Well, we had one that involved Birmingham and a coach trip there and a couple of days in a cheap hotel and walking around to see what they've done with the city centre and doing it in sunny warm November. The conversation kind of ended up with us booking it all.
Madness? Perhaps. Probably. Worthwhile - oh yes.
The hotel was in the Chinese Quarter - you could easily tell by the view through the window:
Wandering around we were most impressed by the Birmingham museum and art gallery. Lovely building, great exhibition on the history of the city and the industries that flourished there (note use of past tense here). We learned useful (?) stuff such as 75% of the pen nibs in use worldwide came from Birmingham until the nasty Biro pen appeared and people stopped writing properly.
Our wander around the Pen Museum (yes, there is one) was an out of body experience. It is staffed by well meaning volunteers who were keen for us to get the full on experience. Seeing the skill of the tool makers who produced the dies to make nibs was amazing. Learning about the processes used to temper the steel to the specific needs of a nib was interesting. Seriously, it was! When one of the staff moved on to tell us about being a photographer for the police and starting his life in a childrens' home, the link became a touch tenuous. Poor guy just wanted someone to talk to and we were it. We excused ourselves before falling asleep. Shame, the industry has a fascinating story which was put across by the typical volunteer types - dead keen, slightly tedious.
Another big German Xmas market was underway. Again, we resisted the siren call of Spaetzle and goulash. For the UK readers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4tzle
The captain resisted as he knows just how leaden they become in the stomach and how further walking becomes impossible, especially if they mix with Weissbier in the stomach. Lethal but lovely.
The canal area in the centre has been tidied up a lot. The "romantically" named Gas Street Basin:
We looked at the space on the narrowboats and reckon that living on a Nordhavn is much better. Mind you, their party boats look much nicer than the "HMS 69" offering here in Penarth that starred in earlier posts:
Of course, there is always a welcoming canal-side pub to hide away in when it rains. It is Birmingham after all....
Poor Patrick (who has been quite quiet recently) was left on guard duty again. He did an admirable job (as you see, he outranks the captain quite markedly). Brenda (a real life Texas girl who has a sense of humour that is much needed for her job with United Airlines) sent a nice picture that cheered Patrick up though. He is sitting in the pilothouse, with a dreamy look on his beak right now. Wonder how his past loves (see earlier posts) feel about this: