/ Scotland2017

Birmingham, not my favorite city

Unfair, the city has some great museums. We didn't get time to visit the coffin museum, nor the other jewellery museum, nor the science museum, not the historic canal basins...

In part, that is because Birmingham is a horrid town for visiting pedestrians. There are few long thoroughfares, instead the city has a socking great station slap in the middle of it. It that wasn't bad enough there are huge modern shopping buildings like the Selfridge monstrosity that make route planning a nightmare. Unlike many cities that have a centre ringed by Victorian or Georgian suburbs Birmingham's centre seems ringed with industrial complexes and warehouses. This means interesting suburbs like the jewellery quarter are a mile from the centre as the crow flies, or 3 miles as the pedestrian meanders trying to find a way around the huge building obstacles.

Birmingham is new, which means all the shops are glossy homages to late 20th century consumerism. No interesting little bijou shops, ironmongers selling loose nails, or milliners. As for artisan food shops, 3 Gregg's in about 50m but no trace of a local baker or confectioner.

Remove the Bullring market and Birmingham would be a perfect example of all that is wrong with consumer Britain's high streets.

Mind you it didn't help that my CAMRA heritage pub listed two fine examples of unspoiled pub architecture but try as we might we couldn't find one (The Woodman). Trying to find a specific pub in this labyrinthine city is bad enough but when my phone based Good Beer Guide has it marked about half a mile from its actual location the challenge becomes just too great.

Still another pub provided the surprise of the day. Until recently the Lamp Tavern was home to a Birmingham brewery called "Rock and Roll". With a name like that I'm expecting the Lamp to be a noisy music pub, not my scene at all. Instead it turns out to be a delightful local's corner pub with a genial Irish landlord. Annoyingly the excellent looking folk club it hosts met last night.

Next time maybe, we've got to come back for the coffin museum at least!