Thursday, 19 December 2013

Has anybody seen it?... pt2

Jess arrived after a busy weeks work (hers not mine) on the 20th November into New Street Station. She arrived bearing gifts - Gingerbread persons (politically correct I believe) and gold coloured Christmasy star cookies. Surprisingly they arrived in very good condition after her train journey.

Biiiiggg plate of biccies

Tradition aboard would be to sit in with Deb's home cooked dinner on Jess's first night (can you guess what it would have been Jess?) But we had decided to hike the few hundred yards into the city centre for a bite to eat. This would involve walking through the Frankfurt xmas market with blinkers on because we would be coming back for a proper look the next day.Before we left we had a trawl through the available options of restaurant who were part of the Tesco voucher scheme and settled on Bella Italia. There are quite a few new participants in and around Birmingham, although a few of the smaller independent ones were either too far away or poorly rated.

On the way we popped in to show Jess 'our' new super library. It was a great weather day to be out on the hidden (but not particularly well hidden) gardens of the fantastic library in central Birmingham. Chilly but crisp and fairly clear, we were able to pick out a rough route that we would have taken on the previous days trip.

The top level garden and seating area

View westwards and down towards Cambrian Wharf, that's how close we are to the centre

I always try and get Jess chuckling with a family photo, this wasn't the grinniest photo either!
I use the same code words every time and its not 'say cheese'. I wonder how long the effects will work - six years and counting!

After the grand library tour we headed (blinkered) through the markets and waited for a seat in Bella Italia for a pretty good meal at reasonable prices with attentive service. The next day was an important one, we were kicking off with a trip to Birmingham's markets, not the Christmas ones but the proper ones. Today Deb was going to cook what ever Jess wanted and we were going to buy it all fresh in the market. I was pretty certain what it would be and soon we were looking at a massive joint of thick flank, a good all round beef joint. Unfortunately too pricey for me. We would have probably squeezed a good 12 portions out of it (keeping the rest in our little freezer) but I was about to walk away for £20 before I was offered it for £17.50, we settled on £15 well under £5 per kg. 

Deb didn't disappoint, we enjoyed a massive roast with yorkies spilling off the plates and too many veg for any day other than Christmas all washed down with glasses of fairly robust rose (sadly out of supply of Merlot) . It took a while to digest but by 4.30 we were off out again. This time to the Symphony hall, all of two minutes walk away. When I say Symphony hall it was actually the cafe bar for a freebe gig. We saw the excellent Big Tent and The Gypsy Lantern who had just got back from the last of their tour dates on the south coast.

We weren't finished with the day yet, we were off to have an unblinkered look around the German markets which stretched from just outside the library through Chamberlain (below) and Victoria squares and all the way down New Street to the Bullring shopping centre. All told, just under a mile and a half of stalls, beer and half metre hotdogs.  

By Jess's final day we were pleased to have a chill out morning on LJ but no trip to Birmingham would have been complete without a visit to Jimmy Spices. A place we happened upon for a meal out the last tine we were here in September 2012. I had been having some real problems with what turned out a few days later (after a mad rush to A&E) to be problematic gallstones and acute pancreatitis. So when Pip and Jess were up for a visit I looked for a buffet style place so that I could graze over a few different options and eat as much or as little as I wanted. This years visit was just as good and we rolled out back to the boat to watch a DVD (rented from the library). I had planned an evening at one of the many shows in Brum but by the time we had got here nearly everything was booked - it was a shame though, if I was a couple of days earlier we would have been able to get tickets for the Nutcracker at the Hippodrome. 

For Saturday we had arranged a hire car to take Jess part of the way home (to Basingstoke so she could get the train back to Poole) and pick up our new chimney pot from Deb's mums and spend the weekend with her before Deb's checkup appointment at the Audiology department in Reading. Double car upgrade this time, we paid the for the lowest category and managed to get a Peugeot 3008 people carrier.

Next Blog (pt 3) Two sets of boaty visitors... with a connected history, and Mum and Dad arrive for their first stay aboard.


  1. 3pm Saturday afternoon is the best time to go to the indoor market. I got 14 whole plaice for £10 (we eat a lot of fish) and they practically give the meat away. You need plenty of room in the freezer though :-)
    Hope you both have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year
    X Yvonne & Roger

  2. Hi Yvonne, Thanks for the tip. We had been in to the market on one of the cheap days but couldn't remember when it was - we'll have to try and stretch our supplies to next week. Hope you are both well and we hope to share the same patch of water with you some time in 2014