I knew Birmingham back in the ’80s. During my sixth form years I had a boyfriend who was a student at Aston University and I used to pop up for weekend visits. In those days, I thought Brum was pretty grim. Like a lot of cities then it was very neglected and, while I like a bit of brutalist architecture in moderation, this was a place where they’d gone for it in overkill. I dimly recall the Old Bullring Shopping Centre as being like a multi-storey car park. It wasn’t quite the right ambience for retail therapy.
But things seem to have changed in good old Brum. There’s a network of canals that we could easily access from the apartment that that I rented with my friends, Red Mel and Spiky Kay. ‘More canals than Venice’ seems to be a mantra that we kept hearing repeated. Although this was not the purpose of our stay we went for a daytime and nighttime nose around along their towpaths. It occurred to me that our second city would make a very good base for an alternative kind of walking holiday.
So today’s post is going to be largely pictorial, shots from little day and night-time forays. The waterways in the contrasting light took on very different feels.
There’s quite a few attractions sited along the waterways including this massive giraffe, Gerry, who lives outside the Legoland Discovery centre and is proudly demonstrating mask wearing in this post Covid era. We fought with toddlers for a selfie with him. No you’re not seeing it because I was grimacing and I am vain!
Although there was a definite ‘Peaky Blinders’ feel in parts the canal felt safe, was well lit and used by many folk at night. I seem to remember that different from the old days. When I went to a canal trip with my youth group in my teens it was pretty grim. We chugged through derelict building and negotiated old prams and tyres that had been thrown in the water. No more! At least not on the bits that we saw.
The canals instil a rural feel on that urban environment. That canal basin could have been part of a country scene without their tower block back drop. Great reflections!
Again look at the buildings mirrored in the water. Stunning! We stopped at this waterside haunt for a couple of pints. It would have been rude not to.
And here’s the waterway equivalent of a roundabout with the signpost giving hints about the potential for further jaunts. While the primary purpose of our visit to Brum was not tourism we all agreed that a girlie weekend to properly explore might be on the cards in the future.