I saw the Staffordshire Hoard today. There had been tales of very long queues, so I got up early (6am) and was out the door before 7.30am to get the bus to get the train to Birmingham. Got to the museum just on 9am, the queue was out the building & just round the corner, it was pretty chilly but I was inside in about five minutes cos they've been opening early for the Hoard at 9am. Only ended up queueing for around 40 minutes before getting in to see it, which was much less than I'd expected - obviously the early start paid off.
The items themselves were so fabulous, mostly gold and lots of garnets, mostly decorative pieces from swords & armour. Very detailed & intricate, there were magnifying glasses over lots of the pieces so you could see the detail. Very crowded round the display cases, almost all good-natured except for one arsehole who kept complaining he couldn't see (he was at least 6 foot tall), and asking people to move but they had nowhere to move to in any direction. One woman was there with her two children and most people were moving when they could to let the children get close to the display case, but he was getting arsy about them getting closer than he was even though he could easily tower over them.
I went in the gift shop afterwards, first time I've been in there for years and it hasn't been full of schoolkids, so I bought some postcards of some of the gallery paintings and a three-colour pen. I was hungry by then (no breakfast except a cup of coffee) & I thought about going into the cafe, but I saw the arsehole heading that way (lecturing his wife on the way) so I left for food elsewhere. I headed round the back (ie where the underpass begins) to see how big the queue had got - about half-way back along the side of the building, but looked slower-moving. I walked round the back streets there, the old buildings that survived the war there are awesome, huge sturdy Victorian & Edwardian era buildings with original lettering preserved for "Birmingham Institute" and "National Bank" & similar. I love buildings like that. Many are still banks etc, the Birmingham Institute building is part of one of the Universities or colleges, but a lot of the ground floors are bars or eateries. I didn't venture in there but headed to the Bullring, and had a hot chicken jalapeno wrap in Pret A Manger at Selfridges, before buying my usual stash of jellybeans. Then off for some Christmas shopping at Hotel Chocolat before heading home via Marks & Spencers.
A few links on the subject: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
, where the Staffordshire Hoard is on display. They have a fundraising thing on to try & keep the items in the Midlands. Also, lots of pics of the items can be seen here