It was still dark as we came over Manchester and the street and building lights were impressive. We touched down precisely on time, collected our bags and took the Heathrow Express to Paddington. The breakfast at the Mad Bishop and Bear was good and they served beer with meals at this time (0930). I tried Fullers London Pride and Fullers Chiswick.
The Oyster scanner was not working on the 205 bus to Euston so we had a free ride.
Euston was in turmoil as there was a fatality at Milton Keynes and trains were cancelled and delayed. There were several thousands milling around on the concourse trying to find a train that had not been cancelled. We went into the First Class lounge where we at least had comfortable arm chairs and sofs to sit in. There was also a supply of soft drinks, juices and coffee and a washroom close by. A very helpful girl, a Virgin employee, who offered advice. I found out that the information provided by the station departure boards was not as complete as what I could find on the web. Our train (the 1303) had been cancelled but Virgin were not admitting it to the hordes in the concourse. However, we could take the 1223. We found first class seats, the train left on time and got us to Birmingham earlier than planned. It was a lovely sunny day and the journey was pleasant although we were both tired. There were many fields of sheep and, surprisingly, horses. Lots of long boats on the canal.
We decided to walk the mile or so to the hotel for the exercise. Birmingham is a little confusing but we made it with the help of Google Maps.
Our hotel is just off Broad Street which is a larger version of the Byward Market. It is full of restaurants and watering holes. It was Friday night and the drinking started very early. We had grest difficulty in finding a table even st 1730. We eventually found a table at the ill-named Slug and Lettuce. Our server came ftom Much Wenlock which we had visited in September. They had a great number of beers on tap but only one on pump and they were out of that. I settled for Guinness which now comes from Dublin as the Park Royal brewery, London, has been closed. Mary had overcooked tuna salad and I had pork ribs with an excellent cole slaw which had been given some zing with Jalapenos.
The new library has only been open for two months. It is an impressive building noth inside and out. The exterior has bern given a facade of circular ironwork which disguises the square construction of the building itself. Inside, access to the floors is through a system of escalators with impressive blue lighting just below the moving handholds. One of the librarians told us that there was a great improvement in the amount of natural light but the security was tighter which made it more difficult to get around . From an open balcony area there was a great view down over the Ferris Wheel, artificial ice and the Christmas Market. This was labelled a Frankfurt Market and is very similar to many found in Europe - crafts, all kinds of sweet things, sausage and cheese, trinkets, pickpockets - and Pork Scratchings.
Walking back to the hotel we saw many, men in formal wear with bow ties. We wondered if they were from the symphony
|Library on right and Ferris Wheel. The ice skating is just behind the Ferris Wheel.|
|Pork Scratchings were on sale at the Christmas Market|