Friday, 28 June 2013

Bearwood's Bigger Picture

Bearwood is becoming a real arts haven. It almost feels as if every week there's something exciting happening.    

Tomorrow Thimblemill Library are holding their Family Fun and Craft Fair Day. Lots of lovely things to buy and lots of giggles to be had. No better way to spend your Saturday, we think!

Then next Saturday 6th July from 10am - 5pm, Bearwood Chapel are holding one of their popular arts days. Dave, Bearwood Chapel's pastor told welovebearwood "this time we'll be exploring "The Big Picture and the Big Story" - an opportunity to explore some famous Bible stories using paint, sculpture, dance, poetry, story telling etc."

Bearwood will also be playing a part in the Birmingham International Jazz & Blues Festival when the Jazz Ramblers perform at Lightwoods Park Bandstand on Tuesday 9th July. The music starts at 6.30pm so bring your rug, supper, family and friends...we'll see you there.

What we love too is that all these events are FREE! Yeah! Makes us very happy!

P.S. If you're in Birmingham this Sunday night why not catch brillant Bearwood band Miss Halliwell at Adam and Eve. Bearwood and Proud!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Our Big Gig comes to Thimblemill Library!

On Friday July 12th Bearwood’s Thimblemill Library is hosting one of more than 300 events taking place across the UK in the biggest national celebration of music this summer.

Our Big Gig is a UK-wide community led initiative that will see over 200,000 people attend music events across the UK from 11 – 14 July...that makes it bigger than Glastonbury (and a lot less muddy too)! And it’s all FREE!

Oya Batucada

Our Big Gig at Thimblemill Library will see performances from the legendary Paul Murphy (ex-Destroyers front man), samba sensations Oya Batucada, Classmates Barbershop Quartet, The Midlands Fretted Orchestra, Ministry For The Interior, Amelia Wallace, Scott Pawsey and more still to be announced.

Our Big Gig isn’t just about listening to music though, it aims to get people playing and singing along too. So you’ll be able to make your own music with a range of workshops teaching the ukulele, samba drumming, singing and, for the little ones, rhythm and rhyme. For up and coming talent there’ll be open mic slots as well, plus food and drink from The Bearwood Pantry, an informal food buying group that sources and supplies local, ethically produced, affordable foods for the community. Tying the whole thing together will be effervescent compere Gavin Young of storytelling collective Utter Bearwood.

For more information visit the Our Big Gig website or call Andy Swann on 07501880299 or email him at

We always thought it was 'Good in B-wood' but just to prove it, here's Thimblemill Library's diary for the month of July.  There's so much going on...

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Five Play Jazz

Those cool jazz cats at Silvershine Jazz Club (Corks, 558 Bearwood Road) contacted welovebearwood to tell us about tomorrow night's very special (27th June) gig.

They’re really excited that The Trevor Lines Quintet featuring sax-tastic Arabella Sprot and jazz supreme drummer Lydia Glanville are coming back to Bearwood. If you saw them perform on 21st February then you’ll know we are all in for a real treat.

Trevor Lines is one of the top regional Double Bass players who always finds himself in huge demand. He’s played at Bearwood’s no 1 jazz club many times, both with the Blue Notes and with many of the guest acts that have graced its stage.

The show starts at 9pm and tickets are only £4 each. Wow! Bargain! Make sure you get there early!

Monday, 24 June 2013

The camera never dies

Paul Miller

Of all the amazing photos taken of Bearwood Shuffle V some of our favourites have to be the ones taken by Paul Miller (aka Fiddly Paul....the photo tells why he got that name!). 

Being very old school ourselves we like the fact that Paul uses traditional cameras.  Paul told us more about what he enjoys about photography, the cameras he uses and about being a retro chap.  We like!

"I have recently returned to photography after having taken no photographs for 20 years or so. In the 1980s, I was quite a prolific photographer, specialising in landscapes, musicians at gigs etc, and used to supplement my income by doing Wedding Photography at weekends.

At that time, I was in charge of the darkroom at The Regional Cytogenetics Unit at Birmingham Women's Hospital, where I was a Clinical Scientist, so I had access to excellent darkroom facilities, "free" photographic chemicals, paper etc. My cameras at the time were Pentax MX and ME Super 35mm SLRs, plus my Grandfather's 1954 Voiglander Vito B and Weston light meter with which I had taught myself the basics of photography while a student in the mid 1970s at Leicester Polytechnic.

For the last 20 years, my interest in photography became dormant, as I concentrated on playing electric viola in rock and folk bands (there was no time for photography as well, as my career as a Clinical Cytogeneticist and part-time father to my son took the lion's share of my days/evenings).

Since taking early retirement at 55 years of age (almost 2 years ago), I have lots of time on my hands, and re-kindled my interest in my old hobby....initially I had my 4 1980s Pentax Camera bodies serviced, so they are now as good as new, and started re-acquainting myself with the mechanics of taking pictures. The magical feeling when one gets the results back from the photo lab was as strong as it ever was, so I decided to fully embrace my old interest again.

Having played around with Digital,SLR cameras and a Canon Zoom Compact Digital Camera I can see their attraction (the immediacy of the results is attractive), but I really do prefer cameras which give complete control in an accessible way.

I really do not like the features found on typical Digital SLRs.....the idea of a lens with no immediately accessible aperturte ring (as is typical of digital cameras) is utter anathema to me, as is the fact that to wrest control of the functions such as manual shutter speeds requires scrolling through menus to find what one wants rather than simply turning a shutter speed dial as on a typical analogue camera.

I maintain that Pentax, Nikon et al have really missed a trick in that if they were to make a basic film-style SLR with a digital back and quality optical view finder it would sell in lorry loads to old-school photographers like myself, and also to Photograpy Students.

My favourite camera to use is the 1980s Pentax MX, a beautifully made all mechanical (apart from the metering system) manual only 35mm SLR, which handles beautifully, is very small and discreet, has a very large and bright viewfinder with all metering information, shutter speed and aperture readout visible. I have several lenses for these cameras, which are optically excellent (many users of Digital SLRs use these old Pentax SMC-M series lenses as they give superb results). Somehow, Pentax really "got it right" with the MX, which to me is just a joy to handle, and really does deliver the goods.

 Photo of Paul Murphy, taken by Paul R. Miller on a 1949 "Franka Solida" 120 2 1/4 inch square folding camera.

Apart from my SLRs, I have recently discovered the joy of finding, restoring and using ancient cameras dating back to the 1940s and 50s. They are slow to use, (no bad thing, as in the digital age, the tendency for so many is to just bash away in the hope of getting at least something useable) demand at least some knowledge to get any decent results from,...and the best bit is that in my experience, people are very happy to be photographed when one shows them the steam-age camera and light meter and explains what you are doing.
As a result, by the time a light meter reading has been taken, the aperture and shutter speed selected, the rangefinder reading transferred to the focus scale, shutter cocked etc, the subject is engaged, relaxed, and ore captures the real subject rather than the gurning smile seen on photos taken with something more instantaneous. As a bonus,I have had the pleasure of befriending several people who, had I been using something more modern, would have probably told me to bugger off had I asked them if it was ok to take a mere photograph with something modern.

The black and white results I have been getting with an old 1949 Franka Solida120 roll film camera have really surprised me.....the pics taken at the recent Bearwood Shuffle (on 09/06/2013) have a lovely old-fashioned appearance which is hard to define, but easy to see if that makes any sense. Ditto, the photos I took using a 1954 Braun Paxette 35mm rangefinder camera at the May Bank Holiday bash at Lightwoods Park have a lovely "retro" look about them, with gorgeous, almost pastel colours....that must be down to the lens technology of the era, I assume.
 Taken by Paul R. Miller on a 1949 "Franka Solida" 2 1/4 inch square folding camera.

I pick up my vintage cameras in junk shops, occasionally on "Evil Bay" and sometimes at Camera Fairs. I have a basic set of rules when purchasing an old camera. It must be of quality, which generally means German, there must be no fungus or obvious damage to the lens, the camera must be basically functional with an intact bellows where present, and in cosmetically good order. Shutters inevitably need servicing or repairing and lenses need cleaning, both of which I am able to do. Oh, and I never pay more than about 20 quid!

Regarding processing, I use a place on Colmore Row in Birmingham (Snappy Snaps) where I have the reputation as being the bloke with the retro cameras which actually work. The guys in there really know their stuff and prices are reasonable (about £10.00 for an 1 Hour service for a 24 exp film, prints ande a CD with the digitised images, with the price reducing if one is prepared to go with 3 hour service and cheaper again for overnight.

I suppose I am a bit of a retro sort of bloke, what with vintage cameras, old racing bicycles, vintage model aircraft building and flying, old motorcycles etc, but there you go!"

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Maggie and Me

Ooh this sounds interesting!

Smethwick Library is excited to announce that they will be welcoming journalist and acclaimed writer Damian Barr tomorrow (20th June) afternoon between 4-5pm.

Damian will be discussing his latest book ‘Maggie and Me’ which tells of his experiences of growing up during the Thatcher years.

It’s 12 October 1984. An IRA bomb blows apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Miraculously, Maggie Thatcher survives. In small-town Scotland, eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips her wedding ring off and packs their bags. He knows he, too, must survive. Damian, his sister and his Catholic mum move in with her sinister new boyfriend while his Protestant dad shacks up with the glamorous Mary the Canary. In a community riven with sectarian divisions, the one point of unity is the sprawling Ravenscraig Steelworks. But this is threatened as Maggie consolidates her grip on the country, smashing unions and closing heavy industry. Following Maggie's advice, Damian works hard and plans his escape. He discovers that stories can save your life and – in spite of violence, strikes, AIDS and Clause 28 – manages to fall in love dancing to Madonna in Glasgow's only gay club.

'Maggie and Me' is a touching and darkly witty memoir about surviving and thriving in Thatcher's Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the Iron Lady.

Damian Barr has been a journalist for over ten years writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. He is the author of Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis, featured on Richard & Judy, and has co-written two plays for BBC Radio 4. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty at the School of Life and host of the Shoreditch House Literary Salon.

‘This amazing book tells the story of an appalling childhood with truth and clarity unsmudged by self-pity. It grips from beginning to end and leaves the reader elated at the fact that such experiences can be overcome and produce a man who can write a book so vivid, so unsentimentally forgiving, and so memorable’ Diana Athill

For more details about this FREE book launch event (yes…...FREE!) you can contact the library on 0121 558 0497 or email

Smethwick Library, High Street, Smethwick, B661AA. 2 hours parking is available close to the library.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

iPad Summer School

Welovebearwood were definitely born a century too late, we would have been very happy in much simpler times.

Smartphones, tablets and the whole ipad generation leave us dumbfounded. How do children play angry birds from a very early age and thrash their parents? We have no idea...please tell us!

Despite some of the bad press the ipad has proved to be a very good educational tool.  Marie Bastable is holding an ipad summer school for children at Warley Woods so we caught up with her to find out more.

"Having taught in Primary Schools and Special Education settings for over 13 years, I was delighted when iPads were first introduced to the school where I was the I.T. Specialist four years ago. Finally, I had discovered a medium which could reach ALL school children, regardless of their age, ability, learning style or need. Subsequently, having had a child of my own, I began to realise the enormous potential this tool had in accelerating the development of an even younger child.

Before my little boy was 12 months old, his curious, inquiring mind was intrigued and fascinated by the iPad. This small device could respond to his touch and stimulate his auditory and visual senses in such a powerful way. I had found a means of enriching and developing my baby’s formative years, while he did no more than play and enjoy! Since then I’ve spent endless hours searching through hundreds of Apps in a quest to source the very best.

In addition to this research and by drawing on my experience as a teacher, I have designed a course which covers the key objectives of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (for children up to 5 years). The chosen Apps specifically address the 7 stages of development for pre-schoolers. The essence and driving force behind all of my work is the desire to ensure that:

I strongly believe the impact an iPad will have on your child’s learning will amaze you.

The summer school will run as a 4 week course, each session lasting 45 minutes and costing £5. The venue will be The Pavilion, Warley Woods Park and Golf Course.

Dates and times are as follows:

Tuesdays: 6th - 13th - 20th - 27th August

Wednesdays: 7th - 14th - 21st - 28th August

Thursdays: 8th - 15th - 22nd - 29th August

10am – 10.45am Stage 1 (2 ½ years to 3 years)

10.45am – 11.30am Stage 2 (3 years+)

Each group will have a maximum of 6 children (with parent / carer) therefore places are very limited. If morning groups are filled or there is sufficient interest, I will arrange further sessions during the afternoons on the above days (running between 1pm & 2.30pm).

Following on from the Summer School, a term time course will begin in September, also taking place on Tuesdays to Thursdays."

If you are interested in reserving a place at the summer school, please phone  or email Marie with the following information.  (Her contact details are as shown on the picture.)

1) Parent and child’s name

2) Contact details

3) Age of child

4) Previous experience with iPad (parent / child)

5) Preferred day (must be same for 4 weeks)

Monday, 17 June 2013

Made in Bearwood!

Bearwood Hand Made Fair is back this Saturday (22nd June) at St Mary’s Church Hall (Bearwood Road) with hopefully plenty of sunshine and summer weather this time...

With lots of handicrafted loveliness alongside Bearwood Pantry's very own handmade bread and other yummy lunchtime snacks (the quiche was delicious last time) you won't want to spend your money anywhere else this weekend.

As the fair's organisers, the Crafty Muthas say...Shop Local, Eat Local, Enjoy Local!

Perfect summer accessories for your hair designed by Crafty Muthas Ceri Saunders

Friday, 14 June 2013

Everybody Zumba!

Kay who runs the Zumba fitness sessions in Bearwood contacted welovebearwood to tell us about her Zumba classes. 
"One part of the work I’m doing at the moment is running Zumba classes locally: my ‘zumba tag’ is ZUMBA WI’ KAY." 
Fact readers; Kay has been holding her Zumba classes in Bearwood since November 2011.
For those keen dancers and fitness fans, Zumba's choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. So why not ditch the work out and join the dance party!  
Kay will be showing you how it's done at St. Marys Church Hall every Tuesday between 1.30-2.30pm (Low impact good one for beginners) and upstairs at The Bear (Bearwood Road) every Monday evening between 7-8pm. 
Fancy giving it go?  You can contact Kay on 07730464738 or you can email her
Everybody's welcome!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Fete Fun!

Although Queen Alexandra College is based on the other side of Hagley road we're so happy that they've made their presence known in Bearwood with the bike shop, iCycle (Three Shires Oak  Road) and the soon to be opened Coffee Junction cafe next door.

Both of these enterprises are run by the Queen Alexandra College, a college for students with a visual impairment and/or other disabilities.

  The college are having a Summer FĂȘte on their campus in Court Oak Road on Saturday and much of the money raised will go towards the building of a new sports hall for the students.

This will be a brilliant family event - it has lots of great attractions including Dudley Zoo, penalty shootout against West Bromwich Albion Foundation’s blind football team goalie, other sporting challenges and emergency vehicle demonstrations.

There are going to be lots of stalls including cardmaking for kids who haven’t yet got their Father’s Day cards – it’s the following day!

Ironman will be there to pose for photos with kids.

There will be quality burgers and vegetarian food on sale, plus champagne and strawberries!

Admission is £1 and gets you a programme with a cash prize draw – children under 12 have free admission.

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham will be formally opening the FĂȘte at 1 o’clock.

Gates open at 12.30pm (in Woodville Road) and raffle tickets will be on sale with some brilliant prizes which include: iPad mini, £100 cash, case of wine, £200 theatre break experience, afternoon tea for 4 at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham, lunch for 2 at Turners Michelin Restaurant, meal for 2 at the Old House at Home, 4 tickets for Hatton Country World, 2 tickets for West Midlands Safari Park, and lots more! These can be purchased in advance, or on the day. Tickets will be drawn late afternoon. (Mrs B - wow!)

There will also be music which will hopefully be outside (weather permitting) in the courtyard and starts at 5pm, with great acts for your entertainment:

Rickie Chapple  I've been a QAC student twice since the 1980s. I’ve been playing keyboards for many years and I sing a wide range of well-known classics. I perform regularly for several day centres on a voluntary basis. I also have a very keen interest in animal husbandry. I dog sit & assist a Rottweiler rescue centre by short-term fostering."

Fiona Dunn with Paul Hopkins - Fiona blends self-penned work with traditional folksongs and more modern pop songs, with a particular liking for songs with haunting melodies and well-crafted lyrics. As well as her own accompaniment, on keyboard or guitar, Paul’s keyboard skills add a depth of texture to the music which makes the songs breathtakingly beautiful. Paul was a student at QAC many years ago and has been working for QAC’s All Formats since he completed his course.

Kim and Joe "We are an acoustic duo with a touch of soul. A blend of vocals, guitar and piano cover a range of different styles from Johnny Cash to Ella Fitzgerald."

East by South East(clarinet, trumpet, accordion, bass). Formed in King's Norton and play upbeat European folk music with some catchy tunes and some soulful melodies.

Singer: Laura Cort Keyboards: Lydia Yip "I have been singing for 8 years now, covering a wide range of genres including: musical theatre, soul, pop, rock, acoustic/folk, choral and sometimes my own songs. I used to perform open mic session regularly in my home city of Leicester, where I performed with a friend who played acoustic guitar. We normally covered acoustic or chart music. Lydia and I first started singing together in October 2012, when we were putting together a musical showcase for charity, and I have recently performed at a charity folk open mic night."

Tom McCann - Acoustic performer, playing contemporary and classic covers. Tom is an 18 year-old student from Rubery, studying music, drama, English and philosophy.
Singer: Lizzie Haynes Guitarist: Joe Maisey. The acoustic duo met at the University of Birmingham this year, but both have years of gigging experience in their home towns, with dreams of becoming professionals. Since their first gig together, they have been writing songs together, and their set consists of both originals and well-known covers, from a variety of genres from Motown to Musical Theatre. If you like what you hear, please like Lizzie's Facebook page to hear about future gigs.

Staple Friendly - A musical duo with warm acoustic sounds, topped with generous helpings of soul and funk. Influences drawn from every genre, so are sure to cater to anyone's

Queen Alexandra College “Registered Charity 1065794”.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Shufflers' Survey

Bearwood Promoters need you!

Please fill in this short survey to help them improve the Bearwood Shuffle.  It couldn't get much better than Sunday afternoon readers?

They really listen to what you say. For example, last time there was more demand for more stalls and more food choice and better weather and hey presto...!  Bearwood Promoters delivered!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Bearwood Shuffle V

Photo Credit: Wayne Fox Photography

Appropriately enough the fifth Bearwood Shuffle saw five great acts take to the Lightwoods’ Park bandstand on a freakily bright and sunny’d almost think it was summertime eh?

Moselele kicked things off, an ever growing collective of ukulele players they put their own unique spin on everything from The Killers’ Mr Brightside to The Violent Femmes’ Blister in the Sun. Great fun.

Photo Credit: Ken Harrison Photography

Amelia Wallace (does anyone have a link to her website?!) stunned the gently roasting crowd with her own songs and covers including a ‘better than the original’ versh of Alt J’s Matilda (so much lovelier than that bloke with the silly voice...I’m sure he’s a terrific fellow but damn it, he sounds like he’s trapped his nuts in a car door).

Tempting Rosie served up another delicious portion of reggae‘n’ska ending their set with the classic Monkey Man which even got me dancing. Not something you’re likely to see very often these days. Expect an essential new EP from them very soon. How do you follow that?

Photo Credit: Ken Harrison Photography

In line with the Shuffle’s philosophy of mixing things up the legendary Paul Murphy (possibly one of the nicest and most interesting chaps you’d ever hope to meet) kept me pretty much entranced with a mix of songs and poems including my all time personal favourite Shoplifters Talking Blues. Today’s fascinating fact...did you know that Murph hung around with Lemmy from Motorhead back in the 60s? Nope, me neither. Happily he’s in the process of writing his autobiography (along with several other fascinating projects). Trust me, that’s one book you’re going to want to read.

All too soon (tempus fugit) Gucci Pimp rocked things to a close delivering some impressive speaker shredding riffs as the crowd polished off the remains of their picnics.

Photo Credit: Ken Harrison Photography

Compere for the day the irrepressible Gavin Young did a top notch job of introducing the bands and DJ Craig (in da park) somehow resisted the temptation of hardcore techno to deliver some suitably summery tunes in between the sets.

Photo Credit: Ken Harrison Photography
Huge thanks to the stallholders, Musoplex for the loan of the sound equipment, all who came along and threw some money in the buckets (including a distinctly chilled out Stuart Maconie from 6 Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show) and our chums at the best Fish and Chip restaurant in the universe, Chamberlains, who sponsored the event.

Photo Credit: Ken Harrison Photography

Without the generous support of all of the above and, of course, the bands themselves these events simply wouldn’t exist. We’ll be back...

Photo Credit:Ken Harrison Photography

PS: The Shuffle got a great mention on the Radcliffe and Maconie show on BBC 6 Music today too! It's on iPlayer right now!

PPS Big thank you to The Hearing Aid for the great review and Wayne Fox Photography and Ken Harrison Photography for the wonderful photos. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Sounds of the Shuffle

Yeah! Bearwood Shuffle V is almost here...not long to go now folks! The weather's forecast's looking mighty fine too.

Here's our video preview of the official line-up, in order of appearance of course...

Amelia Wallace

Tempting Rosie

Paul Murphy

Gucci Pimp

And introducing Bearwood Shuffle V's compere, Gavin Young...

P.S. Did you get your Bearwood Shuffle V flyer come through your letterbox? The award winning Chamberlains Fish and Chip Restaurant are not only sponsoring the Shuffle, they're offering an amazing 20% off all food orders (restaurant and takeaway) until Monday 10th June for anyone who produces a Shuffle flyer. No wonder it's our favourite plaice!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


If you love music...singing it, listening to it or like us shuffling along to've got to be in Bearwood this weekend.  We're going to be spoilt for choice!

Over at Bearwood Chapel (Bearwood Road), they will be hosting the "Praise with Africa Choir" evening. 

All the way from Chililabombwe, Zambia (wow!) the New Beginnings School will be bringing their truly African sounds all the way to Bearwood this Saturday night. 

The show starts at 7.30pm and entry is free (even bigger wow!).  There will be a voluntary collection with proceeds going to the work of the school. 

Don't miss the short presentation about the work of the school too.

New for Bearwood...Bearwood's Beginner Choir will be holding their first get together at Thimblemill Library (Thimblemill Road) this Saturday at 1.30pm - 3.30pm. 

For all those budding singers out there this is just for you!  £45 for six weeks or £10 casual attendance.  Why not go along and give it a go?  For more details just click here!

And how could we forget Lightwoods Park's Bandstand's big event this Sunday!  That's right....Bearwood Shuffle V.

The weather forecast's looking good and with even more bands confirmed.... Gucci Pimp and Amelia Wallace.... it's going to be a great weekend!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Stalls Glorious Stalls!

This Sunday at the Bearwood Shuffle we’re in for a real treat.

Great music, fantastic atmosphere and shopping heaven too. Seriously what more could you ask for!

We’ve done a round up of the stalls that are going to be there....

Wow!  Something for everyone.  We musn't forget that Birmingham Community Acupuncture,  Sandwell's mobile library and Shivaun Caffrey's craft stall too.

Get your purses at the ready Bearwood!