That was 2016

2016 Highlights

2016 Highlights. Somehow it’s always easy to remember the plans that went wrong, and the tough parts. Bute here are the highlights of our 2016 year of new travel and interesting places.



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After spending New Year’s eve on a beach at beautiful Magaruque Island, we saw 2016 in on the beach at Vilanculos.
Don’t forget to have a look at the artwork from the Vilanculos trip on


With many work commitments and changes we decided to take a little early March break. We found Nerja, with its interesting town and great beaches in the Mediterranean sun.


Umhlanga Rocks viewed from the beach towards Durban

A view along the beach towards Umhlanga Rocks. The lighthouse is visible to the right of the tower blocks, largely holiday accommodation.
Photos from our Durban Trip, 2016.

Our big trip of the year, which actually has a long story attached, which will be told before too long, was our trip to Durban in South Africa.

The UK

While it’s easy to think of the big trips and escapes, there’s been a lot happening back home.

Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival

This has become an annual favourite. Next year needs to be a night or two away.

Held on the banks of the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon this really is a great day out, with boat trips, good food and some music worth staying for.




Brackley Festival of Motorcycling

Brackley Festival of Motorcycling Custom BikesThe annual Brackley festival which brings thousands of motorcycles and leather clad riders to little Brackley.

This year seemed a bit of more of the same from previous years, with many of the same bikes on track. Nevertheless fun for a few hours.




Photo Shoots

Click to go to the Daily Photos

As a club we had a couple of interesting photo shoots at the local lake and at the iconic Chesterton Windmill.





Birmingham German Market

Street DecorationOur little city break “up the road” in Birmingham for the Frankfurt German Market as Christmas got nearer.






A interesting year where my own photography was concerned. Not very productive in terms of photos. Various aspects of our travels forced me to make more use of my mobile phone, building confidence but highlighting the limitations of mobile phone photography. If we are going to travel as we plan to, I will need some lighter and less obtrusive gear – more on that next year.

Heading for 2017

2017 seems to be developing into a lot of UK travel We are expecting guests who have never seen the UK – that could be fun!

There will be a “big” trip later in the year – probably South Africa again.

Other than that, who knows.

Happy New Year from the Hairy 1.

Street Decoration

Birmingham German Market – Christmas Time!

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham German market, so it is staying open until the 29th of December, giving Christmas shoppers plenty of opportunity to visit. We have enjoyed the market occasionally in previous years. This time we decided to make a party of it, spending a Friday there. That meant we could miss the big crowds and spend the day enjoying simply walking around and sampling the goods. Can’t say that we bought much, though we did enjoy some good food and sweets, and a good day out.

Off to Birmingham

A train trip after work on Thursday put us at the new New Street station in time to catch a cab and check in to the Novotel hotel on Broad Street with time for a leisurely dinner. Broad street is an ideal place to be visiting the German Market as it is a short walk away, and a central spot for the local pubs and restaurants.

Coast to Coast, an American restaurant on Broad Street gave us a great meal of burgers and ribs with all the trimmings, including two for one “happy hour” cocktails. A couple of drinks back at the hotel ended the evening nicely.

Friday: Market Day at the Birmingham German Market

There is no point being first at the market, while the stall holders are still preparing for the day, so on the Friday morning we enjoyed the hotel’s excellent breakfast spread, before taking a stroll down Broad Street to the English market. This is a small market featuring a good range of clothing, soaps, candle and the like. We did sample some great toffee liqueur.

German GluhweinThere is a lot of construction in Birmingham at present, which meant a long, somewhat circuitous walk to the main German market in Victoria Square, right in front of the Birmingham Town Hall. The market extends down the length of New Street, almost to the Bullring shopping mall.

Novelty glassware, decorations, leather wear, Christmas decorations, fancy lights, and more. We walked the length of the market stalls and saw all of it. And then we walked back on the other side of the road and saw the rest. This did take a few hours, not only spent browsing the goods on sale, but often sampling the gluhwein along the way. After all, it was cold and we did need warming up.

Back in Victoria Square, lunch was tasty Bratwurst & mustard roll washed down with some German beer, and, of course, followed by a gluhwein! But we won’t count the various tasty sweet things and marshmallow chocolates, some of which actually made it home.

Birmingham German Market CarouselAnd then we found the carousel. The ladies decided to have a go, while the guys took photos!

Mid-afternoon saw us all ready for a break. We wandered back to the hotel via Brindley Place, a nice little collection of bars and restaurants. A pit stop at the, by then very busy, Pitcher and Piano proved very welcome.

The Big Wheel

[singlepic id=1209 w= h= float=none]Heights. I am not a fan of heights! The challenge from our friends was to do the big wheel! It was a challenge that could not be ignored, so all four of us went on the wheel. To be fair, we did get a couple of good photos. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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Chinese Dinner

We ended the day with an excellent Chinese meal at the Chung Ying Central Dim Summ Restaurant in Colmore Row. We were struck by the whole approach and decor as we walked in. The establishment appears as a more western style restaurant, but delivered a most enjoyable Chinese meal.

Heading Home on Saturday

With no reason to be anywhere in a hurry on the Saturday morning we took our time over another Novotel breakfast, then made away via a taxi to New Street station, or as close as the taxi driver could get in the Saturday market crowds. Then the fun started.

New Station is BIG, so it took a while to get our bearings and find the right platform. When the train arrived we stood back and just let the mobs fight over it. There was no way we were going to get into that fight. A change of platform and thirty minute wait for the next train! With an announcement that “a crew member had not turned up for work”, the wait quickly turned into well over an hour. That was followed by another scrum for a seat. Let’s just say that elbows and big feet helped, and leave it at that. An hour’s travel put us back in Banbury, for a short drive home. We had locked ourselves in to the Cross Country service. For future reference, Chiltern Rail, out of Moor St., seems to offer a better local service.

Final Thoughts

My normal idea of a getaway is in the countryside or at the beach. Clearly that is not an option in England at Christmas. A visit to the Birmingham German Market, as we did this trip, trip falls into the category of a “City Break”, not something I have seriously considered before. From the market point of view there was nothing that I was really excited to buy. The different food was really great. The real enjoyment of the German Market visit was to be out with friends, doing something different. From that point of view it was a great trip.

A key part of our enjoyment was going to the market on a Friday, with smaller crowds!

No I wouldn’t rush back to see the German market, but with the right group having a couple of days out I would go back any time.


Here are some of the photos. Enjoy.

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