Birmingham Living January 2022 (issue 108)

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January 2022

BOYS WHO CRY

RYAN WALKER-EDWARDS

BIRMINGHAM 2022 RAIDENE CARTER

NEW YEAR FIT & FAB GOLDEN AGE

KITTY SCOTT-CLAUS of

THE REP

Drag Race star on RuPaul, Roxie Hart and putting the sass in Brum


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EDITOR’S VIEW

T

alking with Kitty Scott-Claus for the first cover story of a new year proved to be a fun and uplifting experience. The sheer enthusiasm of the RuPaul Drag Race UK star to look at the positives in life and grab every opportunity – whenever, wherever it may come – with both hands struck me as a great way to look at the year ahead. Despite the fatigue of enduring what feels like a never-ending pandemic, there are some really awesome days to look forward to in Brum in 2022. None more so than the Commonwealth Games later this summer, when the city will welcome the world’s top athletes in what is sure to be a wonderful showcase for Birmingham and the West Midlands. It seems like only yesterday when Brum was named as the Games venue, and at the time it felt like a distant dream. Far away, with so many years to wait until the opening ceremony was unveiled and the first starter’s gun fired. Well, now it’s almost here! In these Covid times, the hope, expectation even, is that the 2022 Commonwealth Games will give Brum a huge civic shot in the arm. A global stage to show off what a great city ours is. And hopefully to welcome visitors and spectators who will contribute to giving businesses and the local economy a major, muchneeded boost. Call it a coincidence, but it feels perfect that Birmingham should be the focus of the Commonwealth family in the year when the Queen, its greatest champion and supporter, also celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. (Cue street parties and plenty of Union flag-waving.) Yes, the world is coming to town… so, are you ready Birmingham?

ns h o J d i v a D

visit www.brumliving.co.uk @brum_living

Cover image:

/bhamliving

FINALIST

All dolled up, Kitty Scott-Claus

EDITOR: David Johns david@brumliving.co.uk FEATURES EDITOR: Shelley Carter shelley@brumliving.co.uk DESIGNER: Tracy Duffy

CONTRIBUTORS: Rob Price, Sue Cooke, Lisa Melvin, Hywel Davies ACCOUNT MANAGER: Jane Morris jane@brumliving.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHY: David Morphew, Andrew Llewellyn PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Jonathan Carter

Rock Hopper Media Limited Burleigh House, 23 Tagwell Road, Droitwich WR9 7BN tel 01905 771110 © Rock Hopper Media Ltd. Birmingham Living is published monthly by Rock Hopper Media Ltd and printed by Buxton Press. Views and opinions expressed by authors and services and products offered by advertisers are not specifically endorsed by Rock Hopper Media Ltd. Reproduction in whole or in part of the contents of Birmingham Living without written permission is strictly prohibited.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: The subscription rate (post paid) is £24 for one year (12 issues). Subscriptions 01905 771110 ISSN 2051-8560

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INSIDE

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Highlights

Kitty Scott-Claus

The flamboyant finalist from RuPaul’s Drag Race on how Brum shaped her

The Rep’s Big Year One of the city’s artistic jewels is set to celebrate 50 years in Centenary Square

Food & Drink With Liam Dillion, owner and head chef of the Boat Inn, plus news, reviews and wine picks

Health Expert guide to recovering from the stresses of the festive period, plus new year, new health regime

Style If you’re going to get fit, you need the right kit – but there’s no need to spend a fortune to look the part!

Homes Kitchens 2022: The latest trends that will turn the heart of your home into something extra special

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CONTENTS

Best of the Rest

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Motoring

Sue Cooke goes on a New Year Highland fling at the wheel of Toyota’s new hybrid Highlander

Slam Punk Former Poet Laureate, Giovanni ‘Spoz’ Esposito, is inspiring youngsters – and dismissing poetry snobs Young, Gifted & Brummie Line of Duty, Doctors and finalist in the Sky Comedy Rep scheme – meet the talented Ryan Walker-Edwards

Business News News, views, comings and goings from the commercial community, plus Social Scene

What’s On News from the city’s top shows and gigs in our round-up of events taking place this month

Up Close With Raidene Carter, executive producer of the six-month Birmingham 2022 Festival

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NEWS

DOWN TO EARTH

Picture: W5, Belfast

The majesty of planet Earth will be celebrated in an artwork at Millennium Point. Luke Jerram’s work entitled Gaia has been created from NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface and measures seven metres in diameter. Each centimetre of the sculpture, which goes on show from 1 February, depicts 18km of the planet’s surface. It will be suspended in the atrium and slowly rotate to a specially created surround sound composition by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones.

NEWS

BRINGING YOU THE BRIGHTEST AND MOST COLOURFUL STORIES FROM ACROSS THE CITY EACH MONTH

MASKED CRUSADERS A show celebrating life and what we’ve missed in the pandemic is coming to Birmingham. Dead Good is the creation of Vamos Theatre – the UK’s leading full mask theatre company. Funny and poignant, it tells the story of Bob and Bernard, who after meeting at a hospice group, decide to hit the road on one final adventure. The show, at mac Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park on 8 and 9 February, highlights friendship and living every day to the full. Details and tickets at: www.vamostheatre.co.uk/s hows/show/dead-good

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PIZZA PROJECT Children in care across the West Midlands are set to benefit from a fund-raising campaign to help them with the transition to independent adult lives. The money raised will allow children’s charity Barnardo’s to support young people leaving care who have no family network and are often left to learn life lessons on their own. The campaign is being run by Artisan pizza company Birtelli’s through its ongoing partnership with Barnardo’s and its Supported Lodgings Service.

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NEWS

GET READY TIGER! The Year of the Tiger is almost here – and Birmingham’s Chinese community is ready to celebrate in style. The arrival of the Chinese New Year is one of the city’s biggest events, regularly attracting up to 30,000 people to festivities in the Chinese Quarter on the nearest weekend to the date of the new year. The main date usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice and is always between 20 January and 21 February 21. In 2022, Chinese New Year begins on Tuesday, 1 February.

FLYBE BACK DEAD ON TARGET The Day of the Dead has helped make life a little brighter for those in the greatest need. Birmingham-based property developer Cordia Blackswan raised more than £3,000 for housing support charity Spring Housing at its charity fundraiser themed around the Mexican festival. Guests had their faces painted with traditional sugar skull make-up and enjoyed Mexican food, drink and music. Spring Housing provides homes for those in the greatest need, investing to prevent homelessness, poverty, and social isolation.

A famous name in the skies over Birmingham has been reborn with the news that Flybe will site its new company HQ and first crew base at the city’s airport. The move is expected to create 200 new jobs in the Birmingham and West Midlands region over the next three years, with an additional 400 jobs nationwide. West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “It’s brilliant news that Flybe is coming back as a commercial airline, and even better that it has chosen Birmingham to house its new headquarters.”

HELPING HAND

Grants-giving charity, Heart of England Community Foundation, is supporting local drug and alcohol abuse services to help tackle addiction in the region. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity has awarded six grants, totalling more than £42,000 to projects fighting substance abuse and addiction issues. Supporting projects like Livingstone House, Cherished Hearts, ESH Works, Changes UK and Substance Matters, has meant that the Foundation has helped more than 300 people on the road to recovery.

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NEWS

STEPS FOR PRIDE Chart-topping pop band STEPS will headline Birmingham Pride – with both the group and the festival celebrating their 25th anniversaries. The festival in September is billed as ’25 years of Pride and Protest’ – reflecting on the advances made in equality, while carrying on the fight against injustice, prejudice and inequality that continue to affect LGBTQ+ people. STEPS is one of the UK’s most successful pop groups of all time, with 21 million record sales.

HIT FOR SIXES The world’s first social cricket entertainment experience is proving a big hit in Birmingham. Visitors to Sixes can swing for the boundaries in hi-tech batting simulators before settling into the bar and restaurant at Wharfside Street in the Mailbox. Founder Calum Mackinnon said: “The people of Birmingham love their sport and our mission is to bring people together through sport and great hospitality.” Sixes’ ambassadors include former England captain Sir Andrew Strauss.

DANCE APPEAL

GRASPING THE NETTLE Birmingham Centre for Art Therapies (BCAT) has worked with communities across Birmingham to create a new exhibition titled “the strawberry grows underneath the nettle” inspired by a quote from Henry V. Created in response to items from the Shakespeare collection, the exhibition is on display in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham until the middle of the month. It includes items created through community workshops, themed around the Memorial Library and ‘growing Shakespeare’. More details at: www.everythingtoeverybody.bham.ac.uk

A £500,000 investment programme has been launched by Dance Hub Birmingham to make dance a vibrant contributor to the economic life of Birmingham. Round One of the strategic investment initiative has opened for project proposals for a minimum of £30,000 which will be expected to generate added value from other sources and bring together multiple partners to make a significant step change for the sector. Deadline for applications is 28 February. More details at https://www.dancehubbirmin gham.org.uk/investment-

AGGIE ON A MISSION

priorities/

Coronation Street star Lorna Laidlaw, who plays Aggie

Bailey in the TV soap, helped launch a major engagement programme in Birmingham schools, highlighting the contribution made by those who settled in the city from the Commonwealth. The project is the brainchild of Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage, working in partnership with Birmingham Archives, University of Birmingham and Historic England. It features 20 local schools and more than 1,200 students aged from seven to 16.

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NEWS

TONY’S ROCKING RELIC Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has come faceto-face with a pre-historic relic named after him! Heavy metal-loving scientists from Scandinavia discovered a 469-year-old fossil in Russia and decided to name a new species – Drepanoistodus Iommii – after the Birmingham rocker. To mark the occasion, Westside BID manager Mike Olley set up a surprise Facetime meeting between Tony, his fossil and palaeontologist Mats Eriksson on the Black Sabbath bench in Birmingham. Tony said: “My friends have enjoyed calling me an old fossil, but I think this is a real honour.”

FLYING VISIT One of the world’s most famous hot air balloons is coming to the Midlands. Designed in the shape of the head of artist Vincent Van Gogh, the high-flier stands more that 90 feet tall. Not seen in the UK for 18 years, it will be part of a display of 130 hot air balloons at the Midlands Air Festival at Ragley Hall Estate on the Queen’s Jubilee Bank Holiday, 2 to 4 June. The event also features an air display, large radiocontrolled models and night fire show.

YOUTH BOOST

Donors raised £25,000 for Birmingham Hippodrome’s Education Network (HEN) as part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge. The funding will allow local young people to take part in workshops and creative projects which will develop their skills and create first-time cultural experiences. Judith Greenburgh, the Hippodrome’s head of fund-raising and development, said: “Thank you to everyone who donated, helping us support a further 1,000 young people over the next 12 months.” Donors included members of the public and businesses.

ROAR MEET Panto star Doreen Tipton, who plays the Lazy Lion Tamer in Birmingham Hippodrome’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears, met her match when she came face to face with Hercules the Lion at Villa Park. The Aston Villa mascot proved to be a bit of a pussycat though as the duo posed for souvenir photos ahead of the panto’s first night. There’s still time to catch Doreen, Jason Donovan, Matt Slack and Co on stage as Goldilocks runs until 30 January.

ALEX HAILS HEROES The Alexandra theatre is offering a 25 per cent discount on tickets for emergency service workers, armed forces, social workers and teachers. Announcing the Local Heroes initiative, theatre director Simon Creed said: “This is our way of saying thank you to those in our community who have dedicated their lives to helping others.” To sign up to Local Heroes,

GOT ANY NEWS? Email your news and pictures to editor@brumliving.co.uk

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view a full list of shows and offers and check all qualifying professions, visit atgtix.co/LocalHeroes

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COVER STORY

LIFE’S A DRAG… AND I’M LOVING IT!

ALL SEQUINS AND SASS, BRUM’S VERY OWN KITTY SCOTT-CLAUS TOOK

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE UK BY STORM. THE LARGER-THAN-LIFE DRAG QUEEN TALKS TO DAVID JOHNS ABOUT GROWING UP IN BRUM, WANTING TO BE ROXIE HART AND WHY SHE’S READY TO BECOME THE NEXT TESS DALY!

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COVER STORY

itty Scott-Claus has a mantra we could all do well to adopt: “When a once in a lifetime opportunity comes along, I don’t want to waste a single second not living my best life.” That big chance came for Kitty on Season 3 of the hit TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – and she did indeed grab it with both perfect manicured hands, making the final, and with her flamboyant, joyous, funny personality, becoming something of a national treasure in the process. The series turned the drag queen who grew up in Brum into an instant favourite, and although she ended up not quite taking the winner’s crown, Kitty says her Drag Race journey was everything she could have dreamed of – and then some. “I had the absolute best time as I allowed myself to be in the moment and enjoy every twist and turn. I’d previously auditioned for Season 2, but I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason, and I’m so pleased the stars aligned and I got my spot on Season 3. I felt like a winner just getting on the show in the first place, I have friends who audition year after year so just knew I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by.”

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ALL-TIME HERO The show also allowed Kitty to rub sequins with one of her all-time heroes, RuPaul. It was like a dream come true, said Kitty. “Just look at Ru’s career! TVs shows, music, films spanning decades; it’s something I definitely aspire to mirror in my own career. The show does a fantastic job of telling real queer stories and bringing them to the mainstream. What I find so inspiring about the show is that you’ll always find someone you relate to –no matter your gender, sexuality, colour, beliefs.” Kitty grew up in Sutton Coldfield as Louis Westwood, one a family of six children and remembers being a kid who was always showing off, always singing, dancing and doing impressions. “Whenever my parents would go to parents’ evening they’d get told I needed to concentrate more on schoolwork and less on

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making the class laugh. I never listened, and here I am today making people laugh!” The family wasn’t performance focussed at all. “They all went to uni and did serious subjects like engineering and accounting,” said Kitty. “I went to drama school and did musical theatre. But I never wanted to do the boring boy parts. I wanted to be Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, or Roxie Hart in Chicago, or Glinda in Wicked. The busty blondes!” Kitty added: “I loved growing up in Birmingham. To me coming into the centre of town was like an escape from the dull school life growing up, it was so exciting. I went to school in Sutton, then Walsall and then Lichfield, so I moved around a lot. I loved school but I loved it for the social side, seeing friends. I hated actually having to do the homework. I was never bullied in school, but I was always aware that I was different to everyone else, everyone else has aspirations of working in business or making millions – I just wanted to make people laugh.” That obvious talent as a youngster to entertain was embraced by Kitty’s parents who decided that stage school would be a good destination. “They knew they had a flamboyant, overdramatic, attention-seeking child,” said Kitty. She started taking speech and drama lessons in primary school and always lived for the school plays, then attending stage school on Sundays, getting involved in local youth theatre groups before going to London for drama school at age 18. Kitty says of her parents: “They are so, so supportive. I really couldn’t ask for a better team of cheerleaders. They’re so proud, especially now coming off the back of the TV show. After musical theatre school, I sort of fell into drag completely organically after graduating, it just sort of happened.” Like all of us, Kitty has struggled to face the challenges of the Covid pandemic: “When the pandemic first hit there was one morning when literally every single gig I had booked in for the foreseeable future got cancelled. Before Covid, I was lucky enough to be working and supporting myself

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COVER STORY

as a full-time queen and then to go from that to absolutely nothing, no means of income for the foreseeable future was terrifying. The pandemic has taught me again to grab every opportunity life throws at you, because you never know what’s going to happen in the future – so take the gig, have a camp time and crack open the prosecco!” Pandemic permitting, Kitty has big plans for her future. She says: “The coming year is going to be huge, I’m touring all over the country and then have the official Drag Race UK tour in the second half of the year which will be fantastic. Who knows what else I’m allowed to say at this point, but watch this space because the world is about to get a hell of a lot more Kitty in 2022. I would love to get into presenting – who knows to be honest, in my head I’m the next Tess Daly!” I

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Madonna Kebab, Chelsea Bun and Burger Queen were all names that Kitty thought about before choosing Kitty Scott-Claus. “One day it just hit me. I realised that whenever someone was being a bit catty, I always used to say, ‘Ooh saucer of milk – this kitty’s got claws!’ And so that’s how Kitty Scott-Claus was born!” She admits that she is actually scared of cats… “I’m much more of a dog person.”

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FEATURE

GOLDEN AGE OF

THE REP

THE REP IS ONE THE BRIGHTEST JEWELS IN THE CITY’S CROWDED CROWN AND AFTER 18 TOUGH MONTHS GRAPPLING WITH COVID CLOSURES, THE THEATRE IS READY TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS IN ITS CENTENARY SQUARE HOME IN STYLE he oldest building-based theatre company in the country and the only one in the region producing new work, the Rep is pioneering and remarkable. Genuinely a forerunner of the RSC and the National, the Rep has led the way since its inception in 1913, producing and attracting the very best talent. Olivier made his debut on the Rep stage and the pull for emerging and established talent just gets stronger. Anyone catch Tom Hiddleston in The Play What I Wrote? Moving to Centenary Square from Station Street in 1971, the Rep has produced more than 130 new plays, presented over 60 productions on its three stages each year and has built up an admirable outreach programme – one of the largest and most diverse of any arts organisation in the country with 70,000-plus contacts with young people and adults in the community on projects ranging from writing workshops to large scale productions. The theatre is also hot on nurturing new talent through youth theatre groups and training for writers, directors and artists starting out in their careers through the Rep Foundry theatre-makers programme.

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SERIOUS TROUBLE Sean Foley, pictured, joined the Rep as artistic director three weeks before the pandemic changed everything and says he’s spent much of that time fire-fighting: “Covid has been terrible for the

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theatre. Everything has its context, but it was genuinely close to bankruptcy. Were it not for the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund we’d have been in serious trouble. Even with that support there had to be redundancies.” The theatre reopened in September with East is East which was well received by audiences and critics, followed by new production What’s New Pussycat? and The Play What I Wrote directed by Sean. Too many Rep productions to name here have gone on to tour nationally and internationally including festive favourite, The Snowman which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as well as Anita and Me, Lovely Bones, Nativity! The Musical, Of Mice and Men, The King’s Speech to name just a snapshot. The 2022 season features six world premieres as part of Sean’s aim to bring ambitious popular theatre to the city. NEW MUSICALS The programme includes brand new musicals and writing exploring issues of class and race, reinventions of classics, and combines work from both established and new talent. On being back in front of live audiences, Sean says: “Re-opening after such a long close-down has been an exhilarating, somewhat hair-raising, and occasionally genuinely electrifying experience. Now we toast the Rep’s 50th anniversary in its Centenary Square home with new

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FEATURE

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FEATURE

shows that innovate, investigate and celebrate.” There’s a lot of original work to get your teeth into in the extensive celebratory programme, including Birmingham’s Poet Laureate, Casey Bailey’s first play, Grimeboy plus Sky Comedy Rep – a series of inaugural short plays from the writers on the Rep and Sky Studios new comedy writer development scheme premiered in a short festival in March featuring Brum’s own Ryan Walker-Edwards. (Check out page 52 to find out more about Ryan’s involvement.) Also, Sean’s brainchild, Park Bench Plays which brought together the work of some of the country’s brightest writing talents to create a collection of 10-minute plays originally performed as pop-ups across public spaces in Brum which have now been filmed and are available on Sky Arts. Next month, The Covid-19 Variations – a world premiere one-off film and concert – features a collaboration

STAGE SET Check out the 2022 programme at www.birmingham-rep.co.uk

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between artist Alison Jackson and Rep artistic associate, composer Richard Thomas directed by Sean is a must-see. There’s so much more and in truth, the whole year looks brilliant. GRAND ENTRANCE Work to transform the foyer of the theatre’s iconic curved structure was due to finish at the end of 2021. Slightly delayed, the hoardings should be down by the time you read this. Sean says the biggest change will be having a front door! Referring to the subtle side entrance, Sean adds: “When I arrived at The Rep I thought, ‘well, how do I get in?’ The changes will be incredible.” At the time of writing, there’s talk of mask wearing in theatres again and we’ll take that if it means the arts staying open. Bearing in mind the hardship of the last couple of years, we urge you to support the Rep and Brum’s other arts venues when you can. As well as experiencing some stunning work, you’ll be helping preserve the city’s rich and varied arts scene. I

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FOOD & DRINK

LIAM DILLON A career as an RAF high-flier beckoned until a last-minute open day visit to cookery college in Birmingham threw everything up into the air for the owner and chef at the Michelin-recommended Boat Inn

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CHEF’S CORNER

Tell us about your cooking My cooking style is modern British. I think I only use a couple of ingredients that are not grown in the UK. This is very important to me. It would be very easy to use imported fruit and vegetables, but this country has amazing produce which needs to be championed! How did you become a chef? I think my love of cooking comes right back to the days watching my nana cook when I was younger. Seeing what she did and how good her food tasted planted the seed of cooking in my head. I first wanted to join the RAF as a pilot when leaving school but changed my mind after visiting an open day at the cooking college in Birmingham. I enrolled and fell in love. From there I’ve never looked back. I trained at worldrenowned restaurants including Marcus Wareing, La Becasse, Five Fields and Story, as well as stints at Noma, Eleven Madison Park & Quay. I recently competed in Series 16 of TV’s Great British Menu 2021, representing the Central region. I have been chef-owner of the Michelin-recommended and 3 AA Rosette restaurant, the Boat Inn, in Lichfield since 2017.

We now have our own chickens which we get all our eggs from, a polytunnel for growing small amounts of produce and had the chance to change the dining space too.

What do you eat at home? I love really simple fish dishes or a ‘one pot wonder’. If it’s after work and I’m worn out and tired it’s usually something like peanut butter on toast or cheese!

Share a cooking tip Don’t be scared to eat British pork that is not cooked well done. Single muscle pink pork isn’t a problem and hasn’t been a problem since the late 70s.

Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum? That’s a tough one as there are so many chefs to choose from and so many different styles – so I’m going to skip giving you a name for either of those questions if that’s OK! It’s impossible to single anyone out as there are so many brilliant chefs around these days.

What was your favourite food as a kid? Potato faces. No, really, truthfully… I loved them!

How has your restaurant adapted to the pandemic crisis? We set up a Heat at Home packaged meal box. That was easy to bring together and also quite cost effective. We also turned the restaurant into a fried chicken takeaway which was a big hit and lots of fun. We also took the opportunity to do extensive work on the restaurant and the grounds during the closed period.

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Food heaven and food hell? Heaven is shellfish, and I’m not very fussy which. Hell is avocados, hate them with a passion! What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten? Grasshopper & grub garum while I was blending it to a paste at Noma. It was delicious! If you weren’t a chef, what would you be? A racing driver or something in motorsport. The Boat Inn, Walsall Road, Muckley Corner, Lichfield, WS14 0BU. Tel: 01543 361692 www.theboatinnlichfield.com

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COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH

EGG-CELLENT IDEA! We’re giving a nod to eggnog not just for Christmas, but for the New Year too. Are you with us?

ggnog is not just for Christmas, it’s also a great way to raise a glass to the New Year – and what’s more as it’s got egg in it, it also delivers a wee bit of goodness too. We realise it’s a bit ‘Marmite’ for some, but for us this creamy little tipple is a slug of heaven that deserves drinking long after Santa has packed away his sleigh and put his feet up. Some people are twitchy about the health risks associated with raw eggs so you can either use pasteurised eggs or if in doubt, serve up something else. We rather like this recipe though. I

E

INGREDIENTS: I 6 eggs

I 150g golden caster sugar

I 500ml whole milk

I 400ml double cream

I 350ml rum or brandy I Freshly grated nutmeg

METHOD: Separate the eggs, then whisk the yolks in a bowl with 100g of caster sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. Stir in the milk, double cream, the booze and a little grated nutmeg and pour into a punchbowl. Next, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining 50g of sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until well combined then ladle the eggnog into glass tumblers and serve with a little freshly grated nutmeg. Enjoy responsibly and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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FOOD & DRINK

NIBBLES and SHORTS

BIRMINGHAM’S BARS, RESTAURANTS AND HOTELS ARE LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK. HERE’S OUR INSIDER GUIDE TO THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE CITY’S EATERIES AND DRINKING DENS

BRATWURST FIRST

The taste of authentic German bratwurst arrived at Merry Hill as leading fast-food brand Extrawurst opened its first-ever UK restaurant. Sam Shutt, CEO of Extrawurst UK, said: “Brits are huge sausage fans with an average person eating 2,700 sausages in their lifetime but most people only experience German bratwurst at Christmas markets, so we’re delighted to bring the flavours of Germany to more people all year round.”

PUSHKAR WINS CURRY ‘OSCAR’

CHEF ADDS TO LIQUID LINE-UP

Birmingham’s Pushkar was named Best Restaurant In the West Midlands at the annual British Curry Awards held in association with Just Eat. Bollywood superstar Abhishek Bachchan announced that the Broad Street-based restaurant had held off fierce competition to win the title at an awards ceremony. Pushkar’s creative director Rai Singh said: “Hospitality is facing daily challenges but winning this award has given us hope and motivation to succeed.”

Communications consultancy Liquid has strengthened its food team with the announcement of full-time development chef, Olivier Briault. Parisian trained Olivier will help expand the agency’s growing food and beverage offering, working with clients on projects including product development, recipe creation, food photography and recipe videos. Olivier formerly worked in some of Birmingham’s finest kitchens including The Edgbaston, winning ‘Best Afternoon Tea in the Midlands’ for four years running, Simpsons and Opus.

BAVARIAN BOSSES

Newly-opened Bavarian bier palace and cook haus, Albert’s Schloss Birmingham, has appointed Adin Memetovic as general manager. With 18 years’ experience in managing hospitality brands, his previous roles include operations manager at The Alice and Ivy, general manager of PRYZM in Bristol and general manager of Bars & Leisure for Resorts World Birmingham. He is joined by Eleni Constantinou as sales and events manager, Nathanial Valentino as entertainment manager and head chef Jack Cinense.

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BELFRY BONANZA The Belfry Hotel & Resort is celebrating yet another win after being awarded England's Best Incentive Hotel at the annual World MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) Awards. The Belfry’s sales director Katie Niland said: “We’ve had a hugely successful few weeks winning a number of awards and we are so proud to have received for the first time a World MICE Award. It means so much to the team here at The Belfry.”

BAKERY OPENS A new bakery has opened at Hatton Shopping Village. Silver Tree Bakery brings more than 20 years of industry experience to Hatton with tasty breads, pastries, cakes, and savouries baked fresh daily inhouse using the finest and most locally sourced ingredients. Johnnie Arkwright, owner of Hatton Country World, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Silver Tree Bakery and other new, unusual shops to complement our ‘Not on the High Street’ rule.”

STREET FOOD OF SRI LANKA Sri Lankan street food restaurant group the Coconut Tree is opening a new site in Birmingham. The 1,600 sq ft, two-storey bar and restaurant is on track to arrive in early 2022 at 22 Gas Street and will become the eighth restaurant in the Coconut Tree portfolio. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “We’ve had our eyes on the city for a long time and can’t wait to bring Sri Lankan hospitality and our warm Island vibes to the heart of Birmingham's entertainment and leisure district.”

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RESTAURANT REVIEW

THE ROLLING MILL Kenyon Street, Jewellery Quarter, B18 6AR. Tel: 0121 212 9814 therollingmill.co.uk fter a soft launch that had all the drama of Gillian McKeith’s fake ‘fainting’ culminated in no power and massive generators out on the street, we popped along to the Rolling Mill to see what all the fuss was about.

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From the outside it’s understated, but inside the cavernous interior packs a punch. Formally the Tramshed, the Rolling Mill is two 19th century industrial barns joined together, totalling nearly 8,000 sq ft and is all exposed beams and original brickwork, big rustic wooden tables and cosy curved booths. There’s a cool sociable hawker centre vibe with a pizza oven and open kitchen. We found loads on the menu that winked at us and after much agonising plumped for pork belly bites from the small plate menu to start as well as halloumi with gremolata. The pork belly was everything we wanted. It was crisp and flavoursome with hot sriracha mayo served in a skillet with seared spring onions and peppers. The halloumi was perfect, gremolata was punchy and salad leaves pimped up with a zingy citrus dressing. Chicken pie is my speciality (an adapted Delia turkey en croute recipe if you’re interested) so I felt compelled to give TRM version a whirl. Served in an individual pie dish it remained hotter than the sun for some time, but once cool enough to tuck into it was great. Crispy puff pastry, creamy

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sauce with mushrooms, plenty of chicken and handful of herbs, it was very good. The star of the plate however was a pile of crunchy triple cooked chips. The pie was served with a cute jug of gravy. If we’re being hyper critical, the gravy could have been a bit thicker for our taste. A burger for the other half was succulent, smothered in cheese with a delicious punchy sauce served with a crunchy slaw, a monster pickle which came my way and a hefty portion of herby fries. While the fries were fine, they weren’t a patch on the triple cooked chips. We’d recommend swapping. Pud was a shared hazelnut and dark chocolate tart with rum and raisin ice cream. Greg Wallace would have had a field day with this beauty. Lip-smackingly good and definitely enough for two. Sunday lunch also looks cracking as does breakfast. You can walk-in or book, just go. You’ll thank us. I

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FOOD & DRINK

GREAT

GREEK WINE

GARY CARTER OF BIRMINGHAM WINE SCHOOL DELVES INTO THE ANCIENT PAST AND EXCITING PRESENT OF WHAT HAS BECOME A FASCINATING COUNTRY FOR WINE LOVERS – AND SELECTS FOUR DELICIOUS VARIETIES TO BUY AND TRY

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reece has one of the oldest wine-making cultures in the world and yet for many people their experience of Greek wine consists only of what the local taverna may offer when on holiday. Notoriously, for many holidaymakers this has historically been dominated by Retsina, a pine resin infused wine that is very much an acquired taste. However, a combination of some interesting and unique indigenous grape varieties and recent investment in modern winemaking, makes Greece a fascinating country for wine lovers. Ancient Greece was one of the first countries to discover the pleasure of fermented grape juice, and even had a God (Dionysus) dedicated to wine. Greece later became part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire and thus for many years until Greece became independent in 1828, the Greek wine industry stalled. During the late 19th century, the Greek wine industry boomed, but then disaster struck with the arrival of Phylloxera c. 1900 which almost wiped out the Greek vineyard. In fact it was only due to the islands, especially those with volcanic soils such as Santorini, that many indigenous varieties survived. The 20th century was very damaging to Greece, being a major battleground for both world wars, followed by military dictatorship. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the country’s wine industry recovered, and in the meantime it was industrial-scale production of Retsina that was the staple.

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TOP TYPES There are many fascinating wines of Greece, but we will consider four main types: Assyrtiko: An indigenous variety to Santorini that survived because of that islands’ volcanic soil which Phylloxera cannot tolerate. An unusual combination of both high acidity and full-body/high alcohol makes this an interesting variety. Combined with pronounced citrus and stone fruit flavours it is perhaps Greece’s best variety – certainly the best white variety. Now grown all over Greece, but the very low-yielding old vines on Santorini itself produce the best examples. Agiorgitiko: The most planted black grape variety, the best examples coming from Nemea in the Peloponnese. Fruity with moderate levels of tannin. The elevated vineyards in Nemea retain good levels of acidity making beautifully balanced wines. Xinomavro: A black grape variety native to Northern january 2022

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GARY’S

FOOD & DRINK

TO TRY

Thymiopoulos Xinomavro 2018 – (Majestic £14.99). This example is made by a man who’s widely recognised as an expert in the art of crafting great Xinomarvo. It’s medium-bodied and complex, with notes of red and black fruit, a vibrant acidity and a long finish. Serve with lamb shanks.

Nomas Assyrtiko, Karavitakis 2020 – (The Wine Society £11.95). A wonderfully affordable introduction to Greece's finest white grape, assyrtiko, showing the grape's character off in style at a keen price. Clean as a whistle with flavours of citrus, green apple and wet slate, with structured acidity, food-friendly grip and an appetising mineral, salty finish. Skouras Saint George, Nemea 2018 – (Tanners £15.50). Made with 100 per cent Agiorgitiko, this is very plush, smooth and easy to appreciate. It sits translucent in the glass and has attractive notes of damson fruit and a little vanilla. It’s also light enough to serve slightly chilled with white meat. Samos Vin Doux – (Waitrose Cellar £8.50). Golden-honey coloured with a pronounced floral, honey, marmalade and ginger nose. Sweet, medium acidity, full-bodied with a long finish. Lovely with any dessert or blue cheese.

Greece (Macedonia). It shares the unusual characteristic of Italy’s Nebbiolo of a pale colour combined with extremely high tannins, indeed it is sometimes referred to as ‘Greek Barolo’. It also has high acidity and when grown at altitude to restrict yield it can produce wines with great ageing potential. An aromatic variety with pronounced floral and red fruit flavours. Samos Muscat: Samos is a small Aegean Island close to Turkey and produces one of the great sweet wines of the world. Here the Muscat grape is either fortified (like a French vin doux naturel) or fermented from air-dried grapes (like a PX Sherry) to produce intensely aromatic dessert wines which are amazing value for money. I Birmingham Wine School is an independent wine education company that offers fun, informal wine tasting events and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses online, in Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, and Warwick. For more information contact Gary Carter DipWSET, at www.localwineschool.com/birmingham or on 0121 270 7359.

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HEALTH

KICK START YOUR NEW YEAR

AS WE SETTLE BACK INTO WORK AFTER A WELLDESERVED FESTIVE BREAK, MANY OF US ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO RESETTING AND REDEFINING OUR PRIORITIES FOR THE MONTHS AHEAD

anuary is the perfect time to kick start your health, wellbeing, and fitness regime. The past two years in particular have not only given us time to reflect on our priorities but have helped us realise the importance of making longer term changes to our health and fitness habits which work best with our lifestyles, rather than relying on short-lived bursts of willpower, which can be difficult to maintain.

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HEALTH

Zoe Mead, manager at BLAZE Studio Birmingham, shares her thoughts on setting sustainable fitness goals, and why HIIT (highintensity interval training) is a great way to ensure a healthy future for 2022 and beyond. Zoe says: “When people first embark on their health and fitness journey there is often an aspiration to see an immediate impact on their fitness levels and body shape. However, we usually don’t start to see any noticeable differences for up to a month. “This apparent mismatch between increased exercise time and limited instant results can have an adverse effect on motivation levels in the early stages of an exercise regime, causing many people to feel deflated and to give up. PLAYING THE LONG GAME “Instead of quick fixes or ‘four-week programmes’, it’s important to remember that maximum, long-term success comes from taking small, achievable steps and gradually building up your strength and stamina over a sustained period. This means setting yourself simple goals and investing time in establishing regular, sustainable exercise patterns that you can realistically fit around your lifestyle and, therefore, maintain throughout the year. “Long-term change involves adapting daily behaviours and introducing habits that are intentionally repeated until they become part of a new routine. The good news is that this change is within our grasp – it is well known that an action usually takes around 28 days to develop into an established habit. “Although this embedding process may feel daunting, it’s important not to over-complicate training and instead, keep your goals in sharp focus. Engage in a physical activity that you actually enjoy and that you can manage to do around two to three times a week. Zoe adds: “As a quick and time-efficient way to workout, HIIT is a great way to break

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through motivation barriers. Releasing a burst of feel-good endorphins and lasting no more than 45 minutes, HIIT is fun and fast-paced – and because it requires both concentration and precision, your brain can forget everyday stress factors as you strengthen your body. This kind of workout is popular because it not only increases your metabolism and burns a greater number of calories for up to 36 hours after a class, but it also combines combat and mixed martial arts with cardio and strength training, targeting multiple muscle groups. “Ensure the goals and challenges that you set for yourself will fit into your current routine – this makes them easier to maintain in the longer-term. Add training into your diary and prioritise it in the same way as a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment. If you have an exceptionally busy schedule and work long days, don’t schedule impractical workout times, such as late-night sessions, as this is unrealistic and will quickly result in you feeling fed up or burnt out. “Ultimately, the biggest, and perhaps most immediate, benefit of establishing good exercise habits is the impact on mental health. All physical activity has the potential to enhance wellbeing, improve sleep and boost energy for a more positive mood. Most HIIT classes also offer a community for optimum support, with motivational instructors and an immersive, nightclub vibe so that you can let go of any outdoor stresses and enjoy your fitness journey.” I BLAZE Birmingham, by David Lloyd Clubs, offers a dynamic fastpaced HIIT (high intensity interval training) full-body workout, combining combat and mixed martial arts with cardio and strength training – synced to high-energy music and cutting-edge light effects. For more details contact zoe.mead@davidlloyd.co.uk. BLAZE Studio, Cornwall Street, Birmingham, B3 2EE

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HEALTH

BEAT THE HEAD BANGER THE STRESSES, STRAINS AND OVER-INDULGENCE OF THE FESTIVE PERIOD CAN ALL ADD UP TO ONE BIG HEADACHE. SO, WHAT TO DO? PHIL EVANS OF THE LOCAL URBAN BODY CLINIC LOOKS AT SOME SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PREVENT GETTING A SPLITTING HEAD

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HEALTH

t’s not just too much alcohol that delivers seriously bad heads at this time of year. Recurring headaches can often result from tension in the shoulders, jaw or neck, something that many people aren’t aware of. Stress is also a key trigger, causing tension in our neck and shoulders which in turn can lead to a headache. In fact, almost nine in 10 headaches are caused by those sets of muscles being tight. You might not even know the tension is there, or just dismiss it as a stiff neck or a part of getting older. Your head weighs about 5kg, but did you know that for every inch your head moves forward it weighs an extra 5kg? So, if you slouch while reading, this is likely to load your muscles in the back of your head and neck to work four to five times harder than they are supposed to, to stop your head from falling forwards. The muscles, joints and nerves in your head and neck can directly cause headaches, specifically cervicogenic headaches. For example, the joints of your upper neck may be stiff which can refer pain to the head and/or face, so try to avoid the forward head postures that increase tension.

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TREATMENTS You could have your neck, upper back and jaw assessed by a qualified healthcare professional to help determine if there are limitations in the joints, muscles and nerves of the regions influencing your headaches and/or migraine. You can treat headaches with acupuncture, manual therapy techniques to loosen up the muscles and special posture exercises to strengthen specific muscles and relieve tension at the back of the skull. An example is the chin tuck, where you lie on your back and tuck your chin down to stretch the muscles at the back of your neck. Food and drink are also key factors when it comes to headaches, so be more mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Drinking more than 100mg of caffeine per day will increase the likelihood of developing a chronic headache. Other common triggers for migraines are aged cheeses, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG). Dehydration is also a common trigger for headaches, so try to drink eight glasses of water every day. How you live can influence whether or how often you have headaches. Being aware of the lifestyle and environmental factors that trigger your headaches — and avoiding them — can help save you from a pounding head.

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Maintain a regular sleep schedule: Getting too little sleep and oversleeping can trigger headaches, as can getting up and going to bed at inconsistent times. Go to bed and get up about the same time every day. Yes, even weekends. Watch what you eat and drink — and when: Don’t skip or delay meals. And drink plenty of water. Also avoid foods that can trigger headaches. This is particularly true if you suffer migraine headaches. Common food and beverage triggers include caffeine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), aged cheese, sausage, red wine and other alcoholic beverages. Control stress: Learn techniques to help you relax and reduce emotional stress, which may be caused by overwork, job loss, financial difficulties or family problems. Stress can cause muscles to tense up and trigger headaches. Stress relief techniques include deep breathing, visualisation, progressive relaxation and biofeedback. Stress may cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth, even while sleeping. Exercise regularly: Exercising 30 minutes at least three days a week is good for your overall health, and can help prevent migraines and tension headaches. Low-impact aerobic exercise prevents tension as it strengthens your muscles and keeps them flexible. Also good for muscle flexibility and stress relief: stretching, tai chi and yoga. Choose your sports wisely: Activities that involve running, jumping or sudden starts, stops and direction changes can jar your neck and head, leading to tight muscles and headache pain. You may need to take up low-impact sports. Prevent eye strain: Reading in dim light, extended computer use without a break and a weak, outdated eyeglass prescription can strain your eyes and the muscles around them — and lead to a headache. Practise good body mechanics. Learn proper lifting and carrying techniques to prevent back and neck strain. Set up your workspace to promote good posture and prevent back, shoulder and neck strain. Make sure your bed and pillows provide good support, again to prevent muscle strain. Avoid odours and fumes: A variety of scents and fumes — from perfume, paint, gasoline and cleaning products, as well as tobacco smoke — can trigger headaches. Switch to unscented household products. I Urban Body’s physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinic is based at the West Warwickshire Sports Club in Solihull. For more information visit urbanbody.co.uk

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ing livSTYLE

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WHAT’S NEW? FORGET THE ‘NEW YEAR NEW YOU’ MANTRA BECAUSE (A) IT’S A LOAD

OF OLD PONY AND (B) THE CURRENT YOU IS GOOD ENOUGH. MOVE ON YOUR TERMS IN CUTE KIT THAT MAKES YOU SMILE

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STYLE

BOLD PRINT

Maroon tie dye sports bra £4.99, TK Maxx

COTTON TOP

Anyday BCI cotton jogger £25 and hoodie £30, John Lewis

oving more doesn’t mean punishing yourself, quite the opposite actually. We all know the notion that a smaller waist will make you happier is tosh, but it’s so easy to get caught up in that narrative. The simple fact and one that lockdown cemented is that moving more boosts your mood and well-being. No one’s saying going on a hike at this time of year is a prospect we relish, but having the right kit – clothes you actually want to wear and that will keep you warm and dry – will make it so much easier to get out than wriggling into holey leggings and a threadbare top. You don’t need to spend a fortune, although bear in mind you get what you pay for in terms of fabric. How much you spend depends on what you’re after. If you’re an ultra-marathon runner, you’re looking for different kit to someone getting out with a friend for a wintry trot by the canal or a spin class at the gym. If you’re exercising outside, thin layers are better than one big bulky jumper.

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ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Souluxe activewear, Matalan

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STYLE

Apart from anything else you can peel them off as you warm up. Crop tops, thin roll necks, light sweatshirts and a thin wind proof jacket will see you right. Gyms tend to keep the temperature gauge low too, so layers are always a good idea as is warming up more extensively than in the summer months. COMFORT AND FIT Obviously, Brum’s own Gymshark is top of the list. The collection is extensive and inclusive. We highly recommend the seamless leggings with deep waistband for comfort and fit. Free People’s Movement range is one for the cool crowd – great quality and super stylish. Lululemon and Sweaty Betty are also brilliant. Sports bras from both are top notch even in larger sizes. Stella McCartney’s collaboration with Adidas includes some fantastic pieces including the cycling shorts pictured and as you’d expect scores well on eco credentials. The high street has caught on big time with Tesco’s fashion brand F&F leading the charge with a very good collection of active wear at reasonable price point. Primark and George at Asda are also winning. Some are made from recycled materials so check the labels, but if it feels a bit fast fashion for you, why not check out second-hand kit on Depop? We’ve bought and sold through the platform and it’s a very smooth feel-good process. Research the type of shoe that’s appropriate for your activity and don’t scrimp – save money on other items, but not trainers. It’s important. Get your gait tested and take recommendations for experts. It’ll be the most expensive part of your kit, but worth it. Beyond the practical stuff, choose kit that makes you smile. Colour, print – whatever makes you happy and most crucially, enjoy it. It sounds superficial but clothes do have the ability to lift the mood and put a little spring in your step, so go for it. I

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MINIMUM FUSS

Souluxe colour block leggings £14, Matalan

GIRL BOSS

Clothing from Pretty Little Thing

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STYLE

TOP OF THE CROPS

Halo Tai yoga crop top £45, Dancing Leopard

JACKET IN

Sweaty Betty Power Boost Workout stretch jersey jacket £110, JOG Selfridges

ON

Serif logo print high rise cotton jersey joggers £125, Selfridges

TO DYE FOR

RIGHT STRIPE

Brown and cream sports leggings £19.99, TK Maxx

SUPPORT ACT

Blue sports bra £12.99, TK Maxx

Black tie dye panel leggings £12.50, George at Asda

GREEN MACHINE

Lascana active cycling shorts £19, Freemans

KEEP YOUR SPOTS

Leopard print crop top £10, George at Asda

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STYLE

SQUAD GOALS

Clothing from Pretty Little Thing x Karrueche

THINK PINK

PE Nation Run About bright pink matte shell jacket £200, Harvey Nichols

WRAP UP

Figleaves funnel neck sweatshirt £40, Very

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LOOK AT ME

Free People Movement Good Karma tie-dye stretch jersey leggings £80, Harvey Nichols

COLOUR BLOCK

Pink coral and black colour block sweater £12, Primark

ECO WARRIOR

Adidas by Stella McCartney logo printed high waisted recycled cycling short £70, Selfridges

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STYLE

MELLOW YELLOW

Operasport Marya yellow ribbed cotton top £130, Harvey Nichols

FLOWER POWER

RI Active leggings £32, River Island

BABY BLUE

Anyday jogger £26 and sweater £29, John Lewis

MATCHY MATCHY

Clothing from Freemans

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BEAUTY

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BEAUTY UPDATE Nourishing is the aim of our beauty game in

January and we’re sharing our favourite hero products to see you glowing into 2022

1. GALLINÉE PREBIOTIC FACE OIL £35, CULTBEAUTY.CO.UK Gallinée is ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting the microbiome through skincare. Delivering prebiotics through this nourishing oil is clever and probably the way forward. Science aside, if you mix a smidgen into your foundation you’ll look like you’ve consistently had eight hours sleep and two litres of water. Expect compliments incoming.

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2. SKINCEUTICALS C E FERULIC ANTIOXIODENT SERUM £145, SKINCEUTICALS.CO.UK A cocktail of potent ingredients that boost the skin’s natural defences, this is a celeb favourite for a reason. It does the job, minimising wrinkles leaving skin looking youthful. It’s pricey but a little goes a long way, so it lasts.

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3. FEKKAI CBD SCALP CALMING HYDRATING MASK £28, FEEL UNIQUE If you’re after healthy glowing locks, start nourishing the source with this hydrating and calming scalp mask. It’s not heavy so it doesn’t bog down the hair like some masks on the market and it’s safe for colour treated hair too.

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4.WELEDA SKIN FOOD BODY LOTION £14.95, WELEDA.CO.UK AND BOOTS As with all Weleda’s skin food products this is deeply nourishing and 100 per cent natural along with packaging eco credentials on steroids. Slather it on at bedtime to banish any winter dullness. It smells gorgeous too with sweet orange and lavender. 5. PIXI DETOXIFEYE HYDROGEL EYE PATCHES £22 (30 PAIRS), PIXIXBEAUTY.CO.UK We’ve tried a lot of under eye patches and these are the easiest and most effective, plus they’re very reasonably priced. Pop them on each morning for genuinely brighter eyes. Hyaluronic acid and caffeine de-puff brilliantly and if you keep them in the fridge they provide a welcome wake-up call.

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ADVERTORIAL

NO FAULT DIVORCE IS COMING

Adam Maguire, principal associate in the family law team

No fault divorce is due to come into effect in England and Wales on 6 April 2022. From this date couples will be able to get divorced without one person needing to blame the other. This change will also apply to civil partnership dissolution. he Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will be the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years and means you’ll no longer have to make allegations about your partner’s conduct to obtain a divorce. Currently one spouse must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or wait at least two years. Under the new law, irretrievable breakdown will remain the sole basis for divorce but the need to give a reason will be removed. Couples can make a joint application where they both agree the relationship has broken down or, alternatively, one person can apply. There will be a minimum of 20 weeks between issuing a divorce petition and reaching the first stage of the divorce to give the couple a period of reflection and the possibility of reconciliation. This long-awaited reform to the law will enable couples and their lawyers to focus on positive uncoupling rather than allocating blame, especially when a parting of ways is a mutual decision and there are children involved. Children undoubtedly cope better with a separation when their parents are not in conflict and can see a joined-up approach to their parenting. This continues into adulthood and their life events such as graduations, family events – perhaps even their own weddings. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the average duration of a marriage at the time of divorce is 12.3 years for opposite-sex couples. This is a long time to share your life with someone and often having a good relationship with your ex and with wider family and friends is high priority, but this can be

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ruined by the legal process or the wrong approach by a lawyer. A good divorce lawyer will listen to what is important to you and work with your spouse and their lawyer, as well as other professionals you may need to support you along the way. A good divorce will also require personal reflection and allow you to prioritise your wellbeing. Understanding how you are feeling will encourage you to consider the impact on your ex or children and the emotion involved in decision making. Should you wait for no-fault divorce to start?

There is a lot to think about before you even issue a divorce petition, so we recommend you get advice early. There are different tax rules depending on whether you are married, separated or divorced. Tax advantages may only apply in the current tax year and therefore it is important to take tax advice before 5 April. I

WHAT NEXT?

For an initial, free consultation and to find out about our fixed fee divorce, or to find out more about Shoosmiths’ relationship coaching service, please contact us: 03700 868686 or by e-mail yourfamilymatters@shoosmiths.co.uk Read our free information about tax on divorce and separation here: https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/tax-on-separation

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STYLE FOR MEN

HIGH STREET HOODIE Grey NFL New York Giants overhead hoodie, Primark

GREAT OUTDOORS

WHEN YOUR ACTIVE WEAR FILLS YOU WITH POSITIVE VIBES, THE BATTLE TO GET OUT THERE AND MOVE IS HALF WON 38 birmingham living

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STYLE FOR MEN

GREY DAYS Basic beanie £4, Matalan

SHOWER PROOF The North Face Quest jacket £100, North Face

KHAKI COOL US Athletic khaki half zip £16, Matalan

IN THE NAVY District Vision Sarantos padded shell jacket £330, Selfridges

f we learned one thing from lockdown it’s that the great outdoors is massive for good mental health as well as the body. A daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D kept us going when there was little else to do. As we write, working from home guidance is back and in the absence of a commute, we’re reinstating our lunchtime walk/run to boost our mood. We’ve picked out a handful of activewear that should get you in the mood to get out in the cold and keep moving. Retro vibes in pastel colours from Lacoste send us on a welcome nostalgia trip while more serious grown-up Barbour Canna will see you through a hike whatever the weather and should literally last a lifetime. Bold leggings from Off White C/O Virgil Abloh raise a smile while a bright hoodie from Les Tiens will keep you warm as well looking fresh. I

BLACK AND WHITE Nike Train Dri Fit Sport Clash woven pants £50, Very

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NOSTALGIA TRIP Lacoste colour blocked shell jacket £210, Harvey Nichols

I’VE ARRIVED Off White C/O Virgil Abloh logo print branded waistband legging £280, Selfridges

FOR LIFE Barbour Canna Wax £579, Barbour

TIGHT FIT Iso chill camo print top £45, Under Armour

january 2022

ZIP IT PH Apparel Aero degrade-print jersey T-shirt £135, Selfridges

NO SWEAT Les Tiens blue faded hooded cotton top £325, Harvey Nichols

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ng il viHOMES

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GOOD VIBES

INJECTING COLOUR INTO THE HEART OF THE HOME GIVES IT A PERSONALITY ALL OF ITS OWN AND CAN ACTUALLY MAKE A KITCHEN FEEL BIGGER

WINNING PINK Kitchen by Classic Interiors

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HOMES

single colour that takes in cabinetry, woodwork and walls is a bold step, but the right colour for your kitchen can add depth to the design and give the illusion of more space. Your kitchen is the important bit here. It’s not one size fits all. What looks stunning in one kitchen might look at odds in another as the light and the size of the space change the vibe. Take inspiration from magazines, Instagram, Pinterest etc. but consider what it would look like in your kitchen and ultimately take advice from

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HOMES

PASTEL POWER Furniture and accessories from Dunelm

the experts. Sit down with a local kitchen designer – not to be confused with a planner in your local B&Q – and talk them through your vision. They’ll come up with ideas you hadn’t thought of. They’ve done this thousands of times and will bring an experienced, creative, practical eye to proceedings. It’s a daunting prospect as there’s no getting away from the fact doing your kitchen is a big deal from a budget and upheaval point of view. A bit of handholding is welcome. If you’d like to be able to change the vibe of the room regularly, go for an accent colour or accessories – colourful bar stools, bright appliances, bold pendant lighting or if you want to inject colour but not overtly, paint the inside of cabinets in a striking hue to add a bit of interest and make you smile while you’re putting the dishes away. The trend for tablescaping has made the kitchen a softer, more adaptable space. Laura Jackson’s

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BE BOLD Accessories from Habitat

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HOMES

LESS IS MORE Dandy Plus Kitchen by Scavolini

LIVING SPACE Kitchen by Lisa Melvin Design

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HOMES

#makeamealofit campaign during lockdown encouraged people to push the boat out and make dining at home an occasion. It really took off and here we are with drawers full of vintage linens and a candle at every meal with patterned tablecloth, cute candlesticks and fresh flowers as standard. Even if your kitchen is minimal and unfussy, we thoroughly recommend going over the top at meal time to add a bit of joy. Checkout page 46 for some colourful accessory ideas. I

BLOCK PARTY Furniture and accessories from Dunlem

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HOMES

COLOUR POP Yellow bar stools from Cult Furniture

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PRETTY PATCHWORK Beija Flor Modern Eclectic vinyl floor mat £108, Cuckooland PALM PHWOAR Mika palm tree candlestick £17, Oliver Bonas

GOOD MORNING Callie breakfast set £16, Next

FINISHING TOUCHES

CHAIR FLAIR Colourful chairs from Minima (picture by Tom Bird)

CHECK OUT THESE COLOURFUL ACCESSORIES THAT’LL MAKE YOUR KITCHEN POP

THE NEW BLACK Gluggle jug £10, Oliver Bonas

BOLD PRINT Set of three tea towels £15, Joe Browns GREEN DREAM Regent kitchen bar stool £89, Cult Furniture

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TERRIFIC TOWEL Habitat Studio kitchen textiles set £11.50, Habitat

TOP TABLE Hay green lacquer valchromat table £839, Nest GREAT PLATE Discovery dinner plate £3, Wilko

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MOTORING

HIGHLAND FLING SUE COOKE ENJOYS A NEW YEAR ADVENTURE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF TOYOTA’S HYBRID HIGHLANDER SUV

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find January a bit of an anti-climax after the fun and games of Christmas. Relatives have gone home, presents have been played with and summer holidays are a long way off. So, for 2022 I plan a big adventure. My perfect companion will be a Highlander. Toyota’s largest self-charging hybrid. A week after the New Year celebrations, I open the blinds to a white out. Thick snowflakes swirl past the window and my thoughts turn to my reliable Highlander and the start of my new year adventure. The SUV’s exterior has sophisticated styling, rear privacy glass and chrome roof rails. The cabin has blacked out pillars and there are large 20-inch alloy wheels topped with flared rear wheel arches. There is one drawback. I was not tall enough to reach the middle of the windscreen to scrape off the snow but the window wipers competently achieved that.

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LOADED CLASS LEADER There’s no need to worry about what to pack as this seven-seater has the longest load space in its class and up to 1,909 litres of boot capacity. On the Excel Premium version, the hands-free access will be useful. The power tailgate has a kick-sensor function which opens up the boot.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Model: Toyota Highlander Excel Price: £50,595 otr Engine: 2.5-litre hybrid engine, two electric motors and a hybrid battery. Performance: 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 111mph CO2 emissions: 160-163 g/km (WLTP) Combined fuel consumption: 39.2-39.7mpg (WLTP)

There’s no need to worry about cost and range either, because the Highlander is powered by a fourth-generation self-charging hybrid powertrain with an electric cruising speed of up to 78mph and comfortable motorway driving. In a week of heavy snow, the Highlander was the only vehicle I would venture out in. Once on the move and meandering along narrow country lanes there were pools of melting snow and in the middle were mounds of slippery autumn leaves. I did give in to a line of men carrying rifles and waited patiently in the middle of the narrow road as they clambered over a stile. PHEASANT ENCOUNTER Further on the engaging, nimble handling helps me to dodge a few running pheasants. The all-wheel drive will cope with rugged terrain and can tow loads of up to two tonnes. Trailer sway control is useful in high winds and Trail mode ensures that the system provides more torque to the rear and switches up the traction control to throw more power to the wheel with grip. The SUV is equipped with a long list of the latest Toyota Safety Sense technologies. There are two versions, the Excel which I road tested and the Excel Premium. The quality interior is practical and very comfortable and the Skyview panoramic roof pours light into the spacious cabin. Legroom for front seat passengers is up to 1,067mm, 1,043mm in the second row and 703mm in the third row. Both versions include triple-zone air conditioning, wireless phone charging, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and an 11-speaker JBL sound system. The volume button on the audio system sits on the righthand side, so nearer to the driver for control. I like the fact that a running eco-score is prominently displayed behind the steering wheel which lets me know how environmentally friendly I might be driving. This new year, unburden yourself, shake off the old and plan a new adventure in the Toyota Highlander, one of the most reliable SUVs on the road. I

SHOWROOM Steven Eagell Toyota Birmingham, Fort Dunlop, 6 Wingfoot Way, Erdington, B24 9HF. Tel: 0121 386 8700 www.steveneagellbirmingham.toyota.co.uk

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FEATURE

SLAM PUNK

PUBLISHED AUTHOR AND FORMER POET LAUREATE, GIOVANNI ‘SPOZ’ ESPOSITO TALKS UP SPOKEN WORD, INSPIRES YOUNGSTERS WITH HIS BRIMMING POSITIVITY AND DISMISSES THE POETRY SNOBS hen MG Rover ‘went bump’, we would wager not many former workers went into poetry. It’s quite the leap, but it’s just what Giovanni Esposito also known as Spoz did. He says: “I just started writing for fun. I was into punk and started writing in that ilk.” Spoz then met someone at an event at Mac who was working in schools delivering workshops to kids. Having never considered that as a legitimate billpaying job, Spoz thought ‘why not?’. With nothing to lose he began his surprising new career. Four books and thousands of inspired school kids later and here we are. Despite being published by Verve Poetry Press, Spoz still prefers live events to books. He says: “At a live event you might hear something that really rings your bell – like live music really. You might not know what it is about that piece, but you just know.” He adds: “Academia gets in the way. A lot of people are poetry snobs and don’t like spoken word – they put it down, but you can’t beat it for the energy and authenticity when the poet reads to you.”

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NEXT GENERATION Spoz had been playing in bands for years before he started penning poetry and was used to performing, so open mic poetry events are his happy place. Starting out with workshops for young children aged 11 years, Spoz’s style has always been super positive as he thinks criticism just squashes a child’s spirit. Moving up the year groups, Spoz isn’t a fan of the GCSE poetry curriculum either. From the beginning of year 10, kids have to memorise and learn how to analyse 15-ish poems which they may or may not be tested on at the end of year 11. When Spoz works with year 10 he makes it clear to teachers that that is not what he’ll be doing in his workshops. He says: “I get them to write and

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perform not learn someone else’s poems by heart. It’s much more engaging.” Spoz recently worked with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity on a book to celebrate its 30th anniversary. It is essentially a set of poems and stories from people who have been touched by the charity, including people whose lives have been saved, volunteers, paramedics and more. Along with colleague Holly Hunter at not-for-profit organisation, the Word Association, Spoz began chatting to people unearthing some incredible stories compiled in the book titled On A Mission: 30 Years of Rapid Response. Spoz says: “Poetry and writing generally is a lovely way of expressing oneself and can be a healthy release of emotion. Reading poems, stories and letters from people affected or involved with the charity, has been humbling yet uplifting.” BRUM MASSIVE Spoz says Birmingham is a huge hub of spoken word activity – better than London. Pre-Covid there were massive nights every day of the week. At the Dark Horse in Moseley for example you’d have to turn up early if you wanted a seat. The Bristol Pear’s Writers Block would regularly attract 60 to 70 people. Beatfreeks put on poetry jam events at various venues which are always lively. The Arts Council commissioned a research agency to find out where in the UK was most active and it found that 60 per cent of all youth poetry slam activity happens in the Midlands. Good vibes. Altruistic. Nice vibe. Next month, as part of the Verve Festival of Poetry and Spoken Word at the Hippodrome, Spoz is hosting the Birmingham School Slam Final. Twelve local primary schools are bringing a team of their best budding poets to deliver a set of their work to three Young Poet Laureates and regional poetry champions, Poetry On Loan. It’s right up Spoz’s street and he can’t wait. I

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SUPPORTING ACT To buy your copy of On A Mission, visit midlandsairambulance.com january 2022

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YOUNG, GIFTED & BRUMMIE

RYAN WALKER-EDWARDS THE WRITER, ACTOR AND PRODUCER TALKS TO US ABOUT HIS LATEST PROJECT, BOYS WHO CRY

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yan describes himself as a normal guy from Brum. Hardly! Appearances in the Archers, Line of Duty, Doctors, Bfi short films among other projects – not to mention cofounding an electronic music platform – is not our idea of normal. Ryan has also been picked as one of only 11 budding writers out of 750 applicants for the Sky Comedy Rep scheme – a partnership between Birmingham Rep and Sky Studios to discover and nurture new regional comedy talent from across the UK. Ryan cut it fine, applying to the scheme just the day before the deadline. The application process entailed the submission of a one-act play set around the simple premise of a meeting on a park bench. The successful writers are at the business end of a six-month paid programme of workshops and mentoring to develop their stories ready for performance at the three-day Sky Comedy Rep Festival at the Rep.

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EXCEPTIONAL Anil Gupta, creative director of comedy at Sky Studios, said: “We were overwhelmed by the response to this scheme and the strength of talent we saw in the applications. We have found 11 truly exceptional writers who hail from all over the UK, and whose unique voices tap into the humour of where they are from. They have exciting futures ahead of them and Sky Studios are proud to be helping them on their path.” Mentors include Simon Blackwell, Danny Brocklehurst, Guz Khan, Meera Syal and Holly Walsh, among other big names. The patron of Sky Comedy Rep is Julie Walters. Ryan’s story, Boys Who Cry, will be directed by Iqbal Khan and is set in Birmingham which was important to him and features four mates who’ve been friends since childhood. It’s about growing up, changing, moving away, coming home and the sort of shorthand way of communicating you only really have with lifelong friends or siblings. As the festival gets closer, Ryan is nervous but excited to see his work come alive and he’s been

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thrilled with the process and learned loads from his mentors. It’s a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. Ryan’s first foray into acting was at a TV workshop at Mac mentored by Ross Simpson. Now living in London, Ryan loves coming home. On the difference between the two cities in terms of work, he says: “There’s a glass ceiling in Birmingham almost. You have to go out and forge opportunities. In London there’s more going on, so it enables you to dip your toes into different things.” In March last year, Ryan starred in independent film Demon which premiered at the Cinequest Film Festival in the US. Directed by a school friend of Ryan, fellow Brummie George Louis Bartlett and co-written by Theo Macdonald, Demon tells the story of Ralph played by Ryan who flees London after an unpaid train fine comes back to haunt him and hides out in a forest motel which soon becomes a weird purgatory. The film’s small budget meant employing some creative filming techniques as well as being shot in black and white giving it a cool, edgy vibe. Also starring Jemma Redgrave, the Millennial Noir project was a no-brainer for Ryan. ONE TO WATCH When the pandemic struck, Ryan began writing and successfully had a short story called Safari commissioned for BBC Arts. Set in Brum, the drama highlights how race and class can be gatekeepers for understanding culture and is based on situations Ryan experienced growing up. You can find it on BBC Sounds. It feels like there’s so much to come from Ryan both writing and acting and probably beyond. He’s determined and resourceful as well as obviously talented, so he feels fresh, exciting and definitely one of our Young, Gifted and Brummie interviewees to watch. I Catch Boys Who Cry on 4 and 5 March at the Rep, birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on

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GROWING PLACES

SCHOOL HOSTS GAMES STARS King Edward’s School will welcome some of the world’s top athletes after being selected as a training venue for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. King Edward’s is the only school to be awarded the prestigious honour. Its £5million Andrew Brode Sports Centre will host rhythmic gymnastics training, while the sports ground off Eastern Road will be used by discus and hammer throwers. The University of Birmingham’s athletics

DIVERSITY AWARD Alexandra College (QAC) has achieved the Leaders in Diversity Award from the National Centre for Diversity. The award recognises organisations going above and beyond in their commitment to the FREDIE values of fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion and engagement. QAC is a national residential college and community charity that supports a diverse range of student abilities and needs. Based in Birmingham, the college provides education, training and routes to independent living and employment.

tracks, shared with King Edward’s and King Edward VI High School for Girls,

SCHOOL REPORT

will host athletics and para athletics training.

TOP APPRENTICE AT THE DOUBLE A talented BMet engineering student has been rewarded for his top-class skills and strong work ethic by gaining two coveted Apprentice of the Year titles. Ahmad Ford, who is studying an Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Apprenticeship with HydraForce Hydraulics, beat off stiff competition to triumph at the Greater Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards held at Edgbaston Stadium. Not only was Ahmad named Apprentice of the Year in Engineering and Manufacturing, but he was also chosen as Overall Apprentice of the Year for Greater Birmingham.

ACADEMY HONOUR

Cockshut Hill School in Yardley received an award in recognition of its support and partnership with the Green Lane Masjid Community Centre at its gala dinner. The centre aims to inspire, educate and serve the local community and to inspire people to faith by educating Muslims and non-Muslims of all ages about the true Islamic teachings. In 2018, Cockshut Hill became only the second secondary school in Birmingham to be officially recognised as a GOLD Rights Respecting School by UNICEF.

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GROWING PLACES

WANTED: JUNIOR HIGH-FLIERS Midlands Air Ambulance Charity (MAAC), in partnership with longstanding supporter M6toll, is inviting all secondary schools in the region to take part in a new business initiative. The MAAC Moguls project is a Dragons’ Den style competition that will see top business leaders based across the six counties that the charity serves, challenge teams of students on their entrepreneurial plans to raise £500 for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. To date 15 schools have already signed up.

NEW BROMSGROVE HEAD Michael Punt has been named as the next headmaster of Bromsgrove School. Headmaster of Chigwell School since 2007, he will officially join Bromsgrove in August. Commenting on his appointment, Michael said: “It is a huge honour and privilege to be appointed as the next headmaster of Bromsgrove School. It is a school whose vision and values chime closely with my own and I am thrilled to be joining such a very special community.”

MUSIC MAESTRO Solihull School pupil Yichen Pan has been awarded a Level 4 Diploma in Music Performance for Piano at the age of only 13. Lower Fifth pupil Yichen, who is now 14 and also a Grade 8 cellist, undertook the Trinity College ATCL examination in June but only recently received her certificate due to pandemic delays. Hanlie Martens, the school’s head of keyboard, said: “Yichen is an absolute pleasure to teach and is a young musician with a very bright future ahead of her.”

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BUSINESS

CITY PLEDGE

A number of the city’s largest professional employers have launched Birmingham Business Pledge to support the city’s future. The impact of Covid-19 has called into question the long-term sustainability of major city centres such as Birmingham’s, where 180,000 people work within the ring road. The Business Pledge has been signed by 19 leading employers, including PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group and NatWest, to achieve a way forward for a more sustainable and economically and socially productive city centre through collaborative action.

BUSINESS

BSA ROARS BACK

One of Birmingham’s most

iconic brands has been brought back to life with the launch of

NEWS

its first model in 40 years. BSA Motorcycles became the world's largest maker of motorbikes after launching in 1903 but went bankrupt in the 1970s before being bought by Indian owners in 2016. The Mahindra Group unveiled the new BSA Gold Star, which redefines the original classic design, at the Motorcycle Live show at the NEC.

BIOTECH DEAL Full service content marketing agency, HDY Agency, has expanded its client portfolio after securing a number of new projects with global biotechnology company, the Binding Site. Founded by researchers at the University of Birmingham, the Binding Site provides specialist diagnostic products to clinicians and laboratory professionals around the world. HDY will support the business with digital and campaign marketing as well as producing the Binding Site’s first podcast, curated for medical professionals and educators.

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GREEN PRIZE

Touchwood Solihull is celebrating winning the Environmental Best

Practice award at the International Green Apple Awards. The centre beat off competition from more than 500 other nominations. Representatives from the Touchwood team received a trophy and certificate at a presentation ceremony at the Houses of Parliament. General manager Tony Elvin, pictured left, said: “Reducing our impact on the environment is something we are passionate about and we’re constantly looking at developing new projects to achieve this.”

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BUSINESS

BID BACKING

Retail BID has secured its fourth five-year term following a successful ballot of its member businesses in central Birmingham. The ballot was conducted by independent scrutineer Civica and Birmingham City Council and a total of 94 per cent voted in favour of Retail BID continuing to 2027. The ballot means the BID can continue providing the city-centre Patrol Team, pictured, City Safe digital radio network, streetdeep-cleaning and business support alongside a series of consumer marketing and promotions.

DESIGN SENSE

Creative design studio Dual Works has reimagined the Sense Arts inclusive art studios at Sense TouchBase Pears in Birmingham. Sense is a national disability charity that helps people with complex disabilities, and/or deafblindness to express themselves. Opened in 2017, the £14million Sense Arts centre has a gallery, community café, social care services and is a unique arts venue. Dual Works, based in the Jewellery Quarter, incorporated braille as an integral part of the new design which also features the warmth of birch plywood. The project was funded by Arts Council England.

GARDEN ROLE

Birmingham Botanical Gardens has appointed an operations director as it plans exciting developments to conserve and preserve the heritage site for future generations. Arts and events specialist Rebecca Steen previously worked

GAMES STORE OPEN The first official retail store for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has opened by the Bullring in New Street. The 3,200 sq ft store is stocked full of official Birmingham 2022 merchandise, including clothing, hats, caps, water bottles and soft toys. Sports fans can also buy Team England T-shirts, vests and hoodies. Perry, the official mascot of Birmingham

at Birmingham Town Hall Symphony Hall, where she was box office manager for seven years. The newly created role will see Rebecca bringing the operational departments together to help them achieve the strategic aims and objectives of the grade II listed Gardens in Edgbaston, an independent charity that relies solely on revenue from visitors, members and charitable donations.

EMMA LEADS WAY

2022 was on hand to show the first shoppers around the new store.

Emma Batchelor, pictured, has joined Birmingham PR agency spottydog communications’ leadership team as associate director. Emma heads up strategy for a number of the agency’s clients, including one of the UK’s fastest-growing EV charger companies, INDRA Renewable Technologies. With more than 20 years’ industry experience, Emma has held a number of senior positions at companies such as Discover Ferries and DFDS, where she delivered high-impact consumer campaigns.

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BUSINESS

BITES DEB’S DELIGHT BUSINESS CYCLE SUPREMO Greater Birmingham Chambers of

Commerce (GBCC) has a new president. Deb Leary has become only the third woman to hold the office in the

organisation’s 208-year history. Her two-

appointed a new cycling and walking commissioner to boost plans to get more people moving around the region by foot or

year term as successor to Steve Allen was

bike. Adam Tranter, who has previously

confirmed at the GBCC annual meeting.

volunteered as Bicycle Mayor for Coventry, has

Deb is chief executive of Forensic Pathways an international consultancy and technology design company specialising in the development of innovative technologies and services in the threat

RECORD SIGNINGS

intelligence and forensic arena.

Outsourced payroll and employee benefits specialist

HIVE360 has signed a record-breaking 21 new clients. Companies now working with the Birmingham-based business include specialist key worker recruiters to the care, healthcare, manufacturing, driving and construction sectors. Alongside the growth in client numbers, HIVE360 has launched a recruitment drive to fill new roles in its payroll, employee engagement and client support teams, said head of sales Eric Holland, pictured.

WINE ACCOLADE Birmingham Michelin-starred restaurant Adam’s has been recognised as having one of the world’s best wine lists. The restaurant, run by Adam and Natasha Stokes, has won a Three-Star award from the World of Fine Wine publication, one of the most trusted sources of information for wine connoisseurs across the globe. There are only 49 restaurants worldwide with the three-star rating and Adam said: “We put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that our cellar perfectly complements the dishes we serve our guests.”

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West Midlands mayor Andy Street has

taken up the new role.

CHARITY CASH

Local charities Stratford Food Bank, NetworkFour and Cheltenham Open Door have each been given a £5,000 donation by Lodders Charitable Foundation (LCF). Since it was created in 2016, LCF has donated a total of £75,000 to local independent charities.

CHAMBER BOOST

Sharon Bell, chief executive of Birmingham-based charity Services For Education, has been elected to the Council of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Her election also coincides with her appointment as a non-executive director of community interest company Miss Macaroon, that helps young unemployed people gain skills to change their lives.

HOMELESS HELP A homelessness charity has received £1,000 as part of developer Barratt Homes’ Community Fund scheme. Let’s Feed Brum is a volunteer-led organisation providing food, drink, essential supplies, signposting support and friendship to those on the streets of Birmingham. The charity is based close to the developer’s Berrington Place development at St Luke’s Road. The organisation, which started with less than 20 volunteers making sandwiches at home and serving tea and coffee to the city’s homeless, has since expanded to more than 100 volunteers.

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ELEVATE CELEBRATES PRIORY HOUSE LAUNCH

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Property group hosts drinks and canapes event in show apartment

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levate Property Group, alongside their selling agent Savills, hosted drinks in the show apartment at the launch of their latest Birmingham development, Priory House. Situated in Southside next to Chinatown and the Theatre District, the conversion of the former Forensic Science building – set for completion next summer – will create 79 loft-style apartments with prices ranging from a one-bed at £180,000 to the penthouse at £625,000. Canapes for the launch event were provided by Chung Ying Garden. I

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1 Andy Hoggard, Steve Dodd, Martin Rennie, Richard Colyer, James Costello. 2 Simon Brooks, Oliver Law, Dan Stones, Marek Torac. 3 Andrew Brettell, Helen Elowe, Sam Meeten. 4 Milly Shaw, Isaac Burner, Anjanee Kotecha, Joe Shorney. 5 Sam Deffley, Christiana Plati, George Xydias, Andy Butts. 6 Richard Hunt, Scott Raybould, James Dodd, Tom McElroy. 7 Stephen Rankin, Ben Osborne, Stella Xydias. 8 Jenny Loyton, Dr Dorian Chan, David Hofton, Angus Yam, Doricy Lee.

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EVENT MARKS PROPERTY PARTNER APPOINTMENT 2

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Solicitors mfg and guests celebrate with evening of drinks and canapes artners from law firm mfg Solicitors hosted a private networking event in central Birmingham to mark the appointment of new commercial property partner, Beth Margetson. The event was held at Barwick Street bar and eatery, Primitivo, with more than 60 guests from across the city’s property and professional services sectors enjoying an evening of drinks, canapes and meeting face-to-face again. With 20 years’ experience in commercial property, Beth joined mfg this summer and is based at the firm’s St Paul’s Square offices in Birmingham. I

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1 Jilly Cosgrove, Laura Moore, Lyndsey Cannon-Leach, Paul King. 2 Alison Biott, Stephen Dobinson, Patricia Hansen. 3 Patricia Hansen, George Xydias, Alfred Bartlett, Lucy Harrold. 4 Keith Bagby, Steve Hemming, Chris Piggott, Alex Tross. 5 James Bridge, David Hastings, Richard Bache, Clare Lang. 6 Clare Regan, Andras Karpati, David Allen. 7 Mike Hargreaves, Beth Margetson, Tim Blairs. 8 James Ng, Lisa Morrison, Gigi Cassandra. Photography by Jonathan Hipkiss

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POETIC REFLECTION ON 30 LIFE-SAVING YEARS

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Anthology celebrating Midlands Air Ambulance unveiled at special event at Birmingham Library idlands Air Ambulance Charity marked its 30th anniversary by teaming up with the Word Association to create a celebratory and thought-provoking anthology of poems and creative writing. The book entitled On a Mission: 30 Years of Rapid Response, includes contributions from past patients, aircrew, volunteers and charity staff and was unveiled at an event at Birmingham Library, with many of the authors present. The book was funded by a National Lottery project grant from Arts Council England and printing of the hard copies was supported by solicitors’ firm, Irwin Mitchell. I

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The anthology is on sale for £10 at www.midlandsairambulance.com/shop

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1 Hilary Wetherell, Waheed Saleem, Richard Apps. 2 Trystan Shaw, Alice Kinder. 3 Caroline Sweeny, Charlie Fogarty. 4 Jeff and Sally McMahon, Emma and Dale Pountney. 5 Sophie Williams, Marni Bond. 6 Abbie Hawkins, Waheed Saleem, Matthew Boddison. 7 Robin Bunting, Matthew Boddison, Jamie Bunting, Sarah Boddison.

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ing ON il vWHAT’S

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WHAT: Chinese New Year

WHAT: School of Rock

WHEN: 1 February

WHEN: 31 January to 5 February

WHERE: Various, Birmingham

WHERE: The Alexandra,

Chinatown

atgtickets.com

The Year of the Tiger is coming and Birmingham’s Chinese community and

The global hit musical based on the

friends are set to celebrate in style.

iconic movie starring Jack Black features some

Festivities will take place throughout the

fantastic songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber

region but few places embrace the

and a band of insanely talented kids that play

colourful celebrations better than our

live every show. This will warm your heart

thriving Chinatown quarter.

and blow you away in equal measure.

WHAT: Miss Clara and the Celebrity Beast in Art WHEN: Now until 27 February WHERE: Barber Institute of Fine Arts The latest of their acclaimed masterpiece-in-focus displays, the exhibition spans three centuries features ceramics, paintings and prints by some major artists. And, of course, the small bronze sculpture of Miss Clara, the famous 18th century rhinoceros.

WHAT: The Damned WHEN: 16 February WHERE: Birmingham O2 Institute, academymusicgroup.com The original line-up and founding members of one of Britain’s finest punk bands have reunited and are on the road celebrating their 45th anniversary.

WHAT: ECHO Eternal Horizons 2022 WHEN: 26 January

WHAT: Jo Whiley’s 90’s Anthems

WHERE: Town Hall, bmusic.co.uk

WHEN: 15 January

In its fourth year and as part of the

WHERE: The Mill, themilldigbeth.com

national Holocaust Memorial Day events,

The superstar DJ’s in town bringing you all

Echo Eternal: Horizons 2022 brings

the best tracks from the greatest decade

together professional artists and students

(possibly) for music. Think Blur vs Oasis,

from across England to share their

Fatboy Slim, Primal Scream, The Verve, The

commemorative response to Holocaust

Chemical Brothers, Faithless, The Prodigy and

Survivor testimony.

a whole lot more.

*All information accurate at time of going to press, but please check in case of changes or cancellation

64 birmingham living

january 2022


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WHAT’S ON

WHAT: Ronan Keating: Twenty Twenty WHEN: 7 January WHERE: Symphony Hall, bmusic.co.uk Exactly 20 years after the release of his selftitled debut solo album, one of the best-loved singers of our generation returns with an album that encapsulates his many musical achievements since the millennium.

WHAT: Rhino’s Revenge WHEN: 22 January WHERE: Asylum, theasylumvenue.co.uk Having rocked audiences

WHAT: Back to the 80’s Party

across the UK and Europe

WHEN: 4 February

during 2019, the side band of

WHERE: Nailcote Hall, nailcotehall.co.uk

John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, bass

Celebrate a night of nostalgia with the greatest hits of the 80’s as

player with rock legends Status

the house DJ takes you back in time with an all-action show full

Quo, are on the road again

of those hits you love!

with a new tour for 2022.

WHAT: Jack Dee: Off the Telly WHEN: 5 February WHERE: Birmingham Hippodrome, birminghamhippodrome.com After work one night in 1986, Dee made his debut stand-up appearance at an open mic event at the Comedy Store. His deadpan observational humour went down a storm and the rest is history. Join him for a cracking evening of entertainment with his brand-new tour.

WHAT: The National Running Show WHEN: 22 and 23 January WHAT: The Snowman

WHERE: NEC Birmingham,

WHEN: 6 to 9 January

nationalrunningshow.com/birmingham

WHERE: Birmingham Rep,

A home for runners, no matter how far or

birmingham-rep.co.uk

fast you go. Bringing together inspirational

The much-loved classic is back! Based on Raymond

speakers, the latest kit and cutting-edge

Briggs’s wonderful book and featuring Howard Blake’s

technology this is the perfect show if you’re

classic song Walking In The Air, this enchanting live

just taking up the sport or training for your

show has thrilled audiences throughout the world.

next marathon.

january 2022

birmingham living 65


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PERSON TO PERSON

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CLOSE WITHÁ

RAIDENE CARTER

The executive producer of the Birmingham 2022 Festival is promising a brilliantly original, six-month bumper programme of legacy-creating arts and culture that will wrap around the Commonwealth Games BEEN THERE, DONE THAT My previous roles have involved producing and programming theatre and performance, developing creative projects with children, young people and emerging artists, and leading strategic projects in areas such as outdoor arts, the case for diversity and community engagement. Prior to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the Birmingham 2022 Festival, I was executive producer for Theatre Centre, one of the country’s leading producers of contemporary theatre in schools. IT’S WHAT I DO I’m the executive producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival. Running from March through to beyond the conclusion of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in September 2022, the festival will feature hundreds of creative commissions across the region including art, photography, dance, theatre, digital art and more. WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE Right now, my ambition is to deliver the Birmingham 2022 Festival and for it to be a success! Success can be measured in reaching and achieving hard targets, outputs and outcomes, etc – but it’s also about working well with collaborating partners, inspiring more and better arts and culture in the West Midlands, having fun and learning from our mistakes. It’s these things that will create a tangible lasting legacy. On a more personal level I’ve always been grateful for my physical and mental health and don’t ever want to compromise this for any professional ambition. BIGGEST SUCCESS I find it difficult to clarify single moments of success, as they’re all usually small things that lead to good/better things. I think still working in roles I love and with brilliant 66 birmingham living

people is a huge marker of success. I’ve recently found out that I am being awarded an Honorary Fellowship from my university which hasn’t sunk in yet! BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED It took me a while to accept my natural working habits and patterns – I’m a night owl, like my mum, and not a very good morning person. It might be the reason why I work in theatre – evenings are important! I think I understand my parents much more now than I did 20 years ago so if I could rewind I’d tell myself to be more patient with them and myself. WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM I lived and worked in Birmingham between 2008 and 2012, so coming back didn’t feel like a big deal and I don’t think I had any first impressions. There are things about the city that drive me up the wall – the amount of people that drive big cars, for example, and lack of cycle lanes. I know a green plan is unfolding but it’s long overdue. I think my favourite thing about Birmingham is Brummies – the warmth and time most people give you in a shop or in the street. DOWNTIME I used to swim before work, but have recently moved house where there’s no local pool, so I’ve just got back into yoga and it’s a lifesaver. I speak to my dad most mornings to do the crossword and this helps reset anything unhelpful working through my mind. FINALLY… I would love for everyone reading this to come to the Birmingham 2022 Festival – loads of it is free and in multiple locations – it should be hard to completely avoid it! If you’re only into sport and don’t think culture is for you, look and think again. january 2022


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