Thursday, 31 January 2013

Drop In and Chill Out!

Do you ever need to stop, take stock and chill out?  We know we do!

Thankfully, Dave Forrer contacted welovebearwood with the perfect way to unwind and relax.  Every Wednesday lunchtime (1-1.30pm) from 6th February - 20th March Dave's going to be holding drop -in mediation classes at The Pavillions in Warley Woods.  The sessions cost a very stress-free £3 each. 

"These drop-in meditation sessions are designed to enable participants to relax and let go of stress whilst learning meditation techniques and methods to think positively and remain calm in daily life.

There’s no need to book, you can drop in any time. No need to wear special clothes or bring any equipment. Meditations are derived from the Buddhist tradition and are suitable for everybody, regardless of experience or beliefs."

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Thimblemill Library's February 2013 Calendar

Busy month again at Thimblemill Library!

Half term activities for the kids, get in shape classes, youth groups, guitar lessons and craft clubs as well as the Thimblemill Library Mega Quiz Night on Saturday 9th February and Utter Bearwood’s Storytelling Cafe with Polly Tisdall on Thursday 28th February.

Seriously.....when do they find the time to sleep?

Battle of Bearwood's Brains!

Calling all Bearwood Brainboxes! Do you enjoy testing your general knowledge? If so, get your name down for Thimblemill Library’s Mega Quiz Night on Saturday 9th February.

You can bring your own food and drink, there will be cash prizes for the winners and the losers (bless!) and entry is only £2 per person!

Sounds like a fun night out especially as all money raised will be going to a really good cause.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Mad Hatter's Walk!

This year the Warley Woods' Walk for the Woods is taking place on Saturday 2nd March and in between practising her laps around Warley Woods, Viv Cole, Warley Woods Trust Manager told welovebearwood all about the Mad Hatter's Walk.

Viv said "After the success of the Walk to Tipperary last year, we’re going for a theme again. We’d like people to come dressed as a character from Alice in Wonderland (or through the looking glass) or wearing a mad hat! There will be a prize for the maddest. We’re tying in with the theatre show this year which will be Alice – an extraordinary adventure.

There will be a special edition badge for everyone as usual and also a tea party they can join to celebrate the miles they have walked for the woods. We also believe a local band will be entertaining the walkers as they trek on, including one of their new songs 'Down the Rabbit Hole'
Mad Hatter Corkie by Eliza Harris

Of course the aim of the event is to raise money to help maintain Warley Woods and we would love to top the money raised last year of £2,250." 

Sponsor forms can be downloaded from here or you can pick them up from the shop at the Pavilion.

The only thing left for Viv to decide is what animal to dress as this year.  She wants to know if anyone in Bearwood has a walrus costume.  We're sure we can help her find one!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Building Bearwood's Future!

The Times Educational Supplement  and Clearspace Buildings are running a competition for schools to win a building and Bearwood Primary School's head, Debbie Haywood told welovebearwood that "the voting has opened for us to win our library/community room worth £80,000."

Bearwood Primary School's the only West Midlands school in the final. Amazing! Watch their video and you'll see why.  

They're up against 3 really big secondary schools so we think everybody in Bearwood, Birmingham, England, UK, Europe, ok...the all whole world should vote for them. 

To vote please just click here.  Voting closes on 14 February so make sure your vote helps build Bearwood's Future. Please make sure you ask everybody you know to vote too.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Another Corker Of A Competition!

Eliza Harris run the White Flamingo Gift Company with her daughter Ellz.  Regulars at the Crafty Muthas Fair, Eliza and Ellz make all sorts of gorgeous goodies including very pretty handcrafted brooches and hair accessories, greeting cards and limited edition prints.  You may have visited their pop-up stall at Bearwood Indoor Market just before Christmas.
One of Eliza's many artistic talents is her hand painted Corkies.  She take corks from champagne bottles and wine bottles and gives them a new lease of life.  What a good excuse to have a good party, eh!
Eliza takes commissions too and has painted her corkies with all kinds of designs.  They're a perfect pressie idea and Eliza enjoys the challenge of copying a photo or a painting on to one of her many corks.  One of our favourites has to be her Mad Hatter Corkie.
We love keeping an eye on the White Flamingo Gift Company Facebook page to see what their latest Corkie design is and we were over the moon when Eliza said that she would like to design a welovebearwood corkie. 
We think it's a real corker and it's this Friday's competition prize.  All you have to do is tell us which famous person you would like to see as a Corkie and why. 
Please email us at with your answer and fingers crossed you'll be the proud owner of the very limited edition welovebearwood corkie very very soon.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Newsflash! Good news for Thimblemill Brook!

Good News for Thimblemill Brook!

It has just been reported that Thimblemill Brook have received £19,000 from Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust to fund essential work that will encourage more wildlife into the area. Yeah!

Work begins in the next few weeks (when fingers crossed it's much much warmer!).

To find out more about this exciting news, read here.

Old Bearwood

The Birmingham Antiques and Collectors Fair takes place this Sunday.  We went to the fair at the Birmingham Centennial Centre on Icknield Port Road just before Christmas and it was fantastic, a real treasure trove!  Perfect timing for all our Christmas shopping.

We bought some real treasures for ourselves too including some really old postcards of Bearwood, Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods, from Andrew Maxam of Maxam Publishing.
Andrew Maxam has produced local history calendars, written local history books and has an huge collection of old postcards and archive full of old photographs.  We fancy his Vintage Images of Warley Woods book next time. 

The Antique Fair will also be open for business on Sunday 24th February and Sunday 17th March.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Snow Covered Hills!

When gig photographer, Ken Harrison, sent us his magical photos of Bearwood in the snow, it seemed only right to match them to song by a band who had connections with Bearwood.

Not an easy task, by any means, but Fleetwood Mac's song 'Landslide' seemed the closest fit. 
The connection....Bearwood's very own Chrissie McVie, of course!  Chrissie played keyboards in the band when the song was written in 1975.

"I took my love and I took it down

I climbed a mountain and I turned around

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills (Warley Woods, maybe!)

'Till the landslide brought me down "

"Oh, mirror in the sky

What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Mmm Mmm... "

 Here's Landslide by Fleetwood Mac back in the days when Chrissie played keyboards

You can see more of Ken's photos here and read welovebearwood's Ten From Ken interview  here!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

Windowsill Gardening - Here's a great tip for this bitterly cold and icy weather from welovebearwood's favourite gardening blog, Andrew's Plants .

"We love it. Do you?

There is nothing better on a cold day than building yourself a small garden on your windowsill. At this time of year it gives all of the joy of gardening without you having to get cold, wet and dig through layers of snow. The only limit is your imagination.

Windowsill gardens can be full of foliage and form a frame to your view of the world outside. They can work as small herb gardens adding convenient flavour to your cooking and smells to your room. You can create windowsill desert gardens full of cacti and succulent foliage that look like they belong to another planet.

At a time when parents are having to entertain children during snow days – when school is cancelled – windowsill gardening provides a great alternative to sitting your kids in front of a television. These tiny gardens can introduce children to gardening and growing in a very controlled space. Children love to wake up in the morning and run to see how their very own windowsill garden has developed over night. You will be surprised how often you check the progress of your windowsill garden on your way out of the house each morning.

Pop into our new shop and we can help you put together a windowsill garden of your own."

Chips Ahoy!

If you haven't visited Chamberlains Fish and Chips Restaurant yet, you're missing out on a real catch!

We enjoyed our fish and chips supper so much at Chamberlains that we weren't at all surprised when they were voted the second best fish and chips restaurant in the country on Trip Advisor. Read here to find out why we think so! 

"If they serve fish and chips in heaven this is what they’ll taste like."

Chamberlains are now in the running for best chips as part of the National Chip Week competition.  

If you vote for them you also get chance to win a £150 Fish Chip meal for family and friends at Chamberlains. Fin-tastic!

Don't miss out on their special offers on their Facebook page - starting with their BOGOF Buy One Get One Free!) deal tomorrow! 

As we say, this 'plaice' batters the competition!

Friday, 18 January 2013


Samantha Davis took these wonderful photos today of Bearwood in the snow. They're just gorgeous.

Everything's all white! Warley Woods and Lightwoods Park look so pretty.

Definitely going to have to go sledging this weekend.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Bearwood’s Bear!

Follow that Bear! It sounds as if the Bearwood Chapel Team had a great time at their New Year Arts weekend.

Pastor Dave told welovebearwood that “as part of our New Year activities, with the help of some of our international students we managed to track down the Bearwood Bear. With a bit of help from him we ran a few activities, as well as the New Years Arts Weekend we had some street activities under the title hopeishere. This included singing, mime, giving away free gospels and copies of the Jesus Film etc. “

The Bearwood Bear stopped off at some of Bearwood’s great local shops along the way too. Click here to find out where. We love his poster!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

I Wish I Was A Rat!

Hee!  Hee!  We know that would grab your attention!

On a seriously theatrical note, The REP have told us about their next exciting show, I Was A Rat!  It's the first time Phillip Pullman's classic children's novel will make its appearance on stage in the UK.  And where is it premiering in Birmingham of The Old Rep nonetheless from Tuesday 12 February to Saturday 2 March.

Eleanor, the Rep's lovely Marketing and Communications Officer, explained to welovebearwood that "this gloriously dark and gripping story is brought to life on the professional stage for the first time in the UK. Full of music, comedy and fantastic physical performances I Was A Rat! will surprise, delight and move audiences of all ages.

This fantastical story has been adapted for the stage by director Teresa Ludovico who is artistic director of Teatro Kismet in Bari, Southern Italy. Teresa is best known in the UK for her thrilling visual and physical productions of Beauty and the Beast, The Snow Queen and The Mermaid Princess."

Teresa Ludovico has said that“I have wanted to bring one of Philip Pullman's stories to the stage for some time, because I find his work very close to my poetic style of theatre. It is a theatre style that strives to address both young and adult audiences."

I really like this story because despite its fairy-tale structure and wonderful comic appeal, it also deals with contemporary issues, such as the power of society's institutions, including the press, which creates bogus news, purely for economic or political reasons.”

The story introduces us to Roger, a scruffy page boy who turns up one evening on the doorstep of old married couple Bob and Joan. “I was a rat!” he insists! But what is he now? A terrifying monster rampaging in the sewers? A money-spinning fairground freak? A champion wriggler and a downy card? Or just an ordinary boy, though a little ratty in his habits?  Intrigued!  We definitely are!
Roger is played by Fox Jackson-Keen, who although only 17, is already an old stage pro.  He made his debut apperance at the tender age of 13 as Billy in Billy Elliot the musical.  We are all so envious!

If you would like to find more about I Was A Rat please visit the REP's website and keep your eyes open for more exciting news about the show on the welovebearwood blog.

Monday, 14 January 2013

From Little Nibbles to Mighty Icons...

2012 was an amazing year for one of welovebearwood's favourite bands...Dexys!

Not only did they release their first album for over 27 years, have a sold out national and international tour, but yes wait for it...they were awarded the Q Icon Award 2012. Dexys,we salute you!

We're big fans of Dexys' band member, Pete Williams, and one of our favourite albums of last year (if not ever) has to be SEE.   Pete puts on such an amazing show that we went to see him twice in 2012.

Pete, if you're reading this, we'd love to see even more of you this year!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

1980s Bearwood

The welovebearwood team moved to Bearwood in the early '90s so we're only a couple of years off our 20th anniversary.

We've always wanted to find out what Bearwood looked like before we moved here so when Eliza Harris (check out her amazing White Flamingo facebook page) mentioned that she had some photos of Bearwood High Street which she had taken in the 1980s we couldn't wait to see them.
Eliza explained that "the photos were taken in the spring of 1989 as part of a project I completed whilst doing my PGCE at Birmingham University.”

“It's interesting to note that there were some empty units even then although not as many as now. “
What we found really fascinating was the number of independent shops that were on the High Street, the number of shoe shops that are sadly no longer there (we would have been in shoe heaven!) and the high street chainstores that had a really prominent position but have also now been and gone, like Woolworths and Timpsons for example.  We wonder if the Crafty Muthas know that there used to be a Bearwood Knitting Centre on Bearwood High Street.

Here's only a very small section of Eliza's photos.  If you would like to see more or use these photo elsewhere, please contact Eliza through her Facebook page.

All photos in this section belong to Eliza Harris.  Please do not use them without Eliza Harris's permission.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Competition Winners!

Welovebearwood recently caught up with the winners of our last 2 competitions and we're so happy to hear what they had to say about their prizes.

Wind in the Willows Competition 05.12.12

Competition winner Jenny told us that her whole family really enjoyed the show.

"We are just back from an enchanting evening spent with Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole.... we have had a great time, the kids loved it and Faith laughed so loud other members of the audience laughed at her laughing..." 
Faith and Charlie

The Rep's Wind in the Willows is on until 19th January 2013.  There are still tickets left so get yours now.  You won't be disappointed! 

Santa Baby Competition 10.12.12

Competition winner Doreen explained that she won the very cute ooobabybaby Santa outfit for her nephew Alfie.

Alfie's mum was rushed to The Wirral hospital when she was just over 25 weeks pregnant and Alfie was born on 19th May 2012. His birth weight was only 775grams.


"We all think Alfie looks gorgeous in his Santa suit."

£1 from each gift ooobabybaby sells goes towards Tommy's to raise money for research into miscarriage, stillbirth and prematurity and Alfie's dad, Jody Latham, has already raised over £9,000 for Birmingham's Children Hospital.  Amazing!

Watch out for more competitions on the welovebearwood blog....coming soon!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Keith Bracey: Bearwood Born and Bred

We love hearing about the history of Bearwood and what it used to be like living here so when Keith Bracey sent us his ‘Happy memories of a 'Bearwood Lad' and 'Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods’, we couldn't wait to read it and share it with you.
“I have been associated with Lightwoods Park since 1958 when I was wheeled round the park in my pram as a 'babe in arms'. I was born in St Chad's Maternity Hospital further up the Hagley Road towards Birmingham, which is now an office block housing the West District NHS office, and was brought home by my Mom and Dad Les and Dorothy Bracey who had used Lightwoods Park in the late 1930's before the Second World War when the Merrimans moved up from back-to-backs in Dugdale Street, Winson Green to Poplar Road in Bearwood.

Poplar Road runs from Sandon Road up to Bearwood Road and the 'King's Head'. The 'King's Head is the old Bearwood Coaching Inn which survives to the present day. It has been reinvented as an up-market bar and restaurant. My Dad Les Bracey played darts for the Kings Head and snooker in the snooker club under the patio at the back of the pub.

I was taken as a baby to 67 Three Shires Oak Road, to a flat above one of the first Chinese Takeaways in Birmingham, The 'Chop Suey Bar' which still exists in Three Shires Oak Road today. My Mom Dot Bracey worked at the Midland Red Bus Company which was the biggest employer in Bearwood.

The 'Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company' (BMMO) had its headquarters in Rutland Road, Bearwood, where their main garage was situated. Dot worked in the office as a comptometer operator and was taken there by her mother Gwen Merriman when she was 14 for a job My Mom worked there for 14 years until she was 28 when she fell pregnant with a child which was stillborn.

I came along in 1958 when Dot was 30 and she gave up work to look after me and my brother Richard and sister Gillian who came along in 1962 and 1964 My Mom and two Aunties Maureen and Jannette Merriman would walk me in my pram up Poplar Road, across Bearwood Road near to the King's Head traffic junction and through the main entrance to Lightwoods Park in Adkins Lane, near to Bishopton Road where locally-born film actress Julie Walters lived with her parents. Julie went to school at Holly Lodge Girls Grammar School in Smethwick and worked as nurse at the world-renowned Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Selly Oak Birmingham, which nowadays treats wounded soldiers from Afghanistan.
I remember the aviary at the park entrance with its budgerigars and cockatoos and cockatiels and being walked as a toddler by my aunties through The Shakespeare Garden....I also recall the toilets which were at the back of Lightwoods House, near the entrance to the Shakespeare Garden being very dark and forbidding and smelling awfully!

Lightwoods House was quite run down at that time in the late 1950's and early 1960's but was still an imposing building. The clock never worked at that time, I do remember that!

I would be wheeled in my pram down to 'Anneka's Playground' so-named because in the 1980's or 90's TV personality and presenter Anneka Rice presented her TV programme 'Challenge Anneka' from Lightwoods Park which led to a remodelling of the playground and the conversion of the old concrete-floored boating lake into a BMX Bike and Skateboarding Park, which still exists today. There were also two tennis courts adjacent to the children’s' playground.

From there I would be pushed in my pram up though the park across Galton Road and through the park extension and out of the little avenue at the right-hand end of the extension across the road at Lightwoods Hill and into Warley Woods for more perambulation in my pram.

I remember chasing squirrels through the woods when a little older walking in the woods as a toddler....and later when I was a teenager I would let our Jack Russell dog Tina off the leash so that she too could chase those 'pesky varmints' as Elmer Fudd from Bugs Bunny's cartoon at the time 'Looney Tunes' called them!

I spent many happy hours in Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods as a child from Bearwood. I lived in Willow Avenue off Sandon Road where the Number 6 Birmingham Corporation Bus had its terminus. The Birmingham Municipal Bank had a branch there which helped Les and Dot, my parents, buy their first house in Willow Avenue.

My gran and grandad Arthur Lewis Merriman and Gwen Merriman and my Mom's sisters, my Aunties Jannette and Maureen Merriman lived a 10 minute walk away in Poplar Road, Bearwood, on the Smethwick side rather than Birmingham....I always consider myself a 'Brummie' rather than a 'Black Country Boy' probably as a result of my schooling at George Dixon Grammar School in City Road, Edgbaston, where I played rugby and had a marvellous time as a teenage boy in the late 1960's and 1970's. I went on to play rugby for the Old Dixonians Rugby Club for over 30 years, where I met my wife Mary.
The Old Dixonians Rugby Club celebrates its centenary in 2013 being founded by old boys of the school in 1913 and still playing today 100 years later. The rugby club is to hold a 'Grand Centenary Dinner' at the Botanical Gardens in Westbourne Road, Edgbaston on Saturday September 14th 2013 to which anyone involved with George Dixon School (as it is known nowadays) or the rugby club is cordially invited to help the club celebrate '100 years of Old Dixonians rugby'

I went to George Dixon Junior and Infants School in City Road and walked a mile and back to school each day. I passed my 11 plus and proceeded to George Dixon Grammar School as did my brother and sister Richard and Gillian, who were also walked through Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods in their prams and as toddlers.

All three of us would go to Lightwoods Park to play football. My sister Gill was the apple of my Dad Les's eye and was a bit of a 'tomboy' often playing football and cricket with her two sports-mad elder brothers. I was an Aston Villa fan, my brother an Albion fan and my sister supported Blues, so we had all shades of opinion in the Bracey household and many an argument.

My Dad Les Bracey was born in Aston and went to Summer Lane School, leaving at 14 to work in The Gun Quarter carrying shotguns to the Proof House. He and his Dad Wilfred Bracey were both Aston Villa fans and brought me up to be the same. My Dad first took me to Villa Park as a 4 year old in 1962. We would travel on the number 11 'Football Special' Birmingham Corporation navy blue and cream liveried bus from the Kings Head in Bearwood all the way to Villa Park in Trinity Road, Witton for games.

Richard, my brother and I used to catch the Midland Red Bus from Bearwood Bus Station near the park entrance on Adkins Lane to Lewisham Road in Smethwick and walk to The Hawthorns to watch West Bromwich Albion play in the 1970's when 'The Baggies' were one of the best teams in the land, regularly beating Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool teams of the time. Even though the Albion were the nearest of the local football clubs to me I retain my support for 'Historians FC': Aston Villa Football Club to this day”

Are you Bearwood Born and Bred?  If so, we would love to hear from you.  

Please email us at with your fondest memories so that we can share them with the rest of Bearwood.