Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A weekend away

"I've a real treat for you Dolores."

"What is it?"

"We're going to Venice."

"Really? Where's the money coming from?"

"It's not so much the Venice as a Venice."

"You're taking me to Birmingham, aren't you?"

"You're annoyingly well informed about Britain, you know. I blame those years in Swindon."

"Yes, you've taken me to all the most romatic spots, Ronald."

"I spoil you. Most people would kill for two years in Swindon"

"I would, too. To not have to live there."


Birmingham, with architecture almost as special as Frankfurt's and a train station even better hidden in a shopping centre than Utrecht Centraal*. A ringing endorsement, I know.

But for all I take the piss out of Birmingham, I have a weird affection for the city. Maybe not so weird, as that's where my Mum's side of the family came from. In the 1960's and 1970's I visited the city dozens of times seeing uncles and aunts. The Brummie accent evokes all sorts of emotions. Mostly family memories. Especially of my Mum, who sounded relentlessly Brummie more than 50 years after leaving the city.

Approach in the right way, and Birmingham has much to offer. Restaurants that represent the diverse nature of the population. Great markets. Decent shopping. And the odd pub still with M & B signage.

More about Brum to come.

* That's Lexxie's official opinion. "Which do you think is the crappier station, Birmingham New Street or Utrecht Centraal."

"You've already asked me that."

"Dad has his memory lapses, you know. He's getting old."

"New Street, Dad."

"Tell me what you think of New Street in one sentence."

"Shit. . . . Oh you asked for a sentence . . . it's a good station, if it was hiding from Nazis."

"I guess you mean that they wouldn't be able to find it."

"Whatever, Dad."


Willie said...

It must have passed you by, but the station is more than half way though a massive 6 year renovation including a new John Lewis's and shopping centre. Already a destination for shoppers it will now become even more so. The new library opened last year, one of the most advanced in Europe. Go into town on a weekend and it is packed, pubs do a great trade.

Did you get the bottles I left you at the Birmingham Beer Bash btw.

Ron Pattinson said...


it's still difficult to find your way out of the station, or indeed to find it from the outside.

I asked for the bottles but they the organisers didn't know anything about them.

Willie said...

I left the bottles with a couple of the organisers, the buggers must have had them for themselves.

Yes must admit the signage is crap at the station.

Rod said...

I have a very soft spot for Brum, having lived there as a student.
However, when I last visited there about a month ago, I was very disappointed by the pubs and beers on offer. Couple of nice pints of cask in the Sacks of Potatoes - that was about it. Tell a lie - nice pint of Tetley's Mild in the Prince of Wales.
Hopefully, events like this BBB will start a process of change.
I still had a nice day though in Britain's most under-rated city.

Willie said...

You're going to the wrong places. Nothing wrong with the Sack of Spuds, I used to live in there as a student.

The Wellington on Bennett's Hill regularly has 12-16 cask beers, it's sister pubs The Post Office Vaults (has loads of continental bottled beer as well as cask) and the Curzon Arms are very good. The Shakespeare and The Old Contemptibles are also favourites.

The change in Brum has been going on for a while.