Sunday, March 19, 2006


Gooing down to the Ball Ring to buy a packet of pies

Wow! What a weekend!

On Friday night we had our pizza night as planned. I got home ahead of Martha and started preparing them, as well as Audrey's supper. She doesn't like pizza very much, I think because of the crust, so I was going to cut her up some red pepper, some cucumber and give her some of the pizza pepperoni and a slice of bread and butter. As I buttered the bread I just thought to myself "Man, this is boring food! How can I make this more exciting for Audrey?". Here's what I came up with...

It was a complete success - she munched down all of the bread and pepperoni and a fair amount of the red pepper. I guess, like her old man, she thought the cucumber was a bit of a waste of space and didn't touch any of it, but I for one was really pleased that she got a kick out of my culinary masterpiece!

It was an early start on Saturday morning, getting Audrey's stuff for her overnight stay at my parents house ready and we did our regular weekly grocery shop before heading off to swimming. Swimming went pretty well, and my parents showed up right on time to pick Audrey up and whisk her away for a weekend of fun at their house, giving Martha and I 24 hours of alone time together.

From swimming we headed right into the heart of Birmingham to the new Bull Ring Shopping Centre. I'm well aware that I spelled it "Ball Ring" in the title of this blog - the title is nicked from a Birmingham born and bred comedian called Jasper Carrott and unless you know the way the local "Brummie" accent works it will mean absolutely nothing to you - let's just say that if you hear someone from Birmingham asking for a "Kipper Tie" they're more likely to receive a popular and refreshing leaf based beverage than an item of 1970's retro clothing... Anyway it took some time to actually get there - the traffic heading into the place was a total nightmare, but by 2pm we had crossed the funky doodle bridge into the shopping mall and were searching for a place to have lunch.
Easy right? Oh no!

In my experience of shopping malls, especially in Canada, you have a "food court" where there is a plethora of fast food places and restaurants all in one easy to find location, where you simply make your choice of what you want and sit down and eat it. Many's the time we've been to the Whiteoaks Mall in London, Ontario, and Martha, myself, and her Mom, or whoever is with us all eat completely different things from a variety of eateries and can all sit down together and enjoy our meals.

This idea obviously hasn't filtered into British shopping mall culture, and you'd think for somewhere as new as the Bull Ring they'd have got this fundamental part of the shopping experience right. Instead you get restaurants littered throughout the mall and each of them with precious little space to sit and enjoy your food. Also, the mall was VERY busy and when we arrived we took one look at the queues to two of the places we might have opted to eat at and decided there was absolutely no way we were going to wait that long for a meal which ultimately we would probably regret eating later. We therefore slunk into a Costa Coffee (my first time ever in such an establishment) where we grabbed an overpriced sandwich, crisps and drinks - but at least the queue was short!

After some food we found our bearings and started shopping. As I said in my previous blog, busy malls usually wind me up so much I end up wanting to punch someone. I tried to stay calm and let that all wash over me, and to a certain extent it worked. We didn't rush, checked out a few shops, had some fun but didn't really buy anything. It was just a joy not to have Audrey to worry about.

We did buy Audrey some clothes and a toy digger (she's into diggers at the moment!) which is funny, because it's so blatantly unrealistic. When you press a button it says "Right, lets get to work!" and "Let's get digging!" - now, in my experience those phrases don't exist in any worksmans language. If we're going for ultra realism I think that digger should say "Right, lets make a cup of tea!" and "Let's take a break!" - or am I being too harsh?

Anyway, we finally called it a day at the Bull Ring and headed home. We had a table booked at our favourite restaurant and had about half an hour to get ready. It was nice, because we made an effort to get dressed up. It's perfectly OK to wear jeans and a t-shirt to this place, but we decided we should make the effort and "sexied-up" for each other!

We had a great meal...I plumped for a pizza, which I found to actually be a little bland - without blowing my own trumpet too much, I think we make far better homemade pizzas on a Friday night! However, it was still a nice pizza - just a tad dull is all! I followed that up with cheescake and felt quite good that I hadn't completely over indulged.

When we got home we chilled out a bit and
*censored* - ha, ha, ha!

What I will say though, is it was a PEACEFUL nights sleep, not having to worry about the munchkin waking up in the night. We slept in this morning until 9.30am - oh man, I can't remember the last time I slept in that late! It was bliss!

So, after a lazy start we headed over to my parents to have lunch and find out how Audrey had been for the past 24 hours. Of course she'd been a total angel for them, but when she saw us she had a bit of a meltdown, cried and wanted nothing but to be hugged by her Mummy! It actually turned out that she was pretty tired from a busy morning of painting and playing and I guess us showing up like that pushed her over the edge. By lunchtime meltdown was complete and she was just wailing, so Martha took her upstairs where Audrey eventually fell asleep for an hour or so, allowing us to finish up lunch in peace with my parents.

After she woke up we went out for a short walk down by the nearby canal then back to my parents for tea, before packing up all of Audrey's overnight gear and going home.

So, I guess it's back to normal now...Martha and I have spent a great weekend together enjoying the peace and quiet and the break from parental responsibility. We definitely need to do it again, but I have to admit it was wonderful to get back to Audrey to hug and kiss her and tell her how much we love and missed her.

Sounds like you had a brilliant weekend! The last time I went round the Bull Ring, well put it this way the Bingley Hall hadn't burned down yet - it's certainly improved somewhat since those days!

Having worked as a site quantity surveyor for a couple of years, you're more likely to hear "go ahn make az a cap a'tea lav" than "lets get to work". For the real authenticity test, see if you can get it to work on a Friday afternoon :)
Ann - I'm not a big fan of cities in general, but Brum has certainly had some major improvements lately which make it worth a visit.

And as for workmen - I think I'd have more luck getting blood out of a stone...
Brilliant food artistry.
MyUtopia - Thank you! I rather thought it was a culinary triumph!
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