Monday, July 15, 2013


We've only a few days to go before it is time to return to the USA so we thought a visit to down town Birmingham was in order. We had been to down town Birmingham when we went to the station to go to London but had not really seen much.

We took the bus and again got the front seat up the top of the double-decker. When we went to London we had seen the sign about the car boot sale and it was in full swing when we passed by.

I would have to say that in general, the English people are not as fit and trim as the Dutch. It must be all the bicycles they use in the Netherlands.

This is part of the Selfridges store at the Bull Ring which is a shopping mall near the New Street Railway Station.

When we went to London we had used the New Street Station which is modern.

However we past the Moor Street Station which is used by the Chiltern Railways.

I couldn't resist taking a look inside and it is a wonderful old station, so much nicer than the New Street Station.

There is just so much natural light. The Chiltern Railway is effectively owned by Deutsche Bahn and the profits go towards improving the trains in Germany. In addition, Chiltern Railway is considered to be one of the best train operators in Britain.

It looks like Britain has realized that they will need to bring back some of the railway routes they decommissioned after the Beeching Report of the mid 60's. Having driven on some of the motorways in the area, I can safely say that they are very busy and easily congested. Most other main roads are busy and congested as well.

There is also a proposal to build a high speed line between London and Birmingham but the estimated costs are increasing rapidly and the time saved over the current journey time is only 30 minutes. I doubt it will be built.

We went into the Bull Ring Mall and it looked like any number of other shopping malls that have many shops with nothing for me to buy.

St Martin's Church in the distance.

We wandered down New Street which has been turned into a street mall. It reminded us of the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane. The temperature and humidity were about the same too. It got up to 86 degrees (30 Celsius).

A silent protest by Falun Gong supporters.

Birmingham's population is about a million and it is Britain's third biggest city. Judging by the number of impressive Victorian buildings, it must have been a very wealthy and powerful city in its heyday. The more we walked around, the more it reminded me of Melbourne, but without the trams.

It really is a pleasant down town area to stroll around in. We thought it was a pity it was so hot and humid but the local populace seemed to be reveling in the heat.

Ceiling in the arcade.

Birmingham was badly damaged in WWII and there are quite a number of newer buildings. Oddly enough, I liked this one with its window pattern.

Birmingham Cathedral. There was an ordination of priests ceremony going on inside so we could not go in. I see in the Wiki article that it is the third smallest in England and it certainly would have been dwarfed by Worcester Cathedral.

The tents housed food stalls. It was one of those events where local restaurants sell you small portions of food from their menus. If it had been cooler I might have been tempted but not on a hot day.

Adrian Boult was a very famous English conductor who championed English music. His first major appointment was with the City of Birmingham Orchestra. You can see his very relaxed style of conducting here. Be sure to look at the Xylophone player about 4:45. He's probably bald by now.

Your dose of colour for this blog.

This was a surprise. It's the new library

I believe it is still under construction but I suspect it will become a real landmark in Birmingham.

It is supposed to be one of the best concert halls in the world. Simon Rattle made his name conducting here before he went to become conductor of Berlin.

Microsoft bench. Click to read it.

If you follow cricket, you probably know about a fight between a member of the Australian cricket team and a member of the English cricket team. The Aussie was at fault. It happened here.

Interesting hotel.

Birmingham has lots of canals and you can tours of the city by canal boat.

These are meringues.

There are numerous eating places and shops in the buildings beside the canals. It reminded me of the South Bank beside the Yarra River in Melbourne. With the hot weather the pubs and outdoor cafes were doing good business, even though it was before noon.

Children watching a free Disney film.

Now that is an outfit on the right.

The front of the New Street Station.

Reflection in the glass.

Very red brick. Birmingham turned out to be much more interesting than I expected and it is a pleasure to walk around to look at the buildings. No doubt we missed a lot but we were glad to get on the bus to go home and then have a cold beer.

Finally on the way back we passed the Greyhound track in a suburb called Perry Barr. When we came back from London a few days before the place had been crowded with punters.