As much as I’d love to be travelling every moment I can, there are multiple reasons why i can’t. Chiefly, travelling can be expensive – even when you’re reasonably budget-savvy as we are. And secondly, we both work full-time jobs – which (yay!) fund our travel – but (boo!) means we have to juggle limited annual leave days, bank holidays and weekends to maximise our time away. Which is why appreciating what’s on our doorstep is always important. Here’s a look at my year in the UK – A Brummie at Home.
In 2016, I bit the bullet and went along to my first BrumBloggers events. This was an opportunity to meet other local bloggers and without doubt make some new friends. This has carried on into 2017 and I’ve been lucky to attend some dining and theatre events as part of the community. I enjoyed a lush Indian meal at new Sutton Coldfield restaurant 1580, had my first ever blogger blind date with the lovely Emma Pond at Thai restaurant Siamais, ate at the Birmingham Hippodrome’s Circle Restaurant for the first time (with the added bonus of getting to watch Miss Saigon too) and took Ma Lee for a festive theatre treat at the New Alexandra Theatre. Blogging about these events have led to other opportunities and I’m always excited on the odd occasion that I get a PR invite in my inbox – one of my blogging goals for 2018 is to build up these relationships a little bit more!
I also got to visit the summertime Foodies Festival in Cannon Hill Park as a VIP…wristband, goody bag, free prosecco and all (That was a bad weekend to start at Slimming World…).
I’ve also got to meet some fab new bloggers, and I admit to being a bit of a fangirl at times (I stared at Helen from Positive Fridays for hours at the Independent Birmingham festival but was too nervous to say hello! Eventually I managed to introduce myself when we were at the Hippodrome and gushed all over her like a fool.) Other new faces I’ve met (and just because I didn’t gush doesn’t mean I’m not in awe of your general awesomeness) include Laura from Bite Your Brum, George from Caramel Latte Kiss, Dave from BrumHour, Julie from Red and Gold Web/BrumHour, Chloe from Gastronomic Gorman, Annemieke from Beauty on Review and Devina May. And hello to Yoda and Dalek from Beyond Our Horizons who made my year when they asked to be introduced to me at 1580 because they were fans of A Brummie Home and Abroad 😄
And remember, I also used to gush over Laura from Full to the Brum and Ting from The Ting Thing… our amazing admins over at BrumBloggers who keep us from getting too unruly, are ready to dispense vital blogging advice on request and can hold entire conversations on Twitter using GIFs…
Eating and drinking my way around Brum
As always there has been street food. Lots and lots of street food. Digbeth Dining Club became the equivalent of our Saturday night takeaway. “What do you want for dinner?” “You decide.” “I don’t know, you decide.” “Digbeth Dining Club?” And until it’s mysterious falling out with Kings Heath in the summer, we were regulars at the DDC Hare and Hounds monthly street closure.
We also went to the inaugural Independent Birmingham festival at The Bond in May where we chowed down on food from The Church and drank from Clink, The Victoria and Connolly’s. And we’ve been continued supporters of the Seasonal Markets, also held at the Bond.
We made first visits to Pieminister, Purecraft, Kitchen Garden Cafe, Pig & Tail, Bardolinos, the Bierkeller (a surprisingly fun experience…), the Edgbaston (my review of which was the most popular EVER on my blog!), Zindiya, Damascena, The Canal House, Wildwood, The Wolf, The Distillery and The Ruin. We made return visits to old favourites Cherry Reds, Ju Ju’s and 1000 Trades.
1000 Trades also very kindly hosted my “not-a-birthday-party” 40th birthday party back in September. It was a new venue for lots of my friends but everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and sampled the alcoholic offerings. Also helping me celebrate my birthday shenanigans was Tom’s Kitchen, and you can find my review here!
Cinema, theatre, film and music…
It’s been a relatively quiet year on the entertainment front. Mr Fletche and I did a spot of Trainspotting 2 back in January but haven’t seen another film at the cinema since. Unless you count the summer outdoor cinema at the Mockingbird where we donned our best geeky Brad and Janet outfits and danced the time warp with a group of other scantily attired nutters. Huge fun.
I saw The Commitments at the Alex, Miss Saigon at the Hippodrome and an enthusiastic amateur production of Miracle on 34th Street, also at the Alex. Ma Lee and I got our sequins on for the Strictly Come Dancing Tour. Mr Fletche and I shook our booty at the Northern Soul Night Owl takeover at the Town Hall, and we look forward to doing the same again this year. We saw Pet Shop Boys at the NIA/Barclaycard/Arena, Glass Animals at the Institute, and a friend and I went to see Shed Seven at the Academy a couple of weeks ago before throwing some indie-shaped moves at Propaganda. We did indeed “burn this disco down” Although not literally.
Photo’ing his way around Brum and beyond
Mr Fletche has taken plenty of photos around the city in 2017, and was even featured in Birmingham We Are’s “Birmingham Gems” calendar. Although technically taken in Solihull, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham was so taken by one of his shots at the calendar launch that she bought it for her own collection!
Mr Fletche also has a photo in the Musuem of The Jewellery Quarter as part of the IGersBirmingham exhibition until the end of January, and a permanent exhibition adorning the walls of the Brown Lion pub, also in the Jewellery Quarter and recently taken over by new management. Oh, and there’s the small honour of receiving a commendation in the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition and having his photograph displayed amongst the winners at London’s Waterloo Station! You can find some of his local 2017 shots in the slideshow below; for more, visit his recently relaunched website or follow him on Instagram
It’s been three years since we last visited the capital; we made up for it with two visits in 2017. The first was an attempt to see a different side from the usual touristy plans, staying in an Airbnb in Mile End, walking the Regents Canal and visiting small weekend markets like the fab Broadway market. But we mixed this with rooftop cocktails, walks along the Thames and a visit to the Sky Garden. It was a great way to spend a couple pd days, and we were lucky that the weather was glorious on this May Bank Holiday weekend.
We returned in November, a spontaneous visit when Mr Fletche was invited to attend the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition launch at Waterloo Station. We took in the sights and sounds of festive London, visited the British Musuem and found a secret popup bar overlooking Marble Arch and Oxford Street.
WALES (is this technically abroad being as it’s not in England?):
One of my “things-to-do-before-I’m-40” was (crazily) to climb Mount Snowdon. Our first attempt was in March, when we didn’t think a little thing like BAD WEATHER may thwart our climb. So we tried again in August. Where it rained a monsoon and tried to blow us off the mountain with gale force winds. But this time we made it to the summit and I vowed never to suggest anything so stupid again. In between our two Snowdon climbs we visited the area again, this time sticking to lower level hikes. Which involved me jumping over a waterfall the size of Niagara Falls. Yes, really. Okay, maybe not that big.
Not too bad a year eh? Eating and drinking, climbing mountains, more eating and drinking, shaking my booty, more eating and drinking…here’s to more of the same in 2018! (But maybe not the mountains…)