visiting Birmingham (UK)

I’m falling behind in reporting on our trip to London and a bit beyond and to Paris. I’ve been so busy gardening and watering that by the end of each incredibly warm day I’m too tired and hot to think, plus we’ve had problems with our internet connection (now solved). If you are a new reader and wish to read the earlier posts about our recent trip, just click on the theme Travel on the side bar or here.


Our first trip outside London was to our son-in-law’s hometown of Birmingham. We took the train with our daughter’s family on a Saturday morning, the first of several train trips on this vacation. We found the train services excellent in the UK and it’s so much more relaxing than trying to drive the roads on the wrong side! Even though I had a book along and family to chat with, I frequently fell into a kind of meditative state gazing out the window, enjoying glimpses through trees of a green and pastoral English countryside, speckled occasionally with sheep, cows or horses.

In Birmingham we met J’s family, including a new family member, his sister’s adorable four month old boy, our granddaughters’ first cousin. Except for the baby of course, we’ve met them in the past on their visits to Vancouver. Now it was wonderful to see them again and to be shown around their city. Walking around the centre, fascinated by the old architecture, sometimes mixed with the new, we covered several very large and attractive squares and broad car-free pedestrian-only walkways. (This reminded us how much we’ve loved this in other European cities, and I wish Vancouver and other Canadian cities would do this.) We were pleasantly surprised how spacious and clean everything felt after busy London, even though there were still lots of people around. We did pass through a couple of malls that were pretty much the same as those in North America, places that I’m not too fond of.

An exciting surprise for me was to meet Antony Gormley’s Iron: Man (colloquially referred to as The Iron Man), a statue in Victoria Square (top right photo), the first time I’ve seen one of his sculptures! Second surprise was to see the canals, so lovely with their boats! Apparently Birmingham has more canal mileage than any other city in the world.

I also learned that the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a very large collection of pre-Raphaelite art, which we had hoped to see on Sunday morning. However we neglected to note that it does not open until 12:30 pm on Sundays, when we went in for lunch…and then had to catch the train back to London. Too short a visit, but delightful! Next time I’d love to see more of the heritage buildings and the city parks and the art, of course, as J’s parents are so knowledgeable about their city! Too many photos to share, but here are just a few of our favourites.





June 13, 2009 in Culture, Travel by Marja-Leena