Architecture in England’s second city

Delayed trains and slow trains were the order of the day but the clouds were parting, patches of blue sky and very occasionally the sun, were appearing so things looked a little more promising as we headed south (albeit at a snail’s pace). I had been intending to return to explore the interior of the library in Birmingham whose exterior had impressed me on as I walked past it last summer and James was keen to see the largest Christmas fair in England. We both wanted to use our day off to go and explore somewhere rather than spend the day catching up on chores. The Christmas markets provided sights, sounds and smells from the street food which were all absorbed. We did not have any shopping to do but I admired the skill of the people whose crafts were on display and we enjoyed the live music:
Live music 1 Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)Drummer Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)
One drummer was using a homemade drum kit. The Council Building reminded me of a time several years ago when I had had to give a lecture in the council chamber.

Council Building Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

and the roof of one of the shopping centres was quite impressive:

Shopping centre roof Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

Demolition Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)
Nearby, another corner of the city is being demolished for re-invention.

The interior of the library was as amazing as the exterior.

Libraryinterior 1 Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

Library interior 2 Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

Library interior 3 Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)
Library & town hall Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

There were pods to work in and places to lounge in. I could pass a few hours in here, easily.
Library interior 4 Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

Library 2 Birmingham Dec 2015 (1 of 1)

Outside were planted areas and a terrace with views over the city. Standing there, I was reminded that I would only like to live in a small city, not one that has buildings as far as the eye can see. I prefer those that I can see the hills, or sea or river and get out of fairly quickly. In Edinburgh I can see the hills and in Liverpool the sea or river is not far away. We had lunch in the library cafe and as the tables inside were all occupied, sat outside. Amazingly it was warm enough to do that in December. The big wheel was operating although I could only see a few people aboard. The big wheel was next to the temporary ice rink and made me wonder about their history as every city seems to have one now. Our journey home was quicker than the outward one. I observed herons and trainspotters en route and we were soon back home.

A day in Birmingham

The hottest day of the year ended with thunder and lightning in the evening but no rain. It was still pretty warm when I set off early this morning to travel to Birmingham for a conference. The train got busier as commuters got on at Wolverhampton and Coseley but we were soon at New Street. I had not been in central Birmingham for some time and always said that New Street was my least favourite station. However, it has had a makeover and is a much more pleasant place to be in. The conference centre was only about half a mile away and is part of the complex containing Symphony Hall. Next door is Francine Houben’s post-modern Library which looks very striking and I am only sorry that I did not have time to look inside.

Birmingham Library (1 of 1)

The conference was stimulating and I caught up with several colleagues that I had not seen for a while. When I emerged at the end of the day, it was raining so I scuttled down to the station to get the train home. After Wolverhampton it was less busy and I saw that the sheep in fields had been shorn, a sign of summer. Wildlife spotted included a trainspotter with camera and tripod who was supping a cup of tea on the platform at Stafford and a flock of Canada geese feeding in a field north of the town. Finally, I saw a rainbow before we drew into Crewe.