Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Saturday Superstore!

Not one, not two but three events in store for this coming Saturday which we've just added to our What's On in Bearwood page! There's something for everyone, to suit all tastes and ages. 

We fancy a go on the Magic Train which visits Thimblemill Library on Saturday morning ourselves!

For more details about what's happening this Saturday please click here!  

If you would like us to include an event you're organizing in Bearwood please email us at and pop the words EVENT REQUESTS in the subject header.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Put Your Drinking Cap On!

Photo Credit: Bearwood Blog

Great news!  Bearwood’s Real Ale Pub is due to open in July.  Black Country Ales need your help first though!

Angus, one of the directors, mentioned to welovebearwood that they are on the lookout for landlords to run the pub and would love it to be a couple who are keen fans of real ales.  What an opportunity!  If you’ve always yearned to run your own pub, chat to your punters from behind the bar or want to serve real ale this could be the job for you.  For more details, please contact Angus at

We’re sure you’ve seen it already on Bob Piper’s brilliant Bearwood Blog but the brewery are also asking for suggestions for a suitable name for the pub.  There’s a free barrel of beer (which works out at 72 pints!  Wow!) for the person who comes up with the best name.  There’s been some great ones already and we particularly like ‘Bankers Draught’, ‘The Barrel of Bear’, ‘The Three Shires’ and ‘Hail for Ale’ but if you can think of a better one send your entry to Black Country Ales Facebook Page (right here!) or to  The deadline is 1st June so put your drinking cap on.

If you can’t wait for the opening date in July, Black Country Ales will be selling their real ales at this Bank Holiday Monday’s Lightwoods Park May Day Event.  We fancy a pint of Pig On The Wall.

Angus explained that “we are greatly looking forward to opening the pub and also to getting involved in Bearwood life.”  Us too!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Thimblemill Library May 2014 Calendar

Hooray!  It's a busy month again at our favourite library.

All the regular activities plus Life Begins At 60 talk from former Head Teacher Mel Thomas on Wednesday 7th May, local author Daniel Hyland talks about his new best seller 'Jasmine's War' and the Magic Train stops off for the first time on Saturday 3rd May.  

We've added all of these dates plus many many more to our What's On in Bearwood page which you can visit right here!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Welcome To The Windsor!

It seems as if the old Windsor Theatre (read our article here!) is being given a breath of fresh air!  Thank Goodness!
The building is currently being used as Sandwell Snooker Club and although for the last few years it has been sadly neglected there are plans afoot to restore and renew the theatre to its former glory.

Dating back to 1930 The Windsor Theatre on Bearwood Road was originally opened as the 'picture and theatre venue' playing host to the latest films of the time.
Its distinctive and imposing facade became a focal point in Bearwood with its domed roof 
dominating the skyline.
Closed during the war it re-opened as a theatre with famous stars of the time in attendance showing many amateur dramatics, plays and pantomimes.  

We recently bought this Humpty Dumpty programme which dates from 1958 from an antiques fair.
The 1960's saw the building converted into an ice rink (Mrs B Snr remembers ice-skating there) and in the 1970's, for a short time, it became a night club.
The premises then remained empty and unused until The Sandwell Snooker Centre was established in 1982.
With 11 full size, match standard snooker tables, bar, lounge area and function room, (gosh it’s bigger inside than we thought!) the owners are currently in the process of refurbishing the interior much to the delight of its loyal and longstanding members. 
Julie Fletcher who has recently been brought into help her father couldn’t wait to tell us more. “I’ve always been passionate about this building’, ‘Whenever I look around I always see something new or try to imagine what it must have been like in its former glory. I'm in awe of people who have said to me 'I used to come ice ­skating here’ or ' I saw some famous actress on stage here' and someone recently told me they used to work in the ticket booth in the grand entrance.”
Julie explained that “I have been brought in to help with the business recently and my passion for the building has been re­ignited. We have refurbished the bar, lounge are and function room.”

“Our long standing and loyal member deserve a pleasant and relaxing place to unwind and the the feedback has been very positive.”

We asked Julie what their future plans for the building are and she mentioned that
“we are also looking to develop the stunning 1930's entrance area and upper levels into a
'destination' bar and bistro venue, hoping to enhance the original architecture. Our desire is to restore and renovate rather than renew and alter the heart of the building.”

“Our ultimate aim is to bring the exterior of the building back to its former glory, unfortunately as with most things this will take time and a lot of money, but when I look back at the old photos of the building in its prime, it just makes me even more determined to achieve this.”

“With the newly refurbished interior we are planning a programme of entertainment and we welcome new members and non­ members to our club.”

You can obtain application packs to join the Centre by phoning the Club on 0121 420 3203.  Everybody is welcome.

Julie wants to get everybody in Bearwood involved in the project and she is really excited about the future. “I'm looking forward to the future of The Windsor building and with the support of our members,old and new, and importantly our local community we can try and make it the building it deserves to be.

You can follow the progress made on Sandwell Snooker Club Facebook page right here!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Adults iPLay

Following on from the success of the iPad classes for kids which were run over the school holidays, Marie Bastable has found herself to be in demand again but this time it's the parents who want to go to iPlay school.

Marie explained to us that she had found local Mums and Dads were having "concerns about the safety settings on the family iPad and wanted to become more familiar with the device in general, in order to be one step ahead…or at least to keep up to date with the youngsters! They also asked me to recommend quality Apps that would help children with the specific stages they were at."  

In response, Marie ran a 3 week ‘course’ on Monday evenings from 7.45pm - 8.30pm for a group of 6 adults and had fantastic feedback. All the parents had been eager to get on their iPads as soon they had got home and had sorted out the iPad’s safety settings, learnt lots about the general use of the device and enjoyed being introduced to some new Apps which they could tailor to meet the individual needs of their children.

One happy parent has said that "I went on her last course and found it brilliant. I am able to do a lot more now with all ages of kids and I'd really recommend it. She doesn't even mind what you may consider daft questions!".

Marie wants to run more 3 week courses and would love to know if any Bearwood parents would be interested in attending?  Marie prefers to have smaller classes with a maximum of 6 adults so that she can make sure she can help everybody who comes along.

To find out more please contact Marie on 07530 695979 or email her at

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fit Like A Glover

OMG!  Watch him go!

Martyn Glover, manager of 24/7 gym (Hagley Road) has his own You Tube Fitness Channel.  If you want to have killer abs, flexed thigh muscles or would really love to lose a few pounds to fit into your favourite summer top, check out these videos and then get to the gym itself.   You can watch them here

The gym has a free weights area, a separate ladies gym, a wide range of studio classes, saunas, steam rooms, boxing area, personal trainers and 24 hour access.

Watch out for our 24/7 competition coming very soon!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Lightwoods Line-up!

The full-line up for Lightwoods Park May Day Festival has just been announced and we must admit we’re a little (ok VERY!) excited.

Lots of brilliant live bands including Bearwood’s finest Pete Williams, lovely lovely man and Dexys co-founder, AND ‘Pass The Dutchie’ (definitely one of our 80s faves) Musical Youth on the main stage, the Smethwick Fusion dance off between the Dhol Empire drummers and the Jockey Morris Men, Skate Jam’s scooter, BMX and skateboard competitions and how could we forget the Real Ale Festival courtesy of Enville Ales and Black Country Ales.  Plus loads more.

Fingers crossed the sun shines on us like it did last year.   We’ll see you there!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Wonderfully Egg-tastic!

Who needs Cadbury's, Thorntons or Hotel Chocolat when you've got Charlie's Mom's Chocolate Factory's egg-cellent Easter

Pop into Webbs Gift Shop on 3 Shires Oak Road before they all sell out!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sunday Samba Sounds

Samba Lounge

Last weekend the first Sunday Acoustic Session took place at Samba Lounge.  

Amelia Wallace told us what a wonderful time everybody had......

I didn’t see any budding Brazilian dancers; however, being at a place evidently named after a Brazilian dance, you’ve probably never been anywhere that has felt more homely.  

Amelia Wallace

The door of the Samba was wide open; people of all different ages and tastes stepped in with an energetic curiosity and eagerly placed themselves around the stage. 

Surrounded by the vintage-looking furniture and the bar at arm’s reach, the audience was captivated...the show hadn’t even begun yet!

Myself, (Amelia) opened up the afternoon with an assortment of different songs and covers of artists from the Foo Fighters to Amy Macdonald. I loved performing at the Samba, everyone was utterly chilled and were a pleasure to sing to.

My quieter set was harmoniously contrasted with the band Mr Apollo whose genre was an intriguing blend of folk, blues, and indie infused with the perfect amount of Rock ’n’ RollEvery single member of the band had an abundance of raw talent and passion for performing. Had you ever seen a group of people play so many different instruments so flawlessly? No, me neither.

Oh, and I don’t know about you, but I think that Paul’s hat is well cool!

Mr Apollo

By the time that headliner Esther Turner had started playing, the Sun - peaking through the front window and open doors of the Samba lounge - had grown and had started listening intently at the cool, enchanting vibe of the music being played there. 

The audience had their drinks and their ice creams and were bobbing away in unison (let’s just say that the Samba was a little bit too cosy for head banging) to ‘Happy’ being covered by Esther. Esther’s set was performed with thrilling energy and had everyone singing along, even my Nan!

Esther Turner

In particular, a few members of the audience made this afternoon really great; they were full on dancing and singing and being so friendly to everyone.

Sunday Samba Sounds

This Sunday afternoon brought a rare but quality experience for all involved and could not have run so immaculately without Paul Miller: a member of the awesome ‘Mr Apollo’. 

Without hesitation, another event similar to this one was organised almost immediately after it's success! The next event is at the Samba on the 11th May. 

Maybe next time you can come up and do some of that Brazilian dancing you've always wanted to do!

P.S. You can read welovebearwood’s interview with Amelia (right here!)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Going In Circles

We have to admit we have a love/hate relationship with the Number 11 bus.  It's great how far you can travel on it and it's very useful when you're going to a gig at the Hare and Hounds but at times some of the passengers you meet are, shall we say politely, interesting!

Inspired by this microcosm of life and stopping off at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 9th to 24th May is the play Circles. Travelling the outskirts of Birmingham on the Number 11 bus, two teenagers develop an unlikely friendship whilst a mother ruminates on her daughter's attempts to leave a violent relationship. Against the backdrop of a changing city everyone involved is forced to re-examine all they thought they knew about love, trust, family and friendship.

Rachel’s De-lahay’s vivid and powerful new play boldly explores cycles of violence and what it takes to break them and is a visceral examination of the effects of such violence on a generation of young women. Born and bred in Birmingham, Rachel was Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Pearson Playwright in Residence. Her first play The Westbridge was produced to critical acclaim by The Royal Court in 2011 and her second play Routes opened in September. Called the ‘queen of urban cool’ by The Independent, Rachel was joint winner with Roy Williams of the Alfred Fagan Award in 2010 and of the 2013 Writers Guild Award for best play.

For further information about the show visit the Birmingham REP website (right here!) or call the Box Office on 0121 236 4455.

For welovebearwood readers we have 2 x pairs of tickets ('Playsavers' anyone...ahem...) to be won for the opening night of Circles on Friday 9 May, 8pm. To be in with a chance of winning just answer this question;

Which bus route is part of the play, Circles, set on?

a) Number 11

b) Number 37

c) Number 4

Please email your answer to by Thursday 1st May 2014.  The winner will be chosen at random.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Red Oven

It would be all too easy to miss Red Oven, situated as it is above a branch of Superdrug on Bearwood High Street.  Ignore this slightly unusual set-up though and you’ll find a surprisingly light and airy restaurant with a simple elegance and relaxed atmosphere. On top of the 90 or so covers in the main dining area there’s also a function area on the floor above that seats around 25 if you fancy a private party and access to all floors is a doddle thanks to a lift.

The cuisine’s a loving homage to all things Punjabi and the owners have secured the services of a chef with over 20 years’ experience to do it justice. The menu’s reasonably extensive too, with plenty of choice for vegetarians. To test this out we ordered Shakahari Shashlik for one of our starters which cleverly uses chunks of soya marinated in yogurt and spices then cooked in the tandoor to replicate the texture and taste of chicken. It’s a pretty impressive substitute and there are rumours of disgruntled veggies claiming they’d been fed meat in the past! We plumped for the real thing for our other starter though courtesy of the Mixed Platter, a delicious seekh kebab with a decent texture and smoky heat, a couple of portions of garlic chicken and, star of the dish, moist chicken tikka cooked on the bone for extra succulence. A veritable bargain at £3.95.

For mains we plumped for Lamb Tikka Punjabi Masala and Chicken Tawa Masala. Both dishes zinged with freshness and it was nice to be able to taste the individual ingredients in different mouthfuls, a refreshing hit and crunch of ginger here and a spicy blast of chilli there. Discussing this style of cuisine with the owner after our meal he explained that the emphasis was on fresh ingredients and well balanced spices rather than the use of ghee and creams that give many other restaurants’ dishes their flavour. This lighter touch extended to the Garlic Naan too, a flatter, crisper cousin of the ‘sink to your boots’ version that you may be used to. As a result the meal, whilst perfectly filling, sat more comfortably on the stomach.  

There are plans to tweak the menu in the next few weeks to introduce some Indian Chinese fusion cooking and we were able to try a sneaky sample of one of the dishes, Paneer Chilli, which blends all of the sweetness and crunch of a stir fry with the spice and heat of a curry. Delicious and, no doubt, a pretty healthy option as well. To cool our taste buds down a couple of delicious scoops of well flavoured Kulfi (mango and pistachio) did the trick.  

Service was very friendly and professional throughout, nice to have Cobra beer on draft too. To encourage you to give the place a try (and we heartily recommend that you do!) they have a variety of tempting offers in place right now including a £9.95 deal which gets you a starter, main course, rice and naan (Monday – Wednesday, they do ask that you book first). We can’t imagine you’d be able to buy and cook all that much cheaper at you don’t have to do the washing up which has to be a result. All in all a hidden gem of a restaurant.  

Red Oven, 607 Bearwood Road, Bearwood, B66 4BJ

Tel: 0121 429 2884


Monday, 14 April 2014

Roll on Easter Monday

Warley Woods are holding their very popular Easter Egg Event on Easter Monday, 21st April 2014. 

We distracted  Viv Cole, Warley Woods Trust Manager from egg rolling practice to find out more.

"The main focus of the event is the Easter Egg roll down the meadow’s long bank (called the death run in snowy weather) with prizes for the egg-roller that rolls the furthest. We
will also be repeating the Egg Roll for Adults as it so great to see the grown ups try and beat the children’s distance!

Other activities include the Decorated Egg Competition and an Easter Quiz Trail with clues which will lead visitors through the Woods to the Pavilion.”

Viv mentioned that “Seven years and still rolling! This is now a firm fixture at Warley Woods and people even came out in the snow last year to roll. We hope that doesn’t happen this year. It is a great event with simple fun whether you are a child or adult, artistic, competitive, or just want an Easter stroll through the woods.”

Anyone who would like to take part should bring their hard boiled eggs to the Upper St Mary’s entrance of Warley Woods at 11.00am. Entry into all activities is £1.  Egg-citing!

Any queries, please call 0121 420 1061.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Andrew Hits The Wig Time!

Bearwood resident and Birmingham REP’s wig and makeup maestro Andrew Whiteoak (he’s a lecturer as well...busy chap) couldn’t wait to tell us his exciting news.

The theatre now works very closely with UK’s leading hair and beauty supplier, Ellisons, and they have been shortlisted for their partnership at this year’s Arts & Business Awards at London’s BFI Southbank on 21st May!

Andrew has worked at the REP for over 19 years, designing and creating wigs, hairstyles and makeup for countless theatre productions ranging from Dishwashers (with David Essex, yes please!) though to Roald Dahl’s The Witches and the wonderful B-movie inspired musical Little Shop of Horrors. 

He’s also designed and created styles for Maureen Lipman, Gary Barlow and Martin Freeman too.

 Good Luck Andrew – we’re dye-ing to hear how you get on! 

Photos courtesy of Andrew's website (right here!) and for more details please visit the Birmingham REP's website (right here!)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Skatepark Jam

Hosted by Mr Tom Naylor, the Skatepark Jam is back at Lightwoods May Day Festival on Monday 5th May.  

Tom would love everybody to come down and show their support and gives a big shout out to the sponsors for sponsoring the event and donating top prizes.

Here's the highlights: 

Prizes for the top 3 scooters,best tricks and a chance to win more prizes on the day.
Prizes for the top 3 skaters, best tricks plus there may be a few extra surprises on the day

5-6pm BMX JAM 
Prizes for the top 3 bmxers, best tricks and more surprises on the day itself

You’ll be able to practice your moves and if you’re a novice have a go between the competitions. 

There will be music in the Skatepark throughout the day from Urban Village resident DJ Stephan 'dj-Esstee' Turner and Mitchell Nolan who will be bringing the best in House, Jackin and Bass driven vibes, old school classics from Bearwood Shuffle DJ Craig and PAs from MoD who's fresh from supporting Tinie Tempah and Beat Box Master AKIN SID who in Tom’s words “there's not much to say but wow!”   Mr Naylor will be in constant demand, doing everything from MCing to keeping things in order on the day.

The Skatepark Jam is just one of the many features of the Lightwoods May Day Event and there will be plenty for everyone to enjoy including live bands, Sandwell's Strongest Man Competition and the real ale festival. 

Last year was a sell-out with 22 thousand people coming along.  Don't miss it!

For more information about the Skatepark Jam please contact @tom naylor or Cherie O'Sullivan

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Let's get ready to Zumba!

Are you ready to Zumba?  Details of the weekly Zumba classes have just been added to our Bearwood What's On page. 

The classes take place at St Marks Church on Thimblemill Road every Monday evening (7.15pm/8.15pm) and Friday evening (6pm/7pm).   Please note that there are no classes on Good Friday (18th April) or Easter Monday (21st April).

All levels of fitness are welcome and it's a great way to get fit and make new friends.  

For more details please text Karen on 07960 508151 or visit her website right here.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Acoustic Sundays

Just added to our Bearwood What's On page this looks like it's going to be a perfect way to spend your lazy Sunday afternoons and it's FREE!

The music starts this Sunday 13th April at 2pm at the Samba Lounge (Three Shires Oak Road) with live classic roots rock from Mr Apollo, lonesome troubador Dan Hartland, acoustic singer songwriter Esther Turner and welovebearwood favourite Amelia Wallace (read our interview with Amelia here!)

P.S. If you're holding an event in Bearwood and would like welovebearwood to help spread the word we would love to hear from you. Please email the events details to us at with the words EVENT REQUESTS in the subject header. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Now We Are 10!

It seems perfect timing that to mark welovebearwood’s 500th posting that we can celebrate Warley Woods Community Trust’s 10th anniversary.  Happy 10th Birthday Warley Woods!
After the celebrations with lots of bubbly and very happy smiley faces yesterday afternoon, Viv Cole, Warley Woods Trust Manager told us why this is such a momentous occasion especially as it hasn’t always felt like a walk in the park.

Viv said..."The Community Trust is really pleased that on 1st April we celebrated 10 years of managing Warley Woods. The lease for the site was finally signed back in April 2004 after 7 years of discussions with both Birmingham City Council and Sandwell MBC.

Since then the Trust has been actively improving the physical state of the site and organising events and activities to ensure that more local people will be able to enjoy the beautiful green space in many different ways. The Trust has over 800 members and last year over 400 people volunteered at Warley Woods – giving their time, so that the site can keep giving back to everyone who visits.

The site has been awarded Green Flag for the last five years and in 2011 and 2012 it came second in the public vote for the UK’s favourite green space. The Trust was the first charity of its kind to take on the running of an urban park and its survival has never been guaranteed. It has taken hard work and persistence through the 10 years to continually improve and thrive.”
Viv told us to keep a close eye on Warley Woods calendar as there will be lots of special activities throughout the year to celebrate their 10th birthday

Warley Woods Milestones include:
 2004 Took on management of Warley Woods park and golf course
 2006 Centenary events with schools
 2006 Publication of the Trust’s first book
 2006 Began delivery of regeneration through Heritage Lottery Project (HLF)
 2006 Created new children’s play area
 2006 New park sculptures
 2006 Stride healthy walks start in the Woods
 2007 Completed £1,000,000 HLF Project to time and to budget pathways, benches, bins, fencing, treeworks, signage
 2008 Buggyfit comes to Warley Woods
 2008 New swings for young people
 2008 Tree trail leaflet
 2008 Pavilion building now fully accessible with new toilets, boiler and windows
 2009 History trail leaflet and signage
 2009 Restoration of Edwardian Drinking Fountain
 2009 Trust Membership reaches 800
 2009 First golf summer school – free for children from Sandwell
 2009 Green Flag Award
 2009 New perimeter path around golf course
 2009 Virgin Trains sponsors Santa in the Woods
 2009 Kickstart Bootcamp comes to Warley Woods
 2010 The Wilderness Opened to the public
 2010 Theatre in the Woods for the first time
 2011 (and 2012) Silver Medal in the People’s Choice Award for green spaces
 2011 Volunteers now number over 400  
2012 Events calendar lists over 20 events to take place in the year
 2012 Warley Woods Pacers (running club) affiliated to England Athletics
 2014 Viv Cole, Trust Manager, celebrates raising £1,000,000 for the Trust
 2014 10th  Birthday Celebrations

Well done Warley Woods.  Here’s to another great 10 years and many more to come!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ale and Party!

Photo credit: Bearwood Blog

Get your pint glasses ready!

Courtesy of Bob Piper's brilliant Bearwood Blog, there's been an exciting announcement today about Bearwood's real ale bar.
"Sandwell Council's Licensing Panel met this morning to consider the application to convert the former HSBC bank on Bearwood Road into a real ale bar.
After considering the views of objectors the Panel decided to approve the application for licensable activities hours 1000 – midnight . 
Live music, recorded music, late night refreshment and alcohol for consumption on and off the premises. Opening hours 1000 – 0030."
We'll see you there!

Yoga Bear...wood!

How’s your week been so far?  Are the stresses of modern life getting on top of you?  Did your smart phone, tablet and laptop stop working in the same 24 hours?  Aaaarrgggh!  We know the feeling!

Fortunately, there’s a new yoga teacher in Bearwood who can help by the name of Melissa Monks and she’s holding a yoga taster class on Friday 11th April at St Gregory’s Church on Wigorn Road from 6-7.15pm. 

 The taster class only costs £3.50 per person so why not pop along to give it a try.  If you find yoga gives you the relaxation you need why not sign up for Melissa’s regular Friday evening classes which start after the Easter holidays.

We were able to catch a few words from Melissa between yoga stretches to find out more.

“I like many others, first experienced yoga at a local leisure centre and thought it was a great way to stretch and become more flexible. It wasn’t until I lived in Asia for 2 years and gained my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training qualification in the spiritual town of Rishikesh, India that I started to realise there was a lot more to yoga than it first seemed!

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras tell us that yoga is eight limbed (The Ashtanga System), with the physical asanas (postures) only being one part. The other 7 limbs include proper breath control, meditation and learning how to see ourselves and others in a positive light. I left India with a whole new outlook on being present, living life to the full and came away feeling calmer and happier than I have in a long time.

I returned to the UK in December and after 2 months of living in Bearwood I now hope to share this knowledge with others to help them achieve the same balance (both in body and mind) that I am myself working towards. Yoga is not a competition and is suitable for everyone, no matter how bendy you happen to be!”

If you are interested and would like to sign up for group classes or private tuition or even just fancy the taster yoga class please contact Melissa to find out more.  Melissa's contact details are: Tel: 07453 540693 Email: