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Canal basin, Birmingham - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Canal basin, Birmingham
I don't know Birmingham at all well, but yesterday I had a quick trip there to meet my brother. We had to do the final stage of dealing with Dad's will, namely going to swear an oath that everything we'd put on the probate form was true. (Well, in my case I affirmed because Quakers don't swear oaths.)

We'd thought that might take up to an hour, but in fact it only took a few minutes, despite having to be wanded by the security people on the door to the court who were checking that we weren't taking any weapons in there.

We then made our way to the art gallery to look at Pre-Raphaelite paintings. When I started my OU degree I did the Arts Foundation Course A102 which included a big case study of the Victorians. There was an illustration book with reproductions of the paintings we were going to study and I've now seen just about all of them in real life. Manchester art gallery has a good collection of Pre-Raphaelites and there are a couple in the Tate in London. So being able to see the ones in Birmingham more or less completed the set.

After we'd done the art, we had a nice lunch in a restaurant just by here.

Canal basin, Birmingham

It was good to have a catch up chat with my brother who now seems to be getting his life back together after the divorce. Then it was back to the bowels of New Street station to catch a train home. I'm afraid New Street is one of my least favourite stations and despite them spending a huge amount of money up at street level, where there is now a huge open space under a dome that lets in lots of light, the platforms are narrow with hardly enough space for a crowd to wait for a train and there aren't enough escalators to get people up to the higher level quickly. It's OK if Birmingham is your destination, but not so good if you're changing trains and it's a tight connection. So, if at all possible, we change at Wolverhampton which is a much more civilised station with toilets and a café on the platform so you can have a quick comfort break and grab a snack, even if you don't have long before the next train.
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From: arkessian Date: February 17th, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have grey memories of waiting for trains at New Street on my way back to university each term -- dark narrow grimy platforms that sucked all the smile out of everyone. The concourse (back then) was not much better but sounds like a temple to retail now... I suppose they can't do much about the platforms without relaying the tracks, alas.

Edited at 2016-02-17 05:58 pm (UTC)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 17th, 2016 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been through New Street many times, though normally we never see the upstairs at all, apart from perhaps a fleeting glimpse as we rush from one platform to another. As you say, they are rather stuck with the fact that the trains run through on a lower level and there isn't much room for manoeuvre.
From: cmcmck Date: February 17th, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Probably chugged along that bit of cut at some point!

I'd agree with you on Wolverhampton. New Street, even with all the 'improvements' is still horrible!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 17th, 2016 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Birmingham seems to have done a good job of making the canal look pleasant and though obviously it was far too cold to sit and eat outside yesterday, my brother said that in the summer, lots of people hang out there.
ellarien From: ellarien Date: February 17th, 2016 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have fond memories of those Pre-Raphaelites from my Birmingham days.

The new New Street is nice and shiny upstairs, and I think it does help that there are more lifts and escalators now, but I agree that the platform level is still pretty grim. I've been passing through there quite regularly for the last 18 months or so, and I have to admit that after exploring the new upstairs a couple of times I reverted to my old evening routine of coming in from the University and heading straight to the Camden Food Market on the old concourse at the b end. Coming in from Sheffield I don't usually have to change platforms, fortunately.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 17th, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Many years ago I was at a Novacon (when it used to be held in Birmingham city centre) and a few of us slipped away from the convention to visit gallery to look at the Pre-Raphaelites. Except when we got there, they were out on loan for some special exhibition. Anyway, they were all in place yesterday so I finally got to see them.
rezendi From: rezendi Date: February 17th, 2016 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a lovely shot.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 17th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. It's been tweaked in PhotoShop Elements to brighten the shadows in the foreground, but it's amazing what a phone can do these days.
pdlloyd From: pdlloyd Date: February 18th, 2016 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry to learn of your loss. I'm glad your day in Birmingham turned out to be a chance to get caught up with your brother and to enjoy a museum and a nice lunch.
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: February 18th, 2016 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like a nice day! I think there's always something special about seeing paintings in real life, even when you know them very well. The last exhibition we saw was actually a collection from the National Galleries of Scotland. I wonder if I'll ever get to see those pictures again in their home galleries...
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