My oh my how the old place has grown up from a once ugly grey duckling to a beautiful cosmopolitan fashion Mecca swan. I hardly recognised the old place. Gone was the bull ring marketplace replaced instead with designer stores and trendy eateries. It seems like a city hasn't really arrived these days unless it has a Jamie something or other cafe and a Selfridges. The once slightly dodgy canal walks are now brimming with places to eat and drink, although I was saddened to see the old James Brindley pub all closed up and looking sadly forlorn amongst the new joints. An overnight stay at the Hotel du vin was comfortable enough and with dinner and breakfast thrown into the price of the room, it was a veritable steal. Made even more so by the lovely generosity of two great friends who gave this treat to me as a birthday present. I even had time to drag the husband down memory lane by walking up broad street over five ways roundabout or under it to be precise and onto church Rd and Chappies. Home for 3yrs for me and fondly remembered as The Birmingham School of Screech Training and Traumatic Farts. A school that is now affiliated with Birimingham university and has visiting lecturers working in their field of expertise. A far cry from our eclectic bunch of tutors, we even had our very own Mrs Overal with her tea trolley and tuck that would be wheeled in at break times. I honestly kid you not. Still they were halcyon days of a time long gone.
So from memory lane and Brum and onto Halloween and pumpkin soup. I did make a batch of soup from the insides of the two pumpkins that the clan had carved up and I would have posted said recipie with a small amount of smugness. However that old maxim of pride coming before a fall is oh so true. It was all going tremendously well until I decided to add one of my home grown red chillies into the pot. The aim was to just add a little something to the flavours. To jush it up a little. I didn't for one minute think that such a tiny thing would contain enough heat to make 5litrres of otherwise devine soup virtually inedible. The reality only hitting home to me after serving it up for the children's tea and then watching my 2.5yr old taking one mouthful and and then grabbing his water and gulping it down whilst saying open mouthed guppy like "too spicy mommy..." So, not a winning soup and definitely not a version I'll be repeating again. It wasn't just the soup that was disappointing this Halloween. Rain definitely ceased play this year. I'd bought enough sweets to feed the hungriest of local trick or treaters had the required carved and lit pumpkin in the window to show willing participation, my2.5 yr old was beside himself as a skeleton not really sure what was going on but hyped up enough on candy and the excitement of a knock on the door and the chance to squeal "trick or treat..." at people. Yes I am aware that it's usually the children doing the knocking that have this script but my youngest wouldn't be told...and then only four children came knocking. It was so sad that I had to go outside and knock on my own front door and then the back door for him to get his full Halloween fix. I did however enjoy the candy along with a much needed glass of red wine, post his bedtime.
This stunning mediocre week of American holiday mimicry came to a much needed end with some good old fashioned fireworks. These were watched both from the comfort of some friends upstairs window that overlooks the local rugby ground and home to the annual fireworks display, for the first round of children's fireworks, and then lastly out on the front yard for the second adult show of ear splitting Harry Potter'esque squealers and howlers and stomach smashing sky spilling explosions of colour and sound. Yes yes yes!, I love fireworks, so roll on the next holiday celebration and let's see if I can do better.