Birmingham……. a view of my world!

There is one thought often crosses my mind and I have so wanted to have the opportunity to carry out a long term wish, whilst at a job interview on Monday of this week, I was finally able to fulfill that wish!

Although I was born in and have lived in a town known as the Borough of Solihull, which is on the outskirts of Birmingham, it means that Birmingham  itself has always been a huge part of my life, and has been very important to me throughout various stages of my life. I suppose realistically I have seen it change, grow and develop as I myself have grown, changed and developed over the last 5 decades, and like any major town or city across the world it is a modern Metropolis. I have a huge interest in both of these parts of the West Midlands as my father and his parents, grandparents were born and raised in the District of Knowle in Solihull, and my mom and all the rest of her family were born and raised in Birmingham. Solihull and Birmingham are however joined in many significant ways through its entwined history.

Known as England’s ‘second city’ since around the time of the  First World War, it has over many decades become more and more interesting to me. Birmingham and its surrounding areas known as the Black Country holds a wealth of history, and had adapted itself to modernization without significantly spoiling itself and has still maintained some of its originality, culture and charm. Although I dare to say some might  disagree on that score, and I suppose like any body, which is human nature, they would defend their own heritage knowing and comparing its origins and history to anywhere else. It would be true to see that any one born and raised in London for instance would quite categorically state that London is the best place on earth to live, eat and breathe and therefore could not be beaten. As I could also see and understand that our cousins across the water in the USA might comment on their own state being far better than the next one.

One thing is for sure, Birmingham has evolved into a well-developed modern Metropolis, and yet it has been able to maintain so much of its character, beauty and its originality within the history and design of the City. Its evolution is still going on, and will continue for many more years in to the future. In most areas of  Birmingham you can see new buildings going up that still stay within the designs and architecture of the original existing buildings and its surrounding areas, but at the same time new modern buildings exist that prove Birmingham is not a little undeveloped back street area and that it can’t compete with the likes of rest of the Europe or even the world especially so in the business and financial sector. I was fortunate to have worked in an area of Birmingham for over 20 years in a place called Aston which is less than a mile outside the city, as a result of this I saw Birmingham almost every day and have seen the likes of working in a modern warehouse and office complex, and yet, less than a minutes walk from the door of that building was a little bit of peace and tranquility in the form of the canal network and you can see some wild birds, beautiful flora and scenery.

Presently, central Birmingham is undergoing another major transition by creating a new tram /metro system, which to all intense and purpose will mean better travel,  better for the environment, and better easier transportation for its thousands of  residents and daily workers, shoppers and visitors.

I have often walked through various different areas of the city center and on numerous occasions wondered what a bird’s-eye view would look like of this incredible ever-changing city.  You can move between new and old buildings at the drop of a hat, and also between busy streets and then a quiet corner and a bit of tranquility in a matter of moments. There are some short walks and bus rides that take you within minutes from a busy market and shopping center to a park, recreation ground or nature reserve.

There are so many tall buildings in the area, but they don’t always give the best view across the city and where you can stand on the top floor of one building, the view may be blocked by other tall buildings. Fortunately on Monday however I was finally able to get that long-awaited view across the City of Birmingham and some of its neighbouring towns, from the window of the 26th floor of one of the tallest buildings in Birmingham, oh boy and what a terrific view it was too. Before leaving I asked the interview at the end if she would mind me taking a couple of photos, (luckily I did have my camera on my, which just goes to prove you might never know when an opportunity arises) and she was than happy to let me.


FEB 2015 - MISC (14) FEB 2015 - MISC (16)

FEB 2015 - MISC (22) FEB 2015 - MISC (20)



Whilst I was standing there looking out across at this fair city, my mind suddenly went back to when I was a youngster growing up and a particular poem by sir John Betjeman which has always been at the back of mind because it says a lot about his view of what progress is in the modern world, but somehow I sometimes have to disagree with him. Although, I do  recall someone telling me at the time he was in this particular poem referring to Milton Keynes….. as the concrete jungle. Or I wonder whether just through his eyes he just envisaged what might happen in the future everywhere…..I hope not!! However, I am often reminded that it is important to remember that progress is very important not just for the present, but for the future.




Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let’s say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
‘Keep Left,’ ‘M4,’ ‘Keep Out!’
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small ‘amenity,’
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we’ll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We’ll know that we are dead.

By Sir John Betjemen.

Many thanks for stopping by.


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