A Surprising Encounter with Birmingham & a Warted Pumpkin

My family and I enjoyed some time away last weekend. Our main destination was Stratford Upon Avon where we explored and shared some family time, and I also squeezed in a little research into my current book. I’ll share some pics with you shortly when I’ve sorted them out. However, our schedule kicked off on Friday with an afternoon in Birmingham city centre.

This is the first time I’ve visited Birmingham, apart from the odd concert, in over twenty years and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The former concrete jungle has enjoyed a careful face lift since my last jaunt. The industrial landscape still dominates the skyline as you approach on the M6, but the centre seems to have taken on a softer feel.

Our trip kicked off at The Mailbox, a large shopping and eatery complex, where we visited the BBC Centre and took turns in reading the news autocue and presenting the weather in their interactive centre. Much fun for all the family.

Afterwards we ventured into Gas Street Basin, Birmingham’s own ‘Little Venice’; a beautiful place to wander canal side, take in the air, and enjoy a coffee at one of the numerous cafes.

Later, it was time to consider dinner and where better than the Chinese quarter? As we made our way through The Arcadian, a lovely oriental supermarket caught our eye in Cathay Street. Specialising in imported foodstuffs from the East, their products included 10-20 kg bags of various types of rice, every sort of noodle you can imagine and numerous varieties of fish and meat in the frozen section. Daughter was particularly taken with the ducks feet! So, we came out with a carrier bag of new food to try at home (without the ducks feet), which will be fun to try out, especially as all the instructions are in Chinese.

Finally, we enjoyed a meal in one of the plethora of restaurants whose neon signs light up this area and we weren’t disappointed (the squid and sea bass were particular favourites), before heading off to our hotel in Stratford.

Whilst Birmingham wouldn’t be my first choice for a family visit, I was pleasantly surprised with its new feel. Britain’s second city is more family friendly these days and we’ll certainly go back to explore another time. In fact, we’ve already earmarked the Aquarium and Sea Life Centre for our next visit.

On an unrelated issue, we always celebrate Halloween in our house and it’s a family tradition to carve a pumpkin and leave it outside with a candle burning inside to invite village ‘trick or treaters’. Only this year we had a pumpkin with a difference – it was warted! So, I’ll leave you with our warted pumpkin and wish you all a very Happy Halloween. Have a great week, all.

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