Monday, 21 December 2015

We took the A - roads to Nottingham

One day in August, we took the A - roads to Nottingham. Because if it's a choice of busy motorways or winding round country roads spotting houses we like and listening to our tracks of the year, then for our family, it's an obvious choice. My husband and I lived in Nottingham for one year in 2002, I think. It was the year that saw him become a newly qualified teacher. A year that was a tough one and taught us plenty about life and about us as a couple. A year where we visited our beloved Broadway Cinema once a week and watched more films than we ever have since at the cinema. We always enjoy taking the children to visit places that hold meaning for us and taking a trip with them alongside makes new memories which feels special. It also naturally makes you reflective, which is no bad thing and I'm always up for having my memory jogged. 

Nottingham is a great place to visit if you still like flicking through vinyl, digging in comic book shops and rummaging in indie vintage stores. Nottingham also has many great nooks and crannies cafes and shops, one of our favourites is still there - The Alley Cafe. After a long time spent in Page 45, the loveliest smelling, cleanest comic book shop ever, one that I'm happy to spend hours in, the four of us made our purchases and headed to The Alley Cafe for coffee and cake and a read of our comics. Along the way to visit Nottingham Contemporary, we flitted into a number of record stores, purchased some lollipops in the cutest vintage store and then headed to the gallery where the boys got stuck into some collage work based on the exhibition. Part of the exhibition was about light and so in the education space there was an opportunity for children to use torches and light sources and magnifying glasses to play and bounce light off different surfaces along the walls and ceilings. My youngest child, my 'sensory boy' delighted in blinding me and half of the gallery with his super experiments with reflective surfaces and mirrors! At around the time of this trip, my eldest boy had developed an interest in Architecture and technical drawing. I loved watching him really savour the exhibition of drawings by Pablo Bronstein which were inspired by buildings and architecture.

Whilst we were hanging around outside Nottingham Contemporary, I managed to get a picture of my youngest boy. The one who is so rarely still. It's the one of him lying down gazing at me. It melts my heart as it reminds me of his gaze when I used to breastfeed him in the hazy baby days. I also managed to snatch some pictures of my eldest. He's 10 now and like so many people say, I have no idea where all that time went. Perhaps, only now that I am re-training and returning to the work world, I am really able to stand back and feel so happy, that I got to spend every minute that I could of those ten years with this boy! I was always grateful for my 'at home years' but the last couple of years have been challenging as I have navigated our family's changing needs and looked to find 'me' again and the question of what my contribution to the world will be in the future. You know, the small stuff! I'm just that little bit more grateful now that I'm able to stand back and see how much they've grown, how far they've come. 

It's becoming somewhat of a tradition to go book and vinyl digging whenever we head to a new city, some members of our family enjoy this more than others. The photos tell no lies! When I lived in Nottingham 13 years ago, I used to spend hours dipping in and out of vintage shops down side roads and tucked behind spaces off main roads, it was joyous alone time. On this trip I managed a quick look and a couple of photos but all I could hear was the clatter of my youngest child 'trying' to move calmly around a jam packed teeny tiny space and a husband exhaling loudly. I didn't buy anything, except the two lollipops because two creatures made begging noises like baby seals till I caved. There was also the moment when I saw a photo booth and went to the effort to get change and for one moment I really thought I was going to have a perfect hula seventy moment. But, it turns out you have to be a genius to get all four of you in the picture or thighs of steel as you assume the correct posture for the vaguely acceptable shot! I would have included our comedy fail pictures but I put them in a book somewhere to flatten the photos and now can't find them anywhere! But that's okay because this trip was just one that was memorable, it was spontaneous and effortless and made me think 'I wish trips were always like this'. Of course, they aren't always like this, at least not in our family. But the days where everything slots into place are worth remembering because it will be good to come by here and take a look on the days when it all feels a bit messy, a bit bleak. And if I've learned anything at all, then it's this, it's always worth taking the A -roads, always. 


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