A retro-blog by Pat the Chooks
Tuesday took me down to Birmingham for a day’s training with my professional body (the English version not the Scottish on – I am a member of both). This meant getting out of bed at 0315 and leaving the house by 0400 to catch a plane just after seven o’clock. The flight was on time and left in the darkness, landing in Birmingham in the daylight. This meant that we had the pleasure of watching the sun rise from 20,000 feet, creating a spectacular roseate glow on the clouds beneath us. I find landings absolutely compelling as the landscape below gets closer and more and more detail can be seen; animals in fields, cars on roads and so on.
The airport at Birmingham is linked to the adjacent main line railway station by a free automatic “monorail” (which runs on two rails). This means that you can walk off your plane and be on the train within ten minutes if one is in the station and in the centre of the city only ten minutes after that. This makes Birmingham the most accessible city to the air traveller using public transport. And it’s cheap; less than Â£5 for a return rail fare. Goodness knows what the Heathrow or Gatwick Expresses charge, but I’ll bet it’s loads more than that.
The training went well, and it was good to see some old chums that I hadn’t since moving to Scotland, or even a little longer. It appears that I’ve been nominated to one of the professional body’s policy boards, so it’s nice to know that I’m wanted.
Having been cautious and booked a later rather than an earlier return flight, I had some time to kill and wandered around the city centre, which has changed enormously since I was a student there in the early 80s. Even the roads around the university had changed, with roads where buildings used to be and buildings where I remembered roads. The same with the city centre itself, which is very different and much improved in many ways over the last twenty-odd years.
Looking for something to eat, I found the Chinese quarter and a small restaurant which could have been in Hong Kong for all the resemblance it had to its own city. I ordered a crab meat and sweetcorn soup and a chow mein – not good for the diabetic, but a rare chance to indulge like this. The crab meat was anything but, being a broken-up “ocean stick” which is an artificially-coloured pressed combination of white fish meat and crab meat. The chow mein was huge and I made the mistake of eating all of it, instead of a diabetes-friendly half or even slightly less. Stuffed, I made my way back to the airport and sat drinking coffee until my flight was called and it was back to Glasgow and the two-hour drive home again.