This is a collaborative post with Hotels.Com
High on my priority list for this year are date nights. Or date days. Since becoming parents, the quality time I’ve spent with Little Pickle’s Dad has sadly dropped, and now that leaving Pickle with a babysitter is a lot easier, it’s something we want to really dedicate more time to. With that in mind, when Hotels.Com challenged us to spending the best day in Birmingham we could think of, we jumped at the opportunity. It was the perfect excuse to spend our January date in the city we love – I just wish we’d have had even longer. Next time, we need to look up some hotels in Birmingham to really make the most of it, especially as I spotted some amazing looking places for breakfast or brunch.
Ghetto Golf Birmingham
Our first stop also happened to be top of my hit list for the day: Ghetto Golf. I’d been hearing rave reviews about it from all sorts of people and I was excited to give it a try for ourselves. I’m quite the fan of crazy golf anyway, and this just sounded like a cool atmosphere, offering something a little bit different.
For those uninitiated, Ghetto Golf is an 18 hole crazy golf course that snakes around a warehouse in Digbeth, just around the corner from the Custard Factory. It’s grafitti-covered, lit by hundreds of festoons and apparently, serves a pretty mean cocktail and offers an impressive street food menu.
It works pretty smoothly – you book a time slot, arrive a little earlier (I’m convinced they allow additional time for people to figure out how to get in… it took us a few attempts to find the camouflaged door in the outside graffiti!), get settled and buy a drink from the bar. When your buzzer vibrates, it’s your turn. Head to the Mini Cooper Golf Cart, grab your balls and club and set off on Hole 1.
As is always the way when we have some time to ourselves, it took us a while to get properly relaxed – I was stressed and snappy, and LPD was quick to be offended. But by around the 7th hole, we were all sorted.
It’s very well designed – each hole is different and presents a different challenge, many with a retro vibe. There’s a skatepark hole, a proper old-fashioned dingy pub, what looks like your Great Aunt’s lounge, a Blockbuster hole where you need to navigate the ball around shelves of old VHS boxes and my personal favourite – a hole that sees you potting the ball from the back end of a bus to the front. An actual bus.
We’ll definitely come back for a return visit, making sure we book further in advance to bagsy ourselves a peak time slot that allows for cocktail drinking galore.
A Tiny Bit of Shopping
I can’t resist a little bit of a shop when I visit Birmingham – we’re spoiled for choice between the Bullring and Grand Central. On our walk from Ghetto Golf to Brindley Place, I dragged LPD into Lush as I’d been wanting to try out a shampoo bar for a while.
If we didn’t have our next thing to hurry to, I’d have spent much longer browsing everything on offer, but managed to restrain myself and only came away with a Montalbano shampoo bar and a Dragon Egg bath bomb. Nothing like the promise of a luxury bath to look forward to after a long day out in the cold weather!
Sherbourne Wharf Canal Cruise
It’s a well known fact around these parts that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. So, in honour of that accolade, we thought we’d take in a little trip along the waterways around the city centre.
We arrived outside the ICC (International Convention Centre) about ten minutes before the Sherbourne Wharf trip was due to set off, stepped onto the boat and paid our fare. There’s a little bar to the left where you can buy some light refreshments – including a cup of tea – and there’s plenty of two or four person seats to take your pick from.
Canal life is fairly slow paced and as we gently set off to the sounds of a pre-recorded history talk, I actually found the whole experience quite interesting – more so than than I had imagined. Once we’d left the fancy surroundings of Brindley Place, we witnessed the not-so-pampered areas of the city. Most of the views showed building sites or dilapidated buildings – which, at the suggestion of the commentary – I couldn’t help but imagine both what the canal sides would have looked like forty years ago, and what they’ll look like in ten years time too.
For a good hour, we enjoyed the trip, taking in the sight of each other as well as the environment surrounding us. It was heart-warming to see a group of young people volunteering for the Canal & River Trust by sprucing up some of the canal paths and planting new trees. We learned a thing or two and had the fright of our lives when the boat accidentally hit the siding of the canal on a particularly tight bend.
We also spotted what looked like a pretty cool venue on our travels, and I’d like to return back soon and give this place a visit. The Distillery (specialising in Gin) sounds and looks right up my street, or should I say, canal?
We also saw the Legoland Discovery Centre from the water, which is where we’ll be visiting next weekend. Sitting opposite the Sealife Centre, and right beside the NEC, it’s really amazing to see the wealth of attractions our city has to offer.
Brazillian Dining at Ridizio Rico
Obviously, Birmingham is host to many restaurants – with all of your chain favourites and some fabulous independent eateries too. We wanted to try something a little different, and after a recommendation from a friend, we thought we’d try a Brazillian experience at Rodizio Rico, in the Cube.
The premise is simple: it’s all you can eat, with a salad bar stocked with fresh vegetables as well as some Brazillian favourites, and the waiting staff bring freshly barbecued meats directly to your table: chicken, pork, beef, lamb and some truly scrumptious garlic bread too.
I was really impressed with the buffet selection of foods, and happily filled my plate full twice. The usual salads I make at home are fairly bog standard, so I love getting new ideas from places like this and seeing a plate full of colour and vitamins!
Our first example of the meats was the most succulent, perfectly cooked beef I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, so I was sold on the concept straight away! With a traffic light system in operation, each diner is given a two sided disc: show the green side when you’re happy to receive more meat, and turn it to red when you’re finished or just want a little break.
It was lovely to see so many families dining together, some obviously celebrating birthdays or other special occasions. A table booking lasts two hours, so we made the most of our time having a relaxed chat. By this time in the day, we could both feel a notable difference in how we felt compared to the stressed start to the day. Our normal parenthood worries had melted away.
Marco Pierre White’s Champagne Bar
To finish off our day, we headed up to the 25th floor of the Cube to enjoy a drink with a view at Marco Pierre White’s Champagne Bar.
There’s a lovely rooftop terrace, with huge windows and heaters, perfectly suited to watching the sun slowly begin to set over a very misty city. It gave us a chance to reflect upon our day and make plans for the future, reminding ourselves of how important it is to make time for things like this.
Next on our Date List
I’ve already started making plans for our next date: an evening of theatre seeing the latest NT Live production. Two dates in one month is a cracking start to the year, and long may this priorisation continue.
Disclaimer: The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.