The Canal House is launched in Birmingham

Last week saw the revitalising of a legendary Birmingham venue, when The Canal House launched in the old James Brindley pub. The James Brindley had been a Birmingham landmark in the 1990s, but had, in recent times become a bit of an eyesore on the skyline, lying empty for the past 8 years. Now, as The Canal House, it looks set to bring those glory days back, as it is once again a beautiful venue, with great food and cocktails.


We went along on launch night to try the food and cocktails and to soak up the atmosphere, and were not disappointed. It is a fabulous venue, with the large space giving off the vibe of traditional wharfside buildings, with lots of wood and glass. Inside feels spacious with lots of attention to detail, I love the high ceilings that make the place so light and airy, the use of wood for the floors to give a rustic feel, and the fabulous use of glass, whether to create skylights, or in a vintage form in the glass bottles and lanterns that make up the amazing chandeliers (such a talking point). There is also a rather beautiful private dining area that would be amazing for a birthday celebration.

The cocktails are one of the real plus points of this fabulous venue. The Canal House is putting its own twists on classic cocktails, so rather than a Mojito, I had The Cuban Influence, and rather than a Long Island Iced Tea, I had Narrowboat Iced Tea, which was described to me as like Fizzy Cola Bottle sweets in alcoholic form and was just delicious, even served in a glass bottle with a bag of sweeties attached. No Ordinary Labourer was a chocolate/coffee mix that even came with Bourbon biscuits. All I can say is that it was so good I had it twice.

The drinks were divine, a real destination on the cocktail map, but the food easily matched it. From appetisers liked the baked kale and sesame seed crisps (brilliant, with just the right amount of spice) to Homemade Houmous that was served with generous helpings of warm flatbread and crudites, the food was of a high standard, with everything well thought out for flavour and portions. The mains are incredible, from Grilled Seabass brilliantly teamed with avocado, to the famous hanging kebabs that you pour garlic butter over for an absolute taste sensation. I chose to have mine with sweet potato fries, a bit of a favourite of mine, and these are by far the best I have ever tasted. And, if you had room left for dessert, the baked chocolate chip cookie dough was just gooey and delicious, my dream dessert.

I loved my first visit to The Canal House, it is a vibrant, warm and inviting destination that is sure to be a favourite with those who love good food and exciting cocktails. I can’t wait to go again.

The Difference between Japanese Pachinko and Slots

Before discussing the difference between Japanese pachinko and slot machines, you should first get to know what pachinko is all about.

Pachinko is a gambling game which does not result in a cash prize. In operation, it is similar to a pinball machine installed vertically. What the players win if they can manoeuvre the pin-balls out of the chute and aim them correctly, are the pin-balls themselves.  The target like in most other slot machine games is to hit the jackpot – inserting pin-balls instead of coins. Initially you need to purchase an amount of pin-balls and use the same to play on the machine. If you strike it lucky and hit while you play Eurojackpot, you will have access to the winnings box which will be full of pin-balls from previous players.

The pin-balls you win after hitting the jackpot have no value in themselves. But you can exchange the same for money in the gaming room or in backstreets of the city. Though gambling is presently a banned activity in Japan, because of its immense popularity the Japanese government is considering legalizing the same.

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When compared to slot machines, the only difference with pachinko is that instead of walking away with ready money, you leave the pachinko machine with pin-balls. This translates into your having to trade the pin-balls for cash before each round you play. Also, pachinko machines use metallic balls, while slot machines use reels.  Similarities in both machines are the LCD screens with eye-catching art work and enticing sounds.

In the present scenario slot machine gambling like Multiloto in Japan cannot compare with pachinko which the local people are intensely proud of and consider the same as a national identity; literally bordering on a national obsession.  It is estimated that the number of pachinko establishments in Japan – around 12,000 in number – rake in about 30 trillion yen annually.

 

Wolves in Wolves – Touring The North Route

This summer, the city of Wolverhampton has been overtaken by Wolves, beautiful decorated wolves. The #WolvesinWolves2017, is the largest public art event ever to take place in the city with 30 wolf sculptures located in and around the city centre. The wolves have been created by a range of artists that range from High Schools and University students, to renowned artists from around the world. The wolves are on display around the city, with two trails that you can access at your leisure, or through an organised wolf walk. On Wednesday night I took my boy Joe Luca on the Northern wolf walk which lasted for two hours and took in wolves at The Molineaux, West Park, Marstons/Banks brewery and St Peter’s Square.

The organised wolf walks are a great way to see the wolves and learn a little about the design, inspiration and the artist. You get to find the out of the way wolves which may be a little harder to find if you don’t really know your way around Wolverhampton, and you can explore some of the amazing architecture and history of the city as you make your way around.

We were very lucky as the wonderful Wolverhampton Art Gallery (which houses an amazing collection of Pop Art) had agreed to stay open so we could explore their wolves gallery which contains two full sized wolves sculptures, and then a whole gallery of mini wolves, including a stunning design that had padlocks all around it’s neck.

 

The wolves are truly beautiful, with my personal favourite being ‘Sunset’ which is sponsored by Wolverhampton Speedway and is located on Darlington Street and is decorated with squirrels and wildlife. I also loved Flame that is located outside the offices of the Express and Star building, and Wolf Ver-Hamtpon, which is based at the Civic Centre and has been decorated with mayoral chains. Claude is the naughty wolf, he travels around the city, reappearing in different destinations.

The wolves will be auctioned after the exhibition ends on September 24th and is well worth a visit before then. For more information check out the website here.