Birmingham

20130224-162001.jpgSo I’d be the first to admit that Birmingham wouldn’t have been my first choice as a destination for a weekend break, it’s hardly mentioned in many travellers top 10 but then we had an ulterior motive for coming as we have a son studying at the university here.

The first issue Birmingham has is that if you arrive by train as we did then the immediate thing that you are presented with is New Street station which is no looker at the best of times but even less so when it is being remodelled as it is now. However, as you walk only a short distance to the Bull Ring things improve considerably. The Selfridges building is fascinating to look at with its futuristic bauble lined exterior. Inside is a modern, up market, shopping centre (although we did discover a link bridge tucked away in a corner that led to a distinctly down market set of shops!)

There was also a wide variety of restaurants all of which had long queues Saturday lunchtime. Resigned to a long wait we join the queue in Cafe Rouge. We were greeted by the manager who on discovering that our party size was three immediately ushered us through to a vacant table much to the annoyance of those waiting in front of us no doubt.

Birmingham has more canals than Venice. Did you know that? Nope, neither did I until it was pointed out shortly before we were due to travel here. It might have a lot of them but boy are they difficult to get to. We wandered under it, beside a wall that we knew the canal was the other side of but could we find a place to get alongside it? However, once we did get there it was worth the effort. Particularly the Gas Street basin which looked lovely although was probably a dirty and dangerous place when it fulfilled its original purpose rather housing up market appartments, shops and restaurants as it does now. It’s also the only canal that I have ever seen with a roundabout (see the pictures below). Proving what a feat of engineering it was it is possible to get to Worcester some 30 miles and 58 locks away.

So as I travel away on the train home I have to say that Birmingham is much maligned (but it’s still no Venice).