Discovering a Birmingham beyond the Bullring

Birmingham is a city I felt I hadn’t really got to know. I absolutely loved the botanical gardens, becoming one of my favourite green spaces, but the actual city I had become to see as ‘the busy bit of the M6 that makes the regular drives to Bristol a nightmare’. I used to visit the Bull Ring, but a fan of more independent shops and eateries these days and opting to Manchester for my regular shopping – I hadn’t ever thought of Birmingham for a day out.

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My big brother, bless him, popped a note into my Christmas card that he had booked us tickets to see Chvrches at the o2 in Birmingham and so we decided to make a day of it when the date arrived.

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After a bit of a rat run around the city streets to find parking that didn’t mean we had to re-mortgage our homes, we walked the streets of Birmingham in search Digbeth. Digbeth was once a rather ‘gritty’ area, but now an up and coming bohemian district with an abundance of street art, creative corners and quirky grungy nooks. If you follow my Instagram you may know my love of a derelict run down building, so I was in my element wandering down the streets of Digbeth which alternated between derelict grungy, to quirky coffee shops, concept stores and huge pieces of street art. The Custard Factory is the destination for creatives, and I loved exploring the regenerated factory buildings.

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I also loved the contrast of buildings, the new towering apartment blocks and hotels neighbours to original historic buildings.

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We also explored the Chinese quarter, drawn in by the beautiful glowing lanterns and wonderful packaging from the windows of the oriental supermarkets transporting us back to Japan. There are China Towns in most cities, but I have to say Birmingham was my favourite. It felt so authentic, we really were transported out of the UK and to countries further afield. We popped into Happy Lemon for Japanese baked cheesecake and coconut milk tea which was heavenly!

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Birmingham is now high on my list to return to and explore further to create a proper guide – leave any recommendations below or on my Instagram if you have!

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