Football match today and a look around Birmingham, commonly known as Brum. I was surprised at how much I liked the vibe when we arrived in Brum. I had been there before when I was a child but not since. The railway station is new and reminded me of Euston station but the feeling was good even after having left the station.

Up on time and ready to go, we even had time for a cuppa. FP stayed in bed as he wasn’t coming until later. He needs glasses for long distance and he had left both pairs at work so he had to get them before traveling to Birmingham.

TP and I went on the early train though and TP suggested we go and see the Back to Backs.

They didn’t open until 10 so when we arrived we went straight there to book a tour as it was almost on the way to the hotel.

A Back to Back is a style of housing where 2 houses are built back to back in a square or rectangle with a courtyard in the middle. There were 11 houses in the set they have preserved and they had 3 “privies” between them in the courtyard. Each house had many occupants according to our guide and there could have been 50 or more people sharing them. A “privy” is a toilet if anyone doesn’t know or can’t guess.

They had a spot in the first tour so we jumped at it. It was a 1.25 hr tour and extremely interesting. The lady taking  the tour had been doing it 5 years and was very knowledgeable about the houses and their occupants.

One house had a metal box above the hearth in which to store the tallow candles at night so the mice didn’t eat them. We went through 2 houses, each furnished for a different era, the last one being the 1930’s. The previous one which was late 1800 had a wall clock almost identical to my aunts.

In one bedroom, 3 boys slept head to toe and on the other side of a curtain a couple of lodgers slept. They had different surnames so it is assumed they weren’t married.

The final house belonged to George from St Kit’s who left in 2002 and only died last year. He ran a tailors shop from one of the houses for many years and made some items for the Queen’s guard. He came up from London for an interview and as soon as the employer saw him he told him the position was taken. Presumably because of his ethnicity. George found a job in a biscuit factory and eventually set up his own tailoring business.

After buying a few sweets from the olde fashioned sweet shop,

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Olde Style Sweet Shop

we took our luggage to the hotel. A Budget Ibis.  Interesting room. I got to sleep on the bunk over the double bed.  It was budget but comfortable and clean. Nothing provided except a piece of soap and as I had forgotten shampoo I washed my hair with that!

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The Shared Option – Turkey

I asked for a pub lunch as we have only had one since I arrived and that was the Coy Carp. TP agreed so we went back to The Olde Fox which had a Christmas menu. We told FP

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The Veggy Option

to meet us there and an enjoyable lunch was had by all. Turkey dinner to share for TP and I and stuffed squash dinner for FP.

Had a second glass of wine as FP was having a pint of orange juice after already having consumed a pint of diet coke! No different from lots of pints of beer I suppose.

We decided a walk along the canals after having lunch and a very good choice it was. There were shops, cafes and bars along the way as well as the backs of period houses and the like. It was very pleasant walking by the canal. There were also narrow boats which are always fun to inspect as each one has its own character.

There was a floating xmas market of canal dwellers which was a bit different. We headed back toward the railway station after that but found time to stop at a bar where we had a cup of tea. Yes, you read it right!

Continued on to catch the train to the football ground and we had to negotiate the Christmas Markets which were jam packed with people, or at FP and TP would say, rammed. Between the Craft Market and the Main Christmas Market there were facts about Birmingham, one of which was that 40% of the population was under 25!

Finally made it to the station where we caught the train to The Hawthornes. It was very crowded with footy fans and shoppers. There is no way that you would have fallen if the train had braked suddenly!

Good seats near the front but a guy behind us did not stop yelling ay the players the whole match .. the F word being his primary vocabulary.

Queued for train back but they came out and said we would not get on the next train in 3 mins. The following one was 40 mins so they contemplated Uber. I said let’s just do it. TP had a head ache and needed food. We walked a little way towards town and found a hot food van so FP bought a cup of chips for himself and one for us to share while we walked.

We walked past the major traffic jam and the ordered the Uber which arrived in about 8  mins. That was before the second train would have arrived and we were not sure we would even get on that. Uber driver regaled us with stories of his time as a driver. He had been a driver for 15 years and only recently started with Uber. we were not at all sure that his stories of being threatened with knives and chasing people over walls, falling on them and breaking their leg were true but they were certainly entertaining.

We were going to enjoy the Christmas markets but TP wanted to eat and go home so we went to a burger place. We had a lamb burger which was very ordinary and then  walked home. TP phone ran out of battery after ordering the Uber. FP’s ran out while we were walking home.  Pleased to say mine still has 50% battery!

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