Where do I start? I arrived in Britain on April 28th. I flew from Philadelphia to Brussels, spent two hours in the airport then flew an hour to Birmingham. As I was waiting on the runway at Philadelphia airport I began to ask myself why most of the time I travel abroad I go to new places and by myself? Of course the answer is money. I usually have just enough funds to cover my travel let alone a companion. It helps me appreciate the time I am able to travel with an elder with whom I can explore new places. I thank my parents for providing and environment that supported me taking leaps of faith. I could not do the work I do without that trust they nurtured in me.
When I arrived in Birmingham I took a train from the airport to the New Street Station. When I arrived at the station I had the option to take another train to the Selly Oak station and then a bus to Woodbrooke or a taxi. The taxi was more expensive, but after the long trip it was the option I chose. It gave me an opportunity to rest and get to meet someone who told me a little about Birmingham.
I arrived in time for a delightful lunch at Woodbrooke and time to explore the gardens and lake before the conference began. A part of me REALLY wanted to take a nap in my room, but I know the best way to adjust to a time change is to go with the local time. I was fortunate to have a sunny day, so I spent some time enjoying it. The gardens are beautiful. Spring had sprung everywhere. The first part of nature I interacted with was a butterfly sitting on the path basking in the sun. It remained there long enough for me to take several photos before moving to another location. There were Canadian Geese and several BIG birds (Crows and Magpies.) The trees and flowers were blooming. I even had an opportunity to walk across a stream on stepping stones and swing on a tree swing which I have not done since I was a child. There are so many special trees on the property.
Woodbrooke is a lovely facility. My room was small, but it came with a private bathroom. The first room they assigned me was cold. It was on the shady side of the building and the window was wide open. The first thing I did was shut it. The woman who showed me to the room let me know that the heat would come on in the afternoon and I could get a space heater if it remained cold. I checked the room right before dinner and it was still freezing, so I approached the Friend in residence who checked my room and determined that the heater was not working and offered me another room. I had unpacked, but was happy to repack and move to a warm room on the sunny side. Even though the temperature in the new room was warm the Friend in Residence left the space heater with me just in case.
This was my first trip to Woodbrooke. The facility is huge! I imagined the number of staff it took for the Cadburys to run the estate. All of the Woodbrooke staff were very helpful. The food was fantastic. They were able to make delicious meals that met mine and several other Friend's dietary needs. I was amazed. There was only one meal, ironically my last one, that they had to fix something special for me. They fixed a batch of corn fritters which I could not eat, so was given a piece of chicken from a previous meal. I did not mind because the chicken was so flavorful. I truly enjoyed my time at Woodbrooke and would love to return there as a sojourner. It is a facility where I would love to take a retreat to write or just rejuvenate.
|Rear view of Woodbrooke|
|Some of the Gardens at Woodbrooke|
|Walking stones in stream|
|Western Red Cedar|
|Lilacs - My favorite flower|