Once again...pictures after diatribe...(the archaic definition.)
We woke early to take in as much Cardiff as possible before our afternoon train to Birmingham. Down to the well stocked breakfast buffet at the hotel. I noticed, aside from the usual American breakfast fare, (scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, sausage,croissants) the favored offerings in these parts include baked beans, sauteed mushrooms, stewed tomatoes and strips of cheese...as well as the obligatory puffs of hash browns (Tater Tots, but MUCH tastier)...I'm in breakfast heaven. After downing several cups of tea, to steel against the brisk Welsh weather, we wrapped ourselves in scarves and headed out to a Sunday morning, ghost townish St. Mary's Street to get a few more pictures. Then back up Mill Lane/The Hayes/Working Street toward the Queen's Arcade, expecting it to be open early for Christmas shoppers...alas, twas not. So we kept walking. Past some holiday craft vendors just beginning to open shop and on to City Hall, (late night...Jack standing on the roof, in front of the clock tower...Greek's Bearing Gifts) Then back to a beautiful topiary park across the street and next to the castle walls, where we found a stone to bring home for a friend. (Always good to have friends that like "cheap" (or free, even) gifts.) ;-)
On our way back toward Queen's Arcade the craft vendors had opened so Rach and I indulged in a couple of very nice leather belts with WALES carved into them, and found some more gifts to add to our ever growing suitcase weight. By this time it was about 10:30 and the Queen's Arcade looked to be open, so we headed inside. Lots of your usual mall shops, and nothing that much that we couldn't see stateside, but we had to make a stop in Boots... again, not unusual...Their version of Walgreens or Longs Drugs. What was interesting however, was the announcement that we could shop, but due to local laws, the check out line wouldn't be open until 11...about twenty minutes. We got to know the inside of that Boots REALLY well. Gotta love the quirkiness, of opening...but not opening. :-)
After stocking up on snacks for the train, soda and, what was I thinking...a roll of Christmas wrap, we slowly walked back to the hotel via the castle and High St./St. Mary's St. breathing in our last bit of Wales. Next stop Birmingham...
Had to taxi it to the station for the 12:50 pm Virgin train to Birmingham New Street, even though it was within a few blocks walking distance...too many bags...already...and with eight days to go! (No. As much as we've traveled, we haven't yet mastered the concept of traveling light. Pathetic, really.)
Anywhoo... The train was very comfortable and nearly empty. Took in the countryside along the way which made the hour and a half trip breeze by. Upon arrival we taxied to the Hyatt Regency on Bridge Street to unload, check emails and head off to see the city. Another hotel I'd highly recommend. We found out it was within long, but interesting, walking distance of the major shopping centres, including The Bull Ring and The Mail Box. Both of which were teaming with holiday shoppers...but more on that next time.
Having missed lunch and finding ourselves a bit hungry, we asked the concierge what was nearby and he directed us to Paradise Place a few blocks away. Dinner at an unusual chicken restaurant called Nando's that cooked to order and had levels of hot seasonings that we were too "chicken" to try...HA! (sorry, couldn't resist.) Afterwards we walked through the German Market, which I gather is a holiday tradition. Lots of not so great decorated gingerbread and pretzels, but some fun crafty things that I might have bought, if I'd had really small kids that I still needed to buy something for. Thankfully, we walked away with no bags, except for one holding a chocolate filled doughnut, that was gone before we hopped (as we later discovered, an unnecessary) taxi to...The Hippodrome.
John Barrowman as Robin Hood on the marquis... I'm in heaven. Rach? (or Ray, as she prefers to be called now...but the hell with that, I'm used to Rach, and a mom doesn't have to give into everything, does she?)...well, Rach wants to see it, but she's more of a WHO fan. As it turns out, the early show was just about to let out, so after taking a few pictures of the marquis and looking about the vicinity to see where we might eat tomorrow night, we headed to the stage door to see what kind of commotion would ensue.
It was considerably more civilized than any videos cameraphone videos I'd ever seen on youtube. A well ordered line, surprisingly not as deep as I'd have thought. After about fifteen minutes, John gratiously emerged to sign for everyone first and then take pictures. (Aww...He likes to do it in that order, because the flash blinds him.) When I stepped up, I had to admit I hadn't brought anything to sign, because I wasn't seeing the show until tomorrow night. Still, he took all the questions I was stumbling to get out as quickly as possible, so as not to take up too much of his time. It went like this...
ME: Quick question. Are you coming back to Comic Con next year?
JOHN: Uh...I don't know yet...don't know...I haven't been invited.
ME: Aww...come on!
JOHN: I'm doing my own convention...uh, in March
ME: The Hub?
JOHN: No no no. No. It's something else....*With that gorgeous sly smile, HE TOUCHES MY ARM!* (I don't EVER have to have this coat cleaned again, do I???)...It's called something els...*chuckles because he can't remember the name*... Look, check out online. It's all on my website. *He begins moving on to signing for the next person*
ME (over eagerly): When is Barker/Barrowman going to begin producing shows?
JOHN: We already are, but you won't see them until...uh...probably like...uh... the springtime.
ME: And are you going to shoot your concert for DVD?
JOHN: Oh yes. That's going to be done.
My ruthlessly clung to, rude-American-asking-too-many-questions time over, I offer an apology for taking so much of his time, with the lame excuse of only getting to talk to him a couple of times a year.
JOHN: That's alright. *He half smiles and politely gets back to his signings*
Now, this entire time I've got my daughter's new Vado video camera, the size of a cell phone, in my hand and think I've gotten some great video of him. But no...I have great video of his hand. Drat. I guess I better bone up on the use of that thing before Gallifrey and Gareth. Well...at least I have the audio...(so I can kick myself daily for seeming so pushy.) :-O
Unexpected surprise opportunity accomplished, I slink back to Rach, who's standing, behind a pillar, not wanting to be seen with this crazy old fanwoman. We retreat back to the hotel to catch up on emails and myspace... and cry...
The rain in San Francisco caused a flight delay and DELTA, (the rat bastards) told my husband there was no way he'd make his connection to Paris. No other seats available that day, he gave up and decided to go home. No meeting up in London. No being together on Christmas. :-((((((
...Turns out his connection to Paris was also delayed and he would have made it. I hate Delta.
Rachel and I continue our journey...alone. Tomorrow... we get "malled" AND...THE PANTO!
Now, on with the pics!...
And then Birmingham (first night)...