Hot Diggidy Dog

STEP AWAY FROM THE SOFA

It's very nearly May Day, which means it's no longer permissible to cite the completion of a box set as an 'activity'. Encouraged, however, is the Great British day trip. So this Bank Holiday weekend (*inwardly cheers*) why not do what folk do and hit up one of the numerous National Trust properties you can reach within 45 minutes of Brum. Here's our top four.
Baddesley Clinton, Rising Lane, Warwickshire, B93 0DQ; website
The food lovers option (so everybody's option?) Baddesley Clinton's woodlands make for prime picnic territory. Or, if that all sounds a bit too organised, one of the NT's most popular restaurant-cafes is on-site and stocked with increasing amounts of veg produced by Baddesley's gardeners, as well as laudable ice-cream and cake options; in fact they sold over 15,000 cakes and scones as well as 120,000 hot drinks last year alone. It goes without saying that Baddesley boasts a moat. A MOAT! Tip: The Punchbowl pub (1.5 miles away) is a most excellent diversion on the way home.
Charlecote Park, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, CV35 9ER; website
Overlooking the River Avon, this family home is still, in part, occupied by the Lucy family, who once welcomed Elizabeth I to their understated digs. With a Great Hall containing over 400 Lucy family portraits, there's little risk of doubt over the owner-occupiers, who stick to one wing, allowing the slightly less great and good to take in the rest of the house. Fallow deer and historic herds of Jacob sheep roam freely around the grounds, making this about as picturesque as it gets. Tip: The house is closed every Wednesday. Even to YOU.
Hanbury Hall & Gardens, School Road, Worcestershire, WR9 7EA; website
The consummate all-rounder, the Hanbury estate includes a house, 20 acres of gardens and 400 acres of park. Follow the Black Walk which takes you through the estate's animal graveyard and dark ice house via a path lined with black poplars. Or stick indoors, where there's a harpsichord shaped organ you can play, as well as the sort of formal dining room to inspire multiple careers connected to period drama. You can also listen to records on the gramophone in the Ladies Parlour. Tip: Discover the dark secret of the Blue Bedroom.
Moseley Old Hall, Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, Staffs, WV10 7HY; website
After King Charles II fled the Battle of Worcester in 1651, hazard a guess as to where he hid? Moseley Old Hall is an Elizabethan farmhouse which includes the bed on which the King slept and the priest hole where Charles was forced to hide when Parliamentarian soldiers came to the house. Guided tours run from 11.30am daily. Tip: Get involved in the homemade cakes of the Orchard tea-room on your way out. Get very involved.

MOVIE CHOICE - CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR


People tend to get very excited about Marvel movies, and not just in the anticipatory sense. Was the last Captain America really a neo-Seventies conspiracy thriller? We don’t remember Warren Beatty flying a jet pack in The Parallax View. Anyway, as frothy confections they hit the target, and this, Marvel’s 13th film in its cinematic universe, feels like a culmination. Appalled at the collateral damage caused by the Avengers’ recent avenging, the UN demands control of the team. They split down the middle over whether to accede, and the ensuing rumble results in some of the best superhero action seen onscreen. It’s a busy film, sure, but key character introductions are handled well, and in this serialised blockbuster for the binge-watching age, there are payoffs a-plenty. Times & trailer

MAKING STUFF UP: STAN'S CAFE


From their JQ base at the A .E. Harris warehouse, Stan's Cafe (pronounced caff) is an unassuming theatre company that's been making things happen since 1991. Their new production, Made Up, is told on a film set, where Kate, a young film star, is being transformed into the various characters she is to play, by make-up artist, Sue. The play centres round the cracks that are revealed in both characters' lives as the real time metamorphosis of Kate develops on stage. As to why Kate (pictured) looks like a Battlestar Gallactica extra in the preview shot, we're entirely stumped. Showing at The Rep from May 14 until 21, if you're not familiar with Stan's Cafe, the company are squarely Brum bucket list territory. Tickets are £11.50 on May 14 or 16, rising to £13.50 for the rest of the run.

DISTRICT DOG OFF:
THE FINAL WORD IN SAUSAGE


One night, four venues, four dogs, one champion of the sausage empire (and some entirely ace artwork). In advance of the Colmore Food Festival, tickets are now available for the team's second fringe event. Starting at Pub du Vin, pick up your Dawg Map, Dawg Tokens and Dawg Voting Card, then choose between Nosh & Quaff, Purecraft, Bureau or Pub du Vin by way of dawg numero uno (we promise to stop saying dawg now). Dawg. Dawg. Dawg. Eat at your own speed and fear not for long queues - there are but forty spots and four venues, so on our maths you'll have to try pretty hard to hit a rush at any of the kitchens. Cast your—frankly critical—vote at the final venue and immediately become a part of hot dog history. Americana ace, Horace Panter, has even created art—which will be auctioned at the end of the festival by RCFA—to mark the occasion. A happenin' on Thursday, May 19, tickets are £10. Double dawg dare you not to book. Tickets & menu

UPSTAIRS AT
THE SITE OFFICE


The JQ's worst kept secret (our fault entirely) is transmorphing into new and quite possibly life-changing things. For now, we can tell you that above the former digs of The Site Office, there are single origin beans of the Ue Coffee Roasters variety, plenty of beauteous looking reclaimed wood, and baked goods care of Peel & Stone. Upstairs is open Monday to Friday, from 7.30am until 4pm. Shame we don't have space sufficient to tell you about Downst..

WOOD-FIRED WEEKEND


And God said, "Let there be pizza". Okay, He didn't. But if He had, we're almost completely sure it would have been a prelude to this weekend's glorious union of cheese, tomato and dough, also known as Brum's Big Fat Pizza Festival. Join more than ten indie pizza traders from 12pm until 10pm on Saturday. There's even chocolate pizza. At Lab11, final release tickets, for £7.50 (+ booking fee) can be secured here.
Venue: Rofuto, Park Regis Hotel, 160 Broad Street, B15 1DT; website
Choice: Halibut Champagne yuzu miso (£23) Chooser: Waitress, Tam

Putting a 120 cover Japanese restaurant (and sizeable hotel) on the ever so salubrious Five Ways roundabout is a ballsy move. On the one hand, you're less than ten minutes from Centenary Square and moments from Edgbaston—but on the other—your immediate neighbours are a bookies and an underpass. Cue the need for a menu from Des McDonald (he was head chef at The Ivy by 25) and height—Rofuto is pitching itself as the highest restaurant in Brum (*Marco Pierre who?*). Great for grazing, the kitchen covers off sushi, sashimi, some interesting maki and robata grilled skewers well. Its victory moment is in its fish mains. Plump for the perfectly cooked halibut, served with Champagne yuzu miso (very yes), pak choi and pomegranate—unanimously the standout plate of the feasting (where meat dishes took a back seat throughout). The service is also a credit to the launch team—knowledgeable, natural and honest. Whether Rofuto has done enough to get the Colmore-ites up to Five Ways will come down to consistency, views on pricing (at £23, our main felt expensive for Birmingham) and, probably, Kurabu—the adjoining skyline cocktail bar, which is doing entirely delicious things with sake.
 
  • Get an opinion on some lesser known juniper-based bevies with The Drinks Emporium's small batch and organic gin tasting. From 6.30pm on Thursday, May 5 tickets are £20
  • Take a View is an exhibition of 60 images from this year's Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards. Catch it at New Street Station for 10 days from tomorrow (Friday)
  • Learn How Not to Die from author Dr Michael Greger at a free vegan festival at the Council House. Saturday, 10.30am until 4pm. More
  • In case you somehow missed it over on that there Facebook, this summer, PEAKYS bar and restaurant is coming to a John Bright Street near you
  • Feel as worthy as is possible by getting your yoga on. And on. And on. Barefoot's masterminding Brum's edition of a national yogathon for charidee, on June 13 at Symphony Hall. Sign-up why doncha?
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"Unless you are pizza, the answer is yes, I can live without you." - Bill Murray
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGE: Tom Bird (Upstairs)

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