And it was no surprise to realise I would not be able to take a guest from Spain inside the 29-metre Perrott’s Folly in Edgbaston, one of the inspirations for JRR Tolkien’s The Two Towers.
Padlocked and forlorn despite its magnificent architecture, even the old sign outside explaining exactly what it is had disappeared and the entrance garden was seriously overgrown with weeds.
A tale of two cities? Not quite, because on this form an alien would be surprised to learn that only Brum is supposed to be a city and Stratford is just a town.
Elsewhere, the year positively flew by.
We had very rewarding trips to Lord Leycester Hospital and St John’s Museum in Warwick; Astley Book Farm close to Nuneaton – the region’s largest second hand bookshop, on a farm!; Hartlebury Castle in Worcestershire; Redwings Horse Sanctuary at Oxhill in Warwickshire; Evesham Country Park; Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford; West Midland Safari Park, Bewdley; the Black Country Living Museum, Tipton; the National Trust’s Kinver Edge in Kinver and the fabulous lemur walk at Dudley Zoo.
Other memorable days out included Arbury Hall, Nuneaton; the Domestic Fowl Trust, Honeybourne and the chance to see Lord Lichfield’s private rooms at Shugborough Hall, Milford near Stafford.
Amongst the most unexpectedly memorable sights, an extraordinary 1790 Crimean pine tree at Arley Arboretum, Upper Arley – in its own way another unforgettable tower.
With all of this to see and do in the Midlands, what a shame that the following headline should appear on March 25: ‘Museums to charge £4 to visit’.
After a similar charge had been introduced at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in January, for the first time in a decade adults visiting Birmingham’s remarkable Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, Soho House and Weoley Castle ruins were all facing a similar charge from April, with £3 for Sarehole Mill.
It felt like rough justice considering those of us who live in the city might think that we each already own a tiny part of these gems.