We had a fab time this Sunday exploring a little patch of the Midlands that we’d never visited before, Edgbaston – a suburb just a mile south of Birmingham City Centre.
Invited as guests of Calthorpe Estates, we soon discovered that Edgbaston is a thriving community, home to stunning botanical gardens, gorgeous green spaces, a 25,000 capacity cricket ground, and a plethora of shops, eateries, gastropubs and more.
For our family day out, we were invited to stop at three key locations in Edgbaston, beginning with a spot of brunch.
Brunch at Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party on Harborne Road, Edgbaston is a colourful, welcoming cafe, with a slight hipster feel and friendly staff. The atmosphere is bright and airy, and we were seated by large windows with lots of gorgeous natural light and a cool bare-brick feature wall.
Choosing from the impressive menu was no easy feat – there’s a wide range of delicious options to choose from, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
Miss Jay and JD ordered from the children’s menu, which offered two portion sizes, perfect for their variable appetites
JD chose the “Bigger ones” pancakes and maple syrup and an apple juice, while Jay selected same pancakes in “Little ones” size, alongside a white chocolate milkshake.
The pancakes, as it happens, were gluten-free as they’re made not with wheat flour, but with ricotta, lemon and buckwheat flour, which makes them both delicious and about as floaty light as a pancake can get.
Meanwhile, I decided to explore the vegan breakfast, which came with a mountain of gently sauteed sliced mushrooms, a portion of beans, roasted vine tomatoes, rosemary and onion roast potatoes, a couple of slices of granary bread and a pot dairy-free spread. Delicious.
To add some extra nutrition to my meal, I opted for a carrot and turmeric smoothie which was freshly squeezed, sweet, citrusy and delicious. Highly recommended.
Mark went for the scrambled eggs on toast with smoked bacon. The eggs were scrambled with tomato and basil, which made them extra special, and the bacon was crisp. Mark’s meal also came with plenty of toast, while a latte rounded off a pretty perfect breakfast.
With full tummies, it was time to head our next destination.
Exploring Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Just 10 minutes down the road on foot and we reached Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Westbourne Road, which boasts 15 acres of landscaped greenery – perfect for a family day out.
Within the gardens are four stunning glasshouses – Tropical, Subtropical, Mediterranean and Arid – which are home to many exotic and unusual plants not normally not found in the UK. We were particularly fascinated by the edible plants, including peanuts, pineapple, coffee and more – many of which the kids had never seen growing up close before. A really worthwhile educational experience.
Within the ground, there are also two playgrounds, a bandstand, a tearoom, a garden gift shop, an aviary, a butterfly house and plenty of benches to simply sit back and enjoy some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK. You certainly don’t get the sense that you’re only a mile from the city centre!
After a guided tour of the grounds (thanks Wayne!), we headed into the Pavillion Tea Room. Set on the Terrace just beside the Sensory Gardens, this was a gorgeous place to enjoy a leisure bite to eat. And what a bite it was, as we settled down for a traditional three-tier afternoon tea, featuring a generous selection of finger sandwiches and scones, dainty cakes and pastries.
Re-energised, we explored the gardens further, and the children happily spent the remainder of the afternoon playing in the playground and generally enjoying the freedom to explore the sprawling green gardens.
On our schedule, we’d allowed a total of five hours at this stop, and in honesty, I was concerned that it would prove too long, but not at all! There is so much to see and explore; we fully intend to visit again.
Dinner at Laghi’s Deli
Before heading home, we had one more stop to make and enjoyed the 15 walk minute up to Laghi’s Deli on Islington Row.
Laghi’s serves terrific coffee, pasta, pizza and more, and it was clear as soon as we entered and were greeted by the owner, Luca that this was going to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy excellent Italian food.
We’d already eaten quite well throughout the day, but we’d also had plenty of exercise walking around Edgbaston, so we were ready to enjoy an Italian feast. But what we didn’t expect is that we were going to be invited to make it!
It was a genuine surprise to be invited down to the kitchens with Luca to learn how to make pizza and gnocchi, but we couldn’t have been more delighted. Experiences like this don’t come along every day, so we dove in and had the most beautiful time.
JD and Mark were in charge of making the pizzas Following the expert advice of the chefs, Mark and Joel shaped the dough, ladled on the sauce, added cheese and toppings and even used the pizza peel to transfer their delicious pizzas into the oven.
Meanwhile, Miss Jay and I worked with the gnocchi dough, which Luca explained must be no more than 30% flour to stay light and delicious rather than dense and gluey. The cloud-soft dough was rolled into thin sausages and cut into little pillows before Jay and I rolled them on out floured forks.
Jay seemed to work at a lightning pace and they were soon ready to boil briefly before dressing in a sauce of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. As an extra special touch, they were served in bowls made from parmesan. They certainly hit the spot!
We all finished off with gelato and a selection of classic Italian treats including cannoli and tiramisu before heading back to the car and homeward bound.
Our impressions of Edgbaston were thoroughly positive. Friendly people, a gorgeous range of shops and amenities, treelined streets and plenty of green space. It’s a great place to visit and seems like a lovely place to live.
This is a commissioned post for Edgbaston Village, Calthorpe Estates