Based on my limited Internet research I had been led to believe that Birmingham New Street station and the area around it was a bit of a dump, but that just goes to show the importance of firsthand experience, because it is quite a sophisticated and attractive shopping area and there's nothing particularly dumpy about the station (inside, at least) at all. I don't know yet how much (if any) of Wayfarer is going to take place here, but at least now I have a mental picture (and some photos too) to guide me if need be...
The trains this morning were quite pleasant too, though the one from Redhill to Reading was a bit smelly and grotty compared to the others. Local colour? We stayed last night in Horley, just a few minutes outside of Gatwick -- all the houses there were made of rusty-colored brick with roofs of moldering gray slate and the town as a whole wasn't especially attractive, but we found a rather nice pub called the Six Bells where we had an excellent meal.
Our train to Aberystwyth leaves in half an hour so I will have to sign off now and get back to the station, but I'm glad I could post this to let you all know (like you were all sitting there biting your nails and worrying -- heh) that I've arrived safely in the UK and that all is going well so far! I hope to post again later in the week.
Books bought today, courtesy of Waterstone's:
- Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur and Starcross
- Eva Ibbotson's A Company of Swans