Birmingham Christmas Market.

I grew up in Birmingham and, as you will know, recently moved back. For as long as I’ve been alive, and a fair bit longer, Birmingham has been twinned with Frankfurt. While I’ve never been to Frankfurt (it’s on my to-do list) I have taken advantage of the twinning situation by visiting the Frankfurt Christmas market each year. Yesterday I took my chance and made my way into the centre of town.
Birmingham itself was not as busy as I expected. We actually managed to find a place to park which is an amazing thing in its own right. The shops were quite understocked, had quite big sales on (I’m sure there’s a link between the two things), and a lot of my favourite shops had closed down. It’s only been six months since I was in town, okay maybe a bit longer, but a lot has changed. 
Economic problems aside, Birmingham knows how to celebrate!
For all the shops might have been a bit of a disappointment, the general atmosphere was great. We spent the morning and the afternoon avoiding the market – that’s a nighttime activity – but there were plenty of other things around. From stunning decorations, and later lights, to street performers, there was a bit of a party atmosphere in the air. Actually, I saw enough Alien vs Predator themed street performers to be a bit disconcerted….
When darkness fell we made our way into the market which was kitschy and overpriced as ever but still has an air of magic about it. We were lucky as this was the least busy I’ve seen the market which meant that we could move around and breathe at will – bliss! The stalls were a little repetitive, selling your average German-themed gifts. There were a couple of real gems though, a stall selling chocolate shaped as all sorts of different things from cameras to horseshoes was one of my favourites. A stall selling craft stamps was also quite wonderful but the owners were a little rude, and didn’t know what they were talking about, which put me off buying anything. If I’m going to buy a full set of brass alphabet stamps (not a small investment!) then I want to feel that the people care about making the sale. I might go back again though 😉
The police in this photo ruin the image somewhat! All the same, it was
great to have such a visible police presence.
The food and drink is, of course, one of the biggest draws. When visiting a place like this, I eat and drink things that I would never dream of eating at other times, simply because of the memories they stir. Some foods remind me of Christmas, some remind me of people while others remind me of places I have been. Because my mother is on tablets and therefore can really not have any alcohol at all we decided to stay away from the glühwein and mead for her sake but that didn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of things to enjoy. I was particularly pleased to find a stall selling proper coconut macaroons which are just lovely. Oh course, we also have to buy a stollen cake, knowing that we will go on to buy six more from Tesco for the same price and better flavour!
Tell me that you don’t want a go!
That said, the highlight of the market has got to be the carousel. For as long as I can remember, I have gone on this ride. When I was younger I was terrified and would only go in the carriages or maybe share a horse with my mother. It’s a fast carousel and I was (and still am) a coward. That said, it’s always been a highlight. I guess there’s something wonderful about doing something so childish, riding something that has been around for years (the idea if not the particular ride).
My horse was called Nancy… and this is an awful photo hehe
When I got off the ride my mother pointed out an elderly couple who were having a turn. There’s something so romantic about a couple doing something like this, especially when they have been married, presumably, for some time. In years to come, when I am their age, that is where I want to be, riding a carousel with the love of my life. Take note future husband!
I’m pretty pleased that we decided to go to the market yesterday because the storms today saw it closed and people injured by the roof blowing off one of the stalls. I do hope that nothing of great value was damaged and, more importantly than anything else, that people were not seriously hurt.

Christmas Song of the Day
Maria durch ein Dornwald ging, performed by Zirp, lyrics and translation here.

Zirp, as a band, play ‘Hurdy-gurdy fusion folk’ which is a bit confusing considering the lack of hurdy-gurdy here! That said, they’re a great band who really get a crowd up and dancing. I stumbled upon this song quite by accident when looking at some of their videos on youtube. It just so happened that I needed to find a foreign Christmas song to sing at my singing lessons and the rest is history.
Quite frankly, the song itself is stunning but this rendition, in my mind, sets it off perfectly.

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