Henry de Newburgh as Earl of Warwick.  During this time of change, a Norman motte-and-bailey fort was erected.  The birth of a castle, in the year 1264, was built by the forces of Simon de Montfort, who consequently imprisoned the Earl of Warwick at that time. 

Although England is soooooo expensive - to see this little part of England with Kirst, while celebrating her 30th, finishing her M.A. & preparing for her next life in the US, India, & who knows where else, was an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss!  It’s quite an adventure trying to keep up with world-citizen daughters.  I am obviously proud, but no matter where your children are in the world, no matter what they are doing… being a parent is such a privilege & gift.  I am grateful beyond words.  What an exciting journey this is… Who knows where Kels will be when she turns 30, BUT... I will be there! 

Tags: Kirsten at Univ of Birmingham




A FABULOUS birthday weekend!!! Thanks for making the trip across the globe to spend my b-day with me--one I won't forget EVER!! Love you!

  Kirsten Mar 19, 2008 11:13 PM


What FUN it was! I wonder where you will be at 40? Don't want to miss that either! LOVE you...mom

  annanderson Mar 20, 2008 2:13 AM

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