Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas Bearwood!

Along with The Twang (officially Bearwood's no1 lad rock band) the welovebearwood team would like to wish everyone in Bearwood and all our readers......


We'll see you in the New Year!

Roll on 2014!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Couple of Cherries

When Sorina Stallard contacted welovebearwood about her family business based in Bearwood we were very keen to find out more.

Sorina’s a bit of a newcomer to the area so it was wonderful to hear how much she enjoys living here, how she's helped local businesses and that she’s keen to enjoy Bearwood’s famous orange chips (mentioned in Frank Skinner’s autobiography of course!)

Please tell us more about your business, Couple of Cherries.

We are a family business and we love crochet, knitting, home grown vegetables, home made food and drinks and crafts generally. The idea to start a business came as we realised we were “popular” and friends kept on mentioning it so we thought we’d give it a try.

Where did the name come from?

Saying “couple of cherries” really fast sounds very much like “cu placere” which, in my Romanian mother tongue, means “my pleasure”. We felt it was the bridge between two cultures and also nicely highlights our work ethic.


Where can we see and buy your work?

We have a virtual shop on Etsy and people can contact us via FB and Twitter. Our products are also visible on Pinterest. We have a website that is currently in progress and will be released shortly.

Where does your inspiration come from and what do you like to make most?

Both mum and I are very curious and open to new ideas. We like making new things all the time so we read a lot and consult on a daily basis discussing new designs, colours, etc. I suppose we use each other as a sounding board and welcome influences from both Romanian folklore and modern, contemporary influences (going from cartoons to fashion).

What’s your connection with Bearwood?

We live in Bearwood and love it! Mum lives in Romania, but I’m hoping she will visit soon. My favourite in Bearwood has to be the Lightwoods park and the fabulous display of crocuses. I used to drive by every spring on my way to work and that was definitely the bit that would set the scene for a happy day!

What do you think of Bearwood’s craft scene?

We moved here a year ago and have started discovering. I think there is a lot to do here and even more to be done but I am keeping an open mind and I’d love some networking opportunities to allow interaction, etc.

What do you think Bearwood’s future is?

I like the multiculturalism and I think the future is as good as you allow it to be.If we all put together, I see no reason why future generations will not grow to appreciate, love and respect Bearwood and make it a successful and prosperous place to be, live and work in.

Please tell us your Bearwood All-Star. In other words what, who or where in Bearwood makes you smile?

My husband and I love going for breakfast or lunch at Anatolia’s. On our first visit, we noticed they didn’t have a FB page so I quickly set one up for them and started advertising on their behalf. Since, I have managed to speak to their owner’s son and transfer the ownership for the page and they are really taking off nicely. We also love going to Emporio for their excellent Tarama salata, a cup of tea or coffee and a good natter. The owner is lovely and again, we set up their FB page and gave a bit of advice on how to market themselves, etc. We were ever so pleased to see our advice has been followed and they since have up to date business card including a QR Code which we advised them to get. We like to ask everyone this question.

We like to ask everybody this question. What makes Lightwood’s chippy’s chips orange?

I have to say: I haven’t got a clue! So sorry, we’ll have to put it on our bucket list to try and I’ll let you know next time!

You can find out more about Couple of Cherries on their Facebook page and their website

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Bearwood Bands Needed

Very exciting news for all Bearwood bands out there!

Birmingham Repertory Theatre is looking for local up-and-coming bands to appear in their latest production, Never Try This At Home. Never Try This At Home opens at The REP in February 2014.

The REP told us that this new dark, black comedy is an homage to Saturday morning TV taking its inspiration from legendary shows such as Tiswas and Going Live. Never Try This At Home, written by Carl Grose and Told By An Idiot, is framed as a televised reunion of the presenters of Shushi, a fictional Saturday morning show cancelled after one disastrous episode and is an anarchic and disturbing exposé of the world of TV and fame.

Are you in a band or do you know anyone in a band who would love to get the chance to play more in front of a live audience?  Well this news is just for you!

The REP is looking for five local bands to appear in three or four performances each between 26 February and 15 March. The bands will be required to warm-up the audiences before the show, perform a specially-composed theme tune and make an appearance in the actual show.

Nisha Modwahdia, Associate Producer at The REP told welovebearwood that the local band search:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for up-and-coming bands to be heard and seen by a wider audience. We want to hear from as many different types of groups as possible – rock, folk, jazz, pop, indie, R&B, metal, ska, hip-hop and more.”

Any interested bands should email The REP at with a link to footage of their band performing, a brief description, name and telephone number before Friday 3 January. In return bands will get to perform in front of a live audience in The REP’s new theatre, The STUDIO.

Promotional information and a link to the band’s music will be listed in the programme and on The REP’s website allowing them to reach lots of potential new fans.

Each band will be given complimentary tickets to see the show as well as a number of discounted tickets for friends and family, and The REP will give each band, professionally filmed footage of them performing.

The final bands will be chosen by a judging panel at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and will be contacted week commencing 13 January 2014. Bands must be based in the West Midlands, have enough material to fill at least 20 minutes, be free to perform between 26 February and 15 March, and not be currently affiliated with any music label. All band members must be 16+.

For further information please contact Clare Jepson-Homer on: Tel: 0121 236 4455 / 07807 132041 Email:

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Merry Chip-mas!

Ho! Ho!  Ho!  Chamberlains Fish and Chips have really got into the festive spirit this year with their cheeky fish and chip version of Twelve Days of Christmas.

The festive fun doesn't stop there though!  Santa will be making his return at breakfast time this coming Sunday (22nd), you can enjoy your fish and chips in style with their Fizz n Chips offer and their Tenner-tastic Tuesday offer applies on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve!

No wonder they're in the running for the National Fish and Chip restaurant award!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Weed all about it! Andrew's Plants on his Bearwood roots...

One of our favourite Bearwood All-Stars has to be Andrew’s Plants. They have made so many people in Bearwood smile. We caught up with Andrew, the very green fingered owner of Andrew’s Plants, to find out more..

Where did you get the idea from to start Andrew’s Plants and how long have you been operating for?

That’s a long story. After graduating from university I studied for a national award in horticulture and worked at a wholesale plant nursery. I really enjoyed both and started to see how I could make a living from growing and selling plants. Andrew’s Plants began trading in 2009 as a part time operation. It is now a full time business that is unrecognisable from the ‘2009 Andrew’s Plants’. We have learned to specialise selling culinary and unusual herbs. 

We began trading as ‘Urban Herbs’ in 2013 – the change of name reflected our changing emphasis and specialism. I think we are lucky – we sell to a wide range of people, a lot of whom do not have a background or interest in gardening. We are also lucky because we get to sell to lots of foodie people – it’s a fun crowd to deal with!

What type of plants do you sell and what’s your best seller?

We primarily sell culinary and unusual herbs. The weird and wonderful plants with a surprising smell usually sell well. 

Plants like ‘Strawberry Mint, Chocolate Mint, Lime Mint, Pineapple Sage or Orange Thyme’ usually stop people in their tracks. Honestly, the best sellers are probably popular classics such as Basil or Chives. Our customers like to be able to get their hands on herbs like ‘Thai Basil’ which is hard to find.

We like the fact that you love cooking with all different kind of herbs. What’s your favourite recipe and why?

Easy. I am a lazy cook and do lots of pasta. We grow lots of Oregano ‘Hot n Spicy’ which you can just throw in with your pasta dishes to give them a real kick. Is that as close as we get to a ‘macho herb’? I would love to think so!

Where can we buy your plants from? Do you have a stall in Bearwood?

Our plants are on sale and are available for order and collection at the fantastic Warley Woods Shop. We can deliver larger orders.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

It sounds really cheesy, but it’s the look on people’s faces when they first smell Chocolate Mint! It’s such an unexpected flavour. I love introducing new people to the joy of growing herbs.

How did you get into gardening?

I got into gardening when I was at uni. I got a kick out of propagating plants and ‘getting them for free’! I can remember thinking that it was really cool, being able to grow your own food for the cost of pennies.

What’s your connection with Bearwood?

I lived in Bearwood from 1997 until 2013. I went to Lordswood Boy’s School. I worked in Osbornes Stationers when I was at college and at Clive Mark Schoolwear in between years at University. I even had a short spell as assistant manager at Clive Mark. For a couple of years I had regular plant stalls on the frontage of St Mary’s Church facing onto the high street. I also had a pop up shop in Bearwood Indoor Market. Bearwood has been a massive part of my life.

What do you see as Bearwood’s future?

This is so difficult. I care deeply about Bearwood as a place and hope that it has a happy future. There is no doubt that there is good community spirit in Bearwood you can see this in great events like the Crafty Mutha Craft Fayres, the Bearwood Shuffle and the May Day Festival in Lightwoods Park. Bearwood is still however a community built around the high street and the majority of the local community does not regularly visit the high street. Is this because the shops on Bearwood Road are not attractive to the local community? Does lack of parking put people off? Is the high street struggling like the majority of other high streets across the country? The answer is probably yes to all those questions. The trouble is that people never realise what they have until it’s gone. There are some real gems of businesses trading in Bearwood that will perish if they are not supported. I think the future for Bearwood is bright but I really have no idea what that future will look like. I think the people of Bearwood will ultimately make that decision and shape the community that they live in.

You're already on our list of Bearwood All-Stars so we would love to hear yours. What, where or who makes your smile in Bearwood?

That is easy! My Bearwood All Star is the amazing Bead Savvy in Bearwood Indoor Market. If you don’t know what I mean then go and have a look and you will understand. Stefan and Emily have made this beautiful shop. It is a thing of beauty. So creative and well run. Seriously, just go in there and you will see what I mean! Osborne’s Stationers are worth a shout too. The ladies who work there have all been there ages and are so helpful. Osborne’s recently went into administration, so they could really use our help right now.

We like to ask everyone this question. What makes Lightwood Chippy’s chips orange?

Magic. Definitely.

What was the best thing about going to Lordswood Boy’s School?

Orange chips on the way home from school.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Have A Swinging Christmas

It’s true what they say…jazz ain’t no background music!  As the acts The Silvershine Jazz Club invite to play every Thursday night go to show.

To round off an outstanding year Bearwood’s no1 jazz club (at Corks, 558 Bearwood High Street) have the red hot 7 piece jazz band Kansas Smitty performing this Thursday night (perfect for fans of Lester Young, Count Basie, Ben Webster and Charlie Parker).

Then on Thursday 19th December it’s the Silvershine Christmas Party when Bobby Wellins, one of UK’s leading jazz saxophonist will be joining Bearwood cool cats and the late great Andy Hamilton’s band The Blue Notes.

Bobby will be running a Saxophone workshop earlier in the evening. So if you would like to attend the workshop and then stay on for the best Christmas party for miles around contact The Silvershine Jazz Club via their website right here or by phoning them directly on 07719120560. The workshop runs from 5-7pm, with the gig starting at a later time of 9pm.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Pledge for Pete

A big thank you to Bearwood's brillant no 1 music blog, The Hearing Aid, for bringing us the exciting news of what Bearwood's one and only (drum roll.....!) Mr Pete Williams has been up to....

"Original member of Dexys Midnight Runners and an integral part of the new line up Pete Williams issued his debut solo album (See) last year. Ruddy good it was too. Now, with a note book bulging full of new songs and a band ready to leap into action he's signed up with Pledge Music to raise the funds to record the follow up. I'm a big fan of both the man and the model. For the uninitiated Pledge Music gives musicians the chance to offer a series of goodies to fans in exchange for cash (essentially plugging the gap left by the absence of record labels).

These goodies can range from something as simple as a copy of the new album right through to an intimate acoustic gig with pledges starting at just a tenner. Anyway, click on the video above and cop a listen to the man and his music......then you can pledge right here!"

P.S. You can read our favourite music blog right here. We're huge fans!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Do you 'snow' who's coming to The REP...?

Snowman illustration small © Snowman Enterprises Ltd 1982, 2004
This sounds like fun and perfect timing to cheer up those January blues!
The Snowman is coming to Birmingham and you can be part of the magic when he soars over the Birmingham REP from 8 to 18 January 2014.

When a young boy’s snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve the two set off on a night-time quest for adventure. They meet dancing penguins, reindeer and crowds of the Snowman’s friends, but will they escape evil Jack Frost and get back home for Christmas morning?

Based on Raymond Brigg’s much-loved book and featuring Howard Blake’s classic song Walking In The Air, this enchanting live show has thrilled audiences throughout the world since first appearing on our stage in 1993.

To mark the REP's first show of the New Year and to celebrate 20 years of The Snowman stage show we've linked up with the theatre and we've got 1 x family ticket to be won for The Snowman on Friday 17 January for the 7.00pm performance.

Just answer this question and email it over to us at Please confirm your full name and address on your email.

What vegetable is traditionally used as a snowman’s nose?

a) Potato

b) Carrot

c) Broccoli

Do you 'snow' the answer?
The competition closes on 20th December 2013 so get your entry in quick before The Snowman melts!

For further information about the show visit the REP's website, right here, or call the theatre on 0121 236 4455
There's no business like snow business!

Bearwood Handmade Winter Fair

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Tales of Warley Woods

If you're a big fan of Warley Woods (like we are!) this just has to be the perfect Christmas pressie!

We caught up with Viv Cole, Warley Woods Trust Manager, who personally compiled Tales of Warley Woods Smethwick, People's Stories of The People's Park, to find out more.

Ever since Warley Woods Community Trust began managing Warley Woods in 2004, people have been coming into the Trust’s office sharing their memories. It became clear that people wanted to share them and that these fascinating stories should be recorded for others to hear. This was the impetus behind planning this oral history project and we were keen to ensure we recorded as many memories as we could.

Beginning in February 2012 with the first training course for interviewers, Warley Woods volunteers have been out and about around the area responding to people who offered stories for the collection. Thirty-nine people have shared the part that Warley Woods has played in their lives and their stories span from the 1920s to the present day.

Some of these memories have now been published in a new book, compiled by Viv Cole, Trust Manager. It covers subjects like leisure time in the Woods, war time, sledging, courting, the site’s lost landmarks, playing golf and working at Warley Woods.

Viv said: “Listening to all the stories has been an absolute delight and it has been a privilege to work on the book. I hope that we have managed to capture much of the joy that Warley Woods has brought to people over that time, recorded some of the names and stories of people who cared for the site and recorded some sense of how the park may have looked over the last 100 years. We are planning a get together of all the people who have been involved on 14th December. It will be lovely to meet some of the people that I have only heard up to now.”

The book, which includes a 37 track CD) is available in the Warley Woods shop at The Pavilion priced £6. There is also an oral history DVD priced £4 which is the culmination of the work of Abbey Junior School and St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School interviewing local residents on film.

The Community Trust has been able to undertake this project thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Their grant provided funding for training, equipment and professional support with sound editing, video production and transcribing.

The results from the whole project, every full interview, every transcript and every photograph will be deposited in Sandwell’s Community Archive at Smethwick Library for future generations.

P.S. Don't forget Santa is coming to Warley Woods this weekend.  Mince pies, mulled wine, Christmas Carols and Santa's Grotto! For more details click here

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Christmas Carol @ The REP – Tuesday 3rd December

Jo Servi (Scrooge) and Marc Akinfolarin (Jacob Marley)
Given the loss of this show’s lead actor Matthew Ashforde just as this run was starting perhaps The REP should’ve been staging The Nightmare Before Christmas instead. In true ‘the show must go on’ spirit though previous performances had seen the Assistant Director stand in for the ailing Ebeneezer. Now they’ve hastily rejigged the cast promoting Jacob Marley to the role (well the actor playing Marley at it...good) and moving various other performers around to fill the gaps.

These things happen of course, human beings are fragile creatures, a theme the play itself embraces and I dread to think about how much hard work the remaining members of the cast have had to put in to turn things around (this show had no understudies apparently, hence the Assistant Director stepping in at the last minute). But turn it around they did and Jo Servi deserves a pint of egg nog (at the very least) for ably filling Scrooge’s slippers. I guess he’d perfected his stooped and haunted appearance for his Marley role but even so given that this was only the second show with the new cast line up things ran remarkably smoothly.

The set’s impressively atmospheric, frequently belching out Victorian smog from various orifices. The remarkably simple idea of gas lamps on wheels was also incredibly effective, adding light and shade and changing the feel from an internal setting to an external one in an instant. Costumes, make up and wigs also added to the atmosphere, with Old Joe in particular sporting a particularly stunning white hairpiece that puts legendary boxing promoter Don King’s barnet to shame. 

Roddy Peters (Dobber), Paul Ryan (Old Joe) and Joanna Lee Martin (Mrs Joe)
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come also deserves a honourable mention. Employing a similar technique to the one used in War Horse it’s a genuinely haunting apparition, a cadaverous turkey like creature that might well scare the bejesus out of those with a nervous disposition. In stark contrast its predecessor, The Ghost of Christmas Present, was a delight. 

Jo Servi (Scrooge) and Angela Wynter (The Ghost of Christmas Present)
Played by Angela Wynter (perhaps best known as Yolande Trueman in EastEnders) it’s the first time I’ve seen a female spirit in a version of A Christmas Carol. Not content with swapping the spirit’s gender she played it with a broad West Indian accent too. Okay it sounds weird but trust me, it works. Christmas is a time for jollity and fun and what sounds jollier than a full on West Indian accent eh? Exactly. Adding to this the song and dance numbers were a delight, bringing a neat touch of the music hall to the show and really helping to conjure up the spirit of the Victorian era (or at least how we view it these days), with Marc Akinfolarin’s (as Marley) booming bass vocal in particular standing out.

A Christmas Carol Ensemble

Having seen dozens of versions of A Christmas Carol over the years the acid test is always whether it can produce a tremble of the lip when Tiny Tim pops his clogs and a warm, fuzzy glow when old Scrooge repents his mean ways. This performance certainly achieved the double, although perhaps Servi’s glorious Lazarus like transformation could be ramped up a little, something that he’ll no doubt completely nail after a few more shows. One or two of the planned flying stunts have also clearly had to be shelved (Servi was due to fly in as Marley at one point) something that the kids would no doubt have loved to see, but their omission is completely one wants an out of control Marley floating down Broad Street.

Against all the odds cast and crew have pulled together to produce a delightful winter warmer of a production, something that’s almost as remarkable as Scrooge’s transformation itself. It’s a cracker!

A Christmas Carol is on until January 4th 2014. Tickets here!
All photos copyright credit: ROBERT DAY

Thimblemill Library December Calendar

Wow! Radio Soop, Christmas Celebrations Music Night, Christmas Carol Concert, Family Christmas Crafts and Ron Popple Christmas Show to name just a few of the events taking place at Thimblemill Library this month.  Festive fun for everyone!.

Tickets are selling fast for Radio Soop tomorrow night too when you'll be taken on an adventure to the Golden Age of Radio.

There will also be local craft stalls and yummy food with Ita Mckenna doing her lovely cakes and Laura from Bearwood Pantry doing pasties and sausage rolls.

Get your ticket sooper dooper quick to avoid disappointment...only £5 per person.

On Saturday 14th December there's Children's Musical Showcase with Bearwood's future talent....

and the Yule Choir to get you in the festive spirit with all your favourite Christmas songs in the afternoon.

Monday, 2 December 2013

BBC Good Food Show @ NEC 1st December 2013

It’s 9.47 am and we’ve already tucked into one of the nicest slices of Black Pudding in the world, various flavours of sausage and a tot or three of heavenly El Dorado rum. Welcome to the BBC Good Food Show, something of an annual institution for food lovers, gourmet bargain hunters and celebrity chef stalkers. There’s something wonderfully decadent about wandering the halls nibbling, sniffing and quaffing some of the best food and drink around. 

It’s a bit like the last day of the Roman Empire...minus the orgies...although the queue of slightly flushed looking ladies of a certain age gathering around a James Martin book signing did look like it could get a little steamy at one point. Speaking of celeb chefs the place was overflowing with them. Marco Pierre White was spotted making gravy over at the Knorr stall, Brian Turner seemed to be everywhere and later in the day none other than the legendary John Craven rocked up at the Saturday Kitchen for a nibble. 

Yes, John Craven. Okay he might not be a chef but still we’re not worthy.

Given the timing of the show it’s the perfect opportunity to stock up with a few liquid treats for Christmas, with spirits, wines and a great selection of real ales on offer. We went for a bottle of Sipsmith’s rather excellent V.J.O.P gin which will frankly be lucky if it lasts until December 25th

Travelling by public transport placed a bit of a limit on what we could carry, although the better organised foodies drag increasingly laden trolleys around with them and you can normally stash your hoard in one of the drop off points to collect later...if you can remember where you left it after that last liqueur tasting session that is. 

With Sunday being the last day expert Good Fooders know the score and as the afternoon wears on some stallholders are keen to do a deal or two leading to some pretty impressive bargains from both the big brand names (Bahlsen Biscuits were particularly generous) and smaller producers (the fabulous Furness Fish and Game purveyors of some of the best bird within a bird within a bird combinations around). Arguably the best bit is the cheese auction though. The Good Food Show hosts the cheese awards and once the judging’s been done many of the entries are sold off for less than the price of a Dairylea Triangle...or in some cases just given away by the dry humoured dude in the bowler hat. 

For £20 we came away with more cheese than any sane person could want....we blame the after effects of Mr Vikkis Nasty Naga Nuts, possibly the hottest nuts in the world since Beckham posed in those pants.

Great food, oodles of free samples, the chance to chew the fat (literally and metaphorically) with some passionate producers and bag a bargain or six, the BBC Good Food Show’s a tasty treat from start to finish. If you can’t wait until next Winter pop along to the Summer version next June (12th – 15th June 2014). Tickets on sale right now (now there’s an ideal Christmas present idea for you!).