When you've lived in the same city for the first few years of your adult life you tend to forget about the architecture; old and new the same buildings you've seen on a regular basis all blur into the background on your journey. It is only since being in another city, and returning to home soil that I've grown to appreciate the scale of the projects undertaken, the hours builders would have had to put in, and the vision possessed by the architects that built the centuries-old buildings of inner city Birmingham.
The charm of the following places is unprecendented, and considering the people of Birmingham and I, are privy to these wonderful, and free tourist spots, I think myself lucky.
Cathedral Square (known by locals as 'pigeon park'), no matter the season, is always busy. Proudly standing in the centre of the square is Birmingham Cathedral, which is the holy hub of events that reach out to the public on a weekly basis. The St Basil's Fundraising event is taking place in throughout September, as well as the 'Sit e A Graduate Festival of Creativity', which includes craft development for charity.
Generally, the cathedral always the spot for monthly craft fairs, bird-protection groups, and open-air entertainment from dance groups in the Birmingham community. There are ten benches dotted around the 'pigeon park', but during the summer everyone tends to sit on the grass.
Books have a romance; the way a novel holds its own and can move a sea of people merely by the enunciation, the tone, and intent, all bound up in a matter of 250 pages, is quite something. Romantic I believe. Reading is also free.
The new library is the perfect place to while away a few hours and not spend a dime. Education isn't always free, but the world's largest library collection of Shakespeare's works is changing that. Knowledge is akin to education, and knowledge is strength – broadening the mind is a free supplication provided by the Birmingham council, and is one the best ways to save money, while increasing your brain power - even if it is chick-lit.
There is always something going on in Victoria Square (adjacent by the fountains. Always something going on. Over the summer last year I watched the olympics on the provided deck chairs on a balmy eve. This year I sat with my boyfriend on the smooth seating surrounding the fountains as we watched the tennis. Atmospheric and free, it was summer and romance bundled up in a nice little package. The fountain is reminiscent of a sculpture created by the passionate Greeks. Floozie in the jacuzzi a naked female surrounded by water. I like to think of mythological characters of Olympus may have nestled how we were - around a fountain, sipping from bottles of red grape juice (wine for them).
Chamberlain Square (the one with the art museum and gallery) is often the overlooked square in the city, but is the perfect place to stop, think and enjoy the freebies of Birmingham city centre.
Many consider it as somewhere they walk through to get to and from their destination, but Chamberlain square is the wonderful little walk way that always has something going on. The monument in the middle is perfect for sitting on as you watch the hundreds of people go on their way. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is to the right of the Chamberlain memorial building, which is free admission. Chamberlain square is usually home to a host of open-air events which take place such as the annual International Food Festival, Food Fair, the German Market, and The Voyage which took over most of the floor space.
Chamberlain Square and memorial
If there's nothing on, I always find myself sitting with my lunch in Chamberlain square, and letting my eyes take in everything around me – the fellow workers on their lunch, the delighted squeals of children, excited about the exhibition at the art gallery (currently A Squash and a Squeeze), the scent of pastries being baked at Greggs only ten yards away.
If you're in the city, and are hoping for somewhere to sit and take a moment why not try any, or all of the above? You might even find you're suddenly in awe of the buildings you pass on a daily basis. It's funny what you notice when you open your eyes.