I am not a spontaneous person; I am not hugely fond of surprises or changes in plan, and I like to plan everything well in advance in order to prepare for it. However, even I must admit that there are situations in which spontaneity is necessary and beneficial! One such situation surfaced this past June, when my dad found out (on short notice) that he had to travel to Birmingham, England, on business. Of course, loving England and missing it incessantly, I expressed regret that I couldn’t go as well. So I was both delighted and surprised when, the next morning and less than a week from the departure date, my dad suggested that I could come if I was willing to pay for it!
I doubt I need to state that I agreed; and five days later we were crossing the Atlantic and on our way to London. We arrived on a beautiful clear morning and picked up our rental car, and by 8 am we were on the motorway north to the Midlands.
A billboard at Heathrow Airport
Some pretty English weeds
Seeing this sign on the motorway made me think of the 2007 film “Hot Fuzz”
It really was a glorious morning, perfect for a drive. I marvelled at the greenness of the trees- back in Canada, trees were hardly in leaf yet after a horrendous winter- and felt so happy to be in England again. One amazing moment came not too long into our journey- the M40 went through a sort of escarpment, and then the landscape opened up into the beautiful green fields that I remember so well. It was breathtaking.
The view was unexpected and spectacular
I believe this is around High Wycombe
Since we left London so early and check-in time at our Nuneaton (east of Birmingham) hotel was likely 3 pm, we decided to take a detour through Oxford. I’d been to Cambridge before, but I was eager to see England’s other famous university city. Once we got near Oxford, there was a massive queue to get into the city- due to both roadworks and morning commuters.
It took us about 2o minutes to get into Oxford on a two-lane road- this is the queue of sorry motorists behind us
Apparently there, but not there yet!
The wait didn’t adversely affect my enjoyment of Oxford, however. We only spent about half an hour driving about the city (and we were going slowly, due to the traffic), but I saw so many gorgeous old buildings and it was a really lovely place.
An example of Oxford’s famous architecture
The nightmarish traffic gave me lots of time to admire the incredible sights
Oxford’s historic Randolph Hotel; situated opposite the Ashmolean Museum
After our brief and unfortunately incomplete tour of Oxford, we got back on the M40 and continued north. Having earlier endured an overnight flight across the Atlantic, my dad and I were both tired and were becoming eager to get to the hotel and rest. Even on the motorway, though, and through the sometimes grim and industrial Midlands, there were still interesting things to see.
Left turn for Silverstone Circuit, home of the illustrious British Grand Prix
Roundabouts are everywhere in the UK, and they’re actually a lot of fun. Thank goodness that in the UK (unlike in Canada), people actually know how to use them properly
The last notable sight before reaching Nuneaton was Coventry. I was looking forward to going through this city, because of its harrowing experience during WWII. An industrial centre crucial to the British war effort, Coventry endured what is known as the Coventry Blitz. German bombing raids targeted the city; destroying homes, factories, and Coventry’s 14th-century cathedral. It’s perhaps a little-known fact that many British cities, not just London, suffered severe bomb damage during the war.
A large smokestack in Coventry recalls its industrial past
Even today, Coventry is fairly industrial and perhaps not the most picturesque place
Not far beyond Coventry, we found Nuneaton; but finding our hotel was another thing entirely. We had its address set in our GPS, but there were a lot of new roads and dead-ends around the hotel and it was very confusing. Only after driving every which way around an industrial estate did we locate the place! The staff at the hotel were very accommodating, and they let us check in early. I got to have a long-awaited nap, and after that we planned to take a little trip into Nuneaton, which turned out to be charming.
Our hotel; a welcome sight for us weary travellers
As this trip demonstrated to my usually inflexible and perfectly organized mind, sometimes it pays to be spontaneous! I was so grateful to have the chance to go on this trip, but had I been stubborn, I wouldn’t have gone at all!