Life is often a mixture of heaven and hell. After 4 days of really, really bad sleep, continous noice from the busy traffic and music from the pub, arriving at the extraordinary Hagley Hall, offering green grass lawns and just a bit of noise from the far away traffic, but one can actually hear birds singing, it is a dramatic journey in only 11 miles! And it is an English journey through their system of class. From the poorest immigrant hood, where you have heardly any greenary or space, for every mile further away from downtown Birmingham, you get more greenary and more space. At Hagley Hall, a beautiful place, space and greenary is endless! (Thanks to my friend Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop for doing this for us! Just what we needed in every way!) We meet Joe when arriving, a landscaper and much more, a great human being, like a brother I haven´t seen for awhile, who like everyone, including the extremely hospitable Viscount of Cobham and his wife, makes us feel very, very welcome. However, at times like these, I realize how lucky we are in Sweden to have to so called Allemansrätten, which means the land is for everybodies use, and it is for everyone to appreciate.
We are taking a day or two´s rest here. Birmingham was a very, very interesting visit into Muslim England, but we walked, worked, talked and socialized so much, so we are all three of us really knackered. A rest in in a green cultural landscape and paradise will help. I am sitting in my tent writing, Dana is eating all chocholate digestive´s I bought this morning and Georgia is sleeping somewhere in the shadow, right on the grass. England is really, really a busy place, but on and off, these pieces of paradise and rest exists. Hagley Hall is a different world to busy Birmingham!
The Trojan Letter was the dominant factor for our four days in Birmingham. Read the articles below here, for three angles of the issue, the conservative tories (Telegraph), labour (guardian) and 5pillarz (muslim Britain) to get an idea. But as a whole I learned four important things in Birmingham.
1. It is getting harder by the day being Muslim in the Uk.
2. British Muslims are very proud to be Bristish and live in England and have only good things to say.
3. Birmingham is really culturally divided. Muslims live predominantly in one, place. Afro Caribbeans in another, and whites in their sphere. They don´t really mix. We spent a lot of time in Little Heath, a predominantlyAsian-Muslim community, and saw 2-3 whites. Sad. This is a vibrant, exciting community and Irealize how much I miss being part of the Muslim world with their generosity and kindness. I have a very good new friend there, Waseem Yaqoub, who filled in enormous gaps as regards to my lack of knowledge about England. Not only about Muslim Britain, but about England in itself. Things I hadn´t seen or understood.
And the fourth important thing, well I have been aware of it all along, but it was kind of fully underlined in Birmingham. Fear. There´s so much fear here in England. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the other. Fear of the future. Maybe it is the same in Sweden and Scandinavia and i just haven´t thought about it, but if i compare England with yemen, where I have spent a lot of my time the last years, the fear in England is far higher!
As regards to the Trojan Horse Letter, which basically deals with an attack on schools in Brimingham who are predominantly run and pupiled by Muslims, see all sides of the issue here. From scary to reasonable in my eyes.
Dana. She is a dream. She has been tired lately. She is getting a bit, a bit more spoiled when her mother is not here, so she is quite demanding but she is doing real well all the time. And she feels at home everywhere. She greeted the Viscount and his wife in her diapers for example and (I need to do a diaper change before I continue to write) she loved Bangali curries!
Georgia is priceless. She is doing such a superb job, I just feel stunned and priviliged to have somebody like her with me on this journey. And she puts a lot in perspective with her straight and thoughtful opinions.
The stroller? As priceless as Georgia. 4 punctures that is all, otherwise it really is a dream! Think about it, we have gone though some tough stuff and it has performed without a problem.
Myself? I love it! England isn´t as exciting is Yemen, how could it be? But I am learning loads about England and life in itself. I did have one bad day in Birmingham where everything did go wrong and i did some dumb filming mistakes. but that is part of an Expedition as a human being as well, doing mistakes.
And no, I am not loosing any weight, but seems to be putting on. No clue why.
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© Copyright 2014 Explorer Mikael Strandberg | Photos and texts Copyright Explorer Mikael Strandberg