Sunday, 8 May 2022

Good Times



On Friday I caught the train to Birmingham to spend the day with my friend, Nikki. After a pot of the most deliciouly sherbet-y cranberry & rose tea in a hip cafe, we walked up to Victoria Sqaure, where I posed with my namesake before a wander around Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.


I was always slightly disappointed that my parents named me Victoria Clare rather than Victoria Regina, Mum's original choice.

As I'm sure you're aware, Birmingham will be hosting the Commonwealth Games in June and the city has been massively spruced up. 

Moved in 2017 to make way for the tram network (the least said about that, the better), Antony Gormley's The Iron:Man is back in the square. Measuring 20 feet tall, with his feet embedded in the ground, he was cast in the Black Country and unveiled in 1993.


Birmingham Art Gallery is home to the world's largest collection of art and design by the Pre-Raphaelites. Due to the Pandemic and some essential work, it partially reopened last week with a limited amount of exhibits on display. You can see more of Birmingham's incredible Pre-Raphaelite collection in my post HERE.


We spent ages pouring over Benny's Babbies by Birmingham artist, Cold War Steve, cackling at Mr Egg where all Birmingham clubbers used to "Dine Like a King for 99p" (including me!) after a night on the town, recalling the days of shopping at Mark-One and The Oasis, where Boy George could often be seen hanging out, as well as pointing to famous Birmingham-born folk we'd met or knew by association.

The people of Walsall own a large amount of Jacob Epstein's work, bequeathed to us by his widow, Kitty Garman, born up the road in Wednesbury. The gorgeous Lucifer however was gifted by the artist to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 1947 and has weakened many a museum visitor's knees over the decades.













 



After a stroll around, admiring the city's glorious Victorian architecture, we had lunch in Damascena, a Middle Eastern eatery situated next door to the swanky Old Joint Stock (which I visited with Jon & Tony, HERE)


Accompanied by a glass of deliciously aromatic cardomom tea, we feasted on Damascena Fuul (slow cooked fava beans with tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh chilli), tabula (a parsley, bulgar wheat, cucumber and tomato salad) and spinach, feta cheese and sumac fatayer (pastries). The food was wonderful and great value at just over £10 each!


With the antibiotics out of my system, we headed to Albert's Schloss for my first pint in almost a week. Isn't the menu gorgeous?


Cheers!


Chin, chin!


Us, and a couple of other women, were in awe of the neon illuminated toilet cubicle although, having a wee side-by-side with your mate, does seem a little odd.


 After a failed attempt at a toilet selfie, we headed back to New Street Station to catch our respective trains home with mine having a platform change two minutes before it was due to depart cue a manic sprint across the concourse and up and down two flights of stairs - just as well I'm fit!


Thanks for a fab day, Nikki! See you next month!

 
Jon picked me up from Walsall's train station and, after tea, we cracked open the rum (I matched each glass with a pint of water) and re-watched Captain Corelli's Mandolin, not a patch on the wonderful Louis De Bernieres novel on which it's based but still a pleasant - and Greek themed - watch.


Despite the forecast for the previous day being one of heat and sunshine it wasn't to be, starting off bright but by 11am disappointingly grey and overcast. Fortunately, Saturday turned out gorgeous. After the usual start of reading in bed with tea, stripping and changing the bed, pegging the washing out and a breakfast of a veggie sausage sandwich each, we drove up to the garden centre for the first time this year as Jon needed a couple of bags of compost and, of course, I couldn't resist the 3 for £10 offer on the perrenials.


Continuing with the Greek theme, I'm wearing the hand-embroidered blouse I bought in Lindos last year along with a 1970s Greek souvenir tote bag (charity shop), a Zara broderie Anglaise skirt (brought from their summer sale in 2017) and my red Lottas (they're wet - not dirty!)


Back at home I stripped down to a bikini and spent four hours repotting my overwintered geraniums, planting out the windowboxes and finding space for my three new plants, Dianthus "Diane", Anemone "Pulsatilla White" and Armeria "Ballerina White". 


Jon potted on his seedlings and moved stuff into the cold frames from the utility room and the kitchen windowsill. Together, we sorted out the raspberries that have gone utterly mad and are threatening to take over the garden (no bad thing, we love them!)


After a posh coffee in the sunshine, I spent the rest of the day with Stephen Fry on the lawn whilst Jon lounged around inside watching some sci-fi/zombie rubbish.


We'd booked a table at Walsall's Greek Cypriot restaurant, Kouzina, at 7.45pm so, rather than Jon drive and not be able to have a beer, I suggested we go by foot (a forty minute walk across town, just over two miles away). As is always the case on a Saturday, we'd not eaten since our breakfast at 8.30am and were ravenous by the time we'd got there and met up with Tony.


A former transport cafe, just off junction 10 of the M6, Kouzina is unpreposessing from the outside, but inside, you could be in a buzzing taverna in Greece.


A Mythos for me, Keo (a Cypriot beer) for the boys. 


The boys opted for the Big Fat Greek Meat Sharing Platter and I had the Mixed Meze Board which consisted of tzatziki, courgette fritters and Feta and spinach parcels drizzled in honey, there were Athenian flatbreads too, of which I donated half to the lads.



Jon & Tony had pudding, too. Hollow legs, that pair! 










After a couple more beers we walked back home via Walsall town centre, bumping into a mate we see at the swimming baths most weeks, Alright Baz, didn't recognise you with your clothes on!


On Sunday we lay in bed reading until 9.15am - practically unheard of! Still stuffed from our Greek feast, we skipped breakfast and headed off to the clearance chazza for a rummage.


We came back with a Hobbs 100% linen rainbow shift dress, Cath Kidston pumps, a NY taxi tee shirt for Jon, a Pop Boutique paisley button-down shirt, two vintage bud vases for our collection, a Marc Darcy waistcoat, a Hugo Boss merino wool poloneck, a gents' crushed velvet blazer, a 1970s Tramps novelty print shirt, a pair of Falke 80 denier opaques (£19.99 on the label), a trio of fake succulents - to brighten up a dark corner, a 1970s St Michael green velvet blazer and a workout top from Beyonce's Ivy Park label (which, with any luck, might give me a body like hers!)


I wore the embroidered unbleached cotton dress (eBay) I last wore to see Operation Mincemeat at the cinema on Easter Monday. After I'd laundered the finds and pegged them out to dry we realised that we were still stuffed from last night so we decided to skip lunch, too. We might manage to force half a pizza down later.


After Nikki and I were chatting about it, I've decided we need to rewatch Jason and the Argonauts for the millionth time this evening.


γεια! We're off on our travels again, catch you later!


41 comments:

  1. My mouth is watering at the thought of that Greek food. It sounds utterly flippin gorgeous. I love your Greek outfit it looks so fresh and summery. We want to find somewhere that sells proper Lebanese food as it just looks tasty when we've seen it on TV.

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    1. Greek and Lebanese food are quite similar, so fresh and healthy! xxx

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  2. Have a wonderful holiday you two. It’s so lovely to see you out and about with friends and living your best life. Enjoy. Catch you soon xxx

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  3. You've got me craving an adventure in Brum and a trip to Greece now with all the delicious teas and food you describe! Love the neon toilets too! Cold War Steve is very clever isn't he? I can see you are well and truly geared up for your sunny escape and already dressing the part. Have fun! xxx P.S. I did pop the Jenny Packham book in the post to you the other day, but guessing it will arrive too late for your trip. Hopefully it will be there waiting for you on your return.

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    1. Hello Claire! I've just read your comment, popped out to the postbox and the book is in there! Perfet timing, thank you so much! I love Cold War Steve, we stood staring at Benny's Babbies for ages, we were joined by a chap who told us that he used to play table tennis against Desmond Douglas and taught one of Fuzzbox. I bet everyone who sees that picture knows someone in it! xxx

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  4. Jason and the Argonauts is one of my all time fav movies. I don't think I'll ever be bored with it.

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  5. I totally enjoyed tagging along on your trip to Birmingham and its Art Gallery. Swooning over Jacob Epstein's Lucifer and how impressive is Antony Gormley's Iron Man!
    That illuminated twin toilet cubicle is something else indeed!
    You're looking gorgeous in all of your outfits, but particularly so in your Greek themed Zara skirt and embroidered blouse. And of course you had to snap up some perennials while at the garden centre.
    Your dinner at the Greek Cypriot restaurant looks mouth-wateringly delicious.
    Have a fab time on your travels, you two! xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Ann!
      Isn't Lucifer a dish? I wouldn't mind him in the garden! The Iron:Man is fab, its lovely to have him back in the city centre, he was much-missed.
      That Zara skirt is well overdue a visit to Greece, I'll have to book another trip so it gets its turn. xxx

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  6. You have such an interesting life!! I'm still wary of being out and about, even though I'm triple jabbed, as I don't want to get covid again. It's great that you have recovered so well from the sepsis, being fit has it's perks. Your embroidered dress is gorgeous, and very flattering.

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    1. Thanks so much! I can understand your hesitance. Some of my friends (all triple jabbed) have had Covid twice. I've got to the point where I'm prepared to take my chances. Travel and socialising are too important to miss out on a moment longer.
      No Sepsis, thank goodness, that was just the NHS being extra cautious! xxx

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  7. Enjoy your holiday. How lovely you payed that Greek restaurant a visit. A nice little preparation for your trip.
    I love Pre-Raphaelite art! It's possibly my favourite period in English art, they had such talented artists. I can never get tired of looking at those long haired beauties they painted. The Lucifer statue is magnificent. I'd love for a change to see it in person, but I'm very grateful for your virtual tours in the meantime.
    As always I love your outfits. Spring is in the air with your outfits. I love the light colours you're wearing. Your lottas are so lovely.

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    1. Thanks, Ivana! We thought we'd better start our holiday properly!
      Pre-Raphaelite art is wonderful, isn't it? The women (and the men!) potrayed were the absolute epitome of beauty in my opinion, the long hair, strong jawlines and the wonderful jewel-like shades in which they were clad. I can't wait for the museum to reopen properly so we can see the whole collection again.
      With Spring in the hair its lovely to walk about with bare legs and embrace paler colours! xxx

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  8. What a nice day out at the museum! I love that floral dress you wore, and that very cute embroidered dress at the end of the post! it's good you were able to enjoy that delicious Greek feast too! I love Greek food, there's a local restaurant here that does it and it's so delicious! I can never finish a meal though, always does me for 2 days!

    Hope that you had a good weekend :)

    Away From The Blue

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    1. Thanks, Mica! I had a lovely day with great company, good food and beautiful things to look at. I get a bit overwhelmed by massive amounts of food. When I'm in Greece we tend to order a variety of starters and share them.
      I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too! xxx

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  9. I have a cousin who into the Raphaelites art peroid.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. Pre-Raphaelite art is my favourite - and there's so much connection with the West Midlands - maybe the artists were escaping the bleak landscape by attempting to capture otherworldy beauty. xxx

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  10. Some fabulous restaurants there - just the kind of food we love! Love your red Lotta's - I am wearing mine so much, so comfy - might need another pair! Have a fab holiday x

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    1. Greek and Middle Eastern food is so good and so many choices for us veggies!
      It's clog season, isn't it? Go on, treat yourself to a second pair, you won't regret it! xxx

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  11. Don't take this the wrong way back but I hope you are back soon as I will miss your posts. Have fun on your travels.x

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  12. you and nikki had a lovely day obvisiously! love your light blue dress and the colourway of the embroidery on the white one.......
    buying compost? pah. just today i turned the kompost heaps around - with the help of a strong lad - and have now a little mountain of beautiful humus :-D
    xxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate! It was a fabulous day - as always!
      We have two large compost & leaf mould piles but despite turning them regularly, they've not sufficiently rotted down to use in our pots yet! xxx

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  13. After all your swimming recently Vix you and Lord Jon must have lovely toned bods-Another well deserved adventure for you both xx

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    1. Hello, Flis! It's amazing how quickly we've sprung back into shape after getting back into swimming. We're very excited, a bet a large part of our trip will be spent chatting to cats and feeding all the strays! xxx

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  14. The food in the Greek restaurant made me crave it all! I wish though I could bypass meals the next day- probably why you look like you and me, like me. Plus, 45 minutes to and from! Your day with Nikki was great fun to tag along.

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    1. The food on both days was absolutely delicious. I'm trying to get Jon into training for our trip, he loves walking when we're away but not so much in and around Walsall! xxxx

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  15. The art gallery looks a fab place to visit and I must include it next time I visit Dawn...Birmingham is looking much cleaner - and posher than I remember from 1984-1985 when I lived there! Lovely sculptures - they always make places so much more interesting.

    What lovely dresses you've been wearing; I don't recall seeing the first one before it's gorgeous!

    All the dishes you describe sounded amazing and I must remember them for when I'm in a Greek or Turkish restaurant. We have two Turkish restaurants around the corner from where I live but I've only been to one so far.

    Great chazza finds!

    Have a wonderful break.
    xxx

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    1. The Art Gallery is incredible, hoefully it will be properly open when you visit next but the bits they do have on display are fantastic and the gallery cafe is well worth a visit.
      I sold a few of my old dresses so i could invest in the new one, its another Dilli Grey and it got lots of love on the train!
      See you soon. xxx

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  16. Never been to Birmingham so thanks for the tour. Looks so interesting and cultural. The original 'Kinky Boots' boots are being exhibited at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. Amazing what you find out on t'internet in the wee small hours when sleep evades you!Buon Viaggio (don't know what the Greek is for safe travels so Italian will have to do!).xxx

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    1. I keep meaning to visit the shoe museum in Northampton, a city I've never visited! xxx

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  17. I love the Greek theme in this post, Vix! Birmingham looks so clean and nice - as my own city's hosted a Commonwealth Games (1994!), I am familiar with the sprucing up that goes on (grr). Wonderful art!

    Love your embroidered dress and your lovely red clogs. Enjoy your vacation!!

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    1. It frustrates me that money can be found to tart up a city before a major event but it is looking good!
      Thanks, Sheila. See you soon. xxx

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  18. I'd love to visit Birmingham and enjoy all the Victorian architecture and pre-raphaelite fabulousness!, enjoying them vicariously in this post!
    Drooling over the Middle Eastern food!, and greek one too!.
    Love your 'greece inspired' outfits, that skirt and blouse in blue and white with the cute bag are so cute!, and love your embroidered dress too!
    besos

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    1. Its changed so much since my years of working in the city centre! Apparently Birmingham is England's second most visited city for overseas tourists! xxx

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  19. Hope you have a great break Vix


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  20. Your trip to Birmingham sounds amazing! You look gorgeous in that embroidered cotton dress.
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  21. I love the Pre-Raphaelites! and that dress! I love the other two outfits too but that first one- oh, I am dying for it! Can I ask the brand?

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  22. I share your passion for good Greek food and rejoice that an industrious son of those sun-blessed islands braved the pandemic to open a restaurant in our Midwestern mini-city. His moussaka and gyros saw me through the winter.
    "...I spent the rest of the day with Stephen Fry on the lawn..." I'd pay more than I can afford to sip a posh coffee and listen to you, Jon and that Renaissance man chatting in your garden while cats convene on the roof of the Kinky Shed and Jacob ambles by.

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  23. Hello Vix, well I don't know where the past week has gone! Time seems to have accelerated recently. You always seem to have such a fab day in Brum with your friend Nikki. I have added Birmingham's Art Gallery (love Pre- Rahaelite paintings and the Lucifer sculpture it out of this world) AND the Greek restaurant at Junction 10 to my bucket list - should I ever attempt the drive up to Manchester again. You are looking super glamorous in your gorgeous embroidered cotton dress. I hope you have had / are having a wonderful holiday and I greatly look forward to all the gossip when you return :) :) :) xXX

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Lots of love, Vix