48 Hours in Birmingham…

Same scenario as my trip to Edinburgh: I was there Saturday morning until Sunday evening, and had about 13 hours total (excluding travel time and sleeping) to explore a UK city. This time it was Birmingham! These are my picks for spending your time wisely…

 

The Bullring

I feel like Birmingham is different to Edinburgh mainly in that it is definitely a shopping city. The Bullring is HUGE, and made an excellent place to shelter for a couple of hours while there was an unexpected monsoon. If you’re a hardcore shopper then head here. Just outside The Bullring there is one of the loveliest Waterstones stores I’ve ever visited, their poetry section was amazing as far as poetry sections go (they’re usually very small).

 

The City Library & The Secret Garden

Go here if only to see the fairy-lights they’ve hung up all around the inside. The “Secret” Garden is a roof garden on top of the library. If you do one thing other than shopping, make it this. It looks like Birmingham are doing some serious renovations around the area of the library, but when they’re finished the view from this point is going to be phenomenal.

 

Find the bears

At the moment there are a lot of bears scattered around the city, each one decorated differently. I saw kids running around with some kind of checklist for them, and very worn-out looking parents. I couldn’t find a checklist anywhere, but I did find several arty looking bears on my walks.

 

Walk the canals & Stop at a bar

Apparently Birmingham is dubbed the “Venice of the North”, due to its canal network. I took a walk along some of the canal network of Birmingham on the Sunday morning, because I had time to kill before the coffee shops opened. On a sunny, quiet Sunday morning a walk (or run- be prepared to dodge some joggers) along the canals is a beautiful start to the day. More of an evening person? Head to one of the numerous restaurants or bars along the side of the canal, and have a drink!

 

Selfridge & Co. Food Hall

I mentioned The Bullring, but a big part of this place is the Selfridge & Co department store. They had a replica of the bull statue made from what looked like cake sprinkles. They sell vegan doughnuts. They have several restaurants hidden inside here, and a tonne of fancy cakes.

 

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Possibly one of my favourite places- any place I can look at art is generally one of my favourite places. At the moment there’s a diversion to get into the art gallery, because of the city’s renovations, so be sure to follow the diversion signs.

 

The Edwardian Tearoom

This is inside of the art gallery. I really recommend you take a good book, and grab a coffee here. They make awesome cakes, and it makes a good spot to take a break from your intense on-foot exploring.

 

The Sealife Centre

I unfortunately didn’t get chance to go here, because I wasn’t going to spend £20 to get in on the door. If you are wanting to go here (I love the Sealife Centre) then book online the night before, and it costs around £12. Visiting here would be ideal to tie into a walk along the canal network, as its located on the canal-side, near Brindley Place.

 

Jamaican Street Festival (Market & Music)

This was present when I was visiting (August 5th and 6th 2017), and it was AMAZING. The music was great, the dancing was great, the smells…oh my god, the smell of barbeques and spices. If you’re visiting this month, then I hope this is still there when you visit!

 

Any Birmingham locals, or anyone else who has visited Birmingham, did I miss anything I could’ve done in a day or two? Anything I should do next time I visit?

 

Advertisements

How To Spend 48hrs in Edinburgh…

Okay, I was there Saturday mid-morning to Sunday late afternoon, so minus sleeping I actually got 13 hours of exploring time. This didn’t make for such a catchy title though. However, this post is still all about my top picks for things to do if you happen to be in Edinburgh for a weekend. There were still a few other things I wish I could’ve crammed in, and so if you have slightly more time than I did, then head for the Dungeon, and take a ghost tour!

EDINBURGH CASTLE

(£17ISH ADULT ENTRY, EXTRA FOR AUDIOTOUR)

This HAD to appear on the list. You can see the castle from the main street in Edinburgh and it is beautiful. It costs roughly £17 for an adult to get in, and you can pay for an audio tour too. I didn’t buy one of those, but just wandering around makes you feel like you’re in Game of Thrones. The view of the city from here is phenomenal (there’s also a whiskey tasting experience nearby!).

 

HENDERSON’S SALAD TABLE

The best veggie/vegan eatery in Edinburgh. I had planned to go to several different coffee shops, but this place was just too good to miss. Super-fast service, delicious home-cooked food, and a city centre location. I can recommend the Vegan Shakshuka (creamy, caramel-y sweet potato in place of eggs), and the porridge (super thick and a massive bowlful- just as porridge should be). If I had had another meal to fill, then I would’ve gone for their vegan haggis and tatties; unfortunately I arrived too early for the lunch menu, so if you want this be sure to get there after 12pm!

 

CALTON HILL, NATIONAL MONUMNET, NELSON’S MONUMENT

(FREE)

All of these are together because they are all next to each other. This is another spot where you get an amazing view of the city and surrounding areas. Best time of day? Get up early and head up there either for, or just after, sunrise. I was up early on Sunday morning, and as cities tend to be quite quiet until lunchtime at the end of the week, I had the monument pretty much to myself.

 

SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY

(FREE, PAY FOR VISITING EXHIBITIONS)

The art gallery near the Princes Street Gardens is spread over two buildings. You have to pay for one exhibition, but the other galleries are 100% free to get into. If you’re a fan of large oil paintings with tonnes of detail, or impressionist work, or modern art, take a look at the galleries. I spent a good couple of hours there.

 

EXPLORE THE STREETS

(FREE, depending on if you buy something)

For me this is my favourite thing to do when I visit somewhere new. I love to just wander around and explore, seeing what shops, cafés, art galleries, and bookshops I can discover. Edinburgh has plenty of hidden gems, and plenty of small winding cobbled streets to make your way down. Exploring on foot also means you get a good view of the statues dotted around the city.

 

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND

(FREE)

I was blown away by this museum. When you go up the stairs and into the main hall it takes your breath straight out of your chest. There is a lot in this place, so leave a couple of hours for it. I wish I’d had more time here. At the moment there is an exhibition on fashion through the ages, and much as I’m not really a fashion-enthusiast, I find past fashions really interesting. The café here is also really good, so check it out. Finally: try and arrive just before the hour to watch the millennium clock  chime.

 

PRINCE STREET GARDENS, QUEEN STREET GARDENS 

(FREE)

These gardens stretch alongside the highstreet, and you’ll often find people picnicking here or just enjoying the good weather (when it arrives). Grab some food, and bring a book with you to relax out in the open. The Queen Street gardens are also an option, though I feel like the Princes Street ones have more of a busy, lively vibe.

 

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

(FREE)

This isn’t far from Henderson’s Salad Table, so perhaps tie them in on the same day. This was one of my favourite excursions. Its packed with self-portraits at the moment, in all kinds of mediums. The most impactful exhibition was Graham Maclndoe’s; he photographed himself both using and coming clean from heroin. If you’re more into modern art then check the Portrait Gallery out. The roof of the entrance hall is painted liked the night sky, with the zodiac constellations. Absolutely stunning.

 

There you have it, some cheap ideas for playing tourist in Edinburgh. If you have anything you think I should try next time I visit then comment below!

 

Eldon Square Blogger’s Event: The Healthy Options Treasure Hunt

wp-1484389977320.jpgIf you pay real close attention to my IG account, then you would know that on Wednesday night myself and a plus one headed over to an event run by Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle- and that we got to feast. On healthy food. I literally don’t think I could’ve been more excited. My friend Iona and I were assigned Wagamama’s, and if you want to skip straight to the healthiest options from this restaurant, then scroll to the bottom of this post!

The idea of the event was that a group of us bloggers were split into two-person teams with our plus ones, and then were randomly assigned a restaurant in Grey’s Quarter to find the tastiest options for you guys. Slight disclaimer before I go any further: if you are going out for an occasional meal, then don’t worry about what you are eating. Enjoy it. Not enough health and fitness blogs highlight that to have a lasting, positive relationship with enjoying eating well and moving about, you have to have balance. This being said, for me personally, if I know I’m going to be eating out a lot in a short space of time, I always want to have some healthier options to fall back on: it keeps me feeling like I can function normally, and not morph into a food-coma-sloth. That is where this post comes in. Continue reading

Bath Spa on a Budget (Summer 2016)

We all love travelling to new places, and then exploring our hearts out. But, in general, exploring is an expensive pass-time. And as a student, I’m used to finding maximum amusement for free. So, when I arrived in bath that’s just what I did.

Obviously, if you have some spare cash you’ll want to know where you can go spending it, and so at the bottom of the page I have a few recommendations. Food, obviously, will have a separate post, because Bath is great for eating out.

If you have an NUS card then you can get into museums at a discounted price, but it does quickly add up. Which is why the below are all completely free, incase- like me- you never purchased an NUS card.

  1. Find Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights- This is one of the single most beautiful bookshops I have ever browsed. Two floors of shelves lined with beautiful editions, and upstairs there are comfy arm chairs. The staff even take the time to write out reviews of the books at a glance, and tack them to the shelf. Even if you aren’t buying, it’s worth checking this place out. The toilet has some pretty funky wallpaper too (you’ll get it when you see it).
  2. Visit the Guildhall Market- This is right next to the abbey, and even if it isn’t the most fascinating market, it’s still worth a visit. It’s crammed with little shops and knick knacks. Still, if you only have time to do one…
  3. Visit Green Park Station market- this is a better market in my opinion, located on the other side of the city. It’s a converted station, and when the stallholders set up on a weekend then you can browse artist’s sketches, and pick up quite a few free samples (if you do have the money though, head over to Beyond The Kale- and buy yourself a clean treat. My recommendation is the toasted banana bread, slathered in peanut butter)
  4. Walk to The Circus- It’s just something that when in Bath you have to come over all tourist and do. And just two minutes from here you can…
  5. See The Royal Crescent- This is impressive. It’s some beautiful old houses that overlook Victoria Park. So, you may as well…
  6. Have a picnic at Victoria Park. Bring your own food to cut costs, and set up a picnic blanket on the grass here. When its sunny you can watch other tourists take fifty plus pictures of some wildly exciting old houses. 
  7. Find Topping & Co. This bookshop is more of a mature and stylish place to visit, rather than a quirky and comfy one. There are more books here, and ladders to reach them. The staff are, again, super-friendly and great with recommendations. They run events where you can meet writers, and are quick to offer a cuppa while you browse. Find Topping & Company’s book shop- and get a free coffee.
  8. Visit 44AD artspace- Obviously whether or not this has an exhibition running depends on if you can go. I managed to get in on the last day of the exhibition I saw, and the artist was actually there to speak to. Free cosy art gallery, with the best tour guide to show you around their work.
  9. Find Hardy’s retro sweet shop and check out their well cool window display- This is the only place I have ever seen, post-2001, that stocks chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott’s every-flavour beans. If you have a penchant for pop-tarts, you may want to go and gawp at their range. Who knew you could get maple-bacon flavour?! The window display is massive versions of these sweets- makes you feel like Alice in Wonderland.
  10. Go and take a selfie with the T-Rex head made of shells in PollyFields gift shop- This gift shop has the head of a giant T-Rex looming down from the wall, like a camp Jurassic Park. Get a picture with it.
  11. Ditto with the unicorn
  12. Seek out the best buskers in the city, park yourself on a bench, and give them a good listening to- I found the best ones stood either in the square near the abbey, or Kingsmede Square.
  13. Find works of art around the city- like the statue outside the Abbey. You don’t actually need to pay to see art in Bath; there are multiple statues and building decorations to take a look at.
  14. Grab some free iced tea at Tea Too- This is probably purely a summer thing, but free iced tea is something I’m always down for. Even if free iced tea isn’t available, and you have a tea fan in tow, go and check out the amazing flavours they have. Smell as many as possible. 
  15. Find the street sheltered with multicoloured umbrellas- unfortunately, they don’t offer much protection from the rain- Apparently, every year, Bath do something arty in the city centre. This year it’s an umbrella canopy. 
  16. See the phone boxes filled with books and flowers near the station

  17. Browse the antique and vintage shops- As with the art shops, giving vintage and antique stores a browse is a good idea. Bath seems to have loads of them, especially up the little cobbled streets that are dotted around. 
  18. Join the free Jane Austen Walking Tour- If you want something educational, but don’t want to pay through the nose to go to an actual museum- then every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you will find a Jane Austen walking tour setting off from outside of the Tourist Information Centre. 
  19. If you’re really into walking, then do the National Trust’s free routes- There’s a wood in Claverton Down with a Bath Skyline trail that’s worth taking for the view. If staying in the centre of Bath you can probably walk the route backwards (be prepared for an uphill climb). Or, you can pay the £2.20 to the top of Ralph Allen Drive, whap out Google Maps, and walk along to Longwood. Eventually, following the pointers, you should be able to make your way down Widcombe Hill from the woods, and back to Bath Spa. It is a LONG walk: you have been warned. 
  20. Visit Victoria Art Gallery- There’s a free gallery upstairs, and another one through the gift shop that you have to pay to go to. The free one is actually the best one in my opinion.
And for those among you with a little more cash budgeted, here is a list of the museums and similar attractions you may want to check out…
  1. East Asian art museum
  2. Fashion museum
  3. The Roman Baths 
  4. No.1 Royal Circle (a house set up as it would have been in Austen’s time)
  5. The Jane Austen Museum
  6. Take the bus up to Prior Park Landscape Garden (about 5 minutes out of the city centre on the bus, and 25 walking up a very steep hill. Seriously, I am used to hills, but walking up this one twice in one weekend broke me. So you may want to pay for a bus, which I did admit to myself I needed to do)