The last couple of months have been challenging, from no rules to rules, restrictions, and penalties. I have been dreaming about this day for a long while since the start of lockdown I would kick myself daily the number of times I would wake up in the morning and moan about going into Birmingham for work. Now, we can finally see the light at the end of this long and confusing tunnel, sometimes I still think Did it actually happen? restrictions are being lifted, the number of deaths are falling, and it seems, most of us are getting our smiles back. It’s been challenging but now, we are almost at the finish line, but we must stick with our strategy and still be alert. So, I thought as everything is easing up a bit, it was the right time to reunite with Birmingham, to see my cousin, and to roam through our awesome city. Would it feel like Brum? what’s changed? Will it feel normal? Am I safe? All these questions were running through my mind and a lot of you have the same questions too responding to my IG stories last week. So, I thought I would put a post together to answer those questions and give you a little glimpse of the Birmingham we all know and love.
On arriving in Birmingham it wasn’t quite the zombie apocalypse aftermath that I was expecting especially in the City Centre. I was expecting scenes from I am Legend, scrunched up rolling newspapers, empty stores, eagle-like birds patrolling the skies, and silence. What I got instead was the countdown to Christmas shopping scenes, it was like the scene’s out of The Grinch (without the explosion of Christmas decor) where all the who’s in Whoville are rushing to buy Christmas presents and carrying bags that are way too big for them- One lady had eight large bags, possibly smaller than me! People were going about their day and well, it looked like a normal “busy” day in Birmingham. Add in a couple of hand sanitiser stations, floor markings, and queues -(never thought I would see the day of people queuing up for Poundland), but other than that, it was normal until you walk past Primark…
There’s me, laughing at all these sad people waiting to get into Primark on the first day of reopening, I said: “Look at all those people lining up for shit Disney merch, fluffy flip flops and face wipes, have they not heard of online shopping?” However, I find myself queueing outside Primark for £2.50 sunglasses, face wipes, and pants…You Tit Amy Langston. However, I came away with ZERO and an almighty headache.
What’s social distancing like in Primark? Well, It doesn’t exist Bab. There were floor markings and hand sanitiser stations but social distancing? Out the bloody window on the way to the bloody North Pole!
It just does not exist here, someone sees a bargain and another person sees the same bargain and then you find yourself walking past two people who are fighting over the last pair of Disney pants. I couldn’t believe it, I had people brushing past me, and why is it every time you go to Primark there is always someone up your arse?
Take my advice, if you really need your basic bitch wardrobe, just shop on eBay, most of the fashion in there looks like it came out in the 90’s so just hit the charity shops instead. I have to admit I didnt feel that safe in there and I wouldnt recommend to go just yet.
Now Digbeth was a bit of a ghost town, it was 1 pm and no one was about just business owners having their meetings and the one group of builders eating their sorry wife’s lunches. Many businesses in Digbeth are not open, I know this week they will be so there is a lot of meetings taking place implementing safety procedures and so on. It’s so strange because whenever I am in Digbeth it’s absolutely thriving with creatives, you always bump into a street artist, photographer, or a tv crew. However, what’s so nice to see is the street art and some added additions to this colorful urban village. The blue NHS heart sign, the Hope artwork, and the massive Co-vid wall art, all are very impressive. Businesses such as Birdies, Ghetto Golf, The Night Owl and so on are all closed still, but I still couldn’t hold my excitement of walking past these once lively places and reminiscing of my drunken times there “Oh look that’s where I found a Marks and Spencer’s sandwich!” They may be closed for now but boy, the memories are still alive and well
Digbeth felt very safe, even walking past people they were keeping their distance. Also, we walked past a few venues that had builders inside so I am guessing there are going to be a few new neighbors moving into Digbeth!!
We decided to walk through China Town and the Gay Quarter which was pretty quiet, no one was about even checking out some of the street art in which, you would see one or two photographers there but it was deserted. I got to check out Bath passage in which you might have seen on social media as it had a new lick of paint…as in a lot of lick of paint! The artwork is incredible and what an amazing background for a photoshoot! If you want to check this out and not too sure where about it is, it’s off Ladywell Walk, right next door to the Cantonese Restaurant.
A couple of coffee shops we walked past in Brum had queues outside such as Faculty and Java, Everyone was keeping their distance and I saw one or two employees standing outside making sure people were too., We headed to 200 Degrees which was completely empty, so weird, this place is always packed out! Social distancing procedures have been put in place in 200 Degree (floor markings, sanatizer stations) and I felt very safe in there ordering my drink. Instead of opting for the coffee I went for their summer drinks range and opted for a summer berry smoothie which was mighty refreshing as it was bloody hot as hell day! And do you know whats nice to see? smiles, Its’ nice to see that the impact of the virus hasn’t broken employees’ spirits, There are still smiles a bout.
I know a couple of café/restaurants were open for collection, so we just decided to download the UberEATS app instead of going on the hunt for food (best option if you still feel a bit on edge) We ordered from a much loved Brummie favourite-Bonehead. “It’s not going to be the same” well you can shove that comment down your pie hole because it was just as good as eating in their restaurant! fried to perfection chicken dipped into a smoky mayonnaise sauce with waffle fries, SENSATIONAL. Ordered and ready to be collected within 20 minutes, now that some serious service in a pandemic!
We decided to head to the Mailbox and chill out by the canal. It was bizarre, I am uset to seeing this place so full of life, it was quiet, really quiet. I have to say it was so lovely to sit on the canals and eat our food, it took me back to my time in Amsterdam the sun was blaring down on us, the food was delicious and the sound of water splashing against the canal walls was someway therapeutic. I think that was the most chilled out I’ve been in the last four months
KIDS ARE BLOODY EVERYWHERE
Walking from The Cube towards the Birmingham Library it was starting to get a little bit busier, the tram was running, the fountains outside the library were surrounded by kids and families and sunbathers all huddled around each other. It was like anaimals gathering round the watering hole on a hot day, it was packed out! Another negative and I am sorry parents but its children. I understand that some kids can be little bastards sometimes I know, I uset to be one BUT we are in a pandemic if your kid runs up to a random kid and licks their face don’t just ignore it, DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILD. I’m pretty sure if that was me going up to some random and licking their face I am most likely to get a well-deserved punch or end up in a cell for the night. The kids were knocking into all kinds of people, god knows what the parents fed them that day but it’s a worrying sight to see because of course, they are putting themselves and others in danger. Now, that doesnt apply to all children,I also saw some good eggs on that day sitting quietly or just playing with their Mothers but the Scallys need to be told.
New buildings, new businesses are popping up near the Birmingham Museum, The Dishroom terrace was something new and I could see new signage for restaurants opening soon to Birmingham where Paradise Forum once was. It’s good to know that we are still heading for the future here in Brum.
A lot quieter by the big Mama statue, few people around but all spaced out reading books, drinking their Starbucks, and sunbathing. Walking towards the Bullring/Grand Central was where it started to get very busy again, queues for the apple store, music blaring, and performers still performing..
I understand we are still learning and adapting but there are some players that don’t want to abide by the rules. Like it or not, we are a team at the moment, we are all in this together. Birmingham is on its way back returning to full glory, the businesses are cooperating but the public…not so much. Did I feel safe? yes in some areas of Brum, the shopping centres not so much. There were gang’s of kids and families of eight or more shopping near the Bullring without a care in the world if they brush past you. If your really worried about Co-vid I would advise to just avoid the shopping centres in Birmingham for a bit as I was really taken back at how selfish some shoppers are, It honestly felt like I was invisible to them.
I am not going to lie, I am quite worried about the re-opening of pubs today, I do think it will be absolute carnage. There are a lot of selfish people out there who only care about themselves and how much booze is in their liver. They are not going to like being told what they can or can not do, and If you are one of those people, just get pissed at home save someone the headache that’s working their ass off to pay bills to look after a chump like you. If you are heading out this weekend and thinking that it’s going to be “a mad night on the town with the lads” then you are sadly mistaken. Have a laugh, have a drink, bloody smile of course, but don’t just go out to get completely rat arsed because you can easily just do that at home? These independent businesses have struggled in the last couple of months, many business owners have woken up daily wondering if they are going to survive, some businesses owners are excited yet absolutely terrified for this weekend so please, understand. Be sensitive, and be kind. Remember, we are nearly at the finish line, focus, and we will succeed.
12 thoughts on “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE BIRMINGHAM: AFTER LOCKDOWN ONE”
I really enjoyed reading this post, Amy Eliza!! I’m still iffy about going out so it’s been mostly online shopping for me 😂 But it’s so nice to see that things are improving there in Birmingham and yes I do hope people still practice social distancing when more shops and pubs open. 🙂
Great post. It’s very interesting to hear about reopening in parts of the world. We are extremely cautious in Toronto, Canada. I do think the pubs will make or break the UK. I hope it doesn’t break. Our pubs are patio only with distancing- so far, so good (it’s been all of 1 week…). Thanks for sharing and cheers,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I stupidly went into my local Primark to return faulty goods, so for me, it was the same as work. I will not be going back again, as the social distancing was non-existant apart from the queues the same walking around. Glad you were able to get out and explore your local area
Nic | Nic’s Adventures & Bakes
Thanks for the fab post Bab! 😉 I live in Brum also and am avoiding the centre to be honest for the near future but I’m glad to hear some positives about it!
Thanks for sharing.
Louna | BurstsOfAutumn
I miss Birmingham so much (I went to uni there). It’s weird to think places like Digbeth are completely deserted because that’s normally where all of the people are! Thanks for the advice on Primark, it was busy enough even before the pandemic so I can’t imagine the struggle of going inside that building today
These photographs are so gorgeous! I really enjoyed reading; it made me laugh out loud at bits. I hope the pubs opening don’t have serious repercussions; although I can understand why those opening have been left with little other option as they need the money. It’s such a tough one!
Paige // Paige Eades
Sad to see Birmingham so empty! Hope the creatives return soon. Loved the blue NHS heart.
I’ve just ventured in to Coventry and was amazed how normal it all felt, I was impressed by the lengths some places had gone to and honestly could not have felt safer.
But Primark… WOW! Thankfully we went early so there was no one around but I could see how awful it would be even with 50 more people. They have made no extra space except for in the queue. Crazy!
You’re pictures look great x
Love this! I feel like Birmingham gets a bad wrap from people in the UK, but this post has made me want to visit – love all the colourful street art 🙂
This is why we DON’T take our kids out very often still. Of course, we’re still experiencing an increase in cases in the US, but kids just don’t understand the concept of social distance. Their parents on the other hand should!
Wow amazing street art, looks so lovely. Thanks for the experiences about eateries..
What a great post! I’m going into town this weekend and I’m still concerned about it but this has made me feel better about what to avoid x