Friday, 30 March 2018

Birmingham Library


Thanks for popping in.

One of the reasons I was keen to visit Birmngham, was to see the new Library of Birmingham, not so new now as it was completed in 2013.  Designed by Dutch Architects Mecanoo, it certainly catches the eye in a magical way, it's the building with the lacy appearance with a golden cylinder on the top.

Trying to get a decent photo of it was a bit tricky as Birmingham is undergoing  a considerable amount of building work, which you will be able to see from the top of the library.  Hopefully though, you can see that it is tiered.  Having seen it peeking round all the different buildings in the City and from the canals, that golden colour makes great sense as it blends so well with details in other buildings, walls and mossy growths.  It really helps you navigate through the area especially as a stranger and we found ourselves saying, where's the library before setting off somewhere. 

The rings on the outside were designed as a reference to the City's jewellery industry and shadows of the rings occur within the building.

Outside the windows on Level 3 is a terrace with seating to enjoy, giving views over the City. In a year or so it will be worth visiting again when all the building work is done as it will look fantastic and be a really good place to enjoy.

Up on the 7th floor is a Secret Garden, another lovely outdoor space with more views giving a different perspective.

Inside is rather spectacular.  Having sampled a coconut and jam slice and some hot chocolate, the escalators beckoned, especially as they were lit up with blue lights.

Emerging into a circular area covered in bookshelves bedecked by blue fairy lights, the cameras were clicking but the photos just don't do it justice.

Mr CK's panoramic

You just have to go up and up the escalators to see what will unfold.

 What was rather nice was that there were so many people studying by the windows, in the different sections,  looking at the books.  We noticed the sign to the Secret Garden which you had to access via a lift which took us to another section near a glass lift.

Amidst all the new and modern, was the Shakespeare Memorial Room, tucked at the top of the building on level 9.  It was made by John Henry Chamberlain in 1882 for the original Victorian library in the City and restored by local craftsmen.  There's yet another skyline view from that floor.

Fancy that!

When the building is lit up at night, it turns blue.

I was so pleased to visit this building at last.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Canals in Birmingham


Thanks for visiting.

Birmingham has 35 miles of canals which were so busy in Victorian times transporting iron, coal and other heavy goods and chocolate crumb on it's way to Cadbury's chocolate factory, in fact they even installed gas lights along the route.  The major canals contributing to the Birmingham Canal Network (more than 100 miles of canals) are the Grand Union Canal, Worcester and Birmingham Canal, Stourbridge Canal and Stratford Canal.  Commercial traffic stopped in 1980 but the canals provide a charming place to walk where you can take in the history of the area.  Looking at the map below, you can see lots of loops and locks which add a lot of interest.

There are many pretty bridges over the canals.

Gas Street Basin is the junction of two canals which are separated by a bar so that water didn't escape into the other canal.  You can just make out on the second photo below on the wall where it is marked which two canals meet there and the path on the left of the picture with barges moored near it is the bar.  For the first 30 years goods needing to be sent on down the other canal had to be manhandled over the bar but nowadays there is a narrow way through.

It's quite difficult to bring all the water ways into perspective as I'm twisting and turning and crossing bridges looking at the same section from different angles.  Fortunately there are maps and information boards to refer to along the canals.

Oozells Loop towpath was blocked off for pedestrians as it seemed to be more residential.

Heading along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal from the Cambrian Wharf,  you are soon going downhill next to the locks towards the Jewellery Quarter.  It's quite a surprising drop, through some graffiti-covered tunnels where I wouldn't want to be in the dark.

Needless to say, the area around the canals have been developed with lots of cafes and restaurants, new high rise buildings and convention centres.


Tuesday, 27 March 2018



Thanks for popping in.

A bit nearer home, the Park by the shops is finally beginning to look a bit more Spring like.

Little violets opening up.

Bright blue skies.

Even a swan was sitting on the place where they usually have their nests.

No sign of any Canada Geese, where have they all gone?

Inside, the exhibitions remained the same.

My competition photos were still hanging on the wall.

Fancy it being Easter already this weekend, what a funny old year it has been so far what with all the snow, the punctures, the flattened daffodils, Mothers Day, the clocks going forward and then it's Easter so quickly.


Monday, 26 March 2018

New Street Station Birmingham


Thanks for popping in.

No sooner we are back from Norwich, than we've got our bags packed again and are heading for a couple of days in Birmingham.  My only contact with the city in the past has been passing through on the M6 heading North passing Spaghetti Junction in all the traffic, gasometers, cooling towers and grey skies.  Surely that can't be representational of the real Birmingham lurking down below.

We took the train.  Arriving in the light and airy space age New Street Station, which had undergone a £600 million regeneration completed in 2015, it was more reminiscent of an airport with such a huge area containing over 60 stores, including a giant John Lewis, known as Grand Central, as well as 13 platforms sending trains off in all directions around the country.

photo from The Guardian

Outside, the building is covered in slightly wavy steel which reflects the trains entering the station as well as everything else around the station.  It's fascinating! 

photo from Dezeen
A good start to our trip to Birmingham, what else was in store?