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Birmingham’s combination of old and new make it a must-visit city


IMG_4004Birmingham‘s new civic library, a towering gleaming box clad in a filigree of black and gold metalwork, which rises ten floors above Centenary Square, is testimony to the transformation underway in England’s second city.

This week Birmingham was this week named one of 2015’s Top 10 Cities by the Rough Guides. No no longer England’s industrial powerhouse, now it is the services sector that drives its growth. But it’s iron and sweat heritage has been at the heart of its redevelopment with extensive areas of buildings

Walking England’s green and pleasant land

greenandpleasantladmainpicThe view from the crest of the hill reveals a dozen increments of green in the hillocks and valleys below, from the fresh lime of the young wheat crop to the gothic dark of the Yews in the churchyard just visible in the distance. When poet Edward Blake wrote of England as “this green and pleasant land’’, this view, near Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire, surely was exactly the scene he had in his mind. This is not an isolate patch of rural idyll. From here it is possible to walk for days through endless countryside without engaging with frenetic modern life much more than just crossing the occasional major road before clambering over a stile and disappearing back into the land where time can be forgotten.

Shropshire is the most rural of England’s counties. It borders North Wales and was once part of the ancient Welsh Kingdom of Powys although times and


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