the second day in birmingham was the day we had dedicated to the reason we were even in that neck of the woods: slam dunk baby! it didn't start until after lunch time, so we had some time to kill, and so took advantange of the beautiful sunny morning to explore a little bit more of the area. we were staying up near the jewellery quarter, so we started there based on some recommendations from others who'd lived there, or been to uni there, so - we did
except i wish we hadn't, as it was probably the most pointless exercise i've ever taken part in. for a start: it was sunday, so everything naturally opens a little later. well, except in the jewellery quarter, where it seems that things just don't open at all. it was a shame, because a lot of the architecture was really interesting, and some of the signs in the area were original and super pretty, but... just nothing was open.
i think we assumed it would be a bit like an open-market-type place, not a total wholesale and pawn-shop-type place, so we had a small wander then headed back into the city, where we had a cold brew date at one of the city's well-rated coffee shops - thanks trip advisor!
we wandered along the canals, on a route i was told to avoid because unsafe, but because that was info from the same person who said to go to the jewellery quarter i blatantly didn't give a shit. and as expected: not dangerous. mind you, i am proper 'ard. it was a little seedy, sure, but it was also so damn pretty that neither of us were truly bothered about the smell of stale urine or the broken bottles littering the empty grates by the canal.
the coffee shop in town was lame; so lame that i can't even remember the name of it, so it wasn't long before we headed into the station, picked up some train tickets to the nec, and grabbed a quick bite to eat before jetting off to the festival. we'd arrived just after like, 2pm and there was already a line of what seemed like the entire festival festival outside. not cool. we waited in the sun at the wetherspoons inside the nec with a bottle of prosecco until we were able to make our way in, without a line.
the next morning was our last. we packed up and headed out semi-early, with a clever decision to check out cannon hill park - a "tourist attraction" that was apparently a forty minute walk from the hotel. with google maps' renowned distance lies at the forefront of our minds, we thought nothing of it and that we'd do it in twenty. idiots. ohhhh no, no no. no, we didn't. by the time we'd actually made it to the park, it had been the best part of an hour.
it was worth it though, because that park was absolutely beautiful. there were flowers and bushes in just about every colour imaginable, and trees just bursting with leaves. there was a cycle and skate path for locals to use, and a mahooosive lake in the middle with pedal-os and boats on it, plus some sort of local theatre company, a fun fair, a crazy golf course... it was honestly gigantic.
it was a great way to end the weekend, wandering around that park. we didn't leave ourselves a lot of time though, so had to jump on a bus before long to head back into town to get our train back to london. all in all, i had a great time discovering the uk's second city! i don't know why so many people run it down, it was easily navigated, affordable, and cute, with some great food and drink options. when i'm planning a backyard break, those are the sorts of things i take into account, so i wouldn't hesitate to suggest a few days there the next time anyone's considering a uk break.
it's another city off the list for me, with only a handful more before i've pretty much hit all the counties and countries in the uk; i'm pretty happy with that!