Birmingham 2016 Highlights

  • Starting trouble: Last week was a little crazy here and by Thursday evening, we were both functioning on just an hour of sleep. So my usual pre-holiday preparation could not take place. We packed just an hour before leaving the house this time and I couldn't manage to clean the house either. The Husband and I usually split packing responsibilities among each other such that I pack the "boring" stuff like clothes and toiletries and he packs the important stuff like house-keys, passports, and other miscellaneous items that we cannot possibly travel without. This time, before leaving the house, we stood in the middle of our living room, telling each other that we were sure we had packed everything but something seemed missing. When we got to the station, The Husband remembered what was missing. We are in possession of a little something called the 'Two-Together Railcard' which saves us a significant amount of money when we travel together by rail. And somebody forgot to take it from the little tray that holds all the miscellaneous items that we need for traveling. And because this somebody looked like he was going to pass out from all the fatigue and stress, I took it upon myself to run home and grab it. It's a good thing that we live just 10 minutes away from the station by the way. So I ran for a total of 20 minutes and boarded the train with just three minutes to spare. Once I sat down, I felt like my legs were jelly. Fun times -_-

  • I got punched in the face: Before I sat down and realised that my legs felt like jelly, I got punched or rather, elbowed in my jaw by a man who is twice my size. I got elbowed by my own husband as he was loading our stuff on to the space above our seats. I was convinced that I'd broken a tooth or two and that this marriage was over. He's lucky that I inherited teeth of steel from my mom's side of the family.

  • I tasted raw oyster: For the first time in my life, I tried a raw oyster and surprised myself by liking it instead of gagging on it and choking/puking to death.

    On our first day in Birmingham, we discovered that this is the place to be if you enjoy shopping and food. What impressed me more than the malls there were the local markets. Not only were they HUUUGE but they were cheap and had anything and everything you could conceive of.

    Also, this was the first time I walked into a Butcher's/ meat and seafood market and that too, one of this proportion.

    If that was too much gore (especially the little piggie toes), here's something to make you feel better:

  • Moving on to more important things, let's talk about how I got to stand in the room that Shakespeare was born in:

    That's the room, guys. That's the room. I can confirm that panties were flung in all directions.

    On Saturday, we hopped on a train and traveled for a little more than half an hour to Stratford-upon-Avon. I still can't believe I got to go there.

    There are many images online that can show you what the place looks like, and what it's main attractions are. So I'm going to limit myself to sharing personal pictures of fond memories. They are making me VERY happy as I'm putting this post together.

    Here's one because every group needs a jester:

    This one shows the original home of Shakespeare where he was born and raised.

    The post image for this blog post also shows this house in the background :)

    I wish I could go back in time and tell my 17-year-old first-year-English-Literature-student self that in a few years, I'd get to walk down the stairs of Shakepeare's home.

    Behold proof that we made up after he punched me in the face.

    This is when I spotted someone dressed exactly like me staring from the window:

    For souvenirs to bring back home, we seriously considered purchasing this Shakespearean Star Wars collection:

    But as much as we love showcasing "The Empire Striketh Back" on our bookshelf, carying the collection back with us would have been a pain in the arse so we ordered it online and instead, opted for some classy insults by Shakespeare.

    The next time someone pisses me off, I'm going to say, "I do desire we may be strangers.....BITCH!"

    And how cool is this eraser?

    We also had some afternoon tea from a 40's style British tea cafe called - wait for it - FOURTEAS

    Oh man, this picture invokes such fond feelings that make me want to go back to the quaint little town of Stratford-upon-Avon

  • That said, the best part of our weekend getaway was still the foooooood. I felt slightly uncomfortable at the butcher's after seeing all the animal tongues and livers and heads up on display, which by the way, I didn't share here because it may have been too much. But the minute everything was cooked and served on a plate, I held no reservations about digging in.

    These pork and lamb dishes are from a very tiny little Chinese place called Peach Garden situated in a very discreet corner of China Town in Birmingham. They were served with simple rice and green tea. Given a chance, I would travel to Birmingham every week in order to fill my quota of foodgasms. It was the best start to my Saturday.

    I also tried Ethiopian cuisine for the first time from a cute little place called Blue Nile which served a family style meal to us on a single plate (human hands for scale).

    The meal consisted of all varieties of meat and veggies served on a bed of what distinctly resembled a bunch of traditional South Indian Dosas.

    Oh, and that dish sitting at the edge of the table was raw beef marinated in spices by the way. Raw beef. We didn't really know what to expect and I was pretty sure I would not be able to swallow it with a straight face. But hands down, that was the best thing on our table. It was pure genius. Not only did we impress the staff there by ordering and finishing the dish, we also probably dug our way to Hindu Hell in the process. But I can assure you, it was worth it.

    We followed it up with a coffee ceremony where they first brought the roasted coffee beans straight to us, and filled the entire place with the aroma.

    And then, they proceeded to make the coffee for us.

    I've never tasted anything like it in my life.

    And finally, on our last day there, we stuffed our faces with some Dim Sum. I've always loved momos, dumplings and the like but after visiting Chung Ying, I realised that I had never tasted the actual thing before. Or at least, nothing I ever tasted before could hold a candle to this.

    We ordered 24 plates of goodness (24!) and have never felt more satisfied with life before. They had all these varieties like prawns stuffed in aubergines and various other steamed and pan-fried varieties of Dim Sum. My mouth is watering as I'm typing this out.

But the list doesn't end there. There are many more places to eat at on our bucket list which we had to save for later because there's only so much you can eat without exploding. That reminds me, check out exploSHANE courtsey of my favourite meme maker from Birmingham:

She also made me this on my birthday:

Look closely at that image. We're sitting on a commode together with an audience. I think this calls for a #thelittlethings which is now her favourite hashtag.

I have her to thank for some of the beautiful pictures above. Also, thank you, Ser and Lady Campsalot for hosting us and for making sure that we had a blast in Birmingham! Our other friend in the pics above will be called The Doubler on this blog because once, he doubled the doubler burger at a burger place and actually finished it with ease.

Thank you, dear Doubler for demonstrating even on this trip how much you can eat in one sitting, and for sharing some of the most hilarious childhood stories ever! And THANK YOU, Birmingham for making us want to visit you again very soon.

Have a great week, everyone!