Meeting Gilly

Who do you know that’s crazy enough to sit on a coach for 8 hours in a day just to meet me?  Why, Gilly, of course!  My lovely Lucid Gypsy friend. She of the luscious poetry and the lust for life.  Crazy, but so lovable!  Warm-hearted, impulsive, prone to hugs and tears, yet a lady of very good taste.  Didn’t she ‘follow’ me to Tavira, and like what she found there?  (Just the right mix of shabby and chique)  All this I knew, but not the lady herself.  If you’ve never ‘met’ Gilly, you’re in for a treat.


Doesn’t that smile say it all?  Of course, there were the charms of Birmingham on offer too.  It’s not every day you’ll find charm and Birmingham in the same sentence, but I absolutely loved the city.  Even though on arrival I thought I’d come to a demolition site!

It was Gilly’s suggestion to meet in ‘Brum’ (didn’t I say she was a lady of taste?).  A ‘midway’ point between Hartlepool in north east England and Exeter in Devon.  We actually managed 8 hours together, which in the circumstances wasn’t bad.  A week might have been better.  What did we actually do, you’ll be wanting to know?  Talk!  Laugh!  Share stories.  Exchange hugs.  But not enough!  Never enough hugs.  I’ll give you a quick glimpse of our day.

It was raining gently when I got up, and this steadily increased to a deluge.  But Gilly brought the sunshine with her.  First stop, coffee, of course! No, don’t get over excited!  Gilly had an Eccles cake to keep her going till lunch.  Nothing more exotic, for now.  I had booked us on to a guided walking tour (well, you know me!) at 1.30pm.  So, after talking, and talking, we set off in the direction of the Library, for the start of the tour.

Not just any library, you understand.  Birmingham Library is a monolithic yet beautiful structure, and I suspect we could have spent most of our day there.  Built over 10 levels, with garden terraces on floors 3 and 7, with a Shakespeare Memorial Room in the Rotunda at the top.  Need I say more?


Look- blue skies too!  We raced back down from the 9th floor just in time to join Jonathan and Dawn from Positively Birmingham Walking Tours. Jonathan, a history buff, and Dawn his apprentice.  I’ll spare you the details but it was quite useful for orientation. Our visit had coincided with graduation day for the Law students at the university, and as we headed into the ICC we were awash with gowns, mortar boards and excited faces.

For me, the best bit was Gas Street Basin and the narrowboats, and exchanging smiles and small asides with Gilly.  The tour was to last 1-2 hours, but time together was precious for me and Gilly.  And hunger pangs were setting in.  Back at the Library we tacitly agreed to drop out, made our apologies and headed back to the canals.  We sat outside the delightfully quirky Canalside Bar and let the world of water entertain us.  And talked, around eating and drinking, of course!

All too soon it was time to head towards separation.  I walked Gilly back in the direction of the Bull Ring and there we found a sunny seat outside Bill’s.  Apparently also a favourite of Gilly’s down in Exeter.  Bramble mojito was a very lovely way to round off our day.  Gilly had Peach Bellini.  Ah, bliss!  I wonder when we can do it again?

For Gilly’s version of events, have a look at A Gypsy and a Restless One.


    1. Bless your cotton socks, Heather! 🙂 🙂 I’d buy you a celebratory cocktail (though I have a feeling you don’t drink? Babycham, maybe. Can you still get those? 🙂 )

      1. Thank heavens for that! I’ll make it a large one 🙂 🙂 (and for no good reason that I can think, this took a nose dive into my spam! But I got ya!)

  1. Wonderful that you two hit it off so well. And we got two fabulous perspectives on Birmingham in the bargain! Someday my urge to wander will connect me with the gypsy and the restless one 🙂

  2. G’day Jo just popped by to see what you are up to,what a treat to find you and the lovely Gilly sharing time together. What a fantastic place the library sounds.i could easily spend all day there.

  3. Jo, I used to work on Broad Street many years ago (for eight months, that is!) and I know the area well – although it is slightly different to when I was there! Thanks for the reminder! Fun times!

      1. Apparently, the Broad Street area was a very run down, dilapidated area (from what I was told) so they’ve done wonders to it… sounds like they’re still doing wonders! 😀

    1. I try, sweetheart! 🙂 Much of life is mundane and today is a washing and ironing day to get my son ‘turned around’ to go back to Uni (in Birmingham, funnily enough, though I’d never been there before meeting Gilly 🙂 ) for his final exams. Hope all’s well with you and the family.

  4. Ho wonderful that you had this time together! One of the unexpected delights of blogging has been connecting with new fr4iends all around the world. When one gets to meet in person it’s the icing on the cake for sure. What a lovely day.

  5. I’m trying to imagine your joy…
    Must have been wonderful to stay with Gilly during that precious visit to Birmingham!
    The pictures are really fabulous……lucky you!

  6. How lovely that the two of you could meet up! Gilly looks like a real honey. I might have known that you’d lure her towards the canal and the boats. Great photos, Jo. Hubby and I met in Birmingham when we were both students there, so it holds a special place in our hearts. Seems such a long time ago now. *sigh* 🙂

    1. It IS a long time ago, Ad, but I’m so glad to bring back good memories. 🙂 🙂 What were you both studying? Apart from each other 🙂 The city will have changed a lot since then (secret- I’m doing my Monday walk there so you’ll get a better look. Hush, now!) Have a happy weekend! Is that house somewhere near ready yet? (sorry I asked 🙂 )

      1. Hubby was at Birmingham University doing Electrical Engineering, and I was at Teacher Training College in Edgbaston . Yes you’re right, we did spend an inordinate amount of time studying one another. 😀

  7. What a lovely city Jo, and that library!! Wow, never seen anything like that, with gardens and all.
    I’ve also just met up with 2 Perth bloggers this week, and it’s lovely to get to know the real person behind the words we read on their blogs.
    Gilly sounds like a wonderful person. I’m off to “meet” her.

    1. Fantastic, Sami! How are you? I haven’t dropped by ‘yours’ in so long! Just too much to keep up with, isn’t there? I’m just about to quit the blog for the day but I’ll be back this evening and pop over. 🙂 Hugs!

  8. What can I say? Thank you for photos of Gilly, despite her reservations. Your warmth and delight in meeting took me back to Łódz. I can imagine why you bowed gracefully out of the guided tour, and settled by the canal for that most precious of things, a good chinwag. It was great to share your surprise at the unexpected pleasures of this city, and its diversity seen through your eyes. May there be many more conversions of virtual friendships.

    1. Meg, you always get straight to the heart of things. You are a very easy person to love. 🙂
      I don’t do people photos at all well (I’m practising 🙂 ) and not many people like photos of themselves, but I thought I did not too badly with my girl behind the smile. 🙂 Sue says she’s a giggler. I don’t think we giggled much and some of the conversation was very serious, but I’m so glad I met her. Now we just have to join the triangle. Or is it a square? Oh heavens! 🙂 🙂 Have a lovely day!

  9. How very cool to meet someone from cyberville, eh?! And GILLY of all people. But let’s see, if I flew 8 hours, I could meet someone in the Algarve some day!!

    1. I was almost out of the starting blocks and gone, Bad! But then I turned shy. 😦 I would be totally tongue-tied in your presence. Still- you might just like an audience? 🙂 🙂

  10. All this kindness is making me shy, I don’t know what to say, I’m overwhelmed. I knew you’d write a lovely post darling, it’s perfect (apart from the me pics) and really can’t thank you enough for our absolutely brilliant day together. We’ll definitely be doing it again. I’ll come back when I can to answer some of the comments, meanwhile an early start driving to Hampshire in the morning! Big hugs x:-)x

  11. Jo my son has just graduated from Birmingham University, so I recognised those buildings in your pictures, I wonder if I was there on the same graduation day as you? 7th of July? Wouldn’t that be funny? I have loved going to visit him regularly for the past 3 years and will certainly miss it. Birmingham has the best Christmas market in England….in my opinion 😄 I am glad you had such a lovely time there with your friend.

    1. Shame, Gilda- I was there yesterday 🙂 One of the other blogs I follow, A Bit of Culture, lives in the area and has featured the city too. He also says the Christmas market is great. I never fancied Brum much but I have been surprised. Congratulations to your son! Funnily enough, mine has been doing a part time course on Audiology there too. 🙂

  12. How wonderful you and Gilly toured the beautiful city together! Love her beautiful smile, great photos. I have enjoyed her photos and poems so much. Thank you for the post, Jo! 🙂

  13. Why couldn’t you have done this LAST year? Then I would have joined you. Need more than one day though. It is time the three of us sorted out that week in Morocco or Florence or …… The library does look great as does the Selfridges building and there is so much more to see, the botanic gardens, the jewellery quarter. My last visit was for a meeting somewhere in the centre, but I didn’t linger. Glad you had a good time 🙂

    1. That arts and crafts garden you recommended looked good too, Jude, but with just a few hours… 😦 Had you suggested Brum last year I’d have hopped on the Megabus! I just had no idea where it ran to. And please don’t suggest Plymouth! I know it does but my bum would be beyond numb 🙂 🙂

      1. My brother lives in Plymouth – has done for 40 years, but I haven’t visited him there for almost the same length of time! I do fancy the South Hams though for a short break.

      2. That’s a long time not to see a brother! I’m getting a little lost in the family histories. Has he visited you? South Hams rings a bell but I’ve no idea where or what? Us travel writers! 🙂 🙂 I’d Google but I’m supposed to be writing you an email in this bit of spare time!

      3. Haha… yes I did see him every year when our parents were alive, he’d come up north with Christmas presents and be the ‘blue-eyed’ boy for a few days, whilst I… well we won’t go in to that. He’s 7 years older than me and left home before I really got to know him. Last seen at my youngest son’s wedding 4 years ago. His kids are opposites of mine. Girl, boy, girl, girl. Whereas I had boy, girl, boy, boy. All our girls have blue eyes, all our boys have brown! Maybe I shall get to Plymouth next year. There are some nice bits. I think…

    1. I’d love to do it by boat, Robin. 🙂 I was quite taken with Brum, never having been there before. Major rebuilding is going on but there’s a wealth of beauty.

  14. What a lovely time you had together! I had no idea that Birmingham was such a diverse place – I think my only visit might have been passing through on the train on my way to Glasgow, although I have been to the NEC several times, but I don’t suppose that counts!

    1. Approaching by coach from the north it looked like a disaster area, Elaine! But once I got looking around, it has some fabulous spots. Much more to follow (as usual 🙂 )

  15. what a wonderful post, Jo! love Gilly’s smile 🙂 meeting a virtual friend in person is awesome and thank you both for sharing your Birmingham tour. such a lovely and fun time together 🙂

  16. Hi Jo,
    Great story and wonderful pictures. Looks like you two had a wonderful day. You’ve very likely seen more of Birmingham’s inner city than me. I’ve been to Birmingham twice, on narrowboat trips, in the middle of the 1990s and in 2011. Both absolutely fantastic tours. The last time we stayed in Gas Street Basin [], and from there walked some of the immediate vicinty, and, for a whole day, went to the Black Country Museum by train. That narrowbaoit trip was a fantastic experience: so much to see []. I could do it again and again.
    Have a wonderful day,

  17. You had me at blue skies. The sunshine on your faces must have brought out Mother Nature’s agreeable happiness as well. Glad you had a lovely day. I liked the Canal area most as well. So nice to meet virtual friends for real!

  18. Wonderful to meet Gilly – very special to bring reality to a virtual relationship. Looks like you both had a great time together – love the photographs.

    1. Playing ladies 🙂 Well, we were mostly well-behaved, Sam. Except when I popped into the police station for directions and couldn’t open the door to get out again! Oh, and a photo that I wasn’t supposed to take 🙂

  19. Wow this is amazing..Looking at the photos it shows you two had a great time together! Lovely post! I hope to meet in person the people in my circle here too.. ( if time permits! 🙂 )

  20. What fun to meet Gilly!! I’d love to have been at that meeting! Gilly looks fabulous; it would have been great to see a picture of you too, Jo, or the two of you together. I love that Birmingham Library and the colorful boats. I would have opted out of the tour too; talking over food and drinks is always preferable to a tour. 🙂 And what a perfect way to top off the day with a peach Bellini and bramble (?) mojito! 🙂

  21. Gilly has a wonderful smile, and so glad that the two of you met and had an enjoyable day out and about walking around. Looks like the two of you saw a lot from the library to the rotunda and then some lovely drink at the end of it. Gilly seems like a very cheery person, just like how she is on her blog. She looked very happy to pose for your camera 🙂

    1. She didn’t really enjoy posing (nor do I, Mabel 🙂 ) and it’s a responsibility to present a decent photo of someone you like very much, but I think that smile does it. 🙂 Thanks, darlin.

  22. Oh, brilliant, Jo! You lucky lady, Gilly and I only had an hour or so because of unforeseen circumstances like a stuck level crossing gate! But undeterred, she was all big smiles! I shall let her know when I’m back in her neck of the woods…

    1. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of venues, Sue, but it turned out to be amazing! Much more to come (but without Gilly 😦 ). Such a sweetheart! 🙂

  23. What a fabulous day the two of you had. It is lovely down in the canal basin isn’t it . . . stayed there for a few days a couple of years ago and had a wonderful time exploring. And you are definitely worth spending 8hrs on a coach for, if not more 🙂

  24. Isn’t it amazing, when you finally meet a good blogging friend, it’s like you’ve always known each other. When Elaine and I met in London in 2013 we sat and chatted for hours and if Mr ET hadn’t needed his lunch I reckon we could have been there all day. It was the same when we met Marsha and V in Hawaii. We were so lucky to spend a whole week with them and it was fantastic. It looks like you and Gilly had a wonderful day.

    1. It was quite a surprise, Trev! As I drove in from the north I was appalled at the demolition work, but once I hit my stride I was very impressed. Wonderful city and lucky you! 🙂

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