Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Visiting Birmingham: Gorgeous Architecture (and Owls!)

When it comes to travel blogging, I am definitely a tortoise rather than a hare. I go on nice days out and the occasional holiday, I take a bunch of photos with good blogging intentions... then the photos sit on my laptop for weeks, months and sometimes years before seeing the light of day.

I don't see this as a bad thing, really. I'm not on a deadline, after all! I go places for fun, I take photos for fun and then at some point I'll probably blog about what I got up to. No pressure, just blogging about stuff when I feel like it. The only downside is that sometimes it's a bit weird starting a post with "Sooo, I went on holiday two years ago and I'm finally blogging about it! Woohoo!" Ah well.

If you don't like reading about what I got up to on my travels two years ago you should probably stop reading this post right now, because Guess What I'm Finally Blogging About Today? Haha.


In 2014 I went to the Blognix blogging conference in Birmingham and built a mini holiday around it, exploring Birmingham and going on a delightful day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. I enjoyed my brief visit to the city so much (and, let's be honest here, the cheap hotel prices!) that I decided to go back for a longer visit in the summer of 2015.

That summer I spoke to so many people who were going to really glamorous, far-flung destinations for their holidays. "Are you going anywhere nice this year, Laura?" "Um, I'm going to Birmingham". It doesn't sound like the most exciting holiday, does it? But I had a really brilliant time, crammed loads of great stuff into just a few days and I still have lots of things which I'd love to do/see on a future visit.

So.... what did I actually get up to on my trip? Mostly walking around the city oohing over the architecture and other historical bits and pieces, and exploring the city's excellent museums (I love museums so much).

Before my holidays in Birmingham I have to admit that I'd thought of it as a pretty bland place full of concrete. I'd only ever really been to the NEC and to assorted conferences in bland chain hotels and just had this vague impression that it wasn't really an interesting place to visit. Kind of like a bigger version of Slough?

Of course, I could not have been more wrong. Birmingham is amazing: bustling and vibrant and filled with a fantastic and really visually interesting mix of modern and Victorian architecture. When I visited it was also full of owls, for The Big Hoot trail (so much fun!). (Click here to see all the owls I spotted during my trip).

I really enjoyed wandering round the city with a tourist map in my pocket, looking up at all the interesting buildings and spotting places to explore - galleries to pop into, churches to look round, cafes to have a cuppa in, and so on.

When I visited there were some very striking floral displays in the city including this one commemorating the First World War. Lots of the museums had First World War themed exhibitions as well, it was fascinating and moving to read about the local stories from the war.

I always love learning about local history when visiting a new-to-me place: centuries of people and their stories, and how the place has grown and changed over the years. I know not everyone is a fan of museums, but for me a trip to a little local museum (or the local history gallery of the big local museum!) is a really intrinsic part of my holidays. 

I'll be chatting about one of the Birmingham museums I visited in the next post about my trip ... which I promise you won't have to wait two years for! In the meantime, you can read about my previous (very sunny!) trip to Birmingham here. For more city break goodness, click here for my trip to Manchester and here for my trip to Leeds.


Deanne said...

I currently live in Northamptonshire but I still call Birmingham my home and my heart does linger there. You don't really appreciate how amazing the city is when you've lived there since little so its only on journeys back home that I see how wonderful it is.
After seeing your photos I feel a visit 'home' coming on :) x thank you x

Amara said...

Well, living in the U.S. in the west, a trip to where there were so many historic buildings to see would be a real treat. Thank you for sharing them through pictures.

Littlelamb said...

Amazing photos and I loved all the owls. Thank you for sharing these.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Deanne - I feel the same way about places I lived when I was younger; I totally didn't appreciate them! I hope you'll enjoy your "home" visit :)

Amara - Glad you enjoyed them! There is so much history everywhere here, it's really easy to take it for granted. I am doing my best not to.

Littlelamb - Thanks! The owls were seriously excellent :)