Some rather lovely friends of ours from uni recently moved into a sweet new home in the city centre, so we decided to throw a little "Welcome to Brum" Tour to display the city's best bits...
We sent invitations detailing what to bring, and included some tempting clues to the itinerary.
We met in Chamberlain Square and walked together over to the IKON, stopping to grab a chocolate & churros on our way. The IKON is a sweetly converted red brick which really adds to the work it shows. We caught Nedko Solakov's show All in Order, with Exceptions. (Photography is allowed in the gallery, which is awesome, but publishing the pictures isn't allowed, which isn't.)
We headed across town stopping on our way to sweep the Chilli Festival for freebies, of which there was no shortage. We tried curry sauces, chilli oils, churros, flavoured humous and Snoggable Garlic. And between us purchased chilli seeds, dolmades, humous, sauces and chilli brioche. Check out these fine Bomb Chillies that were for sale.
We walked on past St Paul's Cathedral and stopped in 6/8 Kafe to pick up some beverages, then wandered through The Great Western Arcade (stationary shop, bread shop, sweet shop, shoe shop whiskey shop... could have been a tour of its own).
We were aiming for Edible Eastside on Fazeley Street, which had opened its doors the previous day. But on our way we made a few train based detours to show off Moore Street Station and Cuzon Street Station.
Moore Street is beautiful but it was nothing in comparison with the excitement of being inside Curzon Street Station. The building is familiar to many brummies as a grand, old, isolated building visible from the main train line, so its quite a treat that it has been opened as part of The Event (Birmingham's visual art bi-annual) as a gallery. Thankfully TROVE, the organisers, have done little to the building by way of health and safety measures or signage, so the installations sit alongside all the vintage detritus of the old station.
We had a dolmade snack stop back on route to Edible Eastside, which was just as well because when we got there it was all locked up. One to try another time. We paused to take a few pictures around Eastside's decorated masonry and, as a result, got to meet Ruma (a local graff artist).
We were glad to find Ego (a fringe exhibition running alongside The Event), not least because they gave us some free drinks. The venue and the art weren't bad either, in fact they were impressive.
It was gone three and we hadn't had lunch. This could have been a) because we were having so much fun or b) because we had eaten so many samples; in fact it was probably c) a pleasurable combination of both of the above. We stopped only to peek through the door of VIVID and Eastside Projects before making a speedy dash towards the Custard Factory for lunch at yumm. And yumm it was. Malc was pleased to learn that they serve Tea Pigs and Nom was pleased to learn that Tea Pigs facilitate a chai latte.
Charlie and Joe were pleased to learn all about Hobgoblin Music. And impulse buy an erhu, of which more later.
Charlie had heard about COW, a vintage store that's getting pretty popular around town, so we screeched in and out of there. Squeezing every drop of juice out of our time we split forces: girls to the fabric store, boys to the markets.
Laden with numerous exciting purchases we had a brief tea and erhu-learning break back at Charlie and Joe's. Charlie had loved watching videos of erhu players, but between us we had pretty much no idea how to play her new instrument. Thanks to You Tube we gradually figured it out step by step and Charlie managed to get it sounding good before we headed out for tea.
Malc and I shared the second of Charlie and Joe's home grown tomatoes then we hopped on a bus to Sparkbrook. Being in the Balti Triangle we'd planned to head for a discounted balti courtesy of Birmingham Food Fest vouchers. But on discovering we'd left the vouchers behind we just headed into the nearest India/Chinese. We ended our evening with drinks at The Old Joint Stock and The Briar Rose.