A Weekend in the Midlands!

Posted on October 7, 2013

Maybe it is because I am soon to be moving nearer to coast that made me have the sudden desire to travel in the other direction and go to the Midlands for the weekend. And a wise choice it was eventually to be.

The trip actually came about from an aborted trip to London after my fiancée and I realised that the ‘National Wedding Show’ was at the NEC in Birmingham and not Earls Court.

As with the case with most blokes, my enthusiasm towards the wedding show was hovering around apathetic. However, the prospect of a night away somewhere different nullified the thought of walking around a crowded exhibition centre in search of search of something radical that could make our wedding different but affordable.

We should have known what was to follow when Siri, the rather pompous sounding character on the iPhone directed us to NEC Mechanical Services in Solihull rather than the exhibition centre, because the ‘Wedding Show’ was, for want of a better term, crap…Unless you want to wear a Kilt (I don’t) have your wedding in Mumbai (I don’t) or buy a nylon outfit from Dudley Dress wear (I don’t).

There were highlights, watching fat girls from Tipton trying to wedge into designer wedding dresses is great entertainment, especially with a sales assistant laying on inexplicable assessments of how great they look. It’s cruel entertainment of course, similar to laughing at a short sighted, fat, ginger kid trying to sing on X Factor and I soon started feeling guilty, at least until I saw the fattest woman in Britain manning the cake store. Her boss must really trust her.

Apart from that, there was little that was eye catching apart from paying a tenner to park at a place where we had already purchased tickets for. At this moment in time, I can’t really think of a description of the NEC. If I can up with something more articulate, I will let you know but for the time being, let’s just call it an exploitative shithole.

So we left and headed to Shakespeare’s country, Stratford upon Avon, a town I have never visited before but I am glad I now have. As you approach Stratford around a dull one way system, it feels like any other town but once you get in to the centre it is a really pretty place featuring lots of independent shops, pubs and restaurants.

At the bottom of the town there is of course the Avon itself, featuring restaurants, boat trips and a narrow boat especially converted to sell incredibly disappointing baguettes along with low quality tea that has been heated on the surface of the sun.

After checking in at the perfectly adequate but not mind blowing Grosvenor Hotel, we had a drink in the bar and crossed the road for a meal in a Thai Restaurant across called the Thai Kingdom. If you ever visit, it is an excellent restaurant with really welcoming staff, though I guess it should be good at a cool £75.00 for two.

It turned out that our waitress (who was Thai) also worked in our hotel doing the breakfast shift, meaning that she would probably get a quick five hour kip before starting all over again at 6.00 am…Bloody foreigners stealing all our jobs (Ahem!)

After our meal, we meandered into town and in to a pub called The Garrick that apparently dates back to the 1400’s. It was a nice little pub too and we soon got chatting to a local chap who had a great local knowledge as well as an impressive ability to swallow beer really quickly, setting off an inevitable gradual change in his personality.

His friendly advice regarding local attractions soon descended into a mildly rabid rant about Redditch, his home town and we both kind of knew where the conversation was eventually heading. I can’t remember how long it took but it had been brewing for a while…Then it arrived. Shut your eyes and think of a strong Midlands accent bellowing the following words.

“Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my good friends are Muslims….BUT…

Like tabloid reporters, we made our excuses and exited the building, heading for a place called the Number One bar at the top of the town. Well it wasn’t so much a bar as almost a club, there were people dancing and everything and initially I felt well out of my depth.

Then the vodka began to flow and Justine, in her wisdom, cajoled me to dance, something we have never really done during our ten months as a couple. The truth is, Justine can dance, whilst I resemble a new born baby foal stepping on to a frozen lake for the first time. I did my best though and even enjoyed it, despite spending much of my time scouring the room for CCTV cameras that would result in ten million YouTube hits under the headline “Old Git Attempts to Dance’.

Some pictures I took around and about Stratford upon Avon

However, it was great fun all the same and when we left in the early hours we laughed all the way back to the hotel as we reflected on what was a great day out.

On Sunday, we took a lovely boat trip along the Avon in the warm autumn sunshine, did a bit of shopping and drove back down the M40 after what was a cracking weekend away. Stratford upon Avon is a place I would definitely recommend.

Justine is already sick of me walking around moronically bellowing (in my best Brummie accent)…“Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my good friends are Muslims….BUT…”

2 Replies to "A Weekend in the Midlands!"

  • Trevor
    October 8, 2013 (5:35 am)

    Watched the whole of your video but not a single frame of you dancing?!

    Stratford upon Avon is a nice place I’m glad you both had a good time. On some weekends it gets chokka with Americans though which is a bit of a nightmare. Your view on the NEC is fair, but it would still have made a better location for the new Wembley Stadium!

  • Bob
    October 8, 2013 (6:26 am)

    Thankfully no pics of me dancing Trev…agreed about the National Stadium, Wembley is a dump and an even bigger con than the NEC.

    Stratford had a few yanks but more Japs, a race who can never be accused of not making use of their cameras.

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