|This entry is dedicated to…|
|Steca, who may be jealous of my Tolkeinian fly-by|
|AJ, who requested pictures of the buildings and streets|
|BW, who has not yet discovered her love of narrowboats|
Sleep did not happen last night. I finally gave up at about 2:30AM and went downstairs and purged windows from the Netbook, replacing it with Ubuntu. The install went fine and now everything works but the sound and microphone. After that, I still wasn't tired, so I had cereal and read about James Harriot's adventures in veterinary practice in the Yorkshire. I got back to bed around 4:30AM and woke up again at 8:30AM, which I took as a good sign. Since Glenys is still asleep, I decide to go out for a run.
|Glenys mentioned the existence of a lake, so I try to find that first, but, instead, I find the canal. Naturally, I haven't brough my camera along, but you can see a picture of the canal I saw in Stratford to give you the idea. I cross the canal on an ancient, moss-covered bridge and take off down a grass-covered path wending through trees and shrubs by the canal. This green space is wedged between the water and a fence which protects a set of rail tracks. Every ten minutes or so a small train goes whizzing by. It's interesting that in Minneapolis they're working on making the light-rail longer, rather than more frequent. Thus, I continue my run between the age-old "water transit" and the newer "mass-transit".|
The canal has, as usual, no guard rail; also, as usual, there are a number of narrow boats parked along the canal. The dirt path goes on for a good ways beneath several bridges and some old locks. The canal narrows for these locks and I realize that, were I a better long jumper, I could get across at these places or, indeed, elsewhere. The water, though, is dark and murky; it's probably shallow, but just as probably hides carniverous fishes.
|Running along the canal, I pass the University of Bristol's hydrogen-powered canal boat, the "Ross Barlow". As far as hydrogen-powered things go, it seems fairly useless, but the folks who made it claim it can do great things, as they claim here and here.|
I climb up through the grass and a fence and up onto a busy road. The sky above is gray and cloudy. The houses and shops here are all brick and connected together. The streets are all curvy and, on one, I count nine different rental companies for a single row of houses. In my mind, I see the dark history of blood-shed and intrigue that most haunt the property ownership of these buildings - this is what the game monopoly was all about.
I find myself at Birmingham University and poke around. The old campus is a circular set of massive red buildings with imposing domes. On the inside, these are painted and supported by crenellated pillars. Long hallways with arched ceilings and stone floors lead you about. Climbing many staircases, I find the senate chamber, a venerable circle of dark wood chairs in one of the large upper domes.
Heading out, I stop by, naturally, the physics building. It has more wood than mine did, with larger, and perhaps brighter, freshmen labs. However, it has the same slightly hunched, ill-dressed, bearded professors stalking about - some things are universal. I can't get onto the roof and find the basement is dark with exposed bricks and pipes, under which I have to duck. The philosophy department is a row of non-descript doors and completely deserted. Although I hear music, I fail to find it. Finally, I turn myself back towards the house.
Glenys says she was just getting to worrying about my perhaps not knowing how to get back. She's made beans on toast for breakfast and I have the same, topped with eggs. I'm thinking of leaving today, but the train prices are expensive, so we decide to go out to the station to get a "Young Person's Rail Pass" as a form of mitigation. At the station, I take a passport photo - the first time I've used a photo-booth - and push all possible regulations to their limits.
|Afterwards, we decide spontaneously to drive to Stratford on Avon to see Shakespeare's house. On the way Glenys tells me about all sorts of relatives I never knew I had. She also tells me that Tolkein grew up in the Birmingham area. There's a mill near some woods where he used to play, there are two houses he lived in, and, somewhere, two towers.|
|We cross the street towards Braxby's, which seems to be like the McDonald's of fish and chips. On the way we pass a little harbour where the narrow boats live. I have a haddox with chips, vinegar, salt, and tartar sauce. It's tasty, but very large!|
Stratford on Avon
The pretty alley next to Shakespeare's house is not a highway.
We drive back home…
By 02012, whites will be a minority in Birmingham. I don't think I'd have even noticed the multi-coloured aspect of the town if Glenys hadn't pointed it out. It reminds me of my theory that "teaching" children not to be racist actually perpetuates racism. People out in Henley-in-Arden and Stratford-in-Avon don't like the Bermies (Bermingham-people) moving in, though many of those objecting are from anywhere but England; they don't even have the British accent.
Tomorrow, I leave for Keswick.