May 20 – Malls, markets, food, friends and sunshine

We had a nice leisurely start to the day, with our lovely hosts making us a very tasty breakfast of eggs on toast. And coffee – can’t forget the coffee!

First agenda item of the day – a stroll around McArthur Glen, a lovely and huge outdoor shopping mall near the town of Cannock. Of course, with luggage completely stuffed to the gills there was no hope of buying even half things that looked lovely, but I guess that’s one way to save money 🙂 It was a perfect spring day, not a cloud in the sky and it felt much warmer than the 15 degrees on the thermometer would have suggested. To me it feels a little brave to build such an outdoor mall in England, but there were also quite a few barrels around full of free umbrellas to borrow while you shop. Thankfully, not needed, as the sun continued to beat down upon us in a most in-English way 🙂

It seems we had impeccable timing when it came to visit Birmingham and its surrounds – at nearby Lichfield there is a big foodie market held a few time a year, and as luck would have it, today was one of those rare days when it was in town. Man, did it get popular! Every person and their dog (quite literally) were there to checkout the many many food trucks and produce stalls, with a surprising emphasis on drinks just as much as food. Vodka slushy stall? Sure! It’s in between the cider stall and the Limoncello+Prosecco stall. And much more besides. The food on offer was equally as diverse – from Currywurst to hotdogs to ‘Indian Style Fish and Chips’, you name it, you could probably get your hands on it. In the end we all settled on a Philly Cheesesteak, just the right balance of substantial but not-too-substantial. Delicious, and they went to great pains to make sure we knew the cheese sauces was specially imported from the US at great expense. :). Whatever it was, it worked a treat and lead one very tasty lunch. There was also one not-at-all-scary looking tall slide, looking like it was ready to throw kids off it shallow edges at tearing speed. We didn’t get to see it in action, but maybe that’s actually a good thing.

The environment in which it eat that lunch was also delightful – by the side of a canal of sorts, the ‘Minster Pool’, we sat, watching ducks come and go and play on the water. Apart from the 1000 people milling around behind us from one stall the next, it was really quite serene and a lovely place to stop for our bite to eat.

Of course we had to follow that up with a vodka slushie – perfect weather for it, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m sure if I lived close by I would have bought a ton of cheese, beautiful tasty olives of many varieties, dozens of flavours of fudge, all the good stuff you usually find at that these kind of events. The one way I could clearly tell I wasn’t in Australia though – there was no Gozleme stand! I’m sure in Australia it’s a legal requirement that as soon as three food stands pop up anywhere, one of them always has to be a Gozleme stand 🙂

Next it was back to the house just to chill for a bit and catch up with our friends, remember that yes, while on holidays, it is actually quite OK to just stop for a while and do, well, nothing! 🙂

For dinner we all went out to a lovely local restaurant, with food so nice I was too busy gobbling it up to take photos of it. Dessert was particularly good with a trio of baby chocolate fondant, creme brûlée, and a mango parfait kind of thing. Delish! Whilst they weren’t the fastest place ever, forgetting some of our meals at some point, the food was all tasty, high quality stuff, and the restaurant itself was in a nice spot with lovely decor. And after a few minutes drive back home safe and sound, ready to pack, for tomorrow we’re off again to our next destination. Nighty night!

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