Graham Young rues the closure of one of Birmingham's famous landmarks linked to its most famous author.
Christmas is a lovely time for catching up with relatives or putting your feet up in front of the telly.
But within a few hours of sitting down for dinner, you’ll probably be feeling like me: eager for the fresh air of the great outdoors.
So why not do what we do... and go for a free walk in one of the region’s traditional parks?
Whether it’s Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich; St Nicholas Park, Warwick; Bancroft Gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bantock Park in Wolverhampton or Elmdon Park in Solihull, you’ll be amazed how green the West Midlands is.
Likewise Birmingham, if you try Handsworth, Aston, Cannon Hill or Highbury Park.
Then there are the big country-style parks at The Lickey Hills, The Clent Hills, Sheldon, Woodgate Valley, Sandwell Valley or Sutton Park.
My days out year of adventures in the West Midlands for 2011 was bookended with tower stories.
In January, I was one of the first visitors to make the most of Stratford’s sensational new 36 metre tower, built next to the RSC during its £112.8 million revamp.
The sheer novelty of this view over such an historic town – which even enables you to peer into the backyards of the houses where many of the actors live in RSC properties – makes the trip worthwhile.
Tower tickets are £2.50 per person (£1.25 under 18s, other concessions available).
There’s a maximum of 20 at the top at any one time, but timed tickets are available. Theatre tours are £6.50 each, under-18s £3. Call 0844 800 1110 or book online via www.rsc.org.uk
There is also a Riverside Cafe and a Rooftop Restaurant (reservations 01789 403449), various exhibitions and children’s activities to enjoy, too. If the whole development doesn’t win any tourism awards I’ll eat my hat.
In complete contrast, I recently tested Birmingham's so-called Tolkien Trail to mark the 10th anniversary on December 19 of the release of the first film in the multi-Oscar winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring.