City hopping around the UK

Last week I was in Manchester, then on Wednesday and Thursday I was in London. Last night I ended up back in my home city of Birmingham at the very posh Mailbox for a meal in “Bar Estilo”.

One thing you do notice as you drive from city to city is how close you are – when the traffic isn’t too bad. From my front door I can get to London in around 2 hours if the magical “traffic fairies” are on my side. Not bad, not bad at all. Now, London is somewhere I never thought I’d like, however this is probably my fourth or fifth time down to “the smoke” and I’m continually impressed. We stayed at the Hilton in Gatwick airport and got the Gatwick Express train in, which although a tad expensive (in my mind), got us slap bang into the centre of London very quickly.

The tube was also excellent – very quick and got us into Piccadilly Circus with seconds to spare before we ran across into the Piccadilly Theatre to see “Guys and Dolls” – a Valentines gift I’d bought for Em a few weeks ago. I’ve got to confess – it’s the first musical I’ve seen and I quite enjoyed myself. However, we’d rushed around so much and got stuck in the snow on the M25 so we’d literally had no time at all to eat anything. We ended up grabbing a quick burger in Burger King, which looked out over the busy and bustling Piccadilly Circus. Then, even though it was around 11 at night and we still had around an hour journey to get back down to Gatwick, we walked off around London. We walked down Regent Street, along Pall Mall (I think), then saw Nelsons Column, then walked down Whitehall and saw Downing Street – which is closed off and guarded by two very cold but mean looking police / SAS types with guns. Then we went down to see Big Ben and Westminster itself – then hopped on the tube to get back to Victoria where we hooked up with the Gatwick Express again. All in all, we enjoyed the whole experience, even though we couldn’t stay too long because of work and other commitments :(

Last week in Manchester was a bit brief. We didn’t really get to see much of the city – just a quick trip to the Trafford Centre and airport, that’s about it.

Then last night we were in the second city – Birmingham. My local city. I must admit that the Mailbox is stunning and we really enjoyed having a meal there and hitting a few bars after – it’s probably just as good if not a little better than the Bullring and The Arcadian. Birmingham is getting better, but – as someone who knows this city better than Manchester or London – it still needs a lot of work. There are problem areas, and they need sorting. Anyone who lives near Brum will know about these areas, and they usually end up on the local news every other day :(

However – after my whirlwind tour of these three English cities I’m quite impressed with the people I met and the places I saw.

More piccies on my photo blog here!!