Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Postcard from the path

I've posted from Winterbourne before, but it's the kind of place which rewards a visit in all seasons. In fact, the cafe rewards a visit full stop.

You already know the only gardening I do is in the line of admiration rather than action, and that I'm fond of a cake, so what's new? Well, Winterbourne is owned by the University of Birmingham - a fine educational establishment which saw fit to confer a degree upon me - and both are in Edgbaston, which I've recently heard is the leafiest suburb in Western Europe.

Birmingham likes these kinds of claims. While other cities  make a lot of noise about how special they are, Birmingham comes up with fascinating facts such as 'more canals than Venice' (true, but hardly comparing like with like), or 'more parks than Paris'. And now the leaves. What I want to know is: who counted?

There are a lot of trees in Edgbaston and I'm thrilled my degree came with added leaf quotient. Another fact: last year a record number of tourists came to Birmingham. My top tip for visitors: take a stroll down this garden path and check out the cakes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Postcard from the Pantheon

Two thousand years old and yet it's the most impressive dome I've ever seen. Yes, I've visited the one in London; so the standard was set fairly low! The fact the Pantheon in Rome is still standing and looks so fresh is a wonder in itself even before you get round to realising how nice it is in there.

It just shouldn't work. The only light comes through that hole in the roof, and that hole in the roof lets in rain. Any architect proposing the design would be deemed insane. Inside though, it's fresh, calm and beautiful.

These days it's a Catholic church and there are some altars and tombs of significance. All I could do however was look up.