Weekend away in Birmingham? No, not my first choice for a destination for a getaway either.. However, I'm just back from 2 days in England's second capital and was mightily impressed with Birmingham. On a whim, my mate and I had booked England v Pakistan Test Match tickets for Edgbaston. Tickets booked, we then sorted out a last minute internet hotel booking and off we went. Edgbaston was my first surprise. Although it's the home of Warwickshire CC, it's actually located in quite a swanky borough of Birmingham - always handy to get to and park. Talking of parking, we weren't too impressed with £15 parking and a mile's walk to boot. The cricket was great for a couple of reasons:-
1. England were the far more superior side
2. England have some world class totty - check out Pietersen, Trott, Anderson, Broad and Strauss.
3. The Barmy Army.
Let me tell you about the Barmy Army. Football fans are sometimes amusing, mostly they are a drunken bunch who wear their polyester shirts and shout abuse. The Barmy Army support England with passion and humour. They bring trumpet players who serenade the many fancy dress supporters who cheer on England relentlessly. Yesterday's Barmy Army devotees consisted of men dressed as Elvis, as Marilyn Monroe's, as sailors, as Arab sheiks, and my personal favourites... The BA Barracus's from the A Team and old ladies in nighties, dressing gowns and slippers. As the play trundled on, and more and more alcohol is consumed, the Barmy Army start their naughty pursuits much to the delight of the 21,000 other spectators. The BA Barracus's stacked about 100 plastic beer 'glasses' and run through the stands being pursued by angry stewards. It's childish but incredibly funny and it's done with such humour whereby everyone joins in.
After the cricket, we showered and got a taxi to the Brindleyplace area of the city centre. My goodness, what an amazing transformation of a run down area to an area of restaurants, bars, coffee houses and the new Sea Life Centre all located around Birmingham's canals. We walked on cobbled pathways by the canal side and stopped in busy bars and ate in a lovely little bistro. It was vibrant and classy and we were very impressed. Bravo to the architects who have captured the Victorian canals and retained the towpaths and nooks and crannys and complimented this with contemporary bars and restaurants all accessible by bridges adorned with fresh flowers. Oh, and get this.. it's spotlessly clean and no smoking is allowed except in few designated areas. We strolled down the canal system and came across The Mailbox area which again has more bistros and upmarket bars with a backdrop of a pretty damn fine shopping area. We sat outside in a bar area and took in our roles as people watchers extraordinaire and were pleasantly surprised to see what appeared to be a prostitute plying her enticement skills rather provocatively and with much subtlety at the single men taking in the view. Her strategies looked well-honed.. talk to an imaginary friend on her mobile whilst her sly as a fox eyes scanned for eligible men and security who may alert the police. Great to watch and passed the time most pleasantly whilst vodka and beer were consumed. We then staggered through the streets and found a taxi whose driver tried to understand our accents and our wish to return to our hotel. After about 5 minutes and tear-arsing through Birmingham's streets at 80mph, he starting to give signals that he was slightly in the psychopathic personality disorder department. After 15 minutes of being on the receiving end of a worrying set of questions and taking corners at 70mph and on two wheels, we did a handbrake turn into our hotel car park before bidding a fond cheerio and legging it through reception and towards our rooms at breakneck speed. After pushing a wardrobe across my door, my head hit the pillow and after ignoring the room spinning, I drifted off to a well-needed sleep....