I have written in the past about the pleasures of entering Coventry by canal, and I stand by it. O.K. there is quite a stretch of industrial wasteland to pass, but there are a lot of more pleasant stretches as the canal meanders its way into the city, not least the last half mile as you pass the wonderful old Cash's Hundred building and the brilliantly converted power station, now an apartment complex featuring many reminders of its industrial past.
Then the canal basin itself, whilst not pretty, is comfortable and safe and handy for the city centre.
Yesterday however, we had an alternative experience. We went into Coventry by car. Forget Alton Towers or Thorpe Park. If you want a true white knuckle ride where you genuinely feel your life is threatened, drive into Coventry using a Sat Nav . It's alright for the electronic lady to calmly say at the next roundabout take the third exit. When you have only just arrived up the ramp from the last roundabout on a flyover and find you are in totally the wrong lane and cars and lorries are coming at you from all directions it's not easy to remain polite to her. What a nightmare! Give me the canal any time.
I was taking Kath and Grace to the station so they could take Grace back to Reading to be picked up by her Dad. Waiting for Kath to return, I had three hours to kill. Now I have done the Cathedral twice already, and the Transport museum. These are both wonderful and you must go to them when in the city. However after that the centre of Coventry is, how shall I put it, depressing.
It's never a good sign when you're see two large pawn shops in a city centre. Across the square, the promenades lead on through the charming grey concrete shopping centres with their flat roofs and draughty corners. Of course the shops themselves are no different from the shops in any other large town, so it's all too familiar but undeniably drabber than most places.
I confess though that I did not reach a more interesting prospect. Pedestrian signs point to Medieval Spon Street. That sounds a lot more interesting and I vow to go there on our next visit.
Lastly there is one very fine building on the centre, full of promise. It's the Flying Standard, the Wetherspoons pub. What a stunner this is from the outside. Anyone who has been in the Standing Order in Edinburgh or the Opera House in Tunbridge Wells or the Old Kirk in Ayr will know the wonders Wetherspoons can achieve in old interiors. However they must have been having an off day when they fitted out the Flying Standard. It's cramped, gloomy, characterless and just like being a chartered accountant, Desperately Dull.