Coventry and Kenilworth

November 14, 2015

We hadn't gone anywhere outside of Birmingham in two weeks. The days were getting shorter rather quickly, and the daylight hours were increasingly filled with gray skies and rain. Winter was approaching; you could feel it seeping in through the cracks, and we knew that it was high time to get out and about before we were stuck inside for a while.

An opportunity came about to meet Leah in the flesh, my lovely Instagram friend who is now my real life friend (Hi, Leah!). She lives in Coventry, which is just a hop away from Brum. We hadn't been to Coventry at that point, so we jumped on the opportunity to see her, explore a little bit of Coventry, and hop on over to our favorite castle ruins of Kenilworth! Of course, we had been to Kenilworth Castle before, but since we had our English Heritage passes we could gain entry for free.

But first, Coventry with Leah - without whom we wouldn't have even known about Kenilworth!

She took us to this darling little coffee shop underneath the new cathedral (more on that in a second). It has a vintage feel, and it was such a cozy place to sit on the couch with some hot drinks and a treat while diving deep into conversation. They were playing Christmas music and had Christmas decorations out, which is a bit early, but I wasn't sad about it. The lack of fall celebrations in England (I talk about that more in this post) mixed with the lack of Thanksgiving means they can start celebrating Christmas quite early. As one who adores everything Christmas, I enjoyed every bit of it! We even tried our very first mince pie. All in all, the coffee was great, the conversation was even better, and the decor put the icing on the cake.

I told Patrick over and over again that it didn't feel like we had met Leah for the first time; it felt like we were meeting up with an old friend in a new place. It was the strangest and most awesome thing. What a beautiful thing to be connected with similar souls through this craziness that we call social media!

Screenshot from Leah's IG. ;)

Another screenshot from Leah's IG. I just love this one!!

"Shrapnel was falling - big, red-hot shards of shrapnel hitting the road; the searchlights were swinging; and I could see the glow in the sky as Coventry burned. Marks & Spencer was burning on one side, Woolworths on the other, the cathedral was in flames, and the air was full of brick dust, smoke and sparks." [Alan Hartley, source]

Before we popped into the cafe, though, we took a few minutes to wander through the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral. When we arrived in Coventry, we had no idea that it was the 75th anniversary of the blitz that destroyed the city and killed 554 people during World War II.

"The Luftwaffe was so pleased with the huge scale of the destruction that it coined a verb, 'to coventrate': to reduce a city to rubble, almost - or so they intended - to nothingness." [Alan Hartley, source]

The history of this place could be felt as we walked across the stones that held so much history within them. I got chills as the reality of the devastation sunk in, and my heart breaks knowing that terror like this is still so present in this broken world of ours. But light casts out darkness, good will prevail over evil, and there is always light on the horizon - even after the darkest of nights.

The new cathedral sits right next to the ruins of the old cathedral, making a very bold and moving statement. I am getting choked up and my body is covered in goosebumps as I think about what seeing those two structures side by side must be like for someone who has experienced WWII and the aftermath, the decades of struggling to rise above and recreate life in a place where so much evil tried to snuff it out. But they didn't win, and they never will.

"Yet dawn is ever the hope of men." [Aragorn, The Two Towers]

We took the bus to Kenilworth from Coventry on that very soggy Saturday. I noted to myself how our perspectives and tastes are changing here, even during such a short amount of time: we kind of loathe riding on busses, especially the tops of the double-deckers, for all sorts of reasons. That isn't something I would have ever expected to say, but the truth is that it's so cliche and overrated, such a touristy thing to love. The bus rides to offer some interesting views, though, and the people-watching is prime.

Once we arrived to the abbey fields (our bus stop), we took a different route to the castle than before. We love finding new things in familiar places, and this walk didn't disappoint one bit! While the walk and the castle ruins were accompanied by a constant, rather heavy rain and chilly temperatures, that didn't drag us down in the least. What it really meant was that we had the countryside and the castle ruins all to ourselves - it was fantastic! Seriously, bad weather makes for some really awesome experiences.

That last picture is a shot of the end of this sweet little row of cottages that sit directly across the street from the castle. It's one of those moments when I just have to scoff at England. What? The view from your front door is of castle ruins? Oh, good grief. ;) And unfortunately, I must have deleted my original photo at some point because it's nowhere to be found - this is simply a screenshot of the picture I posted on Instagram. Sigh. So disappointing, but alas.

Our soggy weekend adventure to Coventry and Kenilworth is the stuff dreams are made of, and this is the life we get to live... when we escape from the big, bad city, anyway!