Spon Street is the one little bit of street that still has some medieval buildings on it. We found a pub here, in a house dating from the 16th Century, where we had lunch and tried something called "faggots", which was a soft kind of meatball made of, well, a bit of everything, I think. I know there was liver in there. Can´t say it went down a success, most of it was left on the plate.
Usually, we are very fond of English cooking. I think the world is unfairly prejudiced against it, thinking it´s nothing but entrails, over-cooked vegetables, white beans on toast, and greasy chips. Yorkshire pudding with Sunday steak is great, and a classic Afternoon Tea is a great substitute for lunch and dinner if you had a late breakfast (a hearty one, a full English fry-up, perhaps?). I am also very partial to Cornish Pasties, Steak and Ale Pie, mushy peas, and I could go on and on, really. Vinegar-flavoured crips did take me about 30 years to warm up to, but I enjoy them now. With ale, of course.
(Birmingham was interesting: I arrived by bus, passed through the city center on foot trying to reach my B&B, which on the map seemed perfectly within easy walking distance. Could not get out. Seriously. Birmingham is not the most easily navigated city for pedestrians having just arrived, I can tell you that! After having walked in circles for two hours, I was saved by a cabbie who drove me to my destination. It took me two whole days to decode Birmingham.)
And here, a selection of pictures from the famous cathedral:
The old bombed out cathedral is now a sort of forecourt to the new, modern building. There are a number of artworks displayed there, mostly on the topic of peace.
|Me as a tourist. Will never wear beige again. What was I thinking?|
The modern cathedral was designed by Scottish modernist/brutalist(!) architect Basil Spence, who was knighted for his work. It has a very different feel to any other ecclesiastical building I have ever been in, but it feels really, really holy. It´s all concrete, brass, stone, and glass. It was difficult to take sharp photos in there, since the light was not great, but you can see a little bit of the etched angels dancing on the glass wall there.
|This cross is part of the mythology of the Blitz, made from the rubble of the old cathedral.|
|The quality of the artwork is really stunning. This is a detail of a floor.|
|Our reflection in the angel glass wall.|
|St Michael defeating the Devil.|
A few days later we met up with a friend (an Englishman) in Oxford, and he asked what we had done so far on our vacation. "Milton Keynes and Coventry", we said. His response was an honest "Why?". Not all Englishmen value their more modern treasures. And I suppose most tourists are after the kind of picturesque old-time England you see on "Midsumer Murders", "Downton Abbey", any Jane Austen-drama, and television like that. Well, we enjoy that too, but there´s a lot more to Britain! Much, much more to discover.