We left Wales and headed to Birmingham as I was desperate to experience the famed rag market.
Yes, there was a lot of fabric!
Yes, I was overwhelmed!
No, I didn’t buy anything. We went over the road to the Fancy Silk Store, which wasn’t terribly fancy from the outside.
But inside, oh my word! Floor to ceiling fabric, of every possible kind.
I was extremely happy, and fabric was purchased!
Then we became tourists in Birmingham. We have been before and I’ve previously blogged about it, but I really like this photograph with the juxtaposition of the old and new, and the moody sky.
We did visit the museum and Queen Victoria Square, and I was intrigued to see the Knife Angel which was made from knives turned in all over the country as part of the knife amnesty. What a fabulous initiative.
We then went straight to Malvern in Worcestershire which is where my sister lives. Malvern is a rather splendid place and well worth putting on the to visit list. Views are to be had from almost every vantage point. This was taken on one of our walks
On the way back we noticed this very cute thatched cottage.
The houses around Malvern are very beautiful and many of them, including my sister’s, are built from Malvern Stone. I’m not sure what this building is, but it’s built from the local stone and it has this crusader on the side. I’m sure it’s been added, but it’s had me intrigued.
Malvern is extremely historic, and although most of the buildings are Victorian, it has many connections to both the iron and bronze age with forts set into the hills. The Malvern Hills dominate the landscape and all the Malvern stone used in buildings was quarried from the hills. The town was founded in the 11th century when Benedictine monks established a priory at the foot of the hills. Then the health benefits of the spring waters was discovered and, as in many other towns we’ve visited, the village turned into a conurbation of small villages as the visitors flocked into the area to “take the waters”.
These photos give an indication of the spread of Malvern.
On a clear day you can see up to thirty counties from the top of these hills.
Zooming in provides a view of some of the older buildings nestling at the bottom of the hills.
It is quite a hike to the top of the hill and the fields are shared with livestock which adds a bit of interest.
There are many signs such as this one around the town as the reputation as a hydrotherapy spa spread. I was sad to note that Charles Darwin’s daughter died aged 10 in spite of her treatment.
The pure spring water filters through the cracks in the rocks, which are some of the oldest in England having formed over 650 million years ago. The “cure” appears to have been quite interesting. Patients (victims) were treated to some natural hydrotherapy cures which had been imported from Bavaria and fame spread rapidly after a gout ridden alcoholic was cured. The treatment lasted several weeks – no quick cures as that meant less financial reward, I assume – and patients were got out of bed at 5am and wrapped in cold, wet sheets or had a jug of water tipped over them (beginning to sound like boarding school to me!), then they had a “cold douche” where water was poured over them from a height of 20 feet. Apparently the patrons of the method included Florence Nightingale, Alfred Tennyson and Charles Darwin. Then they all died of pneumonia from “the cure” and the whole thing petered out. No, just kidding!
I did like this poster that I saw in the town though.
Very close to my sister’s house is the North Malvern Clock Tower.
This was built over one of the original wells and spring water still spouts from the wall. I don’t think it’s recommended that it’s drunk though.
Just walking around we came across some ancient stocks and a whipping post used on local miscreants. It’s incredibly overgrown with weeds, but that whipping post still made me feel a bit shivery.
Malvern is also famous for being the home of Edward Elgar. He lived in a few houses in the area and there is an Elgar route that one can follow to see all the Elgar sights. I quite like this statue of him looking out over the town.
As we wandered around we had to cross many stiles and I was intrigued to see that there were dog friendly stiles as well. Here Mark is lifting up the section of the fence that lets dogs run underneath. I have never seen this before and I was quite impressed.
We had walked back and forth up my sister’s street and I had seen this shop’s sign but not really noticed what it was. Then we came down the hill beside it and my eye was caught by a thimble and cotton reel turntable and a couple of old sewing machines. In I went and it’s a vintage shop with a whole room of vintage haberdashery. I was in heaven! I can really recommend it to anyone visiting Malvern; it’s where West Malvern Road meets Cowleigh Road.
Another spot worth visiting is the Abbey, with this beautiful archway and a set of gorgeous buildings around it.
One of the nicest things about this trip is all the lovely people I’ve been able to meet in real life.
Ali is a friend from Instagram and apart from being a lot of fun and a beautiful maker, she is a celebrant and has a fairly busy life. I was so delighted when she found time to have a coffee with me, and although we had lots of really sensible photos, this one just perfectly sums up the time we had!
I also caught up with Kim, who I’ve known for a fairly long time through various online sewing activities. I loved catching up with her, meeting The Management (her husband) and seeing her sewing room. Kim was a professional maker before her retirement and her sewing is exquisite.
Kim lives in Bewdley and she told me where to go to see the sights, and I took her advice. The park behind the museum is just gorgeous. Lovely manicured gardens, stone walls and lots of history.
There’s a little pond with water lillies and a weeping willow and utter gorgeousness.
This rather magnificent tree is just made for climbing. Unfortunately it’s now fenced off but that didn’t stop Mark from making me jump the fence and pose in front of it!
There is even an Anderson Shelter, or air raid shelter, and it was fascinating.
Here is an old cheese press which rather intrigued me. You can see how the wheels are formed.
A walk to the river highlights the kind of buildings dotted around Bewdley
and I bet in summer this area is packed with people enjoying the outdoors. it was a nice day, in spite of what the sky was doing, and there were still lots of people around.
As we walked back to the car past some houses I noticed this sign. It says that the ferry was first mentioned in 1323, and was originally pulled across the river using a rope. There is much made of the history of the ferry, but I’ll skip to the end which says that the river flooded and the ferry was destroyed in 1996.
The prow was “planted” in this garden as the last resting place of the ferry. I quite liked this story, a little cheesey but sort of fun.
Just opposite we spotted this sign, which also made us laugh.
We called in to Worcester, which seems to have more charity shops than regular shops and I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. I did find this little pony though…
As our visit to the Midlands ends, we had some catchups with my family. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get photographs of all of us, as I get too carried away and forget to take them, but I did capture this one in the Hanley Swan at Hanley Castle. From left to right is my nephew’s wife, my great nephew, great niece, nephew, Mark, sister and me.
Sadly, this part of the journey is over and London is our last destination before we fly home. I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with my family, my friends, and my sewing machine – not necessarily in that order!