Last Saturday I found myself in a rare situation of time to myself and no plans. Every so often when this happens I like to go for a wander and this time I jumped on a train and headed to Birmingham, with the destination of Digbeth in mind.

It was a pleasant evening and I enjoyed the casual stroll. However as I passed the markets I realised too late that I was walking on a broken bottle. I wasn’t injured but it was nice to appreciate how Annie Lennox felt after all these years.

I passed the Irish Centre and was saddened to see it boarded up and covered in graffiti. I had excellent nights in there watching gigs by two of my favourite bands Boy Kill Boy and Hard-Fi. Stunned it’s closed but I guess nowhere is safe in these Covid affected times.

I visited a pub that will be reported on later in another blog but as I made my way passed the Irish Centre again, two nice looking ladies stopped me. “Excuse me” began one “do you know where…..” at this point I was praying be somewhere I know so I look great. She concluded “the nearest Nisa shop is?”She could have asked me this in Walsall and I wouldn’t have known. “I’m sorry, I don’t know, I’m not from round here”. I felt like a bit of a nob, nothing new there I appreciate. I toyed with the idea of giving them directions to the next pub where I would have bought them a drink for the inconvenience but I opted not to. She asked if there was a shop of any kind around here and I pointed them in the direction of one I’d passed earlier. They smiled, thanked me and we went our separate ways.

Next up was the Big Bulls Head. This is a pub I only visit when going to gigs so it was a bit strange heading into there without live music on the agenda. The barmaid had a mouthful of crisps so couldn’t talk. I could however and ordered a pint of Madri. A bargain at only £4.30. The pub was busy, great atmosphere and I know I’m biased as I love the place but it was a very enjoyable visit.

Great pub. crap angle due to all the fences in the road.

Next up was The Ruin. The bouncer was deep in conversation on his phone as I approached and he moved in front of the entrance and broke off from his chat to ask “have you been here before?” “Yes, once about 3 years ago” I replied. He moved out of the way and went back to his conversation. I really have no idea what that was about and I wish I’d said no to see what happens. Next time I’ll put my investigative journalist hat on again and do just that.

The bouncer had finished his conversation by this point.

Anyway, The Ruin is a great pub. I was served by a very pleasant and smiley barmaid and I went for a mooch. On my previous visit to this place it was my first time of playing Cards against Humanity. Daz proposed playing this, Jane and Neil were up for it but I said no as pubs are for drinking and socialising not for playing games and I voiced this at the time. Saying that though I do allow myself to have a go on quiz machines in pubs, although it’s fair to say that it takes longer for me to withdraw money out of Santander’s new cash machines that it does for me to lose on quizzers.

Inside The Ruin, and that card game.

Anyway said game is still in the pub and it bought back good memories as I relented that night and did play and I laughed my nads off. Such a great game.

Next up was The Kerryman and the Award For Odd Conversation Of The Night will be presented to these once I’ve booked Chris Rock to come over and host. The barman approached. There was no music at this point. “Can I have a pint of Carling please?” “Laqer or cider?” “Oh, you’ve got the Carling Cider?” “What?” “You’ve got the Carling Cider on?” “No.” “Then I’ll have lager please.” He pointed to a font. “We’ve got Stella.” I think they heard my sigh in The Bulls Head. “Can I just have a Carling please?” He agreed and we were getting somewhere. I then ordered dry roasted peanuts. He went to the back of the bar, his hand moved towards the salted ones. He looked round and said “did you want dry roasted?”. After what felt like very hard work I got my drink and nibbles and sat down. Someone went up to the jukebox and on came the Blur classic “Coffee & TV” although the barman probably calls it “hot chocolate and Ikea flat pack wardrobe”.

Don’t pay The Kerryman, and I didn’t as I was seriously nowhere near the other side.

I left The Kerryman and had a bit of a surprise. The shop I directed the two ladies towards earlier actually was a Nisa. What are the chances of that? Had I been that flukey with the answers in my GCSE’s I might have ended up with grades better than ones that can spell out feedfeeed.

An A+ in directions please examiner.

Last pub of the night was Bull Ring Tavern which is a great boozer but not everyone’s cup of tea. It was busy. Seats were available but only at occupied tables and nobody was offering the chance to sit down. I perched on a stool and enjoyed my pint but all too soon it was last piss before the train and to dash for the train time all rolled into one. I’ve only been in this pub 3 or 4 times and it’s been a while and I couldn’t remember where the loos were. The door behind me just yielded the ladies. I headed along the bar, deliberately looking lost hoping someone would pipe up (nobody did). I asked a bloke but it was his first time in the place. I eventually found them upstairs, just about making it. Life lesson, don’t wait until you are about to piss yourself before looking for the bogs in an unfamiliar pub.

What a place though.

With the delay in finding the loo I had to run to the railway station. Apologies to the people of Birmingham, nobody wants to see that. After catching my breath I reflected on a cracking night. Digbeth is my favourite part of Birmingham. It’s cool, vibrant, the booze is cheaper than other parts of the city and it’s fun. There are new bars too which I didn’t try so it’s looks like I’ve got to go back. And this time I’ll know where the Nisa is.