If I Ruled the World at Christmas

I love Christmas.

It is the most wonderful time of year and it so because it’s unique. Uniquely in December. I am at the front of the queue to make yuletide stretch as much as possible but no, Wizard, I don’t wish it was Christmas every day (still a great track though). To keep it special, we need to keep Christmas in December and embrace it.

  1. No public lights switched on until December 1st. It will be great if all Christmas lights came on actually on December 1st. Or at least after November 25th, one month before Christmas is plenty of time. What you do at home is up to you of course.
  2. Absolutely no festive music played where the public gather i.e. shops, cafes, restaurants or on radio before December. Thereafter, 10% of music play can be festive in the first week, 25% in the second week and then more as we get closer. After 19th December bring it on.
  3. No one can moan about turkey. We only have it one day a year – 2-3 if we’re lucky. If you don’t like it, learn to cook/choose/buy it better.
  4. If anyone has no idea what to buy someone, they don’t know them well-enough to buy anything. However, if they've been acquainted a long time, think a little harder.
  5. What do you buy someone who has everything? An experience, food or anything that will be used up. Or update something they already have. The only boring gift is a cheque/cash. Socks, toiletries and chocolates are all gratefully receiving. In my house at anyway.
  6. If I ruled the world, there will be no ‘Gifts for her’ and ‘Gifts for him’ sections promoted. We know our loved ones well enough to know what they like. (see no 4)
  7. If you are going to re-gift, keep a spreadsheet of who gave you what, and who you then gift it to. It’s just polite.
  8. Christmas cards should arrive at least the week before Christmas. Cards arriving on Christmas eve are not displayed and yes, it is the thought that counts but if you like someone enough to spend time and money on sending a lovely card, then send it early so they can display and enjoy it. For some people, that’s their only form of festive decoration.
  9. Everyone has a compulsory clear-out. If they have something they don’t need, it goes to someone who does want it.
  10. Finally, if you don’t enjoy it, just do something else!

By Rickie J, Founder & editor of Birmingham Favourites & Christmas fan

@BrumFaves @RickieWrites

 

Theatre: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Performed at Birmingham Rep

A performance at the Birmingham Rep is already a winner as it’s an exceptional theatre (except for the lack of an aisle in the middle meaning a very long row to get in and out of past c24 pairs of knees, but, still the theatre is a pleasure to be in). 

The story of Little Voice, the introverted young girl with the big voice too match every diva is about to unfold before me.

I hear a soundtrack of adverts and music of the 1980s as I make my way to my seat gawking the fantastic set. It depicts a two up, two down house and the audience immediately finds that often two scenes are witnessed at the same time.

The dialogue doesn’t let up, despite the minute cast of six, but it’s good that two are pretty quiet, Little Voice herself and silent Sadie, best friend of LV’s mum Mari . Mari is by far the character with the most lines, most often consisting of made up language followed by a ripple of audience amusement.

Despite the serious undertones of the reclusive, yet talented daughter, her insecure, but over-bearing widowed mother and the sleazy, pushy talent scout, there are jokes throughout. The play is not as violent as the film as I recall it (from a long time ago) but I wouldn’t want to see Ray, Mari’s current squeeze and self-appointed show biz agent be particularly aggressive on a stage a few feet away from me. Plus fake hitting someone is a tricky manoeuvre to pull off.

As is the fire on stage – I could feel it getting warm and was worried for the shiny showbiz curtain lining the back wall! Another stand out moment is with the Jackson Five’s I Want You Back as the soundtrack.

A fantastic performance by all with so many great scenes, this one is going to be remembered long after the curtain comes down. Catch it if you can. Tickets from Birmingham Rep till 30th May.

By editor and founder Rickie J. Tweet on @RickieWrites or @BrumFaves

Photos courtesy of Birmingham Rep.

 

Brum Faves visits: Bar Opus

 

Corporate bars have come a long way since my days of working on London’s Fleet Street. Back then, us ladies who worked in the newspaper industry were prevented from being able to buy drinks at certain bars. Indeed in the early 1990s, there were two restaurant bars that I not only couldn’t buy my own drink but I couldn’t wear trousers at the bar.

My first visit to Bar Opus reminded me of these days but only because it’s just around the corner from where the Birmingham Post & Mail building used to be, before it’s relocation to Fort Dunlop. The third sibling of the Opus restaurant group, Bar Opus will clearly attract the corporate crowd the original restaurant in Cornwall Street does although the vibe is distinctly non-grey suited on a Saturday evening.

Tucked away under the One Snowhill building, set back from Colmore Row, we receive a bold, sociable service from the minute the bf and our out-of-town friend set foot in Opus three. I imagine it’s quite different during the day, however, on this weekend evening, the place is darkly lit and if anyone figures out how the taps work in the unisex loo first time should surely be compensated with a free drink.

We decide to take advantage of the tapas style menu to try a few things although one of our choices proved unavailable, we were recommended the honey glazed baby chorizo, which went down extremely well on our table. The child in me never loses the love for baby-sized versions so I’m a sucker for the dishes like mini but amply stuffed burgers and a basket of fries. (A new menu is coming was due so check what the current offering is). Elsewhere, the crispy salt and pepper Brixham squid with lemon aioli, served in ample portion, was appreciated.  These were quickly devoured - hence no photos - but go see for yourself!

Small plates are available from 12 noon at £5 each or four to share for £17.50. Regular all day menu includes breakfast also offered.

Do share your thoughts on @BrumFaves or comment below.

By avid eater and Brum Faves founder, Rickie J @RickieWrites

Photos courtesy of Opus Bar.

Foodie Faves: Marmalade

When the Birmingham Rep was refurnished and opened to coincide with the new Library of Birmingham, it launched with a fancy new restaurant that came and went before I had a chance to visit it. So when Marmalade launched in February, I was there on day two.

Indeed I watched it being built as I was a big fan of Rep Eats, the short lived in-between café that I used for coffee meets with clients. Never having owned matching furniture, I loved the hap-hazardness of the seating from colourful nursery kitchen tables to the seats pulled out of an old theatre. Now with Marmalade, it’s an altogether more comfy, pre-theatre experience.

Although this is an unusually classic and formal setting from the latest of the Bitters n Twisted group, known for their quirks (see Jekyll & Hyde’s Gin Parlour and the old skool boozer, Rose Villa Tavern) the interior still has a couple of twists and of course, it’s own cocktail menu.

I’ve already eaten here three times, firstly with the bf during opening week when they had the half price offer, then for a birthday lunch and recently with the girls.

I’m eating my way through the menu, starting with the light and yet filling sea bass which helped me enjoy beetroot for the first time, then the battered cod & delightful lemon pea puree, even though it wasn’t my customarily Friday-for-fish day and latterly the burger.

I’ve recommended the former two to appreciative diners and the burger although fairly standard is served with spicy paprika fries. All are around £12-13.

I’ve only noticed one dessert on the menu – gingerbread cheesecake, maple sauce, toffee pecans and mint - there may be others.

A thoroughly warm welcome awaits you followed by a pleasant dining experience, whether you’re popping to the theatre or just ravenous.

Note: Marmalade refrain from serving cocktails pre-theatre so do check timings if that’s what you’re hoping for! But there is happy hour 4.30-6.30 and all day Sundays to make up for it.

Share your views on @BrumFaves

By founder, editor & serial eater @RickieWrites.

Book: Beatrice by Fiona Joseph

Coffee was considered a little too stimulating for female workers!

I’ve always had interest in the Cadbury family’s business methods anyway so was delighted to find out that local author Fiona Joseph was writing a book about them. More specifically, Beatrice Boeke, nee Cadbury, daughter of Richard was born in 1884.

On the strength of this book, I went to hear the author do a talk. I planned to buy a signed copy to read and hearing Fiona talk with so much love and admiration for Beatrice, I ‘fell a little bit in love’ too.

The story starts as Beatrice is born into what is already a wealthy family. Her father’s first wife died after giving birth to their fourth child and Beatrice is a result of his second marriage to his treasured Emma. They go onto have a long and happy marriage but are long gone before Beatrice rebels and this is when the story takes off.

We are introduced to Beatrice’s future husband, a trained architect, when she is already doing missionary work and she is on a panel interviewing him for a role in Syria. By the time he starts the role, they are already about to embark on a marriage.

Even before this, I enjoy every bit of the story and the book gives me a greater understanding on the Quaker beliefs held by the Cadburys. They are already known for ‘their mix of thrift and generosity’ and I love that sentiment. The most interesting aspect is that the simple life led by Quakers is at odds with the wealth the family accumulate. But, the wealth is very much redistributed in that they open their home to those less fortunate, offer them the opportunity to wash and have fresh clothes and most famously, they treat their employees with the utmost respect and care.

Bournville in Birmingham is still a dry village and no alcohol can be sold and there are other quirks in this little suburb of the city that totally adhere to the original Cadbury ethos. It’s a beautiful, well-kept place as I learn from my first visit their last year for a much-needed view of a Christmas lights switch on that was actually in December and not several weeks previous!

Back to Beatrice, most of the book now centre’s on how the conflict within her heart grows and what leads her wanting to give up her shares and inheritance. It is odd that she did not feel the same way as her father in that their wealth could be put to good use help others. I’m left wondering what they could have done with all that disposable income rather than giving it back to the factory workers, something her brothers, now the Cadbury directors, urged her against.

Beatrice’s and her husband’s legacy centre’s on what they did for education in Holland, where they both lived after Kees was deported. Both in England and Holland, they were routinely arrested for publicly speaking their minds about being anti-war primarily, something that is against Quaker beliefs anyway. But their belief in letting children learn through play, at their own pace rather forcing tests and learning (they called this sociocracy) is fascinating and something I have had a long-term interest in. We are guided through the time when Kees started home schooling their younger children (they had 7 in all), mainly as they could not afford the school fees. The popularity grew and eventually they set up a proper school, with some funds from the Cadbury Trust that Beatrice started with her dividends.

The couple lived through two world wars, struggling and at one point living in tents. I’m at odds at this when there brothers and sisters were living in luxury but still doing managing to do good for others. Either you work and earn a living and pay taxes – something they were against as they didn’t want their money paying for the wars – or you do good with the money.

But the family Boeke stood their ground and eventually, later in life managed to earn their keep through educating others.

This is a fascinating read.

By Rickie J, Founder and editor of Birmingham Favourites. @BrumFaves or @RickieWrites

7 places for laptop time in Birmingham

Stay.com recently asked me to compile a list of my favourites spots for working in central Birmingham:

Urban Coffee Co (Church St)

Good coffee in the heart of the business district.

Coffee Lounge (the one on Newhall St)

A vast menu in a scrumptious setting.

The Birmingham Rep Café

A pick-a-mix of old theatre seats with a view. Usually opens from 12.

Brewsmiths

Bottomless coffee (or tea) and legendary breakfasts.

Urban Coffee Co (Jewellery Quarter)

A big space to work right in JQ’s creative community plus breakfast or lunch to keep you going.

Boston Tea Party (Corporation St)

Baked beans on toast for breakfast or lunch.

The Studio (Cannon St)

Space to think, meet and get things done. Call/tweet to check availability as on occasional days, this meeting venue opens its quiet atrium bar to the public. £5 for all drinks and if you're lucky, snacks.

All have WiFi and large cups of coffee. Obviously.

By Birmingham Favourites founder & editor Rickie J. Contact: @BrumFaves or @RickieWrites

Billy the Kid - His Life in Music!

Presented by Livestock at Stan’s Café.

Based on the life/myth/legend of Billy the Kid, this performance combines music and comedy. With just two actors performing a multitude of parts, accents and sexes, there is a lot to take in.

The show profits from the well-known facts as we know them and twists them to comic effect with the funniest moment coming with their take on a Shangri-La’s track followed by a classic, well-known by fans of ice –skating.

Full of quirks and originality, I’m thoroughly entertained and the hour or so goes by so fast.

Catch it while you can!

Book tickets here

#Billythekidlive

Photos courtesy of Livestock.

 

Book: Clovenhoof by Heide Goody & Iain Grant

 

After 27, I've gone and read another book based in Birmingham, or more specifically Sutton Coldfield. As the title suggests, demons of an entirely different kind feature in this book .

Satan has been ousted from the role that he has had almost his entire life – the job he was born to do. Hell has been running too slowly and the lines to get in are simply too long so something has to change. Having been made redundant, he has been transported to earth – to suburban Sutton Coldfield – with the Archangel Michael making sure he doesn’t return to his evil ways but blends in with local society.

But of course he doesn’t!

Former #MeetTheAuthor guests, Heidi Goody and Iain Grant jointly tell us all the ways he just doesn’t settle on Earth without bringing his bad ways with him.

Now named Jeremy Clovenhoof, we learn about Satan forming a heavy metal band – not realising you are meant to sell tickets – not buy them all yourself and give them away free.

We witness Clovenhoof realising money doesn’t grow on trees when his generous allowance runs out after putting on a ’sold out’ gig at Birmingham Symphony Hall (see above).

We then find out all the ways in which he obtains money – rather than having to work for it.

‘He had decided that if he ever returned to his old  job he would create a special level of hell…and then Nerys had taken him to IKEA and Clovenhoof realised that humans had once gain beaten him to it’.

And we hear how he makes friends/enemies/friends again with the other flat dwellers in his building.

There is a fantastic cast including dead vicars, Joan of Arc and when the angel Michael says he has friends in high places, we know what he means.

The story travels from what’s going on in hell, heaven (they have a monorail that takes you 500 miles in 30 minutes) and Birmingham and the latter is definitely the most interesting. I’m making the most of my time while I’m here on earth!

A highly recommended read and now that I have caught up with this 2012 release, I’m moving onto others written by these amusing local writers.

8/10

Smile factor 9½/10

Find out about MeetTheAuthor events here.

Book: No Mean Affair by Robert Ronsson

No_Mean_Affair_Cover_low-198x300Having just read a book based in my one of my favourite cities, Birmingham, move on to this, based in another, Glasgow. This one however, is delightfully, a history lesson too, of the best kind. It opens in Glasgow in 1912 in a tenement – that is – a one room dwelling. The poverty of Glasgow has been well-documented and when I visit now and look at the gorgeous architecture in the West End, it’s astonishing to think those lovely buildings once held multiple families. Large families too and the one featured in No Mean Affair is that of Mary Ireland, the grandmother of the author.

Her husband didn’t think much of it, but Mary had bigger plans than to raise their three bairns in one room in a smoky, smelly Glasgow. Mary didn’t think it was right that women couldn’t vote either, but her main concern was the living conditions of the poor. They moved to Glasgow to live in the same building as his brother who gave him a job as a milkman – a job she took on when he went to war.

It was while standing up for the rights of the poor that Mary came across John Wheatley, a prominent, wealthy businessman who had raised himself up from his boot straps.  A miner’s son, Wheatley built his business interests through suspect methods, including using thugs to chase money, which is how he came across Danny, the third main character.

He hired Danny, as his right hand man who lived in the big house along with his wife and family and then progressed to do more for the poor in the city. During a #MeetTheAuthor event, Robert Ronsson tells us there is a biography of JW (as Danny, who holds more than a torch to Mary, refers to him) which helped with the research.

Being a key player in the new Independent Labour Party, JW moves to improve conditions including reducing the working week down from 54 hours and letting women join political parties. I learn at this stage they can’t vote and even later in the 1930s can only vote if they are a home owner. How many women owned homes then?! This only really started happening to a greater degree in the 1980s.

So why No Mean Affair? The story is centred on the 20 year deep-rooted affair that eventually developed between Mary and JW. Despite the generation gap between them, they had the same believes and sacrificed much to develop housing reform in the 1920s. While JW rose to be an MP, Mary was still in the one room with her husband and now four children. Neither will get a divorce in Catholic Glasgow and Mr Ireland turned a blind-eye to the affair to a point, as it kept him in money to stay drunk. Mrs Wheatley was less patient but the managed to stay married while the affair evolved to a solid working relationship as well as a deep affection.

Of course this book is fiction based on historical events and real people and that’s the best way I know to learn about history.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning how JW seemed to have his heart in the right place while political ambition roared inside him and we learn exactly why a poor women from Glasgow left three of her children behind to come and live in London.

Take me back to 1930, I need to know more!

8½/10

Smile factor 9/10

By Rickie J, founder & editor of Birmingham Favourites. Contact via twitter on @BrumFaves or @RickieWrites

Book: 27 by Ryan Davis

“One of the greatest rock and roll novels ever written, an exciting new voice!" – Ian Marchant. Oh my.

I've read a few stories about Birmingham but this is the first based in the modern era. The story of Jim Vale, AKA Jimmy of the Tyrants is told at the turn of this century. As it twists from gangland drugs to murders to stereotypical dodgy band managers and millennium parties, I find myself looking out of my Jewellery Quarter window to confirm to myself it’s not real.

27 being the infamous age when so many promising rocksters commit suicide, we wonder if this will happen to Jimmy, after the runaway success of one of their singles. He doesn’t like the way the band are going and his so called best friend/bassist seems desperate to take his frontman/singer slot.

He wants out.

But he doesn’t succeed.

So it is then decided by the Tyrants manager that he should lay low, pretend he really has shuffled this mortal coil and let the band re-invent themselves without him, milking the story for every £ they can so he can repay his debts.

He has nowhere to turn, firstly because he is meant to be dead but also because his mother is currently minus all her marbles, his former girlfriend wants nothing to do with him and he has no money to make music.

Instead he turns to an old friend whose ambition is to be the biggest drug dealer in the city. To earn himself the money he desperately needs to make his own album, he becomes his friend’s runner and finds himself embroiled in deeper trouble caught up between the city’s gangs.

Read the book to discover if and how Jim/Jimmy makes it through. But if you live in Birmingham, the city will look a lot different afterwards as you spot the various landmarks heavily featured from 1999.

 Ryan will be talking about this book and his writing at the Birmingham Favourites #MeetTheAuthor event on August 11th2014. Click here for details & to book your free seat.

Find Ryan Davis on Twitter @RoyMonde or take a look at his website.

By Rickie J, editor & founder.

Business news: Dorothy's Vintage

Here at Birmingham Favourites, we love to highlight business stories from home based businesses – the ones we rarely here about in the media!

So it was great to hear from Emma Morley, who has just launched a business with her mother Jayne. They’re both fans of vintage (or shabby chic) china and having amassed a fine collection, decided to turn their interest into a business.

Inspired by Jayne's own vintage wedding in 2013, Dorothy’s Vintage specialises in the hire of ‘beautiful vintage china as well as providing afternoon tea services for all type of events’. Mum and daughter can't wait to share their ‘wonderful collection with the world!'

What’s different is that these two vintage fans invite potential customers to their 60s garden summerhouse, named Sheila, to get a feel for the service. Here they experience the afternoon tea while discussing what they want for their event and their budget. Customers go away knowing Dorothy's Vintage have built them ‘a truly bespoke service' for their special event.

While Emma takes care of the social media and marketing, her mum cannot help but find amazing china to add to the collection!

To find out more about Dorothy’s Vintage, named after Emma’s grandmother, take a look at the website or follow @dorothysvintage.  Contact on dorothysvintage@gmail.com.

Captain America at the Giant Screen

In an age of streaming services like Netflix and easy availability of DVDs one of the most frequent questions movie goers ask of themselves is "should I make the effort to go and see this at the cinema or should I just wait and catch it later?" The answer will probably be determined by both the quality of the cinema and expectations of the film itself.

The Giant Screen at Millennium Point (five minutes walk from Moor Street Station and opposite the much-loved Woodman pub) satisfies the first requirement admirably. A massive screen in a massive building fills a viewer's entire range of vision while sound and picture quality are crisp. Furthermore, I personally find the 3D experience in this cinema immeasurably better than many of its competitors.

So which movie to try?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a film that has received widespread critical acclaim and broken box office records whilst making many breaks with the style of its predecessor (Captain America: The First Avenger). The first film was a nostalgic throwback to a halcyon cinematic age where the villains wore black hats, red skulls and unsavoury armbands and our star-spangled hero threw himself into the fray like a steroid enhanced Indiana Jones. This film is darker, murky grey areas abound, and has much more in common with 1970's political thrillers like Three Days Of The Condor (it is no coincidence that the star of that movie, the legendary Robert Redford, plays a major role in this one).

Chris Evans (I will resist the temptation to make any poor jokes about the similarly monikered British celebrity) does a remarkable job of making a character that could be boring and bland into a likeable and inspiring everyman who just happens to have been gifted with an Adonis like physique and enhanced fitness (Note to self: you really need to start going to the gym)

However, this is very much an ensemble piece. Evans receives sterling support from Scarlett Johansson as the mysterious Black Widow, Samuel L Jackson as the manipulative Nick Fury and rising star Anthony Mackie as the high-flying Falcon. The plot twists and turns at breakneck speed and is punctuated with bursts of blistering action, whether exciting chases or bone crushing fights, that probably exceed those in another little film you may have heard of called the Avengers. It is practically impossible to review the plot without giving out spoilers so I won't try but it is worth pointing out that the trademark Marvel Studios mid and end credit scenes make their expected appearance.

In short this is a popcorn flick but one that manages to provide the requisite bang for buck without skimping on those underrated factors of movie making like acting and script. Michael Bay should be strapped into a chair, have his eyes held open and made to watch this until he realises what he is doing wrong.

Enjoy.

By “Numbers” Mike Ward who can be contacted on Twitter

Neighbourhood Watch: Brindleyplace

With its opulent pillars holding up relatively low office blocks, the canal-side area has had a fantastic transformation in the last couple of decades. This is one area of Birmingham that has not been filled with glass towers.

It does have an abundance of eateries and squares so you won’t necessarily notice the eleven office blocks housing the likes of Lloyds Bank, Deloitte, BT, Royal Bank of Scotland and Free Radio and their 8500 employees.

Amid the big names such as Costa and Eat that bring comfort to the many tourists, especially due to the Symphony Hall, ICC and NIA located around here, there are some wonderful local businesses too.

One of Birmingham’s finest restaurants, Loves, is situated just outside, a pretty canal bridge away on Canal Square. Run by husband and wife, Steve & Claire Love and their excellent team, the place takes you away from the hustle and transports you into a blissful space of amazing food, five star hospitality and tranquillity, with zero pretentiousness.

If you’re after a more casual experience, JusJus is right there too or back into Brindleyplace, try Opus Café on the ground floor of Ikon Gallery. A little sister to the long-established Opus in the Colmore Business District. Another pre-theatre option is Edmunds, situated right in the heart of Brindleyplace and its just a few minutes’ walk to get you to your performance at ICC, NIA or Symphony Hall or even the nearby Birmingham Rep.

Brindleyplace houses the purpose-built Sea Life centre and the wonder that is the Crescent Theatre. This charity venue run partly by volunteers puts on its own productions in the mix and has its very own cinema showing classics.

There is decent sized Hilton Garden Inn hotel but there are thousands of beds in hotels nearby as you are just on the edge of the Convention Quarter here.

In the summer, take in the outside events including cinema, live music, the Chilli Festival and the food market. There are plenty of places to sit on the grass, along the fountain water feature or underneath the pillared walkways. There are car parks plus convenience stores include Spar, Sainsbury’s and Boots as well as Ethos Flowers for when you’ve forgotten your colleague’s birthday. There really is no excuse!

Finally, if you spend a lot of time in the area, it’s worth picking up a free discount card here. The offers varies but there are plenty of options to make it worth adding to the bulge of your loyalty cards in your wallet.

By Rickie, founder of Birmingham Favourites who can be reached on @BrumFaves or @RickieWrites or add your comments below.

 

10 Things To Do For Free In Birmingham January 2014

January 2014
  1. Library of Birmingham. The novelty hasn't worn of for the locals yet, since this amazing building opened in September 2013. There's so much on offer, look closely you may even see some books to borrow. Free.
  2. Moor Street Station. By far the city's oldest and prettiest station has been refurbished in recent years to the grandeur of the 1930s. Worth a visit even if you're not popping on the train to London.
  3. Bournville Village. Visit the birth place of Cadbury where the Quaker beliefs still stand and there are no pubs or places that sell alcohol.  This pretty village stands proud, having been named by the Cadbury family who built the first houses here for their workers.
  4. Cannon Hill Park on the border of Moesley and Edgbaston is opposite Edgbaston Cricket Ground and houses Midlands Arts Centre amongst it's walkways and cycle ways.
  5. St Paul's Square. It's not just the grade 1 listed St Paul's church that brings you to the last Georgian square in Birmingham. With fine buildings all around you, now filled with architects, designers, restaurants and dwellings, take a stroll on the tree lined lawn and grab a seat on a bench to imagine the days of Matthew Boulton and James Watt.
  6. Pen Room. Also in the Jewellery Quarter and run entirely by volunteers, there are exhibitions, calligraphy demonstrations and creative workshops to enjoy.
  7. St Martin in the Bullring The striking view of this church in the middle of the city centre reflected in the 21st century modern Bullring is what you see on the postcards. Inside, apart from services there are art exhibits and other events too.
  8. Canals Bars, clubs, restaurants, office blocks; why not look the other way and go on a wonderful canal walk? There are 100 miles of them.
  9. The Cube On the aforementioned canal, Birmingham's newest landmark is already iconic.
  10. Music at Symphony Hall  OK, it's not free music in the renowned hall itself but rather in the café area. A treat each Friday at 5pm.

Have you been to any of our current ten? Do let us know below, along with suggestions for the next top 10!

By Rickie, founder of Birmingham Favourirtes. Tweet on @BrumFaves or @RickieWrites

Introducing Birmingham Fest

From the editor If proof was needed that Birmingham is a creative city, another superb and independent festival has just been launched. You would, of course, have been living on the moon (without Wi-Fi) if you deny that there is more going on in Birmingham than we can fit into our tiny packed out 5.5” screen diaries, but the joy is to embrace it all. Even if you’re unable to go, then tell your chatty colleague who would go to the opening of a door, the guy on the bus who listens to his music too loud and the woman moaning about being bored behind you in the post office queue. (She needs to go self-service, that’s entertainment in itself).

BF Bham Fest Collage

So Birmingham Fest started last Friday, is on till 28th July, and I had the pleasure of popping along to the preview. I must admit, I hadn’t prepared for two hours of previews but that’s what I got!

Some highlights for me included ‘The Ledge’, a dark comedy about someone about to end their life from the 14th floor, powerful performances in ‘The Inferno Kid’, which features a disabled, depressed former wrestling star and ‘The Confessions of Jon-Jak Crusoe’, a one man, verbose show by the excellent Gareth Owen.

I enjoyed the opening few minutes showcased by Augustus Stephens talking about going mad but telling the tale, ‘Women at the Edge’ which gave us the biggest laughs of the evening along with some knitting tips and witnessing just one of the short stories from ‘Taking Care of Business‘ makes me want to see more. I’ve already booked to see ‘I Am a Blackbird’ by Kate Walton (also previewed) at the excellent Crescent Theatre plus there is music, burlesque and dance!

Billed as a pre-Edinburgh fringe, Birmingham Fest has performances for every budget with many tickets at around the £5 mark. So take a look at the programme and pop along to be entertained at The Crescent, Blue Orange, Old Joint Stock or AE Harris do tell us what you think!

Contact Birmingham Fest creator Darren 'making our great city, greater' Haywood on info@birminghamfest.co.uk or via Twitter on @BhamFest

 

By Rickie J , founder of Birmingham Favourites and can be contacted via @BrumFaves or @RickieWrites

Welcome to Birmingham Favourites!

A place to share all that's great in our city!

A warm welcome is exactly what you expect from Brummies. Everywhere we go, people are keen to part with their knowledge of great things to do, places to see and people to meet.

Birmingham Favourites is the online equivalent of that. A love letter to the city.

Plus there will be Birmingham based people writing tips, sharing advice or just voicing their opinion.

On top of the Birmingham Favourites online magazine, we'll be organising  events to introduce you to some of the fabulous local businesses featured. Plus any deals and invites we pick up along the way will be shared with you. All that is to come!

For now, here are just some of things I love about Birmingham. What do you love?

BF Food Collage

BF Music People Places Collage

We welcome your thoughts so drop us a line via the keep in touch page or tweet us on @BrumFaves.

If you'd like to write for BF, submit your ideas for articles here.

Let's share the Birmingham love!

Rickie

Ideas and chief editor-type-person

PS Thank you to the talented Mr Williamson for designing our lovely logo!