Friday, 7 September 2012

Guess the Guest Blogger...

As a visitor on board Lois Jane I've been given the privilege of writing Mum and Dads blog from the last few days. Okay so it wont take that long to guess.

I got to Birmingham after a long day at work and a 2 and a half hour train journey which I am not used to, so arrived a little dazed at about 9pm.  My first thought was "it's very quiet for the second biggest city in England" but it was a nice surprise. The walk to Lois Jane wasn't too far, about a mile, which was better than expected although to get onto the Wharf I had to do a little maneuver around the fence over the dark murky canal, something which I was apprehensive doing, as was Mum as she didn't want a hysteric 21 year old daughter on her hands if I had fallen in, but I luckily made it safely round.

It's a lovely little Wharf and its great to be close to civilization which is a nice change to my usual visits consist of walking a few miles to get anywhere. I've been very surprised by Birmingham, its a lovely city with plenty to see and do, not quite the modern concrete jungle I was expecting.  It's  very picturesque with amazing buildings old mixed in with new, I've been quite taken a back by the Cube, a massive modern 26 story tower block consisting of restaurants offices and apartments looking over the city.  Not being used to being somewhere with such tall buildings I've often found myself stumbling into people trying to look up at them, which is not good for me as the 'one that's prone to falling over'. 

The Cube

On Wednesday after my most comfortable sleep ever aboard LJ we spent a lazy morning aboard before we headed towards the farmers market on New Street.  The best thing about visiting is always the home made food, in this case it was rolls with foraged blackberries dad had made into jam YUM! The market was quite diverse selling anything from handmade burgers and sausages to Caribbean lunches which smelt very good.  We then headed into the center to the Bull Ring, probably the biggest shopping center I've ever been in. Just before the entrance there's a massive bull with one foot raised, Dad saw the perfect picture opportunity for mum to lie under the bulls foot, which would have been very funny but she refused.  I don't blame her there were lots of people around. After a wander around the center and the cheapest coffee I've ever had at just 50p a cup from a burger van we headed back via the farmers market to pick up something to put on the BBQ. We had very tasty Dexter Beef burgers, home made coleslaw made by mum and a potato gratin type thing made by dad, I sat at my new spectators seat and watched over the breakfast bar. The burgers were probably some of the best I've ever had! After dinner we went for a walk towards the Mailbox along the canal and had a coffee in one of the 4 Cafe Rouge's the city has to offer. 

Thursday we went on another adventure into town and went into Birmingham's vast museum and art gallery.  It's quite a mix of different things from different eras as I'm used to going into specific museums, none the less it was very interesting and we spent half the day in the beautiful building which looks over Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square.  It boasts art and pottery from as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans all the way to modern day sculptures. By the time we came out it was about 3.30PM and rehearsals for the Arts Festival had started to take place on the stage in Chamberlain Square. We headed back to the boat to chill out before heading out the evening to Birmingham's famous Balti Triangle and Ladypool Road.  

Mum and I took the rare opportunity to do some hair dying as there are some Water Ways facilities near by, despite the fact they are rather disgusting we headed over there to rinse her hair so we didn't use all the boats water supplies.  When we returned mum said she wanted to try a new do, so I put in the curlers I had bought up, it looked rather funny, but did the job and whilst out at dinner mum randomly commented "I feel like I have lots of hair" job well done I think!

Mum looking like a 60's housewife

By about 8pm we were ready to go so started our 2.5 mile walk to the Indian restaurant dad had picked out, Al Frash. Al Frash claims to be the restaurant that invented the Balti so therefore it was mandatory we all had one. Along with that dad ordered the biggest naan bread I've ever seen, the large family size. when the waiter put it on the table my eyes nearly popped out and the waiter had a little snigger to himself.  Never having stayed this far up north I have never seen anything like it. The food was all very impressive I would probably go as far to say the best curry I've ever tasted! However with another 2.5 mile walk home at the backs of our minds our spirits were soon dampened slightly by the trudge home.  Luckily we made it by 3 minutes to get the last bus back closer to the city center meaning only a mile left to walk with very full bellies.  


My last full day visiting Lois Jane, Birmingham and off course parents has been very relaxing.  We headed into town again and went to an old Victorian arcade, Great Western Arcade by St Phillips Cathedral.  The Arcade was originally build as a go between between two train stations, it was very pretty and had been recently restored so it was easy to see exactly what it would have looked like in the late 19th century when it was first built.  

We are heading to the first performance of the Arts Festival tonight in Chamberlain Square, a 3D performance by Mandala which I think is a mix of Indian music and dancing so should be very interesting! And as always I've bought the beautiful sunshine with me :-)

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