Brum Trail: The Winter in the City Trail

Ideal for: people who love both breakfast and board games

Avoid if: you're a bad loser

Bring // Youll need: your woollies

Terrain: high ropes and high stakes

The start: Bar Opus, Snowhill

Nothing takes the winter chill away quite like a hearty brunch. Bar Opus do a swish version with a choice of either trendy bar plates to share or a menu of classic dishes such as the New York Bagel, steak and eggs and, of course, a good old English - all delivered in the swanky surroundings of this popular Business District bar. Their Saturday brunch comes complete with drinks upgrades - why not indulge in unlimited Bloody Marys for a mere £12.50? Yet another compelling reason to travel by bus...

One Snowhill, city centre

Brunch served on Saturdays from 10.00am

The middle bit: Sandwell Valley Country Park, West Bromwich

This time of year may feel a bit grim, but it throws up the opportunity for crisp, sun drenched walks to put a smile back on your freezing face. The largest national nature reserve in the Midlands, Sandwell Valley has it all. Its 660 acres are home to an RSPB reserve, a working Victorian Farm complete with tea rooms, a cycle route, woodland, meadows, open countryside and some nice lakes to boot. There's even a high ropes aerial adventure course, for those feeling brave after all those Bloody Marys.

Salter's Lane, West Bromwich - just a few miles out from the city centre

The 74 and 75 bus routes stop a few minutes walk from Bar Opus at Colmore Circus, and take you into the centre of West Bromwich.

The Valley is a ten-minute walk from West Bromwich centre.

The end: The Queen's Arms, Jewellery Quarter

This comfy, Grade II listed proper boozer is the perfect place to kick back with a pint of cask ale and fall out with loved ones, as you take advantage of the pub's generous selection of board games. They're barmy for sausages here, and the rest of the food offering isn't bad either - comfort guaranteed. If you're seriously into your games there's a very popular quiz night here, every Thursday.

150 Newhall Street

If you're travelling back from West Bromwich on the bus, alight at Water Street - Newhall Street is a stones throw away

Open every day from midday, 11.00am on weekends

Tips: You can mix and match your choice of sausages at The Queens, and you get three - go for it!

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Words by Gemma Corden – writer, unashamedly banging on about Birmingham. Contact via @gemma_corden or find out more about her here or even more here.



Culture Faves: It's Better in Birmingham

This week, we introduce PJB who is keen to share her initial thoughts when newly arriving into Birmingham. We think it's great to see our fine city through a fresh pair of eyes!

Moving from London to work here, I knew little of Birmingham and what I knew was not generally admired. Unloved accents, the impenetrable Spaghetti Junction, a concrete jungle of a shopping centre. Here it is, Merry Christmas. In my defence, the national (for which read London) press always overlooked Birmingham - that is, when they weren't ridiculing it. They still do, preferring to pretend that Manchester is the second city in all but name (why exactly did the BBC move to Salford, when it already had an outpost here?). I was so wrong, and I apologise to everyone for being such a fool.

So, what words would I now use about this fabulous city to set the record straight?

Independent. Birmingham has independence of mind and attitude to all things. Independent art galleries, coffee shops, markets, cinemas, arts centres, food shops and much more.

Energy.  From the moment you set foot here there is a buzz about this city - through its arts and music scene, its start-up and established businesses, through its architecture; it feels cutting edge. The people who live here love their city and make no apology for doing so.  Frankly, they don't care what other people think because they know that Birmingham is the place to be.

Creativity. Everywhere you turn there is innovation. More start- ups than anywhere in the UK, more imagination and determination to get things done. Just take the Custard Factory. Or the new crowd-funded Impact Hub in Digbeth. An eclectic mix of artists, designers, entrepreneurs, thinkers and doers made this exciting project happen through sheer effort of will. 

Risky (in a good way). Birmingham takes risks. It did with the old library, a brutalist masterpiece that, like Marmite, people either love or hate; it has done with the new library, with much the same outcome! 

Young. This is a city full of young, energetic people. More young professionals move here from London than to any other UK city.

Whatever you want from life, you can get it here. Michelin starred restaurants? Try Adams, or Purnells. Art Lover? Visit the wonderful Barber Institute, or the daringly curated exhibitions at the Ikon, one of the most highly regarded modern art galleries among artists worldwide. Or try the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which hosts touring exhibitions as well as housing one of the largest collections of pre-Raphaelite art in the world.

Music? Any music you want is here - from internationally acclaimed artists at the Arena, the Welsh National Opera's visits to the Hippodrome, at the Jam House or The Digbeth Institute,  the Conservatoire and CBSO, to concerts and free jazz in the foyer of Symphony Hall, which itself has one of the finest acoustics in the world.

Want to party? We have an eclectic mix of pubs, clubs, comedy venues, a thriving Gay scene, and all with that certain Birmingham outlook that parties like there is nowhere else to be.

And for me, there isn't.

Words by PJB @TamertonPJB #BetterInBrum

Photos: Birmingham Favourites @BrumFaves