Monday 5 July 2021

Coventry Re-visited

It's been a very long time since I spent time in Coventry city centre. I would at times drive through, or drive to a specific location, but spending leisure time there, has not happened since I stopped working there which is quite a while now.

What always struck me when driving through, was how ugly the city is. Coventry used to be a beautiful medieval city, but the Nazis destroyed most of it when they bombed it. The town planners made a total mess of it when they re-built it. I quite like some brutalist architecture, but Coventry brutalism is ugly, unforgiving - a wasteland. In the last few years modern-day planners seem to be in competition with those in the late 40s, trying to outdo them: huge, ugly tower blocks are appearing all over the place aimed at housing students. Student housing does not have to be ugly and cheap - but Coventry planners are determined to make it so. It's so sad.

We spent quite a long time in the city centre during this visit. I enjoyed it immensely, and went home feeling really good and uplifted. Yes, we did nice things, and the company was excellent. But, I slowly started realising that it was more than that: it was something to do with the atmosphere, the vibrancy, the people who live in this city. A large proportion of the city's population are of ethnic minorities, and another large part are young people. The resulting mix is wonderful. This realisation made me think of the 20+ years I spent teaching in the city, and how I loved, absolutely loved the children who were in my care. 

We were early for our rendez-vous with our friends, so spent half an hour wondering around - this is a typical image of the city

which is City of Culture this year. Unfortunately, due to Covid 19, a lot of the events are not advertised - you might happen to come across them, or you might not.

It took me a few years to realise that this is not a bridge, but just a structure

Fortunately, a few of the old buildings remain standing

including this church

Celebrating being City of Culture - on these ribbons Coventry school children have written messages of hope

We met our friends and headed towards 

the Herbert Art Gallery to see two exhibitions. We had a bit of time before our allocated entry time

Coventry Cathedral is across the road from the Herbert so we decided to go in 

St Michael and the Devil by Jacob Epstein next to the entrance

Just a few snapshots of this magnificent building - one of the top three of my favourite religious buildings

If you want to see more or find out more, go here.  I posted a detailed post on this magnificent building a few years ago

We enjoyed the two exhibitions at the Herbert and then we had a look outside

These panels outside the Herbert trace the history of the city before the Blitz destruction

For instance, on 41 Bayley Lane, the Meryngton family lived in the 1300s, David Corby in 1410, Mr Dolenway, baker in 1747, Joseph Wells, builder in 1816, Charles Woodcock in 1848, Shorty and Son, bookbinders in 1939, and the street was destroyed in 1940. Such a wonderful idea

This alleyway leads to 

some of parts of what remains of the old city

imaginative way to paint a building

and then we arrived at the shopping precinct

We stopped here for something to eat and opted for street food. We had falafels with humous and salad. Found a free table and chairs, and sat, enjoying the sunshine and people gazing. We were very pleasantly surprised and pleased when after a while, the owner of the van that sold the food came up to us with a paper bag that contained another 10 falafels. We were offered these with a smile. How nice is that? It sort of seemed to reinforce the friendliness and hospitality of the people of Coventry.

Our car parking ticket was running out but before heading for the car, we stopped and had a look at this fountain which is a new addition to the shopping precinct.

It was a hot, sunny day and kids were having such fun splashing in the water (their mum was having a good time too)

The misty part of the fountain was extraordinary - I have not seen this before

at times the mist was so thick that you could not see who was in it. Extraordinary and such fun.

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