Tag: Birmingham

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - entrance with 2 unicorns

2018 is the third year that the Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival has been at the Botanical Gardens. But it’s the first year I’ve actually been.

If you read yesterday’s post about our trip to Blenheim Palace, you’ll know we missed out on tickets to the Winter Wonderland outdoor light experience. Instead I suggested we visit the Palace and the Cinderella exhibition, and then head back to Birmingham to visit the Magic Lantern Festival.

When we got back to Birmingham the weather changed for the worse and it started to rain. And rain. Then rain some more. The thought of a wet and squelchy walk, especially as we’d forgotten our umbrellas, was unappealing. So we abandoned the plans, and made new ones.

Magic Lantern Festival, take 2!

Last Christmas we didn’t leave the house between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, which isn’t exactly healthy! So we decided to rearrange our plans for 29th December, which would force us out into real life!

I’d read good things about the festival from previous years, but didn’t know what to expect. Short answer – it was brilliant! There was a great mix of festive and none festive decorations; wonderfully lit, brightly coloured and really well spread out. The pitch darkness meant they look great on photos too!

Christmas themed lantern displays

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - snowman and reindeer
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - reindeer and presents
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - gingerbread house and presents

Whimsical fairytale lantern displays

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - cute insects and toadstools
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - cute insects on a toadstool swing
Multicoloured teapot pouring into teacup
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - large chinese style dogs
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival fairy with moving wings holding butterfly
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - brightly coloured snail
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - plants and insects

Flower displays everywhere!

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - blue LED flowers
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - blue and pink LED flowers
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - bright pink lotus flower
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - lilac LED flowers

Animal lantern displays

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - lion and monkeys in jungle setting
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - elephant
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - penguins and birds
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - light up peacock
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - cartoon style dolphin and shark
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - giraffes and zebra
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - zebra and palm trees

Finally, my favourites – the pandas!

Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - animated pandas with painted flowers on their bodies
Birmingham Magic Lantern Festival - 4 pandas and a superhero panda

We got the tickets for the bargain price of £8.50 each via Travelzoo, and it was well worth the money. If you’re quick you can still catch it, as the last entrance is on New Year’s Day. If not, I’d definitely recommend it for next year.

The same organisers also do festivals in Leeds and London. Have you been to any of the locations?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

0

An “alternative” snow picture

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t fail to notice that most of the UK has had some snow. You’ll have noticed this because it’s a fairly unusual occurrence in most parts of the country, so we all get a bit giddy and excitable, schools are closed, people take the day off work and we post ALL the snow pictures over social media.

Excuse me for jumping on the bandwagon, but this one is a little different.

A few years ago the Church of Scientology bought a building in Moseley, where I live, and they’ve just recently finished the grand refurbishment, spending millions of pounds in the process. The good sane majority of people in Moseley don’t welcome the presence of Scientology, mainly down to their cult ways (yes I did say cult!) and their propensity for wangling money out of vulnerable people.

So, it was with much mirth that I and the majority of Moseleyites came across this picture on a local Facebook forum.

Cock off, Scientology!

Church of Scientology Birmingham snow pic

Hope everyone is safe in the snow, and has been building more PC snow figures!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Moseley Park and Pool

A couple of miles outside of Birmingham, right in the middle of Moseley is a beautiful hidden park. I say hidden, because you wouldn’t know it existed unless you knew, if that makes sense. The main entrance can be found down an alley way that runs between two shops, and the only other two entrance gates are hidden away from view on two parallel roads.

At 11 acres, with a huge pool, it’s been in existence as a public space for over 100 years (previously being part of the gardens of Moseley Hall) and is now part of a charitable trust, meaning it can never be sold off or developed (phew!)

It costs £45 a year to be a member of the park, or free day keys are available for a returnable deposit of £10. By charging for membership the Trust is able to raise valuable funds, and it also means the park is looked after and respected by those using it.

In recent years they’ve started hosting festivals there too – a Jazz, Funk & Soul In July (read here about last time I went) and a Folk in September (read about that one here). Chaka Khan is playing this year, that’s pretty cool!)

Last Monday the husband and I took an unscheduled day off work to sort some estate agent stuff, and went for a lovely Spring wander round.

It was a lovely sunny and still day, and the reflections in the pool were magnificent.

See the houses over yonder in the pics above? If you’re very lucky very rich and you live in one of those, you have a gate to the park right at the bottom of your garden! Although the key costs you £10 extra per year than us mere mortals who have to use the tradesman’s entrance.

Watching ducks floating so serenely is very…serene, isn’t it?

Look at the colour on that mallard’s head. So shiny – I wonder what conditioner he uses?

Moseley Park 9

Although the trees are all still very bare, we spotted some burgeoning blossoms and spring flowers.


The air felt full of promise that spring is truly upon us. The continuing good weather last week and this has proved it! It feels so nice to know that winter is on it’s way out and there are light nights and (hopefully) sunny days ahead.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

0

Happy Chinese New Year!

Yesterday we popped into town for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Like many major cities, Birmingham has a large Chinese population. In the area of the city known as “Chinatown” there are lots of Chinese restaurants and supermarkets, and it’s here that the celebrations were centred.

We’ve intended to go for the last couple of years but the weather has always been naff. Yesterday looked pretty decent, so off we popped.

Unfortunately the weather worsened not long after we arrived which, quite literally, put a dampener on proceedings. It was all a bit underwhelming anyway, which is a shame, many of the stalls were empty.

Chinese dragon

I did manage to get my picture taken with a monkey though!

Chinese New Year - me and a monkey

And a dragon!

Chinese New Year - me and a dragon

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse after that, because we took refuge from the rain in a pub and I got horribly drunk. Too drunk to eat my Chinese food and too drunk to stay awake past 7.30pm.

And I lost my hat.

Oops.

On the plus side, being in bed for 12 hours means I’m hangover free today. So perhaps it was for the best (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

0

Review: Dirty Cow Burger Company

I wasn’t aware of the Dirty Cow Burger Company until I spotted a deal  on LivingSocial offering two burgers and fries for a tenner (value up to £22.98). I have to say the location wasn’t particularly appealing  (O Bar on Broad Street, which, for anyone not local, is the bar crawl street that every city has where people get horribly drunk and girls don’t wear many clothes and the police invariably have to patrol the place at 2am every Friday and Saturday). Having said that, we figured that a Saturday or Sunday afternoon would be a fine time to redeem it as most of the usual clientele would be sleeping off a hangover and we could be in and out before the marauding boozers arrived.

Unfortunately, with Christmas, we didn’t make it into town at the weekend and so we were faced with a voucher about to expire and a choice of week nights to enjoy it.

Which is how we ended up on Broad Street on a Thursday night in January.

In fairness, the bar was actually fine. It was pretty empty (by that I mean about 5 other people were in there). It was bloody freezing (not taking your coat off freezing) and the music wasn’t to our taste, but the barman was very helpful and friendly and no-one was stumbling around or being sick from drinking too many shots, which had been our main concern.

I’m painting a great picture, no?

And so to the food, which is what this post is really about. It was good. Very good! The burger menu was extensive with lots of different flavours and combinations, and fries can come as standard or be added to with cheese, chill, bacon or pulled pork.

We went for a Nacho Libre (me) and a Big Brummie (the husband).

The Nacho Libre spoke to me as soon as I saw it – a 6oz burger topped with chilli, nacho cheese, guacamole, sour cream and – wait for it – nachos.

Dirty Cow Burger Company Nacho Libre burger

This genius addition gave the burger crunch and bite, and was also useful for scooping up all the excess chill that oozed over the sides. There was so much topping on the burger that I had to do a KFJ (knife and fork job) – the bun literally couldn’t hold it all together and, unbelievably, my mouth wasn’t big enough to fit it all in! My only slight compliant is that it wasn’t quite hot enough, but that did mean I didn’t have to wait for anything to cool down and could wolf it all immediately.

The Big Brummy is a beast of a burger – three 6oz patties with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and brummy sauce.

Dirty Cow Burger Company Big Brummy burger

Again there was no way this could be eaten by hand and mouth alone and cutlery had to be implemented. But the husband was very very complimentary (and his burger judgement is sound  as they’re one of his favourite menu choices and so he has plenty of  experience).

We went for one regular fries and one topped with cheese. The fries were just perfect. Golden, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and salty. Yum.

Would we go there again? Doubtful. It wasn’t enough of a nice place to tempt us back. But do we regret going? Not at all. We went home with full tums and happy heads. And for 5 quid each you can’t ask much more.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

0

My birthday in pictures

It was my birthday on Sunday! Another year older, and all that jazz. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m growing up, or will ever be a grown up actually (the husband called me a woman on Sunday, and I was like no! I’m still a girl!) But the candles on the (hypothetical) birthday cake keep piling up! That’s life!

Anyway, after a less than auspicious Saturday, I was feeling very un-birthday like. But I woke up on Sunday to blue skies and sunshine, and the husband singing Happy Birthday to me before I even opened my eyes, so I was determined to make it a good day.

I got new pyjamas, which were quite apt considering how crappy I’d been feeling!

New pyjamas

Oodles of presents including a girly trip to London in the New Year, Marc Jacobs Dot, a beaded fringed bag, a journal set, some of my beloved Brian Cox, a light up make up mirror (so I can see my aging wrinkles more clearly, ha!), pantomime tickets with the amazing Julian Clary (oh no I didn’t…oh yes I did!)

Thriller

Marc Jacobs Dot

Jessica Simpson fringed bag

Carolina Herrera journal set

Brian Cox The Human Universe

Light up mirror

Aladdin pantomime

Plus loads more things too. I was supremely spoilt and very humbled.

I drank prosecco for breakfast and then we went into Birmingham to meet some friends for some festive fun at the German market.

German Christmas market

We saw Chris Moose and had a singalong.

German market Chris Moose

Drank mulled wine and beer.

Beer and mulled wine

Visited the Big Hoot Santa Owl in Great Western Arcade.

Santa Owl

And gave him a hug!

Me and santa owl

Went to The Oasis to get some ear piercings (part of my birthday pressie from the husband, more on that another time).

Me getting pierced at The Oasis

Drank more mulled wine.

Mulled wine santa mug

Had another singalong, with the live band.

German market singalong

Popped round to Centenary Square and drank hot toffee cider – OMG! This stuff is amazing; I’d like it on tap in my home.

Hot toffee mulled cider

Oohed at the big wheel.

Birmingham big wheel

Had a cheeky cocktail in The Victoria and oohed at their traditional Christmas decorations.

Traditional Christmas decorations

Then came home and got indian food and snuggled up on the sofa (wearing my new PJs, obvs) and felt very pleased with myself.

What have you all been up to?

Thanks, as always for reading! x

0

Dynamo at the Barclaycard Arena

On Friday night I went to see Dynamo. I’d booked the tickets in October last year, so had been waiting a long time! As it got closer I started to worry a little about how close up magic would work in a big arena environment, but my concerns were unfounded. It was brilliant.

Dynamo

I’ve always thought that Dynamo comes across as a really sweet and likable person, with quite a humble attitude and a strong family focus. Seeing him live reinforced that; he’s a genuinely nice bloke. The show touched on his background, and his struggles as a kid being picked on in his local area. He spoke about his Grandma and Grandpa with such respect and love, and they’re obviously a massive part of who he is today. There was even video footage of his Gran doing a card trick, which was great!

He indulged in some banter with the audience and made some funny quips and jokes which weren’t expected – I’d say he’s had some coaching prior to the tour as his shyness definitely wasn’t present (and with an audience of 5000 people that’s a good thing!)

There was a lot of audience participation and random selection of people which I suppose is there to prove that the people who are taking part on stage aren’t planted and “in on it”. There was no trick that I could say “I know how he did that” and most of them were so brain bafflingly complex so I couldn’t even begin to think how they’d been designed and orchestrated. It’s easy to suggest that camera trickery and clever editing are at play when you watch magicians on TV, but in a live environment there’s nowhere to hide. Leading me to declare, during the interval, that “magic must be real” (I’ve long suspected this, to be honest, regardless of the guffaws I’m met with whenever I share that opinion!)

I won’t talk about any of the tricks, as Dynamo made that request at the end of the show, but suffice to say I would highly recommend getting tickets to what’s left of the tour (if there are any still available) and prepare to be left scratching your head and wondering what on earth you just witnessed with your own eyes!

0

My week

Because I’m nosy and like knowing what’s going on in people’s lives, I thought I’d share my latest and greatest.

My week

  • My car passed it’s MOT. Hurrah! It was the first one, with it being just 3 years old, so I didn’t expect anything bad to happen, but you just never know with cars. I need some new tyres, but it’s not urgent.
  •  We’re decorating our spare bedroom. It’s been a cross between a dressing room/music room/junk room for the past couple of years, but we’re converting it back to a bedroom ready for my Mother in Law to come and stay at Christmas. I’m excited by this. My Mother in Law is ace.
  •  My toenail came off after the argument with the door. I thought I’d be totally weirded out but in the end I removed it myself. I just kept trimming and trimming as it wasn’t attached to the skin underneath anymore and I was worried about catching it on something and ripping it clean off. It didn’t hurt, and then I was left with just millimetres of stubby nail so I got rid of the lot. The underneath is very very odd. I thought it would be soft squishy skin, but it feels almost like a toenail, but thinner. Hard to explain. I’m going to paint it (the strange thick skin stuff) and wait for a new one to grow. Apparently it can take up to 18 months??
  •  I’m within sniffing distance of finishing my Christmas shopping. I pretty much know everything I need to buy. After all my moaning a couple of weeks ago it turned out to be not as stressful as I thought. No need for the drama!
  •  We missed the Christmas light switch on where we live last weekend but had a little festive wander round after eating at the Dark Horse this week (read my review here) and finished off with a cheeky cocktail (and a photo in front of the Christmas tree!)

Moseley Christmas

Cocktails at La Plancha

Me in front of Moseley Christmas tree

Life is steady; nothing to freak out about, which is pretty good 2 weeks before Christmas.

I’m going to see Dynamo tonight! How exciting? I bought tickets for the husband as a birthday present, which means I get to go too (sneaky, eh?)

What’s going on in your life?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

0

Food review – Dark Horse, Moseley

I’ve been going to the Dark Horse in one form or another for over 10 years. It was where the husband and I had our first official date (when it was The Cross) and I’ve had many a boozy Sunday lunch with friends, mid week burgers and £1 sambucas over the years.

Late last year, or early this, The Cross was bought by the owner of the Prince of Wales (also in Moseley – read my review here) and everyone got super excited because Keith (the owner of both establishments) has great flair for being a publican. The Prince is testament to his vision.

The Cross underwent a quick makeover to become a pop up restaurant called Mo-Dough for a couple of months (the name being a play on Moseley and pizza base), before turning into it’s current incarnation of the Dark Horse.

The focus of the Dark Horse is very much on cooking well. No sub standard pub food here. They’ve invested heavily in a wood fired pizza oven and a meat smoker to make sure things are done properly. Ingredients are all fresh and locally sourced. The place has a quirky, cosy homely feel with mismatched sofas, exposed brickwork walls and decorations such as a saxophone and a road lamp on the walls, and the outside is lit with hundreds of fairy lights sparkling and inviting you in.

The Dark Horse, Moseley

Drinks wise there is a focus on craft beers and an increasing wine collection alongside draught and bottled lagers, traditional wines and spirits.

We went out for food and drinks this week and there was no question of where we were headed. Parked in the front window with the twinkly lights and a view of our beloved Moseley, we set about choosing from the menu.

Dark Horse Christmas tree

Drinks at the Dark Horse Moseley

It was a no brainer for me as soon as I saw the low & slow smoked beef brisket. Served with chipotle sauce, pickles and skin on chips, it’s the most tender and tasty brisket I’ve ever had.

Dark Horse brisket

Dark Horse skin on chips

It’s was so squishy that if cows were actually made that way, they wouldn’t be able to stand up. The sauce was sweet and smoky and the pickles sharp and crunchy. The portion size was huge, with loads of chips, and piles of meat. Super impressed.

Husband went (as he so often does) for a burger – the Big Kahuna. With pineapple and candied bacon, it wouldn’t be to my taste but he was very excited and proclaimed that excitement to be justified.

Dark Horse Kahuna burger

A big well stacked burger with plenty of toppings, all of which could be tasted individually. The pattie was, he said, juicy and succulent.

With small plates such as mac & cheese topped with pulled pork (hello!), and God’s own fries (skin on chips smothered in chilli, pulled pork, burnt ends, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole and cheese sauce) there’s a smorgasbord (I love that word!) of flavours to experience, as well as Sunday lunch and desserts like warm chocolate brownie and baked cheesecake.

The Dark Horse knows meat, and knows what to do with it.

0

Restaurant review – Saba Birmingham

Saba is a Persian restaurant just outside Moseley. I’ve driven past it many times and not really paid much attention. Then I saw it listed on a voucher website and the offer was really good, so I checked out the menu and TripAdvisor reviews (which are excellent) and purchased the deal.

As is often the case with vouchers, we end up leaving them until they’re about to expire and then toy with whether or not we can be bothered to go. Never was that more true than on Sunday evening, on a rainy windy night when the temptation to stay in and decorate the Christmas tree was really strong!

But I’m so glad we did. Because the food was outstanding.

The restaurant seats maybe 30-40 people. It’s nothing fancy; nice but not a posh night out, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s unlicenced, and doesn’t offer a BYOB policy either.

Saba persian restaurant interior

There were no other diners when we arrived and the waiter was very attentive; happily talking us through the menu and making suggestions based on flavours and tastes we like.

Oh, and the menu really doesn’t do the food justice. At all.

To start, the husband ordered Naan Panir Sabzi, which included feta cheese and walnuts. The colours were vibrant and fresh, the food tasty.

Saba persian restaurant feta and walnut salad

I ordered Kashk-e Bademjan which is mashed aubergine – not very exciting, right? Wrong! It was incredibly tasty with lots of flavours and one of the biggest naan breads I’ve ever seen.

Saba persian restaurant mashed aubergine

Saba persian restaurant naan bread

For main course husband ordered a skewer with rice and salad – I can’t remember if he went for chicken and added a lamb one, or the other way round.

Saba persian restaurant skewer grill chicked and lamb

Either way, it was delicious (I had to try it, purely for research purposes, obvs). The meat was tender and juicy and succulent.

I had lamb shank with rice.

Saba persian restaurant lamb shank and fragrant rice

The lamb was smothered in a thick succulent sauce and was some of the most tender lamb I’ve ever had; it quite literally fell off the bone.

To finish we were served baklava and Persian tea.

Saba persian restaurant tea and baklava

The baklava was sweet and flaky with a nutty honey taste. The tea was served in a beautiful ornate pot and poured into tiny glass mugs.

Saba restaurant persian tea

Saba persian restaurant tea

It was clear and fragrant with both sweet and spicy flavours. I tried to guess some of the ingredients- the waiter wasn’t keen to share all of them as it’s a secret apparently – but he did tell me that cardamom and rose are two of the flavours.

We had a fabulous evening and will definitely return in the future without a deal voucher. In fact I’m already wondering what to have next! The menu also includes Afghan options, which definitely pique my interest.

Have you eaten Persian or Afghan food?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

0