Lickey Hills

New explorations with new people in a new year, venturing through the woods, filling our lungs with fresh air. It made my heart happy and my legs happily tired. I wish I could go explore the woods every day.

January 10, 2016

It was the beginning of a new year. We had only been attending The Gate Church for a couple of months, at best, but we snapped up the opportunity to go on an adventure with our new church community on an uncharacteristically gorgeous day in the dead of winter.

Birmingham is quite bleak during the winter months. I've never experienced a true episode of seasonal depression until moving to England, and let me tell you that it isn't pretty. If you have one sunny day out of ten in January, you're doing swimmingly. There isn't nearly as much rainy weather as we Americans dream up - it's just a thick, dark, overcast sky all the time. And it's maddening. DAY. AFTER. DAY. AFTER. DAY. AFTER. DAY. Just clouds. Forget sun, you don't even see the sky for days on end. And with no rain to give the cloudy days purpose (I still absolutely love rainy weather), I was going a bit insane.

So when the sun was shining and it was supposed to keep on shining all day long, some pretty great people from church decided to adventure out to Lickey Hills in the 'burbs of Birmingham to make the most of it. And because I was dying to see something living and get the heck out of city centre, we went with them. It was our first time to hang out with these lovely people outside of a Sunday morning, so I was a bit timid and still really confused on which name belonged to which person. Looking back now, I love seeing the faces who I've begun to get to know on a much better basis. There are some really fantastic people in our church, and I'm eager to see how these relationships grow over the next year or so.

We loaded up several cars and made our way to Lickey Hills - up, up, up we went as I tried not to pay attention to the road or any of the drivers. Riding in cars with people in England makes me exceptionally nervous, but especially so on tiny, winding streets. While the sun was indeed shining, the wind was bitterly cold and a bit voracious that day. I remember my fingers being positively frozen even inside my Isotoner gloves! Lickey Hills is absolutely beautiful, though, and it offers a marvels view of Birmingham as a whole (which looks a lot nicer from above).

Jonny and Anneli were the ones who drove us, and with them came their sweet daughters Elise and Lana. Elise is two and so full of life (I love love love two year olds!), and I was surprised at how great she was while we walked and walked and walked through the woods, up and down the muddy hills. She was a great little adventurer - hunting for bears, hiding behind bushes, walking in the muddiest parts of the path. It was so sweet to watch this tiny human amongst all the big people who have become so disillusioned to the possibilities a day like that can hold. And we made fast friends, Elise and me, as we watched the more adventurous of the big people swinging to and fro on a giant rope in the middle of the woods. Lots of laughter and lots of fun was had by all, but the best part of my day by far was walking through the woods with her tiny hand in mine.

The pass less traveled always brings better adventures... like swinging in the trees.

The sun went down quickly (it sets rather early here in winter... like 3:30 in the afternoon!) and we piled in the cars once more in order to warm up in a local pub. We sat and talked, enjoyed each other's company and had a relaxing evening as a really big group sitting at really small tables. Elise and I played together, she sat on my lap a few times, and I much preferred conversing with her than attempting my own awkward conversation with people I didn't know (introvert problems). But it was a lovely day out and marked the beginning of a new season of our lives here with people who we have grown to love... even if it's in a city that doesn't get receive that same sentiment from us. ;)