Monday 18th June; Birmingham
It was a quiet night for the centre of a city, with just the occasional shouty person’s voice echoing across the water. No need to rush in the morning; we weren't planning on going far. After a leisurely breakfast we did a bit of the crossword in the Sunday paper and waited for Sherborne Wharf to open. After the trip boat had finished its pump-out we shuffled along to fill up with diesel, at a very reasonable price. Then we shuffled back again onto our convenient mooring.
We didn’t do a lot this morning. Dave took Meg to the park, and I mended a bit of the curtain tape on one of the dinette curtains – then discovered that the linings had rotted in the sun, so they will need replacing.
We had an early lunch and went into the city. Dave wanted to wander round the art gallery for an hour or two, but I foolishly decided to go down (literally, quite a long way downhill) to the Bullring markets for some fruit and veg. Foolishly, because it’s Monday, and although the Indoor market was open, the veg on offer looked distinctly tired so I bought nothing. I saw the back entrance to Next and thought I could cut through to the entrance near the bottom of New Street. Well that was a mistake. I knew I needed to go up a couple of floors but these stores have multiple entrances, and I ended up lost in Grand Central shopping mall. I asked a security man, two cleaners, and eventually a salesman at one of the John Lewis entrances and finally escaped. People seem to go to these places for enjoyment. I don’t understand that at all.
Anyway I made my way back to the museum and found Dave. I had discovered that by great good fortune our visit coincided with that of the famous Dippy the Diplodocus. Isn’t he wonderful?
The Natural History museum in London evicted him in favour of the Blue Whale. Nothing daunted, Dippy is now on tour and is proving to be so popular that you are supposed to get a (free) ticket for timed entry. But 3.30 on a Monday is a quiet time and the place was almost deserted.
His tail is immensely long. From his nose to the tip of his tail would have been about 26 metres, and he would have weighed 20 tons. His species was herbivorous, but they weren’t hunted by T Rex; it was another 80 million years or so before they arrived on the scene. This isn’t the actual fossil head – the whole skeleton is a cast of the original fossil which was found in the USA.
To put dinosaurs into context, there were many displays showing how modern-day birds developed from dinosaurs. Here is the skeleton of a Velociraptor, the terrifying speedy predators in Jurassic Park.
They actually weren’t terribly big. In the photo below, the Velociraptor arm is displayed below the bones of a heron’s wing.
Dinosaurs weren’t the only examples of extinct creatures in this exhibition. This is the skeleton of a dodo which is much larger than I realised – bigger than a turkey I would say.
On our way back to the boat we thought we’d pop into the library to see how the garden terraces are doing. It was all pretty new the first time we visited but now things have grown quite a bit. This is the lower terrace, where fruit and vegetables have been planted amidst the flowers and hedges. These are golden raspberries – tasty, but not as interesting as the red ones.
From here you get a bird’s eye view of the construction work that is still going on. It seems to have been going on for years. When we were here before, the square below was paved in lovely patterns and there was a science fair going on with kids all over the place.
There are escalators up to the level of the first terrace. Then comes a travellator, and finally (unless you cheat and take the lift, which we didn’t) several flights of stairs to get to the seventh floor.
The so-called Secret Garden is well signposted! It is full of flowers and herbs.
One of the units under the National Indoor Arena is now a Legoland play area, advertised outside by this chap. I prefer Dippy though.
Dave took Meg out, and I zoomed over to the big Tesco at Spring Hill for supplies before we had an early meal and joined the throng in the pub for the first England match of the World Cup. It used to be the Fiddle and Bone; now it’s called The Distillery. Where we watched a live band upstairs now has a gin still!It was heaving outside and in the bar downstairs, but there was a screen upstairs too where it was a bit quieter and we even managed to get seats with a good view of the screen. It was a good atmosphere and a great evening, in spite of some very dodgy decisions by the ref; England 2 Tunisia 1.