A Mosey through Moseley

"The air was cool and crisp and the sun shining brightly; a perfect day, Bilbo had proclaimed, for a walk about the gardens."

October 31, 2015

Our favorite thing to do on Saturdays is get the heck out of Birmingham. This particular escape found us in Moseley, which is a suburb of Birmingham and just a quick train ride away from us. This cute little suburb was once mostly farmland and the home of a very young J.R.R. Tolkien. We got to visit the mill and woods that inspired some key parts of The Lord of the Rings. It was such a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, especially because sun was shining for the first time in days, and I could actually see the sky. Autumn was in full swing in every corner of Birmingham, so we were greeted with both pleasant weather and gorgeous sights all day long. What a glorious day to do a bit of exploring!

One of the busts about having to rely on public transportation for explorations is the fact that the train and/or bus stops don't always put you where you need to be. After getting off the train, we had a bit of a long walk ahead of us, but it wasn't too bad, and we were totally used to walking everywhere by this point. We could have gotten a bus ticket for the two of us, but why spend £8.00 when we can just taken in the local scenery on foot for free?

Our main stop was to Sarehole Mill in Moseley. There has been a mill on this site since the 16th century and this particular mill was constructed in the 1750s. Tolkien loved the mill and the surrounding area as a child, and Sarehole Mill served as the inspiration for the mill in Hobbiton. It fell into disrepair later in his life, and Tolkien was part of the reason the mill was later restored to its former glory. Not only do you get to see the mill and the mill pond (it's actually called the mill pool but I tend to call it a pond), but there is a little museum exhibition dedicated to all things Tolkien and LOTR. We geeked out just a little bit. Maybe a lot. But it was fantastic.

After taking in all that the mill and museum had to offer, we wandered around the mill pond and into the small bit of woodland surrounding it. I tried to absorb the experience with all my senses as we walked through the trees, the rays of sunlight dancing between the limbs as the afternoon progressed. The woods surrounding the pond smelled divine, the scent of soggy earth and trodden leaves mingling with the fresh, cool, crisp autumn air filled my heart with joy.

Following Bilbo is always the right choice.

Pondering the workings of a mill.

The Mill Pool. There's water under there somewhere.

Standing outside the mill.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

"For about this time of the year, when the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire. I shall be with him."

Our favorite part of our Saturday adventure was wandering through the woods which Tolkien played as a child. The Old Forest of Middle Earth began in what is now called Joy's Woods and grew in the imagination of the boy turned man who cherished the simple things this life has to offer.

We stumbled across this magnificent tree, and it took everything I had in me to suppress the urge to climb it. "This tree... it feels like it knows things." Patrick agreed. Placing my hands upon its aged bark, I observed that it felt both rough and smooth, and it looked as though it had whiskers as I gazed at its never-ending crevices. I'm convinced that we found an Ent, and I so badly wanted to listen to it tell me everything it knows (although that might take a while... hah).

We walked through the woods without any sort of plan or structure. Wandering somewhere in Middle Earth, I made Patrick be the map-keeper; I prefer to be lost amongst the trees. My husband brought to my attention the fact that I become quite energetic when in nature. I hadn't really thought of it that way, but it is so true. It makes me feel alive, like I am whole again, like I am where I belong. I enjoy breathing deeply, feeling the fresh air revive me from the inside-out. The receiving of said energy would also account for the fact that I often leave the people I'm with a bit behind while we explore... which is what happened in the woods, and not for the first time. Haha.

After the mill and the woods, we stopped by the pond on the way back to the train station. Swanhurst Park offered remarkable beauty of both earth and sky. The number of birds on this small body of water was almost overwhelming, but it was beautiful to behold nonetheless.

Every time we stumbled upon scenes like this, I tended to remark something along the lines of, "Oh, come ON!" Then I forgot how annoyed I was at the perfection of the autumn season in England, and I walked around intoxicated by the beauty that surrounded me. I never tire of seeing England in the fall.

The sidewalk was covered with leaves. The child in me loved kicking them into the air, shuffling my feet with every step.

What a glorious day to be out and about, filling our nerdy hearts with joy at every turn!