Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas Bearwood

There's nothing like a good Christmas cover and one of our favourites has to be Bearwood's finest Musical Youth's version of Mary's Boy Child.  Chill out and enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Bearwood. 

See you again in 2015!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Bearwood has the write stuff!

Bearwood has the write stuff!  We've always thought so and we were excited when we found out that Bearwood based writer Lynne Voyce has just had her collection of short stories, Kirigami, published.  It makes for a perfect Christmas pressie.
We caught up with Lynne to find out more...
"Kirigami is my first solo short story collection. Many of the stories have won prizes or been published in anthologies, magazines or on line, over the past fourteen years.  Now they have been collected together by Ink Tears Press in a quite ravishing hard back edition that would make a beautiful Christmas gift.

My first story was published by, now defunct, Birmingham literary magazine, Raw Edge.  I remember, clearly, that the first I knew of this little literary success was someone bringing the magazine to me while I sat having a pint in The Bear.  Since then I have won quite a number of prestigious prizes, for example, Legend, Momaya, Flash 500 and Calderdale, and had more than forty short stories published.

So, I wrote the book in bits and pieces, although, strangely, when I had the offer of a publisher putting a collection together, certain themes and motifs emerged from the individual stories that served to make the book a whole. As for what the book is about, Agnes Meadows puts I nicely:

"This is a treasure trove of captivating stories that will tap into everything you ever felt about love and relationships but couldn't express."
(Agnes Meadows, Poet, Writer and Founder Loose Muse Women's Writing Night)

Of course, living in Bearwood has inspired me.  From the very moment I moved here fifteen years ago I felt as if I was living in an imaginative place. Yes, it's very pretty with the woods and the park, but it's also full of people who are using their skills and ideas to make it a creative hub."

Lynne Voyce's Kirigami (Ink Tears Press) is currently available in first edition hardback on Amazon (18.99) and will also shortly be available in Kindle format.  Please click here for more details.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Jolly Old St Nick

Two events taking place this weekend which we just have to share with you.

Tomorrow (so that makes it Saturday 6th December) St Nicholas (aka the original Father Christmas) is holding his Fayre from 10am to 2pm at St Mary's Church (on Bearwood Road). 

There'll be various stalls selling cakes, cookies and preserves, crafts and gifts, bric-a-brac (hurrah! we love Bearwood bric-a-brac) and a tombola, amongst other festive goodies.  Tea and coffee along with mulled wine (the non-alcoholic kind of course) too.

If that’s not enough for you on Sunday (7th December) Professor Firestick is hosting his next Sunday Acoustic Music Session at Samba Lounge, Bearwood. 
The music starts at 2pm and the line-up this time includes Mr Apollo, Mariah and Amelia with their Ukulele-driven beautiful vocal harmonies, Small Changes, fronted by ex- Valuable Fools leader, Mark Winters, and the very talented Kate Barry. 
Professor Firestick promises an excellent afternoon listening to some very fine music which is made even better as entry is free!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thimblemill Library December 2014 Calendar

Ho! Ho! Ho!  It's......CHRISTMAS!  Well nearly anyway!

Thimblemill Library have definitely got in the festive mood and there's plenty happening for everyone to enjoy.

The Family Christmas Crafts Fair starts off proceedings tomorrow (5th December) and then next weekend your children can meet Santa on the Saturday afternoon (13th December). 

The library is also inviting everyone along that evening for Brandhall Community Choir's Christmas Carol Service complete with mulled wine and mince pies.

We love a good Christmas Carol sing-a-long so it's great to see that on Saturday 20th December the Bearwood songsters Yule Choir will be dropping by to sing our favourite festive songs.
There'll be FREE mince pies let's give a Christmas Cheer for Bearwood's no 1 library!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The BFG @ The REP, Tuesday December 2nd 2014

Adapted by actor, writer and magician...yes...really...David Wood and directed by Teresa Ludovico (who previously directed the popular version of Philip Pullman’s I Was A Rat) this brand new production of Dahl’s classic The BFG is a pretty much perfect festive family treat.

Telling the story of a young girl called Sophie (named after Dahl’s real life granddaughter who went on to become a model before marrying pocket sized pianist Jamie Cullum), who’s snatched from an orphanage by a giant that delivers dreams to children it’s packed with glorious Dahl stuff and nonsense.

Played by Joshua Manning this particular BFG comes across as part Billy Connolly, part Ali G and part Droog (thanks to Dahl’s marvellously mangled giant’s language) and he manages to make that awkward transition from the scary ogre that initially terrifies Sophie to her friend pretty smoothly. There are a trio of Sophies on offer, ours tonight was Lara Wollington who’s already played the West End lead in another Dahl inspired smash hit, Matilda The Musical. She sang and danced her socks off displaying a level of professionalism, timing and innate charm that could shame some actresses five times her age.

Ludovico sprinkles some Italian sophistication on the whole piece, gently introducing younger members of the audience to a little ballet, opera and acrobatics and thanks to the masked ‘Dark Thing’ characters that drift in and out of Act I, even the tradition of Commedia dell’arte (or that might just be me over thinking things). There’s possibly a hint of surrealism here and there too, less Dahl more Dali if you will, but it’s all cleverly blended in to the action without distracting from what is, after all, just great family fun.

Act II goes straight for the belly laughs with a truly show stealing performance from Mike Goodenough as the Queen of England ably supported by Mei Mac as Pup-Pup the Dog. 

They’re worth the price of a ticket on their own. Add some truly giant sized hands and feet and chair rumbling bass for the giant’s footsteps the breaking wind sequences (getting you in the mood for sprout season no doubt) and this BFG is a Bloomin’ Flippin’ Great night out!

The BFG is on at The REP until January 24th 2015. Tickets available right here.

All photos copyright of Robert Day and must not be reproduced...or else the BFG will come round and 'ave a word... 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Food Glorious Good Food Show

Photo Credit: Urban Herbs

Hot (or warm at least) on the heels of the recent inaugural Bearwood Food Festival welovebearwood spent a very enjoyable day at the BBC Good Food Show yesterday and dropped by to see a busy business that started right here in the ‘wood, Urban Herbs. Andrew Perry, the Herbfather himself, seemed to be doing a roaring trade.
Photo Credit: Urban Herbs

Photo Credit: Urban Herbs

Elsewhere there was the usual mix of small local producers and the big names offering plenty of chances to eat, drink and chew the fat...metaphorically and literally...with some really passionate foodies. Ludlow Food Festival has a stand there each year to promote its culinary delights maybe one day Bearwood could do likewise eh? We reckon Charlie’s Mum’s Chocolate Factory and Nat’s Chilli Pickled Onions would go down a treat...although perhaps not at the same time.
Photo Credit: Urban Herbs

One of the discoveries of the Show this year was a liqueur spirit called Lanique, each bottle created by distilling thousands and thousands of rose petals, think of it as liquid Turkish Delight. Delicious and guaranteed to perk up a hot chocolate this Christmas.

A ticketed tasting session also introduced us to a great new way to discover and enjoy wine via the Wine Tube Map which replaces the likes of Piccadilly Circus and Camden with Shiraz and Riesling using the concept to link one type of wine that you already like with another that might also be your cup of it were. You move round the room sipping two wines at a time and having a natter with your fellow travellers. Most civilised. Take a look at it here and pop down to Bearwood’s Global Wines or Liquor Bins to try a ‘station’ or three!

P.S. You can stock up on your Christmas Urban Herbs for your Christmas Lunch at Webb's Walled Gift Shop.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

All I Want For Christmas Is...

With less than a month  to go it is definitely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. 
Thimblemill Library think so too as they are holding their Christmas Craft Fair this Saturday evening, 29th November.  We’ve been assured that there will be plenty of pressie solving solutions to buy!


Then on Saturday 13th December Santa makes a visit to our favourite library followed by a Christmas Carol Concert in the evening held by Brandhall Community Choir. 

There'll be mulled wine and mince pies too to get everybody in the festive spirit.
For more details please pop into the library or contact them on 0121 429 2039 or email them at

Friday, 21 November 2014

Urban Herbs...jolly Good (Food) Show!

 Urban Herbs has always had strong roots in Bearwood, in fact the business was started right here!

Last Saturday they were at Webb’s Wintry Party and tomorrow they’ll be selling their wonderful range of herbs at the Bearwood Handmade Winter Fair at Bearwood Baptist Church Hall.

A small family run business they put the emphasis on quality rather than quantity and they’re specialists in some particularly scrummy and unusual varieties too including Chocolate Mint, Pineapple Sage and Vietnamese Coriander, all regularly sold through Warley Woods Pavilion Gift Shop and soon to be at Webb’s Gift Shop.

We’re also chuffed to announce that they’ve got a stall at the prestigious BBC Good Food Winter Show next weekend at the NEC, so pop along for a chat and a pot or two. 

The show’s on from Wednesday 26th to Sunday 30th  November  (in other words next week!) and along with Urban Herbs (who’ll be at stand G66) you’ll be able to visit dozens of other wonderful independent producers along with all the usual big names.

 Tickets available in advance right here or on the door on the day.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Proof that there's nowhere 'batter'!

It's official! Drum roll.....
At the Food Awards on Monday night Chamberlains Quality Fish and Chip Restaurant on Hagley Road won the award for the BEST Takeaway in England & Wales!

We are so pleased for them, well and truly deserved and a great achievement.

Chip Chip Hooray for Chamberlains!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Bearwood Handmade Winter Fairs 2014

Not just one but two opportunities to buy lots of handmade loveliness for your loved ones this Christmas. 
The first fair is this coming Saturday 22nd November at Bearwood Baptist Church Hall (Rawlings Road) and then the fair's on again on Saturday 6th December.
Along with lots of arts and crafts and scrumptious edible treats to tempt us, the Bearwood Pantry will also be serving lots of culinary delights all day long.
Don't miss it!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Webb's Wintery Party

Hate the mad Christmas rush that you get in December?  Welovebearwood say start your Christmas shopping early at Webb's Walled Gift Shop's Wintery Party tomorrow.
Sam from Webb's told us that "all day there will be mince pies filled with The Time For Company's mince, mulled wine, vodka Caramel and apple shots and of course Charlie's Moms Chocolate factory chocolate anyone? The original local Hot Shots? Nothing better on a chilly day."
Webb's will have the fires going and the gazebo up in the garden to take care of the winter chill and we've been informed that the shop will packed to the rafters with Christmas goodies. 
Much more fun than the Bull Ring, The German Market or Merry Hill (or as we like to call it Hell during the build up to Christmas!) and you'll be supporting a Bearwood business too!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Other Half @ The REP, Monday 10th November 2014

In this brand new collaboration between crime writer Mark Billingham and Americana/Country duo My Darling Clementine (all of whom have roots in Brum) the love lives of various regulars in a backstreet Memphis bar come dribbling out like a leaky beer tap.

The set up for the first half of the show’s an interesting concept, with Billingham reading the story (inspired by My Darling Clementine’s music) on one side of the stage pausing from time to time for My Darling Clementine to deliver a suitable song from their back catalogue, making this part gig/part play/part Jackanory (albeit a Jackanory influenced by Jim Jarmusch).
Billingham did a fine job of evoking the atmosphere of the bar and sketching out its inhabitants, positioning a washed up showgirl turned waitress called Marsha at the centre of the piece and you can tell he is/was an actor as he’s perfectly capable of tossing off a fairly authentic southern accent. Not sure that the occasional faded archive photos projected onto the screen added much to proceedings.
 Part of the joy of fiction is that the reader (or in this case the listener) can use their own imagination to ‘see’ the characters (it’s a minor quibble but it has to be said that the Marsha image looked considerably older than the 50 something woman that was being described too.). Given that the story was based on the band’s music the chopping and changing from spoken to sung word worked particularly smoothly though and the only gripe was that there could have been more of it. Who knows, could there be a movie in there somewhere? Hmmm...not ‘alf.

The second part of the evening was a more traditional gig from My Darling Clementine (real life ‘other half’s’ Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King of course) featuring a dozen or so tracks including a spirited cover of a Ray Price song called Heartaches By The Number which saw Mark B return to the stage for a little warbling. He can sing as well as write, act doubt...make a pretty decent Victoria Sponge too. Damn him.
Happily some of The Clementine’s self penned material’s every bit as strong as the classic artists they’re influenced by, with both I Bought Some Roses and 100,000 Words in particular capturing one of Country’s favourite themes...specifically relationships going down the tubes. Dalgleish and Weston King did their best to reflect this in some suitably bitchy in between song banter, the likes of which you can generally only get away with when you’re either totally comfortable with your other half or on the verge of a messy divorce (I’m fairly sure it’s the former!).

All in all it’s an interesting mash up between two worlds that ends up being more than the sum of its two halves.      
The Other Half is on at The Islington in London tonight (11th November) and Crossing Border Festival in The Hague on Friday 14th November.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Sort Out A Sack For Santa And Help Children’s Charity This Christmas


 Help fill the Toy Box!
Val Hammond from Acorns Children's Hospice needs donated toys.

Being big fans of Bearwood's Acorns Children's Hospice charity shop we would love it if you can help this very worthy cause.

Acorns Children’s Hospice is appealing for donations of children’s toys to sell at its shop in Bearwood Road, Bearwood.

With Christmas not too far away when toys sales peak, the charity is asking for unwanted items to help raise vital funds to continue its work supporting children with life limiting and life threatening conditions and their families.

The network of Acorns shops across the West Midlands raises around £1.5million per year, which helps to meet the running costs of the charity’s three hospices, which stand at £750 per child per day.

Retail area manager at Acorns, Val Hammond, said: “The run up to Christmas is typically a busy time for us as people start to shop for toys to give as presents. To meet that demand we rely on the public’s generosity.

“We need to build up our stock of jigsaws, books, board games, dolls, action figures or soft toys so why not have a clear out of any unused toys and help life limited children this Christmas.”

Anyone who would like to donate toys can take them along to their local Acorns shop. To find out where the nearest is to you, use the shop locator tool right here.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sing Yourself A Merry Christmas

Practice starts tomorrow for Bearwood Chapel's Community choir and they are looking for new members.

The choir is open to all members of the community of all ages and abilities.  It is run by Jonathan Girling, a local composer who has worked with The Globe Theatre, RSC and Channel 4.  He has just finished touring The Kite Runner for a second time, which enjoyed an excellent run at the Birmingham Rep in October.

If you love singing pop down to Bearwood Chapel tomorrow night at 7.45pm to start practising for the performances at Bearwood Chapel and Lightwoods Park this Christmas.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sunday Acoustic Sessions

The Sunday Acoustic Session at Samba Lounge is back on again this Sunday afternoon, 9th November.

Professor Firestick told welovebearwood that the line-up features "the full Kate Gee Band with myself on Viola, Bob Wilson on Electric Guitar (ex Steve Gibbons Band, played on their hits, Tulane, Tupelo Mississippi Flash etc) and with full drum kit. Other acts on the bill are Pete Holder from Mr Apollo doing a solo set and Mariah and Amelia, featuring the wonderful Amelia Wallace, who, as anyone who has seen her perform, is excellent....Take it from me, this will be very good indeed!"

All for FREE as well (we do love that word!) so samba on down to the Samba Lounge this coming Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Thimblemill Library November 2014 Events Calendar

Ooooh!  We couldn't hide our excitement when we received this month's event calendar from Thimblemill Library, so much good stuff happening.

The Flashlight presents JamFace event on Thursday 20th November got our attention first.  With promises of fantastic storytelling, and delicious treats, it's no wonder Utter Bearwood's storytelling events are so popular.
Then there's Sally Barker who was runner up The Voice (Team Tom's finalist) performing live on Thursday 27th November and then only a couple of days afterwards on Saturday 29th it's an evening of festive cheer at the Christmas Craft Fayre. 

For more details and tickets to these events please pop into the library, phone them on 0121 429 2039 or email them at

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dangerous Corner at The REP, Monday November 3rd 2014

Starring Bearwood’s very own Colin Buchanan (okay so he was born in Dundee but he used to live here...we’ll take that) J B Priestley’s Dangerous Corner is set in the glorious 1920/30’s so, if nothing else, you’re certainly guaranteed some rather gorgeous costumes and sets to drool over. Happily the team behind this new production has done a fine job on both counts and we had to be physically restrained from nicking the wooden panelling and vintage wireless. Centred around a glam get together things aren’t quite as pretty as they appear on the surface though as the truth behind the mysterious death of the host’s younger brother starts to unravel as fast as a ball of wool in room full of excited kittens.

Given that it was written way back in 1932 the mere mention of sex and drugs must’ve been pretty daring at the time. Even now the various revelations unveiled throughout the evening would give the cast on one of those dreadful ‘reality’ TV shows a run for their money (The Only Way Is Priestley anyone?). We wouldn’t want to give the plot away but suffice to say that the deceased was a bit of a ‘lad’...ahem.  

The cast really evoke the era with Rosie Armstrong (who appears relatively briefly) in super form as the gossip loving Miss Mockridge. Matt Milne as the edgy Gordon Whitehouse and Michael Praed as the louche lizard Charles Stanton also merit a special mention...he makes the ultimate cad Terry-Thomas seem like a bit of a choir boy.

As a fine piece of period escapism with more twists and turns than a year’s worth of soap scripts this is one corner that’s well worth spending an evening in.  

Dangerous Corner is on at The REP until Saturday November 8th. Tickets right here

All photos courtesy of Robert Day

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Spook-tacular fun!

Bearwood (or as we’ll be calling it …Scare-wood!) has something for everyone this Halloween. If you like tales of ghosts and ghouls and everything spooky take the Halloween Trail around Warley Woods tomorrow evening. 

It costs just £1.50 per person (adult or child) and it opens at 6pm. We’ve been told it’s a very popular event so you may want to register early and get your wristband in advance.  

Just pop along to the Pavillion. Be brave! As the ghost of Sam Whitehouse found out you never know what goes in those woods...spooktacular fun!

On the other hand if you’re of the nervous disposition or not a fan of Halloween Bearwood Chapel are holding a Light Party tomorrow too as their non-scary alternative. The fun’s from 4pm-7pm and your kids can come in best (but non-scary remember!) fancy dress! 

Why not treat yourself to some spook-tastic chocolates from Mad As A Hatter on Abbey Road too.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Bearwood in the Wars

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI and the 75th anniversary of the start of WW2 St Mary’s Church (on Bearwood Road opposite Argos) are holding an exhibition this coming Saturday (1st November) and the following Saturday (8th November).  

The church will be open from 9am to 3pm and lots of cups of tea and homemade cake will be served between 12noon to 3 pm.  We’ve been told that some of the exhibitors will be dressing up for the era.

It’s a FREE (we do like that word!) exhibition so please pop along to find out more about the role Bearwood played during the wars. You’ll get to see original artefacts, photos and newspaper cuttings on display.

Monday, 27 October 2014

'Pascoe' and see this!

Being big fans of everything vintage the brand new production of  JB Priestley's classic play Dangerous Corner at the Birmingham REP sounds like a truly stylish night out. 

The play stars not only Michael Praed (memories of our misspent youth watching Robin Hood at Saturday tea time come flooding back...he was in Dynasty too!) but also Dalzeil and Pascoe’s Colin Buchanan who is a patron of the Warley Woods Trust.  

The play is on for one week only from 3 - 8 November so make sure you make the time to see this timeless classic!   

For more details please phone the Birmingham REP Box Office on 0121 236 4455 or visit the REP website, right here!

For more details please phone the Birmingham REP Box Office on 0121 236 4455 or visit the REP website, right here!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Future Of Folk!

We love discovering local music talent and one band who has definitely caught our eye over the last few months is The Urban Folk Quartet, or for those in the know UFQ.  Their music might send you to outer space but we were so excited that they have their roots firmly in Bearwood.

We decided to find out how the band got together, their influences and about their forthcoming gig at MAC Birmingham on Friday 1st November when they will be debuting their new acoustic four-piece line-up.  Folking folk-tastic!

Formed by Bearwoodian Joe Broughton (guitar, fiddle, mandolin) and Paloma Trigas (fiddle, vocals) and Tom Chapman (percussion, vocals) and Frank Moon (oud, guitar) in 2009, UFQ have since toured across Europe and released four lauded albums.

With Frank retiring from touring late last year, his shoes have been filled by clawhammer banjo player and vocalist Dan Walsh. Touted as one of the UK’s finest banjo players, Dan has previously released two solo albums and one with duo Walsh and Pound. He’s also guested with Seth Lakeman and The Levellers. The forthcoming show will mark his Birmingham debut with the band after warming up with a successful run of headline shows and festival appearances over the summer.

“Having a banjo has opened up loads of musical possibilities in the new material,” says Tom of the inclusion of fellow West Midlander Dan. “He relishes the opportunity to play the banjo in new and unusual ways and that’s a perfect fit with our ethos. He’s also known as a singer, so it’s also really nice to have someone come in and liven up the vocal numbers alongside picking up Frank's old guitar parts in the instrumentals, which we're more known for.”

UFQ combine Celtic folk music traditions with jazz and funk grooves, Middle-Eastern melodies, Afrobeat and North Indian rhythms, and more. As musicians, they have worked with acts as diverse as folk big band Bellowhead and soul singer Joss Stone, while Joe and Paloma are currently mentors for the BBC Young Folk Award 2015. 

The quartet’s last appearance in Birmingham was a sell-out show at The Yardbird in spring 2013 – a performance recorded for 2013’s UFQ: Live II album.

The forthcoming MAC Birmingham theatre show will see the band perform two sets.

“We’ll be doing a mix of old favourites and new stuff we’ve been working on with Dan, as well as brand new versions of stuff from UFQ: Live II,” says Tom. “Although we play theatre venues regularly, this will also be the first time we’ve done a theatre show in the city.”

Following the show, the quartet will begin work on their fifth yet to be titled album, due for release mid-2015.

Tickets for the MAC Birmingham show on Saturday 1 November 2014 are £10 (£10) available from 0212 446 3232 or

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Midlands' Minstry For The Interior

No don't worry the poster's not advertising an official secret act but instead an evening of fantastically improvised Anglo-Indian music featuring string trio, Ministry For The Interior, on Tuesday 21st October at Bearwood's Real Ale Pub, The Midland.  

Local artist Tracy Timmins will be painting throughout the gig and using the music to inspire him.  

Ministry For The Interior's last performance at Thimblemill Library inspired Tracy to create a beautiful painting of an Indian sunset.  So who knows what will happen with the gig taking place at The Midland...pop along and find out!

P.S.  You can find out more about the Ministry For The Interior right here!