Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Day Out in Birmingham

This morning, we took the train to Birmingham for a visit to the National Sea Life Centre. First, however, we stopped at the lovely 18th-century Cathedral of St. Philip, near the Snow Hill rail station, which is known for its four magnificent Edward Burne-Jones stained glass windows (1885-1898). The windows depict the Nativity, the Ascension, the Crucifixion, and the Last Judgment. The cathedral suffered serious damage during bombing raids in World War II, but fortunately the windows had been removed and stored deep in a Welsh mine shaft for the duration of the war. Burne-Jones was a native of Birmingham, and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has a large collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings.

Edward Burne-Jones
The Ascension (detail, ca. 1885)

The National Sea Life Centre was wonderful. My favorite things were the cownose rays, the otters, and the two magnificent sea turtles. Fish are amazing creatures. There was one species of fish in which each individual fish is born a male, but as they mature, the larger ones become females. There was another species in which each individual fish is both male and female; when mating, one partner becomes male and the other becomes female. The ocean is a swinging place.

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