Big Fun in Brum

Most of the time I’ve spent in the UK has been in London. But when I visited Birmingham with my husband and kids a few weeks ago, I was impressed by how much there is to do in “Brum” — the slang term the locals use for the country’s second largest city.

We walked alongside a network of canals (Birmingham has more than Venice — who knew?!) on a windy day in late November. When it started to rain, we dashed into the Central Library, where a story hour for kids was just starting.

At first, we tried to sneak in (difficult to do with two toddlers and a double buggy). Our local library in London required tickets for story time entry. They were free, but they disappeared within an hour. I never managed to obtain one.

But in Birmingham, no tickets were required. The woman reading the story stopped, smiled, and told us to come on in. We stayed till the end (just 15 minutes, but enough time to miss the bulk of the rain shower), colored a bit, then went to Nando’s, one of my favorite pseudo-fast food joints. They have great barbeque chicken, and a kids menu!

When we emerged, we went to the Frankfurt Christmas Market. I had actually been to the Christmas Market in Frankfurt, and it was incredibly similar to the one in Birmingham: we drank gluhwein (aka mulled wine), bought a wooden toy, and rode a carousel.

And we topped it all off with a tour of the aquarium. All in all, it was a festive way to spend a late November day in the UK.

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