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The Days We Went To Brum

Created by Jane in Blogs, Jane Lawson's Blog



Two evenings and two and half days spent with a group of online companions with a shared interest (fascination) with their grandchildren could have taken many forms. This one was, by general consensus, great fun and wholly enjoyable. The group was composed of Makems, those from ‘God’s own country’, the South, Wales, all parts in between and even a couple of lowly Londoners.

We enjoyed two excellent meals, two huge breakfasts, a fizz reception and were impressed by the fabled friendliness of the Brummies.

It was good to have a complete day to ‘do’ Birmingham and we all began Saturday with an open topped, slightly chilly bus tour which traveled around the city and enabled to see much that would have been difficult otherwise. Most impressive was the Town Hall and associated buildings with their elaborate, beautifully proportioned facades and the lovely flower displays. Less so was the bubble wrap structure which apparently was a shop. Truly a blot on the landscape. Edgbaston with its leafy roads, attractive university campus and elegant houses was also of great interest, especially seeing the house where JRR Tolkien lived and the inspiration for the Two Towers.

We then debated over coffee our plans for the afternoon. Some of us decided on a canal trip and, ably guided by two map readers we arrived at the Gas Street Basin. Not the most beguiling of names, but this was the first street in the country to be lit by gas and therefore of considerable importance. The canal system is the result of the Industrial Revolution where coal and other goods needed to be transported to the heart of the midlands and used for the emerging industries which made Birmingham the great city that it is. In the 18C the great engineers of the day designed this network of waterways. They were largely built by Navvies or navigators. Nowadays they are mostly used by tourists and leisure boaters. Our trip lasted for about an hour and it was a lovely experience to glide peacefully along the waterway and enjoy the lush vegetation and see the city from a different viewpoint. Birmingham is to be congratulated on the way the basin has been transformed into a buzzy destination for citizens and tourists alike.

And what of the other highlights? Well, one shopaholic acquired an impressive collection of fashion items, another was almost overwhelmed by the size of the Brummie baguette, keys were lost and found, cobbles negotiated and excellent conversations and much laughter took place.

Those who organised the visit and did a lot of unseen work were much appreciated (someone’s Maths skills were impressive at paying the bill time) and the thoughtful gestures which left us all with little trophies and reminders of the weekend will be with us all year.

And were people, whom we had ‘known’ online for some years, the same in real life? Well that’s a question each one of us will have an individual answer to. It’s a very modern phenomenon and one which was not available to our mothers or grandmothers and for that we must be very thankful.

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