Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Dragons, Dumplings, Daimlers and Danny... pt1

Oops, should have posted this one a while back. 

The weather this week has been awful, you can't look at a paper or turn the TV on without being bombarded by tales of woe from flood effected communities. I am looking out of the polished windows of Birmingham Library as the weather changes from horizontal rain to a thick belt of snow obscuring the view of the Cube, and turning the heads of Boulton, Watt and Murdock (of steam train fame) white. Before this week though we did have a couple of dry spells, no seriously, I've got a picture later to prove it. 

Also known as 'the carpet salesmen'

Not going out in that

Sunday the 2nd of Feb was a calm cool day, ok there was the odd early shower but by the time we left LJ to head into town (city) the skies had cleared a little and the breeze was slight. We expected a few people crowded outside the ICC and Symphony hall because Britain's Got Talent was filming a round of their live auditions. On Saturday I had asked one of the event crew if there were any available tickets, he had said that it was doubtful but we would have to register on line anyway. We walked 100 yards to the library to log on to one of their time limited PC's (no booking times needed but time is limited to 20 minutes) and registered for free tickets that still had some limited availability for Sunday. The problem was, however, that the process said we would be notified four days in advance of the event so we weren't too hopeful. 

Not only were there crowds today but barriers as well, oh how exciting.  Bodies heaved five deep at the barriers but just behind were the raised plinths for the street lighting. As I nosed around Deb secured a vantage point from the raised square and had an outlook across everyone's heads to see that the barriers led to an opening to the road on Broad Street. A car was expected. 

Who was it going to be? Ant'n'Dec (are they one person??), Simon Cowel, the woman who was married to Les Dennis before she had an affair with Bob the builder; the singer (or is that the X Factor), or David Lucas-Walliams.

OK Rolls not Daimler but I like alliterations 

Ohh, its not the singer, or Bob the Builders bit on the side or the non identical twins or the funny one... its................THE OTHER ONE

Even the press were there

Very busy inside

The anticipation, fever-pitch, the raw talent of a nearly silver man and a slightly gold man... BGT!

The excitement over we continued into town pondering how long the assembled crowds had been queueing, we'd been there less than five minutes start to finish! We were heading East and then to lower Southside, destination Chinatown (ohh sounds very Manhattan doesn't it - where's me trilby and trench-coat). Birmingham has got a thriving little Chinese quarter and the planned New Years celebrations were reported to bring in quite a crowd, The little street market was heaving, far too many people and too small a street to have stalls on both sides. Fairground rides and big screens led to the Arcadian Centre where restaurants and elevated walkways look down over a central courtyard perfect for the entertainment stage. We stood a while watching the frequent acts before the finale.

Busy Chinese stalls

Main Stage

A good turn out

Enter the Dragon

They had to wait for a bit whilst the previous act finished

It was all very clever
Leaving the Arcadian centre I suggested popping in to the Chinese supermarket and getting some supplies to head back to LJ and have a quick noodle supper. There were a good few street stalls selling grilled meats and boxes of noodles but as expected they were a little on the pricey side and I reckoned I could do similar for about one tenth of the price. There was one restaurant that intrigued me though, from the outside it looked like a Chinese version of a McDonald's, bright and simply furnished but displaying back-lit menu displays of everything from turbot and lobster to Dim Sum. A quick scan through the glass frontage showed a clientele virtually exclusively of young Chinese diners - always a god sign. The Steamed Pork Bun looked too good to pass up. 

The pomegranate sized dumplings arrived lily white with their smooth doughy surfaces evaporating the last of the steam. Pork, garlic, sweet spices and Chinese leaves filled the centre - yum. To accompany our dumplings we ordered steaming bowls of soup to fortify us for the chilly mile or so walk up the hill back to the boat; hot and sour for me and sweetcorn for Deb. We left satisfied and full enough not to need any noodles when we got back, all for the princely sum of £6.38 - bargain.


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