Some 16 years ago, when I was a computer contractor, I worked for several months in Birmingham. It was a good experience but given I only stayed there in the week, in order to work, I only sampled a little of what was on offer. I had not visited there before then nor since, and I had not anticipated returning there, at least not until our son announced he would be attending university in the city (Aston), which began two months ago.
Entrance to St. John’s hotel, Solihull
A few days back we (my wife and I) had one of those “kill several birds” opportunities, when she signed up for a two day course (mostly paid for) to do with her work, in nearby Solihull. I went along as her chauffeur, for the break and to see our son. We stayed at a nice hotel (St. Johns), where the conference was being held, and were upgraded to one of those posh suites that would normally be outside our price range. It was a good experience from many points of view as well as being a much welcomed family break.
Besides a visit into Solihull town centre, which was sort of interesting, I saw our son, firstly to have a meal in China Town and on the next day to hang out around the regenerated city centre canal area, before we headed back home. For me, it was a chance to do some serious reading and twice I hit the jackpot attending the surprisingly well endowed leisure club: gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna. And the food was good! For me, speaking to so many nice people on a friendly basis, mainly at the hotel (staff and guests) as well as outside (I recall on taking the train into the city speaking to a 19 year old lad who had just become homeless), really was the icing on the cake, along with the amazing suite (equivalent to flying first class), with every staff member I met being pleasantly helpful.
I found Birmingham to be a fascinating and probably under rated city, with so much diversity and variety, and interesting and friendly too. I daresay it has its share of problems – we met homeless folk and a soup kitchen. Staying at a nice hotel where it was difficult to find any fault was certainly a bonus. I look forward to future visits to Birmingham, even if only to do what parents with children at university are often called upon to do – fetch and carry. And hopefully staying at St. Johns, but at a rate more in our price range. It was nice to take a break from all sorts of busyness linked to our everyday routine and then to return home refreshed.