Oxford, part 1 – all work and no play

Of course I’d like to say I studied here, well no not really, it wouldn’t have been the best or right place for either of us, but oh boy what a lovely place to immerse yourself in academia if you’re so inclined.

One very proud young man


And the day we explored was graduation day so plenty of smiling happy family’s milling around the closed gates Sheldonian.


And without any logical plan of our own we just walked around town enjoying the atmosphere

And soaking up some of the history of the place

The faculty of history building

There was too much reading up to do

The Bodleian library

and taking good photos was proving difficult

The Radcliffe camera

But Christchurch has to be the most magnificent

Christchurch from the meadows

Or perhaps not wanting to be left behind Magdalen College

Magdalen College

Which sits on the banks of the Cherwell and where we could watch the haphazard tourists trying to outdo the students punting. The queue was long so we didn’t have a go

Punting on the cherwell

And we ended our day back at Christchurch for choral evensong

Inside the quad a christchurch
Awaiting evensong

The Midlands March, Made it to the middle

And we’ve made it, we are now moored in the centre of Birmingham, just a stones throw from the popular canal hub, celebrating heritage and entertainment.Admittedly it doesn’t look a very exciting mooring,

Ladywood wharf

but we weren’t sure if or when the brummies went to bed

The canal quarter


And we were only a minute from the some real culture

Who doesn’t love Lego


But the first thing I did was get us some tickets for a Symphony Hall concert We hadn’t planned our arrival so we had to take what was on offer, I was hoping for some classic orchestral magnificence and I think we struck gold

CBSO in the Symphony hall


What we got was an orchestrated Abba tribute evening. Not quite the sort of classical we had hoped for, but definitely a classic, and it was fun. We both love Abba and we were encouraged to join in and dance. Brilliant to be moored 5 minutes walk from the ICC, home of the symphany hall. We were set us up for a good few days exploring.

The old and the new


Birmingham is getting ready to host the commonwealth games later this year, so there’s quite a bit of revamping the attractions, unfortunately the big museum was closed. But the famous library was open. It’s quite an iconic modern building from the outside,

The Library

but if you take the time to climb up to the very very top, not only is the view spectacular, (if you look beyond the construction)

But you can still the 1882 Shakespeare Memorial room, that was dismantled and reassembled in its new home, combining the old and the new

The Shakespeare Memorial room

Birmingham seems a progressive city which embraces changes in society. In 2014 a controversial sculpture called “A Real Birmingham Family” was unveiled outside the library, it depicts two single parents, who are sisters, and their children. Whilst I love the support they obviously give each other, I hate seeing fathers sidelined.

“A real family”


But I’m sure my favourite sculpture in Birmingham has to be the giraffe.

Of course another of Birminghams big draws is the Bullring shopping centre. But as it was at least a 25 minute walk from Firecrest and I’m still hesitant to mingle and browse in shopping centres just for the fun of it, and I couldn’t persuade Eric to take me shopping in the jewellery quarter, we decided to explore those areas on another visit.