A noontime nap had rejuvenated me wonderfully, and I was eager to see what the town of Nuneaton had to offer. Mainly, my dad and I were concerned with finding a Vodafone outlet- otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to reload our UK mobile phone, and calling home would not be an option. But central Nuneaton turned out to be a charming place, and I enjoyed my brief time there.
The town hall of Nuneaton
We found a Vodafone shop, and also went through a little market in a pedestrian street nearby. Vendors were selling produce and various gifts, and it was a nice place to be on an early summer’s day.
Nuneaton is of relatively modest size, yet some of its architecture is breathtaking
After seeing some of Nuneaton, to the countryside we went! I love any and all English countryside- it is so strikingly different from what I see every day in Canada. Here in Ontario, the roads are mostly ruler-straight, and they go through fields that are so sprawling and sparse that they all look the same. The roads in England, however, are largely so curvy that one almost gets dizzy from driving on them; and every field and paddock is different and unusual. Not to mention incredibly green and beautiful!!
One of the leafy, twisting roads of Warwickshire
The Queen Anne’s lace was out in full bloom along the road
We drove all through the area around Hinckley, Coalville, and Bosworth. Even the smallest villages we went through had amazing (and ancient!) buildings- it was all very picturesque, and we had the perfect day for driving! I wasn’t bored for a second despite driving for several hours.
Somewhere near Bosworth
Of course, there were delays in our journey- thanks to roadworks! I’m sure that nowhere in the world is immune to roadworks, but for some reason they were especially noticeable during this trip in May. Not that it bothered me much, though- the intermittent stops gave me more time to admire the lush surroundings!
An omen of delays ahead…
A beautiful view in a corner of Leicestershire
Day two of our trip saw us leave the green, rolling landscapes of the countryside and travel to another planet, so it seemed- the planet of Birmingham! To many, Birmingham is not seen as the nicest place in the world; thanks to its industrial/manufacturing history and past periods of social unrest. And perhaps it isn’t the nicest place in the world, but I was fascinated by it and found the city centre in particular to be quite vibrant.
There were hundreds of shops in one long row on this street
A panoramic view of our entry into Birmingham
It took us quite a long time to get anywhere in Birmingham. Again, that was due to roadworks, but it was worsened by traffic volume. Fortunately, I was prepared; and we passed the time by listening to classic Brummie music by Black Sabbath and Electric Light Orchestra on my iPod!
Eventually we got past the roadworks, only to be guided incorrectly by our sat nav into a not-so-charming part of the city. It was pretty dark and run-down and obviously had been industrial at one point, and on the whole it had an uncomfortably quiet feeling. Needless to say, we didn’t linger!
This is where our sat nav became confused…
… and decided to take us here
Central Birmingham soon loomed in front of us, and I was delighted to see the unmistakable silver blob known as the Selfridges building. This building is known around the world as a symbol of modern Britain, and I’d always wanted to see it.
A section of the central Birmingham skyline
A reflection of our rented Vauxhall on the bizarre facade of Birmingham’s Selfridges
We also saw Birmingham Airport, which pleased me- there’s nothing as cool as an airport in my opinion. I was surprised at the amount and variety of traffic at the airport- almost every few minutes an Airbus or 777 was either landing or taking off.
The old (Art Deco-era) terminal is visible on right
Spending time in the concrete metropolis of Birmingham merited another quick trip to the country. So this time, we explored the area around Kidderminster, which is southwest of Birmingham. Again, it was a lovely drive, with lots to see and not a moment of monotony.
We went through Bromsgrove- a charming town, with lovely Georgian architecture pictured
A construction sign displaying customary British politeness
A Wall’s cornetto purchased near Birmingham- one needs to keep up one’s strength when on holiday, and ice cream is never a poor choice!
Hilly terrain near Kidderminster
An amazing timber-framed building, representative of what many of this area’s villages and towns have to offer
To be quite honest, I was pleasantly surprised by all there was to see in the Birmingham area. I wasn’t expecting all that much, but the area was really gorgeous; and we didn’t even stop at any attractions! Stratford-upon-Avon is nearby, as is Bosworth Field (site of a definitive battle in the War of the Roses, and where Richard III died). Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle are two other notable destinations, and Birmingham itself has many museums, galleries, and attractive sights.
I doubt that a large percentage of first-time or seasoned tourists to Britain even consider the Midlands as a destination. And that’s a shame, because, as I found this past summer, it’s a beautiful place to be.