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.

Misty morning

After a great evening at Scottish Opera’s production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola we had a fairly short sleep and were soon on the road this morning. Mist was hanging in the glens as we left Inverness and climbed the Slochd Pass.
Mist on Slochd Pass 9 Nov 2014 (1 of 1)
By Dalwhinnie blue sky had reappeared and as we descended into Blair Atholl the tops of the mountains were reappearing. By the time we reached Pitlochry the cloud was higher and many crows were probing in the soft earth in stubble fields for worms.
Mist near Dalwhinnie 9 Nov 2014 (1 of 1)
After a quick coffee in Perth we had a very nostalgic drive down the section of the A9 from there to Stirling. The Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle were silhouetted against the morning sun. Further south the southern uplands looked magnificent and it would have been a great day for a hill walk. By the time we got to Johnstone Bridge it was raining but after the border there were only a few more showers and no major problems despite lots of road works. Skeins of geese and a murmuration of starlings were a real reminder that winter is on the way. Nearer home the ‘Order your Xmas turkey now’ signs had appeared at local farms while we were away, whereas the Indian Restaurant keeps its options open by having a ‘Bank Holiday Monday Buffet’ sign up all year – Easter will be the next one.