Friday, 30 September 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Chicken Bone John

Although I’ve lived In Bearwood for quite a few years I still keep finding out exciting things about the place and it’s only been this year, through being involved with Bearwood Shuffle, that I’ve got to know local blues legend Chickenbone John.

Chickenbone John lives, breathes and makes his own guitars (who knows, he may even eat ‘em too). He’s personally built over 300 in total! He doesn’t play ‘normal’ guitars though, I've seen him play a guitar made from a cigar box and a petrol can, I believe he’s even played a wooden toilet seat guitar...probably a Muddy Waters track...euwww...sorry...couldn’t help it.

You've definitely got to see him play live to appreciate how fantastic he is and what better opportunity than at the Box Stock Festival this weekend.

Tonight they’re holding a free informal open mic night at the Ace of Spades Rock and Blues bar at The Barge and Barrel in Tipton, then tomorrow head on over to the Public in West Bromwich for cigar box workshops, talks, films and performances from international cigar box guitar legends. From novices who’ve never played cigar box blues before to Delta Blues experts there’s something for everyone.

Bearwood All-Stars

We reckon Bearwood’s got more than its fair share of claims to fame, whether it’s the people who’ve been born or lived here, the legendary venues scattered all over the place or one of the UK’s only Austrian restaurants (big up to Franzls).

So we’ve decided to compile a list of Bearwood All-Stars (see what we did there...clever eh...?). It could be anything from the fact that Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy played at the Bear (in the same week!) or that Frank Skinner started his career there, it could be Lightwood Chippy’s orange chips (one of the wonders of the world) or because Warley Woods has just been recognised as one of the People’s Choice parks in the UK. Hurrah!

Fancy getting involved? Just tell us all about your Bearwood All-Star, it could be whatever you want – a person, a place, a shop or even your local takeaway.

Just email us with a short explanation of why your Bearwood All-Star puts a smile on your face and we’ll make sure we write about them on welovebearwood.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Well done Warley Woods!

I've just come back from a long weekend away to find out the fantastic news about Warley Woods winning the silver award in the UK-wide Green Flag People's Choice Award.

I feel very proud especially as I love going to Warley Woods for a long Sunday afternoon walk and the award was voted for by the public - by you!

It's great news for Bearwood too as in the words of Council leader Darren Cooper, "It's just great,". "I'm absolutely thrilled. These awards dispel the myth that Sandwell is all about factories and industry.

"We've actually got some wonderful green spaces and these awards just show that people love the area and places like Warley Woods and Tipton Cemetery.

"It's nice to be able to say we've got these green spaces in an urban area and it just shows how much people appreciate them."

Here's a lovely picture of Warley Woods in all its glory:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I love late summer and autumn by Andrew's Plants

I have heard complaints about our unpredictable English weather from many of my customers throughout the summer. Some argue that it has been too dry, others too wet while almost everyone agrees that it has been too cold!

Now we go into the late summer and autumn period which has an amazing capacity to surprise us with bursts of summer and winter all contained within the same day.

This is the time of the year that I love most. I think that it is a dramatic time of year which brings out striking and sensational views of our plants and gardens. I think that it is a challenging few months for gardeners.

The countdown to the first frost has begun and many of the sensational perennials that have become favourites during the summer are starting to look tired. However, these months also provide a great opportunity to the gardener.

We are gifted with very artistic and dramatic lighting as the sun gets lower in the sky. We are also provided with a fresh layer of frost or dew most mornings to make our autumn Plants glisten and really show off.

During September and October plants for ‘autumn and winter interest’ really come into their own. The Curry Plant (Helichrysum angustifolium Dartington – is a particularly good variety) looks simply magical on a frosty and misty October morning.

A combination of hazy low level sunshine and the glistening dew combine well to bring out the best of the Curry Plants silver foliage.

As I look out of my kitchen window my favourite plant of the year is just beginning to flower. The Pampass Grass (Cortaderia Selloana) will produce beautiful feathery plumes from mid September onwards. Last year despite all the horrific weather my favourite plant kept these plumes until early February.

I love the defiance of the Pampass grass – saving its best display until the weather begins to turn and most other plants are tiring. Like the Curry Plant the Pampass plumes look amazing on a wintery morning.

I hope you enjoy the drama of this season as much as I do and are encouraged to build yourself a garden that will look great as we go into the autumn and winter!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Bearwood Shuffle 2 – Lightwoods Park Bandstand, Sunday 18th September

Challenging...that’s probably the best word to sum up the second Bearwood Shuffle, as least from the perspective of the hard working organisers and patient bands plagued by decidedly stressful sound/power related issues. Here’s a collective statement from the Shuffle crew:

“We were totally let down (multiple times!) by HSS who did not supply the generator we ordered and needed and we were grateful to Harborne Tool Hire for reacting quickly to get us what they could on Saturday night.

As a non-profit group that has to borrow all the equipment we'll be looking closely at the differences between the excellent PA system we had for the first Bearwood Shuffle and the reasons for the difficulties with the one on Sunday. As the audience many of you have fed back that you loved the afternoon despite the difficulties.

Thank you for supporting us as we learn more about bringing excellent music to Bearwood - and thank you to the fantastic and patient bands who really make the Shuffle what it is. A true community based event in our wonderful local park!

Sadly, in amongst the ongoing hubbub, I was unable to actually catch much of the music, certainly not to the full on head nodding, note taking, chin stroking extent that I normally indulge in. However it all sounded pretty awesome to me in the background. Our genial MC for the day, the legendary Dr Agamemnon When, introduced the first band of the day, The Nortons, who blasted things off with their particularly quirky brand of indie pop (Pingu’s Got An ASBO...genius). Little Liam bought a bit of streetwise Ocean Colour Scene style class to proceedings and The Sharp Darts gave rock n’roll a much needed knee in the balls.

With bits of sound equipment busting all over the place and the brave tech crew battling to keep things afloat it’s a miracle that the Rudie and the Revolvers (pictured above) sounded so great (sax, keyboard, drums, guitars, two vocalists, some serious skanking...a bit more of a challenge than your average band line-up). They did though, providing a blistering run through some of the greatest mod, ska, soul classics of the last 40 years. Spotted a young toddler near the front dancing his pants off and playing air guitar like a pro. We’ve put his name down for a Bearwood Shuffle sometime in 2027...we might have recovered from this one by then).

Kumari dropped by again for another drop of rasta good vibes before Mr Naylor provided the day’s biggest ‘aaaaaahhhh’ moment with a rap about what a great mum his co-vocalist Terri is. Soppy it ain’t, sounds like they had a tough time, but she’s clearly done a fine job of bringing up her kids. Finally (and after more urgent repairs to the dying sound equipment than NASA had to do during that Apollo 13 mission) Aziz Ibrahim and Dalbir Singh Rattan stunned the hardy (and incredibly patient) crowd to an all too brief (our fault, not theirs) taste of their unique blend of rock, psych and tabla. Set closer My Star finished just as the sun fell behind the trees of Warley Woods, a magical end to a pretty full on day.

All that remained to do was some mild litter picking, packing away the chemical toilets (not as nice a job as it, untangling the leads and bits of kit all over the bandstand and dismantling some of the biggest gazebos ever built in the dark and the Shuffle collective was finally able to stumble home.

Once again, huge thanks to the bands (more patient than Buddha with a spliff), Dr When, the crowd who turned up and stuck with us, the stallholders and food vendors and everyone who supported the event in any way, shape or form.

PS: If anyone would like to buy /give us a PA and a generator we'd be very happy to hear from you...sponsorship deals/cake are available.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Andrew's Plants

Andrew’s Plants is a young plant nursery, growing and selling hand grown quality plants in the heart of Birmingham. We are a family business with community at the centre of our mission. We grow every plant that we sell ourselves and therefore enjoy passing on advice to customers regarding the eventual placement and usage of our products.

We trade at a variety of markets across the midlands. See the list below to find out where we will be on any given date! Our base is very much in Bearwood as we trade outside St Mary’s Church on the High Street opposite Argos every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 9 and 4.

Where you can find us?
-St Mary’s Church (Bearwood Road, B66 4BX) – every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
-Harborne Farmer’s Market – every second Saturday of the month
-Birmingham New Street Farmer’s Market – Every First and Third Wednesday of the month.

For up to date information please check our website. You can also follow us on Twitter and through our Facebook Page.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Bearwood Shuffle...The Second Coming

Yep, full marks if you got the Stone Roses reference in this post title because this Sunday we're chuffed to have none other than the legend that is Mr Aziz Ibrahim (Stones Roses guitarist) together with the equally legendary Mr Dalbir Singh Rattan (the guy who's on Paul Weller's speed dial when it comes to tip top tabla). Whoo and indeed hoo! But that's not all. Oh no it isn't...oh yes it is...oh no it isn't etc (soon be Christmas eh?) We've got a whole bunch of other great bands on offer too... Little Liam, The Nortons, Rudie and the Revolvers, The Sharp Darts, Mr Naylor, DJ Craig Anthony on the ones and twos...and possibly threes.

Incredibly the whole thing is free, free, FREE and we've even had a word about the weather. Yes, sunshine is guaranteed (probably) so all you have to do is pop along with a picnic (scotch eggs, cheesy nibbles, sausage rolls, maybe some hummus if you're a bit posh), a rug or chair (or sofa if you're feeling particularly energetic) and enjoy the show. Bargain. The fun kicks off at 2pm and winds up at 6-ish so you'll be home in time for Songs of Praise. Hurrah.

To keep up to date with all the latest info why not follow our Twitter thingy @bearwoodshuffle

Friday, 9 September 2011

Warley Woods needs you!

Warley Woods has a chance of winning a national competition to find the “people’s choice” of parks – and your vote really counts.

There’s a real possibility that this fantastic 100 acres of park and woodland could be declared one of the best-loved green spaces in the country.

More than 1,000 people have already nominated the Woods for the Green Flag People’s Choice Award. We're told the Woods is doing really well in the voting nationally, and if you haven’t voted yet, you only have until Monday to do it.

Whether you love the woods for walking the dog, jogging, golf, snowy days off school or even early morning bootcamp workouts – please go to VOTE NOW. The deadline's MONDAY 12th SEPTEMBER MIDDAY! It’s free and it only takes a few seconds.

You can vote for as many of the nine Green Flag sites in Sandwell as you like – including Sandwell Valley, Victoria Park in Smethwick and Barnford Park in Oldbury.

Remember voting closes at midday on Monday September 12th at midday and Keep Britain Tidy will announce a UK-wide Top 10 in a couple of weeks time. Gold, silver and bronze Green Flag Awards will go to the top three.

Every single vote will make a difference – so come on, get clicking.

Please share this with your friends on Facebook, Tweet it and ask your followers to give it a click and help put Warley Woods – and Sandwell – on the map!

And if you have any photos of Warley Woods, please add them to the Sandwell Flickr group.