What can you tell me about Birmingham, UK?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Manual Slim, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Holic

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    Hi.

    Never been there, but I work with someone from there. Coincidentally, just last week he was saying the nearby living museum is great. Certain scenes from Peaky Blinders were filmed there too.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
  2. SlappyDuck

    SlappyDuck Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    It has its own superhero car.

     
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  3. Sleepyscholar

    Sleepyscholar Tele-Meister

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    A lot of people think there's such a thing as a 'Birmingham accent' (called 'Brummie'), that sounds like a depressed person with a cold. They're wrong: it's just that everyone in Birmingham is depressed and has a cold.

    Having said that, everything people have said here about the transformation of the city is true. Last time I was there I was amazed by the trams. And there are some fantastic places to eat. As well as the Balti Triangle I can recommend Purnell's from personal experience, and the Tom's Kitchen in the Mailbox was pretty good.

    Up a little north is Sutton Park, one of the largest urban parks in the UK (Disclosure: I am originally from Sutton).

    In the centre, the Museum is pretty good, considering Birmingham's industrial reputation, particularly for Pre-Raphaelites.

    I'm spending a day there this August on my way to Dublin, and I'm looking forward to it.
     
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  4. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is my favourite Birmingham accent.

     
  5. Antmax

    Antmax Tele-Meister

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    Ozzy has the regional accent down pretty well. Not a fan of Birmingham at all, it's one of those places most people pass around to go somewhere else unless they live or work there.
     
  6. Sleepyscholar

    Sleepyscholar Tele-Meister

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    That's what they made Spaghetti Junction for!

    Funnily enough your description of Birmingham resembles the description many Japanese people have of Nagoya, where I now live.
     
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  7. Antmax

    Antmax Tele-Meister

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    Same here in Sacramento where I live. People mostly pass by on the way to Lake Tahoe, Reno, San Francisco, Napa etc unless they need to visit state government and/or work here.

    Thing is, there's always nice places to visit if you know where to look. A lot easier to find them these days thanks to the internet.
     
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  8. RoyalBaby

    RoyalBaby Tele-Afflicted

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    Symphony hall was built with acoustics in mind and is usually regarded as the best classical venue in the U.K. and one of the best in the world ( if lacking some of the wow factor of a great opera house). Pretty much next door you have another top music venue in the town hall and then the art gallery and museum which is mostly free ( you have to pay to see certain exhibits). The tea rooms at the art gallery are impressive, not so much for the food ( which is very ordinary) but for the surroundings and even some celeb spotting ( if you know local news reporters although I have seen Prince Harry there; obviously I can’t guarantee the presence of royalty). There is a walk of stars by the Symphony Hall. It’s a bit overlooked but if you want to see where Ozzy or Julie Walters laid a paving slab it’s there.

    The city centre is said to be the largest shopping area in Europe, it’s not particularly charming but if you want to see every chain of shops in the U.K. in one place it’s all there. It has the world’s biggest Primark: if you like cheap clothing and a weird Disney themed restaurant you’ve hit the jackpot.

    Lot of pubs and coffee shops and restaurants in the city centre and there is a small China town area, couple of Michelin starred restaurants to be found and the various balti houses as you get out. A lot of the time pub grub is good for reasonable value eating out. Ooh, The Karczma is a Polish restaurant walkable from the city centre ( slightly rough street but the restaurant will be an oasis on a cold January night). Pizza, Thai, Argentinian, Turkish, burgers, all there somewhere. There is a Tim Hortons now if you want a taste of Canada. If you can find Selfidge’s food hall they have ‘posh’ chocolates, pattiserie,etc, and a several mini restaurants with sushi, coffee, pizza, kind of things. Grand Central is a recently opened area above the train station with smart shops and lots of places to eat ( not local themed but if you want a Prosecco bar or tapas). The balti houses were cheap and cheerful but it isn’t what it was, although if you get a local recommendation go for it ( assuming you like spicey food).

    Birmingham has a history of centralisation and innovation so there is definitely a centre where everything leads to with shops, venues, theatres,etc. It’s a favourite place for architecture students because there are those lovely older buildings like the town hall and the council house, modernist buildings like the symphony hall and recent designs like Selfridges, The Cube and the new library. Largest magistrates court in Europe. There is the National Sea Life Centre despite being almost as far as you can get from the sea in the U.K. There is a science museum although I can’t make any great claims for it.

    Black Country Living Museum is excellent and there is the canal trust next door to that. Bit of a way out but if you don’t mind an outdoor museum in January well worth a visit. No train station by the museum, nearest is Tipton which is a mile or so away. Tipton is a bit of a s**t hole although it does have Mad O’Rourkes Pie Factory if you want local cooking. In Birmingham city centre there are the Back to Backs if you want a flavour of old Birmingham ( they are from the 1840s) without travelling further out. That’s not far from the Chinese quarter and the gay quarter, if you like a gay night club Birmingham is the place ( really). It used to be the city of a thousand trades and now it’s more like a city of a thousand cultures; if you want a gudwara, mosque, church of many denominations, Buddhist temple, Irish centre, Polish supermarket, synagogue they are all there somewhere.

    Yes, jewellery quarter ( take the train, bus or metro [ tram] ) from the city centre. Yes Stratford, Ironbridge, Cosford, Warwick Castle, etc, if you travel further out and all popular tourist spots.

    It is an important cricket city which bypasses some people but the Warwickshire ground is there, probably no good in January. Several big ( if not top ) football clubs in the area. Bit lacking in amazing stadia although Villa Park is one of the oldest football grounds.

    Good train connections, the Metro is nice if a bit limited in where it goes. Busses probably to be avoided. Obviously black cabs, mini cabs and Ubers. It is fairly horrible to drive around but I’m sure most big city centres are. It will have a low emissions zone but not until summer 2020.

    It does have some of the largest guitar shops in the U.K. - GuitarGuitar and PMT ( these are national chains as well). Fairdeal is reasonably big, The Little Guitar Shop smaller and quirkier. Although I suspect not amazing for anyone from the USA. Home of Jaydee guitars although there is nothing to see there as such ( it’s a factory unit, really nothing to see but if you are a big Black Sabbath fan I guess you could stand on the car park and hope to spot John Diggins). There is a small music museum in the suburbs of Coventry if you have access to a car and a determination to see the synths used for the Dr Who theme. Coventry city centre isn’t very attractive but it has the cathedrals which are hugely popular with tourists and worth a look if you venture that far out. Birmingham does have its own cathedral but it’s one of the least exciting ones unfortunately.

    The Custard Factory is a quirky little place in a student/ hipster part of the city. Possibly not worth a visit in itself but they do have exhibitions and events on so worth looking out for. Ooh, Cadbury World. Popular enough that you should usually pre book tickets ( maybe not in January). Maybe somewhere you’d go more with kids but it’s a chocolate factory so what’s not to like. It’s in Bournville which is in itself quite an interesting area, part of the Quaker heritage of the city - a sort of dry county with pretty houses.

    I’ll take issue with saying Birmingham is part of the Black Country. There isn’t an exact definition of Black Country but it usually refers to the smaller towns surrounding Birmingham like Dudley, West Bromwich, Tipton and there is a Black Country coal seam so places built on top of that if you want to get very specific. There is a difference in the accent as well although it’s not huge. I’ve no idea how this knowledge will impact upon your visit. Birmingham can be Brum for short and the people of Birmingham are Brummies with Brummie accents. I’m really from the Black Country so I’m a Yam Yam.* Again, I’ve no idea how that will be helpful.

    I’m already looking forward to your write up next year, explaining how it was cold and grey - but everything in the U.K. is cold and grey in January, that’s not Birmingham’s fault. As people have said Birmingham had a bad reputation but that’s decades out of date - it’s a modern, thriving, diverse city now and you are going to a world class venue.




    * the derivation of Yam Yam being the local pronunciation of You Are reduced to You Am reduced to Y’am to Yam and made into Yam Yam. Again, don’t worry about this...
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  9. ben smith

    ben smith Tele-Meister

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    black sabbath town! they say their sound comes from all the industrial machinery they heard growing up which is interesting. were black sabbath the first real heavy metal band? i think they may well have been. and the tv show peaky blinders is set there.
     
  10. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    I don't want to argue with local knowledge, but the Cadbury family that built Bournville were Quakers, not Mormons.
     
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  11. RoyalBaby

    RoyalBaby Tele-Afflicted

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    I wrote that, went upstairs, sat on the toilet, realised I’d got it wrong, came downstairs, edited it and within that time knowing that someone will have pointed out my error! Yes, quakers, my bad.
     
  12. Sleepyscholar

    Sleepyscholar Tele-Meister

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    I think RoyalBaby was so bang on about everything, a (rapidly corrected) slip like that can be forgiven. And I write as someone with very local knowledge: my mum was the Cadbury family nanny.

    I was also going to point out that Brum and the Black Country are two distinct entities, but I couldn't see that impacting a visit all that much, and RoyalBaby saved me the trouble. So instead I'll just mention that although Peaky Blinders is great, virtually nobody involved in it apart from Steven Knight, the creator, is from Birmingham, and very little of it was filmed in the city.

    And I guess one useful tip for Americans is pronunciation: BirmingHAM is in Alabama. The English city sounds more like Birmingum.
     
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  13. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    So a lot like Leeds, then. :lol:
     
  14. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    Symphony Hall is a superb venue - have seen Brian Wilson and Todd Rundgren there. Hope there's a show that interests you, it's worth a visit.
     
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  15. esseff

    esseff Tele-Holic

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    The Coventry Transport Museum is fantastic (or was, when I lived in the area 11 years ago). I see they're charging for admission these days... hmmm. £14.00 is a bit expensive for my liking. You could easily spend most of the day there though and it's only about half-hour's train ride from Birmingham.
    https://www.transport-museum.com/about/default.aspx

    Edit: Just noticed that the £14.00 admission charge is valid for a year, NOT pay per visit! In that case, it's almost a give-away (unless you're only in the UK on holiday :p).
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
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  16. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Like Leeds, but with better curry and transport links.

    Thankfully, a lot of the concrete monstrosities that blight our sceptic isle have succumbed to concrete rot and are being torn down. Unfortunately, wearers of polo necks and stylish glasses have decided that some should remain. Not as a warning to future generations, but as design icons, listed buildings, constructions of historical importance. May they lose the keys to their Saabs.
    Some of the buildings that have replaced them though, to me, resemble Play-Doh extrusions from the twisted mind of someone who imbibed the juice of too many Autumnal mushrooms. When architecture makes a statement, and that statement is 'Please kill me, I am too hideous for daylight', one questions how far we've come from brutalist mistakes. 'Bold' shopping centres form exhibit one.
     
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  17. RoyBGood

    RoyBGood Doctor of Teleocity

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    'May they lose the keys to their Saabs.' :lol::lol:
     
  18. Sleepyscholar

    Sleepyscholar Tele-Meister

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    I don't wear polo necks, but I did in the 70s, and in those days I loved the Central Library, a sort of inverted concrete ziggurat. From the reaction when it was torn down, I suspect I may be the only one who did.
     
  19. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

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    Bleeding Brummie,
     
  20. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Tele-Afflicted

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    That’s where we’re headed!
     
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