A Weekend in Birmingham Part 2: Football and Fascinating Flowers
We started the day with a leisurely breakfast and once we were fully contented we slowly made our way to the bus stop, to catch the bus to the Botanical Gardens. The journey took us about 10 minutes and we were dropped off just outside the entrance. The Gardens were just opening as we walked into the foyer and bought our tickets so it was nice and quiet, with few people yet on the move.
The first room we entered was full to the brim with exotic plants representing both tropical rainforest and arid desert and to the side was the Japanese and Bonsai areas.
We eventually emerged from the ‘exotic climes’ inside into the fresh air, and followed the path around the perimeter hedge and dropped down through the rhododendrons and herbaceous borders to the Butterfly House. Always fascinating, these humid oases cater for the large, richly-coloured butterflies of the tropics, and we must have picked the ideal time to visit as the glasshouse was a visual feast, with beautiful butterflies flitting hither and thither and occasionally resting nearby. In addition there were others just emerging from the chrysalis stage and drying out their wings.
After seeing the butterflies, we strolled back up the hill to play ‘find the bird’ in the Garden’s Aviary.
It was soon time for a sit-down on one of the park benches and admire the statuettes that had been ‘planted’ in front of the aviary. The vast majority were stylised pieces of African art they gave pause for some thought and reflection.
From there it was back up past the tea room and along the terrace, taking in one or two of the glasshouses on the way. We decided that we had seen most of what there was to see and that it was time to catch the bus back into the city centre and from there make our way to the second chosen place of interest, Aston Hall.
Top Tip: Aston Hall offers free admission on the first Sunday of the month. To get to Aston Hall from the city centre, take bus number 7 as far as Witton Lane. From there, Aston Hall is a few minutes away by foot.
On our way to Aston Hall, our route took us past Aston Villa‘s football ground. Aston Villa happen to be my boyfriend’s favourite team so naturally I had to stop and take few photos to send through to him!
Once past the ground it was but a short distance up into the park to the Hall. In typical Dovaston style, our first stop was the café for some refreshments and from there a short walk through to the front of the house. One of the last great Jacobean houses to be built, the house now stands as a magnificent seventeenth century red-brick mansion in the middle of Aston Park. The layout of rooms remains largely unchanged, and they are linked by the original imposing grand staircase and splendid Long Gallery. The house still retains many early seventeenth century decorative features in stone, plaster and wood. Well worth a visit!
From the Hall we made our way, once again by bus, back into the centre. Once off the bus we followed the crowds along the High Street to the Bull Ring. A very quick look inside and then a few attempts to get a photo of the famous bull itself and it was time to think about a late lunch.
An hour or so later we were ready once more to hit the road. We continued our walk along New Street and then followed our normal route back to Canalside. Instead of going over the bridge we turned to the right and walked alongside the canal as far as the Malt House, crossed over to the other side (by the National Indoor Arena) before re-crossing the canal to get back to Brindleyplace. At this point there was a ‘crossroads’ as the canals offered four different routes for navigation purposes. Making our way back through Central Square and the streets feeding off from it we were soon back on Broad Street and the hotel.
To read more about Birmingham, Part 1 can be found here