Birmingham

Out and About in Brum: September 2016

With a new job, birthday and a holiday in Tenerife it was a slightly quieter month than manic August but we still managed to get out and about a little…

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Mr Fletche is a longstanding fan of The Levellers, but having never seem them live it was a no-brainer to get tickets for their Friday headline gig at the Moseley Folk Festival.  It was our first time at this intimate family-friendly festival, held at the pretty Moseley Park, and we loved the colourful bunting and flags strewn amongst the trees and vintage clothing and accessory stalls selling all kinds of weird and wonderful things.  Also weird and wonderful was the line-up, an eclectic mix of unsigned acts, local bands and big names.  It’s the type of festival to pick a spot, lay down a blanket and relax in the sunshine, only moving to procure another reasonably priced Purity beer or gin cocktail.  Until the Levellers came on, and we had to pack up our blanket for fear of being trampled in the folk version of a mosh pit.  You can keep your Glastonburys and your V Festivals, with its summer Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, and its early autumn Folk Festival, Moseley is the new festival capital.  Just don’t tell everyone.

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Holiday time!  Rather than a day-by-day account (which would be a bit boring to be honest) here are my top 8 tips for places to visit in Tenerife if you’re tired of sun, sea, sand and sangria…

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After 5 days back in permanent employment after what seems like a lifetime of short-term contracts, I deserve a treat.  And my upcoming birthday-ending-in-a-9 is an additional excuse.  I refer to my long long list of local Brum Bloggers to see where they are raving about, and Pasta di Piazza at St Paul’s Square seems like a popular choice.  So Mr Fletche books us a table.  We start the evening with my first visit to Saint Paul’s House since it became a boutique bar, restaurant and hotel, and not the cheap and cheerful Ropewalk that I remember frequenting.  It’s a lovely refurb with a nice, elegant interior and a good drinks selection.  With five minutes before our dinner reservation, we head out across the square to Pasta Di Piazza.  You can see my thoughts on this below, but in a nutshell: Food was good (but not great); service was pretty terrible.  Sorry fellow bloggers, maybe we came on a particularly busy night, or they were under-staffed, but there’s no excuse for ignoring diners for the best part of an hour.

My review below was first posted on Yelp on 18/9/2016:

“I wanted to love this restaurant. I’d heard such good things from the local blogging community so gave it a go for my pre-birthday meal. And the food itself was wonderful. Hubby’s calf liver was tasty and had a lovely texture. And my spiedini di pollo was also good, although the salad accompaniment could have done with some sort of dressing.

But the service was atrocious. I know it was a Saturday night. And I know they were flat out busy. But there is no excuse for being left for 45 minutes before our food order was taken, with no acknowledgment from the wait staff. Nor any excuse for a further 45 minutes before any food materialised. Again, no acknowledgment or apology for our wait. A party of 12 were seen to straight away, and other parties in other areas of the restaurant were served bread and water within moments of being seated, so we may have just been unlucky. Or invisible.

Whilst we accept and even expect a relaxed meal experience, this was on the boundaries of unacceptable. Hubby was also disgusted by the cost of soft drinks and fruit juices which stop this from being an inviting option for families. Whilst we would recommend on the basis of the food, the service on this particular occasion would make me reluctant to revisit.”

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After a lazy day spent shopping, mooching around Grand Central (and watching all the first birthday shenanigans going on) and watching Strictly (me); and whiskey-tasting (Mr Fletche), we head back into Brum for lunch on the final Sunday of September.  Lunch turns into something of a marathon walk around town, as we cover the Bullring, New Street, St Philips, Colmore Row, Victoria Square (goodbye old library…), Centenary Square (hello new library), Brindley Place, Sheepcote Street, Gas Street, The Cube, Mailbox, Grand Central, Bullring (again), Moor Street, Eastside, Millennium Point, and finally down to Digbeth.  I am not wearing suitable footwear for a hike, so spend most of the latter half of the trek complaining.  This is the life of a photographer’s wife.

Chris Fletcher at the Cube
This is what happens when you’re married to a photographer…
The Cube
… but this was the result!

Still, I got to try Tonkotsu – despite my Pasta di Piazza experience I still largely trust the recommendations of the local blogging community, and this was on the must-try list.  Here’s my Yelp review, posted on 26/9/2016:

“I’m a bit of a ramen novice to be honest, so don’t have a whole lot of noodle experience to compare this to, but I really enjoyed my first taste here at Tonkotsu.

We went on a Sunday lunchtime, there was just enough room for the two of us to squeeze in, but with service this fast the customer turnover is quite quick so I can’t imagine you’d be waiting long to be seated. It’s quite a small menu, but I opted for the chilli chicken ramen whilst Mr Fletche had the Tokyo ramen. Mine was tasty, with plenty of spice but not enough to overpower the flavour. Mr Fletche polished his off and started on my leftovers so it’s safe to say he enjoyed his too.

It’s not a particularly cheap option at £11 for the ramen dishes, but you get a very generous size portion and you certainly don’t need to order any accompaniments. Our neighbours had the chicken katsu and I’d certainly consider trying that next time.  All in all, a good first experience, and one I’d be happy to repeat.”

 

So it was a more subdued September as I adjust to working 9-5 once more (“what a way to make a livin…”), but there’s plenty planned for October.  There’s two visits to the Bond, for the Autumn Market and for the Night & Day Markets, a freebie stay and afternoon tea at the Hyatt Birmingham thanks to Mr Fletche’s competition win, a date with Jean-Michel Jarre, and another BrumBloggers social at Ana Rocha!

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