Monday, 8 June 2015

Solihull to Hall Green

We’ve now moved on from Solihull and looking after Maggy cat after Helen and Phil returned from their amazing USA climbing adventure. They achieved their objective of climbing ‘The Nose’ on El Capitan in Yosemite, often described as the ‘best rock climb in the world’. It’s a sheer granite wall 3000ft (1000m) in height and offers 31 pitches of superb climbing right up the middle of the wall. It took them 7 days to do it, sleeping in a portaledge (a ‘tent’ that hangs from anchors placed by them into the vertical wall) at night and hauling their gear of 40kg each up the face between each climbing pitch. Well done to them, we stand back in amazement!

Manu eases Jackies stiff shoulder
Before they got back we had a night out with our friends Manu and Crystal, who always seem to find the best reasonably priced restaurants in Birmingham, this one Turkish cuisine after a pint of real ale in a nearby pub – fabulous! Manu, a qualified masseur attended to Jackie’s stiff shoulder and my aching calf muscles after my Park Run and we had a tour of their inter-war built house that they are completely restoring. It’ll be nice when it’s done, but there’s lots to do yet and how they are living there in its condition is anyone’s guess, but it’s now plastered, the upstairs bathroom is done, the downstairs shower room is nearly done, the kitchen isn’t (but they have a utility used as a kitchen at the moment) and the dining room is stacked full of stuff!

Monday visited Denise and Pauls so Jackie could do her BBC engineer bit and get our DVD recorder to connect to their TV and VHS video player so they can transfer their family videos onto DVD’s. Family DVD film evening anyone?!?

Monday evening our regular pub evening with Mark, Bill and Martina. Mark, a running coach amongst other things told us all how we should be training and running, but I overdid it later and could hardly walk by Thursday, making me miss last Saturdays Park Run. Maybe I’m getting too old for this, but now I’m following a training plan, building up for my 10km run on July 12th – wish me luck!

Sometime during the week Jackie, reading her emails, announced ‘I’ve won a mini ipad!’. Apparently she’d done a review of ‘’, the website we use for our house sitting assignments around the world and she won the draw! It arrived on Friday and since then she’s been absorbed in it – an Apple convert!

We took Monty dog for a walk on Thursday after helping Sarah clear a garage out in Alvechurch (and me with painful legs) and then an evening with Helen while hubby Ian was in Italy on business. Packing, lawn mowing and cleaning on Friday, more cleaning on Saturday, a quick visit from Abigail to deliver the keys for our Hall Green house, then very weary Helen and Phil arrived to tell us all about their climb and then we were off to see Sooty in Hall Green.

Hall Green is a pleasant enough place, it’s now a suburb of Birmingham with a population of over 25,000 and an interesting ethnic mix with lots of unusual shops, takeaways and restaurants with a few food stalls making it feel very cosmopolitan. Mainly built between the first and second world wars its architecture is quite interesting with some great buildings dotted about, including the nearby Sarehole Mill that used to grind corn using the water of the River Cole. The building dates from 1771, but there has been a mill on the site since 1542 and it’s a place we will be visiting whilst we are here. Its most famous neighbour was JRR Tolkein who lived about 300m away between the ages of 4 and 8 in 1896 to 1904 and used the Mill, nearby Moseley Bog, the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills as inspiration for his books The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but in those days Hall Green was a small village in the county of Worcestershire, much different from today.

'Long cat' Sooty enjoying strokes
Abigail’s house is a typical inter-war year house, mid terrace in a block extending almost the length of the road, narrow, but deep with a very long but narrow back garden. It’s got a great feel to it, but the best occupant is little Sooty who is the softest cat, rolling onto her back, extending her front and back legs out as far as possible to make her very long, making a miaow like Simons cat and demanding strokes! We’re going to like it here!

Sleepy cat!
In between moving from Solihull to Hall Green we had a very pleasant weekend with Ian and Helen at their house in Moseley, backing on to Canon Hill Park. Monty dog walk with a stop at a local pub for a beer, back for G+T’s on the patio, home-made pizza (fabulous!), more G+T’s, a walk down to the local pub to see a Rolling Stones tribute band, but they had cancelled, so we just had another beer, back finally for a Baileys - oh no, mixing drinks! Yes, I had a headache next morning! Quickly back to see Sooty on Sunday morning after leisurely breakfast, then back to Ian and Helens to help with Canon Hill Park conservation, so out with saws , loppers and litter pickers, punctuated with a really interesting talk whilst working about trees, wood and grasslands by the local park warder. A great weekend

Today we started out running training, taking a route along the River Cole, out past Sarehole Mill and on, feeling as though we are in the country in this green corridor through a busy city, just occasionally having to stop at busy road crossings. We started off running together, Jackie did 2.5km and I went a bit further and did 8.3km – a good start!

Even the weather seems to have picked up, it’s been blue skies and sunshine since last Thursday, so let’s hope it continues!

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