__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

Birmingham g n i liv

BHAM_ (Page 01) cover0721nospine:Layout 1

29/6/21

09:39

Page 1

July 2021

LADY SANITY RAPPING IT UP IN EDGBASTON

SUMMER SWIMMERS

AL FRESCO

BIRMINGHAM

TRU POWELL

HOMETOWN HEROES

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY!

2022

ALISTAIR McGOWAN LOW ‘N’ SLOW

FIREPIT LEGEND ANDY STUBBS

PLAYING IT FOR LAUGHS AS THE PIANO MAN


BHAM_ (Page 02):Layout 1

23/6/21

11:02

Page 35


BHAM_ (Page 03) edsletter:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:24

Page 03

EDITOR’S VIEW

A

s a once-upon-a-time young lad myself, I was subjected to pressure from my parents to ‘learn something musical’. I was sent to piano lessons twice a week for three years and even gained a couple of Grade exam passes and appearances at the odd junior concert. Like anything you’re forced to do as a child, though, I couldn’t wait to escape the boring classical pieces and constant practice and get out and play football or cricket. I’m not alone in feeling that way as a kid. Comedian and impersonator Alistair McGowan had the same experience when he was aged nine. But a couple of years ago he rediscovered his love of playing and even produced a number one selling classical album. He talked to me this month about the joy of playing, the unforeseen risks and the Piano Show in which he combines music and comedy, and which comes to the Lichfield Festival this month. Pre-pandemic we all took businesses, large and small, a bit for granted. It felt like, barring a catastrophic recession, well-run companies would go on forever, together with our jobs. But then came the virus and the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off in the global, national and local economies. At the time of writing, Supreme Leader Johnson has announced a delay in Freedom Day and the scrapping of all Covid restrictions until the middle of this month (hopefully!) Bombshell Number One! And in an incredibly unfortunate piece of timing, Birmingham chose Boris’s Delay-Day to introduce its new 24-hour ‘congestion charge’ on driving into the city. Bombshell Number Two! For an already creaking local economy – particularly in the entertainment and hospitality sectors – it must feel like those in power just want businesses to fail…

ns h o J d i v a D

visit www.brumliving.co.uk @brum_living

Cover image:

/bhamliving

FINALIST

Alistair McGowan

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

july 2021

birmingham living 03


g n i liv

BHAM_ (Page 04) contents:Layout 1

23/6/21

14:01

Page 04

INSIDE

10 16 20 22 30 34 04 birmingham living

Highlights

Alistair McGowan

Playing for laughs as comedy meets the classics for our own Piano Man

Lady Sanity After a year of lockdowns, Brummie rapper is live and kicking at Edgbaston

Hometown Heroes The 14 inspirational local champions bringing diversity to Birmingham 2022

Food & Drink Fire pit legend Andy ‘Low ‘n’ Slow’ Stubbs, best BBQ wines, plus news and reviews

Health Walk the walk to boost well-being, plus play it safe to avoid sprains and strains

Style Two piece or not two piece? Choosing the right swimmers for home or away

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 04) contents:Layout 1

23/6/21

14:02

Page 05

CONTENTS

Best of the Rest

44 52 54 58 64 66 july 2021

Homes

Long lazy lunches in the garden? You’ll be needing some proper nice kit, then…

Motoring Top down, thrills up! Sue Cooke enjoys the sun in Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet Young, Gifted & Brummie Songwriter, musician and producer Mar!k on his powerful track, George Floyd’s Song

Business Company To Watch, Disko Kids, plus news and views from the commercial community

What’s On Our round-up of events, both live and virtual, due to take place this month

Up Close With Tru Powell, creator of the Creative Entrepreneurs podcast

birmingham living 05


BHAM_ (Page 06) news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:33

Page 06

NEWS

BALLET’S TRIBUTE TO CITY

Birmingham’s historic role as the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution has been celebrated by Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB). Curated by Carlos features City of a Thousand Trades, a one-act abstract love letter to the city’s diverse cultural and industrial heritage. The performance was part of a triple bill which also marked the 30th anniversary of BRB’s move to Birmingham. City of a Thousand Trades was commissioned as part of BRB’s Ballet Now programme and produced in association with the Rep.

NEWS

IN THESE MOST CHALLENGING TIMES, WE BRING YOU STORIES TO INSPIRE AND ADMIRE FROM ACROSS THE CITY

CENTENARY SHOW

A new outdoor exhibition in Centenary Square features photographs taken over the last five decades. Organised by Legacy West Midlands in collaboration with Birmingham Museums Trust, Freedom 50 celebrates 50 years of Bangladeshi independence and will remain on display until the end of August. Legacy West Midlands held an international open call-out for images for the exhibition earlier this year from professional and amateur photographers in the UK and Bangladesh.

06 birmingham living

ROCKETS LAUNCH A former Olympic basketball star is set to help players and coaches reach new heights at the City of Birmingham Rockets. The club has set up a bursary fund in the name of Brisbane Bullets legend Rob Sibley. The Robert Sibley Bursary Scheme will support players and coaches on their basketball journey, especially those who can’t afford to take part in the sport. Rob is helping the Rockets after meeting the club’s managing director Rob Palmer.

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 06) news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:33

Page 07

NEWS

CBSO STRIKES TV DEAL Award-winning City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is reaching a wider audience after agreeing a two-year partnership with arts streaming service, Marquee TV. Broadcasts of CBSO performances – ranging from Nielsen to Gilbert and Sullivan – are being released this month on marquee.tv. Filmed in Birmingham between November 2020 and May 2021, the concerts are being broadcast to a global audience. A subscription costs £8.99 a month or £89.99 a year.

COSTUME DRAMA Picture: Edwin Ladd

ART AUCTION

An exclusive, limited-edition artwork endorsed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and signed by Birmingham dignitaries was auctioned to raise funds for Acorns Children’s Hospice. The print of a Digbeth street art mural named Forward in Unity by street artist Gent48 was valued at £10,000. Depicting Birmingham’s spirit in the face of the Covid pandemic, the mural was developed as part of a project by local organisation Art4Charity in an initiative which has so far raised more than £54,000 for local causes.

Stunning costumes are back home at the Royal Shakespeare Company after the twoyear restoration and redevelopment of the largest in-house costume-making department of any British theatre. A 30strong team of costume makers has moved back into the new workshop which can now provide training and apprenticeship opportunities. For the first time, the workshop will be open to visitors to see the skills used to create RSC costumes, with guided tours expected to start in 2022.

BEST OF THE FEST An exciting line-up of performers is set to feature at a new jazz festival in Birmingham next month. Jazz Fest, in partnership with Jazz FM, will run from 23 to 28 August and include performances from international touring artists and local community bands. Free and low-cost performances will be held at the Spotted Dog in Digbeth, on stage at Symphony Hall and in Symphony Hall’s new Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space.

july 2021

birmingham living 07


BHAM_ (Page 06) news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:33

Page 08

NEWS

DANCING BACK Young stars of the future will be showing off their dance skills after a 15-month enforced break as the summer season kicks off at Elmhurst Ballet School, the vocational school in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet. The programme of shows starts on 3 and 6 July with the graduate year students in Proxemics, highlighting a range of dance style, and ends on 7 and 8 July with the whole school performing a mixed bill in Elevate.

MUSIC IN THE PARK If jazz, funk and soul is your thing, you won’t want to miss a great weekend of music coming to Moseley Park this month. Appropriately named Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival, the event from 9 to 11 July promises an eclectic weekend of music featuring international and local artists, including Neneh Cherry, the Fatback Band and Norman Jay, pictured. Over the last 10 years, the festival has become a community event for all ages. More details at: mostlyjazz.co.uk

PRISCILLA’S IN TOWN

JAZZ TIME Get set all you jazz lovers for an extravaganza of music! Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival is being held for the 37th consecutive year from Friday 16 to Sunday 25 July. Remarkably, the 10-day festival did take place in 2020 during a brief break in lockdown last October. This year’s festival will feature more than 100 performances, with 90 per cent of them free to attend. Find out more about the who and where at www.birminghamjazzfestival.com.

Pack up your wigs, heels and all the glitter you can find – Priscilla, Queen of the Desert drives into Birmingham Hippodrome from 30 August to 4 September. Based on the Oscar-winning movie, the show-stopping musical features spectacular dance routines, dazzling costumes and a soundtrack full of dancefloor classics, including Hot Stuff, It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Seating for the production will be according to Government guidance at the time.

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Travel-hungry Brummies have been learning to speak Spanish more than any other language during lockdown. Online linguists Busuu reports that 26 per cent of people living in Birmingham who joined its site to learn the language of their favourite holiday destination, chose Spanish. And revealing the diversity of the city, a further 18 per cent learnt English during the past 12 months – predominantly those as their second language. Meanwhile, 15 per cent opted to study French.

08 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 06) news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:34

Page 09

NEWS

LEGO LANDING

Lifesavers from Midlands Air Ambulance Charity landed on top of Grand Central – not the actual building, but Birmingham Legoland Discovery Centre’s MINILAND version. The interactive model was built from more than 1.5 million bricks and includes landmarks such as the Bullring, Spaghetti Junction and Warwick Castle. The model includes a Lego version of a Midlands Air Ambulance helicopter and celebrates MAAC’s 30th anniversary and a new partnership between the charity and the centre’s parent company, Merlin Entertainments Group.

MONSTER FUN Family-friendly dinosaurs! Really? The fearsome monsters have been tamed as part of the Jurassic Encounter tour of five UK

SAFETY FIRST

Birmingham car seat manufacturer Multimac has signed a deal to become the first UK selling agent of One Kid Road Coats – children’s coats that feature a unique design allowing the harness to pass through the coat and sit flush with the child, making them safe to wear in car seats. Multimac founder and CEO Kevin Macliver said: “It makes perfect sense that we should sell the safest road coat together with the safest car seat in the world.”

Gardens from 21 August to 5 September. The

BITTEN BY THE BUG

prehistoric playgrounds feature more than 50

Design students at Birmingham City University

animatronic dinosaur scenes, including an

got in a bit of a flap – creating giant bugs like

18-metre tall T-Rex that breathes and sways

this to mark Insect Week. The creepy crawlies

its tail and a screeching Pterosaurs that soars

and winged wonders were made out of paper

cities, which arrives at Birmingham Botanical

through the trees. For those who need to

and cardboard, so no nasty bites to worry

relax after walking the perilous path through

about! Dozens of first-years worked around

the dinosaurs’ domain, a refreshment area

the clock to create the intricate pieces, each

will offer street food.

reflecting an anatomically created insect on a human-sized scale using 700 metres of paper and corrugated cardboard.

FORUM FOR JIMMY Forum Birmingham is celebrating its re-opening after major renovation with the help of Jimmy Carr. The comedian will bring his latest tour to the venue on 24 July as part of Just The Tonic Comedy Club’s summer residency at the Forum, which will also feature the likes of Jason Manford and Reginald D Hunter. Renovation of the 3,500-capacity venue, formerly known as The Ballroom, Top Rank Suite and the Academy, includes the original woven wooden sprung dance floor.

GOT ANY NEWS? Email your news and pictures to editor@brumliving.co.uk july 2021

birmingham living 09


BHAM_ (Page 10) alistair:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:29

Page 10

COVER STORY

THE PIANO MAN

ALISTAIR MCGOWAN IS MIXING RIB-TICKLING COMEDY WITH TICKLING THE IVORIES AFTER REDISCOVERING HIS LOVE OF PLAYING THE PIANO. HE TELLS DAVID JOHNS WHY MAKING MUSIC HAS BECOME AN IMPORTANT PART OF HIS LIFE AND WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN HE BRINGS THE PIANO SHOW HOME TO THE MIDLANDS oisy neighbours. Alistair McGowan has a lot to thank them for. After piano lessons at the age of seven, Alistair became bored with the constant practice and by the time he was nine had given them up to do more ‘interesting’ stuff – like making people laugh. Years later, after making his name on TV and in theatre as one of the nation’s favourite comedians, impersonators and actors, along came the noisy neighbours. Cue Alistair’s rediscovery of the keyboard. “The neighbours were so loud, I had to think of some way to drown out the racket,” he explained. “I had a piano sitting there looking at me and I was inspired to play again and to make more noise so I couldn’t hear the neighbours anymore!” The upshot was a ‘new career’ for Alistair resulting in a number

N

10 birmingham living

one classical album and one-man shows offering a mix of piano playing and comedy with suitably hilarious anecdotes.

NERVE-WRACKING With the pandemic now beginning to fade in the rear-view mirror, Evesham-born Alistair is bringing his unique mix of classic comedy and classical music to his home region in person with The Piano Show at the Lichfield Festival on Friday 16 July. “In a strange way, the pandemic has meant I have had some welcome time off after years of non-stop working,” he said. “It’s given me a chance to recharge and practice more on the piano and plan my show. Coming back after such a long break to appear in front of a live audience will be nerve-wrecking though for sure.”

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 10) alistair:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:29

Page 11

COVER STORY

july 2021

birmingham living 11


BHAM_ (Page 10) alistair:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:29

Page 12

COVER STORY

Alistair is best remembered for the BAFTAwinning TV show The Big Impression, in which he impersonated everyone who was anyone in the early Noughties. He has worked in theatre and appeared in the West End and at the Royal Shakespeare Company and has twice played Professor Henry Higgins in Pygmalion. He received huge critical acclaim for his performance in the title role in An Audience with Jimmy Savile. His piano ambitions reached new heights in 2018. Having gone back to the instrument at the age of 49 (after reaching Grade 2 as a nine-year-old), he released The Piano Album – playing 17 short pieces by the likes of Satie, Liszt, Field, Chopin and Mompou – through

12 birmingham living

Sony Classical. The album reached number one in the classical charts. The Piano Show, sees him play13 short pieces, mingled with stories about the composers and his trademark stand-up comedy and impressions. GREATEST GIFT “I like playing short, romantic and light classical pieces. I like jazz too, but I don’t really have the ability to play jazz,” said Alistair. “And I don’t compose music or anything like that because I don’t have the knowledge to do so. I guess I would say that my enthusiasm for playing the piano is my greatest gift. Lots of people have said that my show inspires them to go back to playing again because I make

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 10) alistair:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:29

Page 13

COVER STORY

PRIDE OF PLACE During our interview with Alistair we learned that Birmingham Living had an unexpected fan in the McGowan family – his mum! We first interviewed Alistair seven years ago in May 2014 just before he appeared in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. “My mum loved your front cover picture of me, how I looked and what I was wearing. So, when I visited her, I found Birmingham Living was proudly on display on her front table. She kept it there for ages!”

should combine the playing with some stories and comedy, and the show went from there.”

mistakes when I play. It’s not perfect but they see that if I can play to a reasonable standard, so again could they. I do signings after the show and I love to hear what people like about the show and the music and how I can improve it.” Alistair says there were two main motivations for creating The Piano Show. The first was going to classical concerts and not being inspired by what he was hearing. “I wanted to hear shorter, lighter and more romantic pieces.” The second, he admits, is “being a terrible show-off ”. Near-neighbour of 20 years – though not one of the noisy ones! – broadcaster and writer Gyles Brandreth, dropped by to hear Alistair’s piano playing. “He said I

july 2021

INJURY TIME Returning to the piano in earnest has had some unexpected challenges, though. “Because I have come to the piano late in life, I have had quite a few injuries” said Alistair. “I’ve had to have injections in my arms and dress my fingers because they have become so painful. Now though, I have a very strict teacher and she has ordered me to practice less. The big thing in your mind after coming back after the pandemic is would people want to come to the show. There is a certain amount of trepidation as I prepare for the Lichfield Festival but I just have to stop the demons coming into my head. As a stand-up comic you get used to tripping over your own words, and it is the same with playing. You can get trapped in a piece. But making mistakes is all part of the show and I know how to get around them.” Alistair says he “couldn’t believe it” when his album hit number one. He believes the kind of music he plays would be perfect for a classical music talent show. “A bit like The Voice,” he says. “It is a great sadness that no one has created such a show.” Maybe The Piano Show could be ideal for TV instead? “I would love to do something similar on TV with the piano,” said Alistair. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to introduce people to the likes of Bach and Chopin while also mixing in some comedy as well?” We certainly think it would be a winner! I The Lichfield Festival runs from 8 to 18 July and features ballet, cabaret, symphony orchestras, steel pans, family fun, chamber music, live cooking, story-telling, drama and comedy at various venues. Tickets and full details at www.lichfieldfestival.org. Or call the festival box office on 01543 306271

birmingham living 13


BHAM_ (Page 14-15):Layout 1

23/6/21

11:05

Page 14

 N J a


BHAM_ (Page 14-15):Layout 1

23/6/21

11:05

Page 15

ßǞȺǞɈɐȺ

€Ž{pÀƯª N¯£“‘Ê££ J„€€“Æ|‘ a¯¼|„ÀƄ¼

ìð î W

ôì ì I

ôó ôG

aJì ì-1 ;

;

;

;

%HVW&XVWRPHU 6HUYLFH

.LWFKHQ 5HWDLOHU RI WKH <HDU 

#8;=WS;7=J;=8;=WJ;a N#S

aaa 1NN# #8SJ#=JN = W/ 






BHAM_ (Page 16) feat_ladysanity:Layout 1

22/6/21

15:12

Page 16

FEATURE

REGAINING OUR SANITY

AFTER MORE THAN A YEAR OF LOCKDOWNS, LADY SANITY IS BACK, PERFORMING FOR A LIVE AUDIENCE AT EDGBASTON STADIUM THIS MONTH. WE CATCH UP WITH THE EXCITED RAPPER… he first time we interviewed Lady Sanity was three years ago, shortly before she blew people away performing for a global audience of more than one billion at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The rapper was among the Brum stars who featured as the Games torch was passed from Australia’s Gold Coast to Birmingham 2022. Today, we are talking again – and weirdly the sporting theme continues as the singer prepares to make her first major, post-pandemic public appearance to a live audience this month. Sanity will play to thousands of cricket fans at Edgbaston Stadium, and many hundreds of thousands more on Sky TV and BBC on 23 July as part of the launch of the first matches in the new Hundred competition. Cricket and rapping might seem odd bedfellows but Sanity said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be singing in front of a big crowd. I’ve been waiting to perform in public for over 18 months since the virus and lockdowns struck. Now I can’t wait to get on stage again.”

T

HIGH-OCTANE The Hundred brings together high-octane music and sporting entertainment to a younger, more vibrant audience which Sanity says is the perfect platform to get back to performing live. “I’ve spent the pandemic pretty much at home, working from my own little studio,” she

16 birmingham living

says. “It’s been a strange one, looking at lots of different avenues. Lots of online stuff and being creative in lots of other ways. Before the pandemic, I had been trying to get out of spending so much time in my own space. I’d done some studio and writing sessions with different producers like Delirious, Emmavie, BlueLabBeats and Dj Zinc. Lockdown stopped all that. I’m used to being performing and meeting new people so it was hard not being able to do that. “Edgbaston will be my first big-scale show in all that time. I’ve really missed the live interaction, so I’m proper excited to be playing to what will be a large crowd of supporters making lots of noise.” Sanity is promising a ‘high-energy’ set for the hometown fans which will include L.O.V.E her recent new release which she says is a heartfelt and insightful piece that explores the truest meaning of the feeling. The track which has a soulful and warm vibe and evocative lyrics sees Sanity joined by singer Jay Alexzander. POWERING UP Post Edgbaston, Sanity has a few other live dates lined up, including the MADE Festival at Sandwell Valley Country Park at the end of this month and a festival in Belgium postponed because of the pandemic until September. But she says her focus over the coming months is to “buckle down and work on some more new music” with the help of Power Up, a new initiative

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 16) feat_ladysanity:Layout 1

22/6/21

15:12

Page 17

FEATURE

july 2021

birmingham living 17


BHAM_ (Page 16) feat_ladysanity:Layout 1

22/6/21

15:13

Page 18

FEATURE

providing funding to empower black musicians. She reckons this will take about a year or so as she is starting to work more with a live band, which takes more time. “The guys in the band – they’re all from Birmingham except one guy who is from Kidderminster – I met for the first time at the Commonwealth Games,” Sanity adds. “Writing more music, working with a live band means I can make music that builds around my voice.

SANITY AT THE HUNDRED The Hundred is a new 100-ball competition which brings together cricket and live performances, in partnership with BBC Music Introducing, at each of its 68 games. Eight star-studded men’s and women’s city teams – including Birmingham Phoenix – will compete over five weeks this summer. Ticket details at www.thehundred.com

18 birmingham living

Before, it was the reverse and I had to make my voice fit around the music.” It’s all part of the development of a performer who was earmarked as a rising star on the UK rap scene after being spotted by BBC Introducing in 2015. She subsequently rocked at Glastonbury and won a clutch of industry awards. She’s always been fiercely proud of being a Brummie and the city has featured in some of her music. She’s a real hometown girl and says the past year or so has not just been tough professionally but also personally. “I’ve lost a few people in the pandemic, some older relatives. It’s been a hard one, but I’m trying to look to the positives. I’ve been able to keep in touch with my family during the worst period with Zoom meets. And now at last I can see all my music friends.” I

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 19):Layout 1

july 2021

23/6/21

14:06

Page 19

birmingham living 19


BHAM_ (Page 20) HEROES:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:21

Page 20

FEATURE

1

2

3

4

HOMETOWN hey’re the Hometown Heroes – 14 local champions who have been named as inspirational by Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games organisers. The Heroes are part of a campaign to celebrate the diversity of the region by shining a spotlight on those who go above and beyond to develop sport, encourage participation and promote physical and mental wellbeing in their community. They include England’s first hijab-wearing boxing coach, a million-pound fund-raiser and the coach of a football team for children with disabilities. The Heroes were revealed as organisers launched a search for 13,000 volunteers to act as helpers at the Games. Details at: www.birmingham2022.com/volunteering

T

9

10

1. Haseebah Abdullah, pioneering coach at Windmill boxing team, Smethwick. 2. Naseem Akhtar, project manager at women’s wellbeing charity, Saheli Hub, Balsall Heath, Birmingham. 3. Grassroots cricket champion Salma Bi, coach, umpire, fund-raiser and director of Sporting Pathways, Birmingham 4. Jeevan Chagger, chairman, coach and umpire at City of Birmingham Hockey Club 5. Ricardo D’Alva, coach at City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club, Nechells 6. Kirsty Davie, team manager and coach at Birmingham Moseley Women’s RFC 7. Kevin Dillon, head coach at Lions Amateur Boxing Club, Brierley Hill

20 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 20) HEROES:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:21

Page 21

FEATURE

5

6

7

HEROES 11

12

13

8 MEET THE 14 LOCAL CHAMPIONS CHOSEN TO INSPIRE BY ORGANISERS OF BIRMINGHAM’S 2022 COMMONWEALTH GAMES

14

8. Dave Heeley, blind marathon runner from West Bromwich who has raised more than £3million for charity 9. Joan Hunter, coach at University of Birmingham Netball Club 10. Steve Mroso, coach and team manager at Team Birmingham Elite Basketball Club 11. Yasmin Nessa, co-founder at Saltley Stallions Women’s Football Club, Birmingham 12. Kevin Redmond, coach at Solihull Moors FC Ability Counts, Solihull 13. Sarah Scanlon, umpire at Ernesford Grange Netball Club, Coventry 14. Ranjit Singh, coach at Wolverhampton Wrestling Club

july 2021

birmingham living 21


living

BHAM_ (Page 22) chefscorner ISSUU:Layout 1

29/6/21

10:57

Page 22

FOOD & DRINK

ANDY STUBBS

Fire pit legend, Digbeth Dining Club regular and one of Birmingham’s favourite street food vendors, Andy is better known as Andy Low ‘n’ Slow, taking his inspiration from traditional Texas BBQ and Mexican flavours

22 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 22) chefscorner:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:26

Page 23

CHEF’S CORNER

Tell us about your cooking The food I cook is Modern Mexican and traditional Texas BBQ. I draw inspiration from my travels to Texas and their style of bringing in the Mexican garnishes and tortilla to add vibrancy to my food. I specialise in heritage and rare breed meats, so the Texas way of cooking appeals to me as it is simply salt, pepper and oak letting the meat shine through. It’s crucial to me to work with small farms who select meat to my exact spec and to support our amazing produce which I strongly believe is the best in the world! How did you become a chef? I taught myself how to cook after being made redundant from a factory job eight years ago. At the time, Jamie Oliver was a big influence as he made cooking accessible to home cooks with shows like his American Road Trip. Around the same time, I was going to the Notting Hill Carnival (I was and still am heavily into reggae and hip hop) and seeing the families on the corner cooking with their jerk pans, with clouds of wood smoke and aroma billowing across the street blew me away and sparked an interest into exploring BBQ . What do you eat at home? It all depends on how long I’ve been at work that day. I’ve always loved to cook Indian and Caribbean food. At this time of year simple grilled fish and tomato salads are a fave moving into braises and ragus when autumn hits. Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum? It’s hard but if I had to pick one it would be Sean Brock from Virginia, US. His passion and obsession over ingredients blew me away. He goes above and beyond to source heritage ingredients and only works with the best produce so his style of cooking influences me every day! In Birmingham, I think I’d have to say Glynn Purnell. He is a great ambassador for our city and has always supported me when I’ve seen him. I like how he sticks to his guns and stays true to himself as a Brummie chef!

july 2021

Is the customer always, right? Of course, me and my team will always go above and beyond to make sure every aspect of the customer’s experience with us is incredible, but sometimes expectations and attitude can be beyond realistic. I will always try my best but I believe you simply can’t please everyone, all of the time! Share a cooking tip Seasoning! I eat so much food that’s just a pinch of salt away from being amazing. Also, use the best produce you can, cook with respect and let the ingredients do the talking. What was your favourite food as a kid? Ha ha that’s a funny one! I was famous for going camping with a crate of beer and a tin of all-day breakfast. My mom’s always cooked lovely pasta dishes with rich tomato sauces that I loved! Food heaven and food hell? Heaven is slow cooked food like a ragu or Ossobuco alla Milanese. It warms my soul and is so satisfying. Hell is a hard one as I like most things. Dusty old bulgur wheat or dry couscous dishes make me weep with boredom and I hate raisins or pomegranate in savoury dishes! What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten? Maybe calves’ testicles in Texas. They thought I’d hate them or be weird about it, but they were lovely! If you weren’t a chef, what would you be? In another life I’d have gone more into my music. I was a grade five trumpet player in high school until I discovered hip hop, cider and girls. I’m also massively into interior design and gardening believe it or not. What do you recommend from this evening’s menu? The Achiote pork steak with heritage tomato, watermelon and nasturtium. It’s grilled over beautiful ash charcoal and ticks all the boxes as a perfect summer dish. Find out more about Andy at andylownslow.co.uk or follow him on twitter @andy_low_n_slow

birmingham living 23


BHAM_ (Page 24) nibbles:Layout 1

FOOD & DRINK

23/6/21

11:18

Page 24

NIBBLES and SHORTS

BIRMINGHAM’S BARS, RESTAURANTS AND HOTELS ARE SET TO RE-OPEN WITH A BANG. HERE’S OUR INSIDER GUIDE TO THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE CITY’S EATERIES AND DRINKING DENS

PEACHY PRIZES

Big congrats to Birmingham pub company Peach for being named one of the best companies to work for in the UK. The independent business, which runs the High Field, Edgbaston and the High Field Town House boutique hotel, picked up four accolades in this year’s Best Companies to Work for awards – including sixth place in the UK’s Top 20 Leisure and Hospitality Companies to Work For category and 13th in best overall employer in the Midlands.

OPENING THE BOX We’re into our cakes in a big way at Brum Living Towers – as our waistlines can testify! So, we’re excited by the news that egg-free Cake Box, has opened up at Merry Hill centre. Located near Asda on the lower mall, the freshly baked and handcrafted offerings include fresh cream cakes and slices, cupcakes, vegan loaves and even egg-free cheesecakes. Yummy!

GRAND DESIGN

TOP TAKEAWAYS

TASTE OF FRANCE Excuse the pun, but we’re banking on great food this summer at Solihull’s new French-inspired Cote brasserie – which has opened at the old Royal Bank of Scotland site in Solihull High Street. The restaurant was originally

Two Indian restaurants in Birmingham are among A new ‘super boutique’ hotel has due to launch at the start of last year, the finalists for the best takeways in the West opened in an historic Georgian but Covid put the plans on hold and Midlands. Chutney Express and the Lime Pickle are vying building overlooking picturesque meantime the building has been for the regional title in the annual British Takeaway Church Square in Oldbury. The PR given a total refurb. A spokesperson Awards. Also on the shortlist is the Delicious Burger blurb for Domo Boutique Hotel talks said: “It is an updated, more modern & Shake Co @ Krazy Krocs in Nuneaton. The awards, about ‘grand luxury’, and a quick in association with Just Eat, celebrate the version of our nearest restaurants in peek around bears out the hype hard-working, often family run businesses the Mailbox and Leamington.” with five striking suites and ornate who have served their local community and stylish décor and fittings during lockdown. throughout. General manager Santa Bojarinova said: “We are thrilled to The dreaded pandemic might have right royally screwed up our planned holiday to Athens this year, but be opening our first hotel and hope at least we can get a taste of Greek-style here in Brum with the opening of the new Mythos Taverna in guests really love the design the Arcadian. Billed as the city’s ‘first authentic Greek Taverna’, it’s on the site formerly occupied by the elements of the hotel.”

IT’S ALL GREEK

Green Room, opposite the Hippodrome Theatre. Head chef Sylvia Grigore has had 12 years training in Athens followed by five years at London's oldest Greek restaurant.

COMMUNITY CAFE

After a year of lockdowns and social distancing a community cafe has been launched to bring locals closer together. Emile Kerekes, 45, a pastor at the Connection Church Centre in Kingshurst, is managing the new venue which serves fresh homemade Belgian waffles, pancakes and quality coffee. “It’s not a high street cafe but is a cosy place for people to come and sit and hang out,” said Emile. Sounds right up our street!

24 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 25) restrev:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:15

Page 25

RESTAURANT REVIEW

LUCARELLI

117 Wharfside Street, Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF lucarellirestaurant.co.uk one well, Italian restaurants are one of our faves – welcoming, relaxed vibe, tasty food, great service. Chuck in a sunny terrace and surely we’re onto a winner. You know the drill, we popped along to one of Birmingham’s newest additions, Lucarelli with sky high hopes. For a start, the Mailbox comes into its own in the summer and when we visited, it felt normal once masks and contact tracing shizzle were done. The terrace at Lucarelli – a real coup right now – was as busy as a restaurant is allowed to be and in the absence of a flight to the Amalfi coast, this little corner of Brummie sunshine was spot on. The small plates (cicchetti) section of a larger menu winked at us vigorously and while the waitress recommended four dishes between two, we went for five as we’ve learned over the years that we clearly eat more than the average person. A large glass of chardonnay while we did the usual indecisive menu dance was not the worst idea we’ve had. There were three absolutely winning dishes – first up was one of the trio of bruschetta topped with smashed pea with avocado which was packed with an intense pea flavour. Really great. Second was creamy burrata at just the right temperature served with salty ham and sweet honey on toasted Altamura (bit like sourdough) and thirdly, a moreish, tangy gorgonzola gnocchi. All three felt fresh and thoughtfully put together.

D

july 2021

The other dishes were grand too, it’s just these three beauties were stand-out delish. We also tried arancini filled with mozzarella and ragu and linguine with prawns, tomato and courgette which was a bit mean on the prawn to pasta ratio we thought. Pizza and garlic bread seemed to be flying out of the kitchen looking all kinds of blistering oozing cheesy gorgeousness. A proper crowd-pleaser that your granny would be as happy with as your 10-yearold. Lucarelli is a fantastic addition to the city centre food scene and we would urge you to give it a whirl. If you’re not blown away by the burrata, ham, honey combo, there’s no hope.

birmingham living 25


BHAM_ (Page 26) seasons:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:14

Page 26

SEASON’S EATINGS

SUMMER STRAWBERRY SHORTBREAD

Ingredients: For the shortbread

I 250g plain white flour I 200g unsalted butter (chilled) I 100g icing sugar I 2 egg yolks (free range) I 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the coulis

I 300g raspberries I 300g strawberries I 2 tbsp icing sugar I 1 lemon

Try this delicious dessert using great British

For the decoration I 300g strawberries I 300g double cream

strawberries – perfect for a barbecue! othing tastes as good as sweet, juicy British strawberries and cream. But why stop there? Take the time to make our super summer strawberry shortbread and we guarantee you’ll thank us for the recipe. A scrumptious dessert, and great with a summer barbecue.

N

Method: Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan, 350°F, gas mark 4). Line a baking tray with baking paper. In a bowl add the butter, sifted flour and work the mixture with your fingertips to form crumbs. Make a well and add sifted icing sugar, the egg yolks and the vanilla extract. Mix the ingredients together until combined and forms into dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. After the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and knead for 5 minutes. Roll the dough out to 5mm thickness and using a circular cutter, stamp out the biscuit shapes. Place on the lined baking tray and chill again in the fridge for 30 minutes. Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. For the coulis, put the raspberries and half of the strawberries into a food processor and add the icing sugar and juice of the lemon. Process until pureed. Pass through a sieve into a bowl. Whip the double cream then on a serving plate place a shortbread, whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Top with another shortbread and if you want to be really indulgent, repeat with strawberries and cream. Otherwise finish with a dollop of cream and a strawberry. Dust with icing sugar, spoon some coulis around the shortbread stack and garnish with more fresh strawberries.

26 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 27) cotm:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:54

Page 27

COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH

SUMMER SPARKLER Chill out with this hot little Mediterranean favourite

he Italians call it ‘sunshine in a glass’. So, what better cocktail for the perfect summer drink than Aperol Spritz? This Mediterranean favourite is a combination of Aperol, sparkling wine and soda water. Hot stuff… but, as always, be sure you chill out by drinking responsibly. I

T

INGREDIENTS: I Handful of ice

I 50ml/2fl oz Aperol

I 100ml/3½fl oz of sparkling wine (such as Prosecco) I 25ml/1fl oz soda water

I Orange slices, to garnish (optional)

METHOD: Fill a wine glass with ice. Pour the Aperol and sparkling wine over the ice, then top with the soda water. Gently stir the drink to combine all the ingredients and garnish with an orange slice or two.

july 2021

birmingham living 27


BHAM_ (Page 28) wine ISSUU:Layout 1

29/6/21

11:00

Page 28

FOOD & DRINK

CHEERS TO A GREAT BARBIE! A YUMMY BARBECUE DESERVES A DELICIOUS WINE PAIRING.

OUR EXPERT KATIE GARDNER PICKS HER SUMMER SIZZLERSÁ ummer is finally here and the scent of barbecues is in the air, so what better time to update your wine rack with some delicious new wines to try. We may immediately think of reds to go with those sizzling sausages and juicy steaks but there can be some great opportunities to pair white wines too. South Africa is a country famous for the braai, a BBQ cooked over a real fire, with anything from boerewors – a farmer’s sausage, to chicken and corn on the cob! It is seen as an occasion for social gathering, with lots of drinking while waiting for the fire to heat up. Crisp and refreshing white wines like Vinho Verde from Portugal can make the perfect aperitif for a long and lazy afternoon in the garden, but when pairing with food you may need something more robust. If you fancy knocking up a salad with fresh cheeses like feta or perhaps grilling some halloumi, try a Northern-Rhône style white.

S

RICH TEXTURE Usually made from a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne grapes, each variety brings something different to the party. Grenache Blanc has a luscious, rich texture with aromas of stone fruits and white flowers. It’s also known as Garnacha Blanca in Spain and you can find some top regional examples from Catalunya. Marsanne provides body and delicate spice, while Roussanne balances the final blend with a crisp freshness. For the ultimate ‘goes-with-everything’ wine, look for a Rioja. With a medium body, red and black fruits with just a hint of vanilla spice, it has enough structure for red meats but also enough acidity to cope with lighter dishes too (hence why it works so well with tapas!)

28 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 28) wine:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:59

There are different levels of ageing in Rioja, which you can decipher using the labels. Crianza wine spends a minimum of 12 months ageing, which makes it a great wine for burgers or surf and turf. Reserva is aged for a minimum of three years and Gran Reserva a minimum of five and these styles tend to be much more serious and fuller-bodied in style, perfect for a T-bone steak. THE SICILIAN Most Italian reds also have this fantastic balance of freshness and structure and the Nero d’Avola grape from Sicily is no exception. It is generally rich but soft in style, with juicy black cherry and plum flavours that work great with any style of pork. Sicily was long known as the workhorse of Italian wine production, with grapes being used to add extra alcohol or body to wines given its hot climate. It is now becoming renowned for its native varietals, particularly from around the active volcano of Etna where the soils are perfect for growing grapes and clearly worth the risk of a possible eruption! For something a little bit unusual, you could try a red which has been aged in bourbon whisky barrels! A trend that has come from across the pond in the States (where else?!), the resulting wines tend to have plenty of rich flavours with smoky, sweet aromas of vanilla and caramel that would match brilliantly with some marinaded meat. Bon Appetit! 

Page 29

4

FOOD & DRINK

GREAT WINES FOR A BARBIE

The Search Grenache Blanc Marsanne Roussanne, Voor Paardeberg , South Africa – Fresh, floral and peachy but with good weight for pairing with food. Great with grilled fish, fresh cheeses like feta or smoky halloumi. Available from Waitrose for £9.99. Ramon Bilbao Crianza, Rioja, Spain – Rioja is a tried and tested classic but it’s a wonderfully versatile and food friendly red. Perfect with grilled aubergines and peppers, chicken or surf and turf. £11.95 from Great Wine Co. Miopasso Nero d Avola, Sicily, Italy – Try this native from Sicily, with notes of deep rich dark berries and spice. The grapes are dried after picking to concentrate flavours. Great with sausages and ribs. Available from Frazier’s for £9.25. 1000 Stories' Bourbon Barrel Zinfandel 2018, California, USA – For a full-flavoured and ripe wine with a twist of smoky sweetness look no further than this big wine from the Golden State. Aged in bourbon-whisky barrels, this wine has flavours of vanilla and caramel with plenty of juicy black fruit. Made for a grilled steak! Available from Majestic for £16.99

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 Katie Gardner on 0121 270 7359, or visit www.birminghamwineschool.com.

july 2021

birmingham living 29


BHAM_ (Page 30) health_walk:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:17

Page 30

HEALTH

WALK THAT WALK

HOW STEPPING OUT CAN BOOST YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING – AND HELP A VITAL CHARITY TO BOOT! unny old world, isn’t it? Many of us had just simply forgotten one of the easiest, no-nonsense ways to improve our all-round fitness and mental health – until lockdown made us rediscover it. The stay-at-home rules of the pandemic witnessed a huge increase in good, old-fashioned walking! Whether you live near woods, fields or city centres, walking is a cheap and cheerful way of exercising. The simple act of walking – whether a swift stride to the shops or a leisurely stroll through the park – can have a huge impact on our well-being. And this month sees an added incentive to step out, with the opportunity to Walk for Parkinson’s and give an amazing charity a big boost (see more details on the facing page). Here are just some of the key exercise benefits of walking:

F

30 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 30) health_walk:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:17

Page 31

HEALTH

IMPROVE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM Your nose, gut and airways contain lots of good, natural killer cells (NKCs) which attack potentially harmful viruses before the rest of the immune system, called the b cell immune system, comes on board and starts creating antibodies. The number of NKCs increases when you take a walk. BOOST MENTAL HEALTH When you’re walking, you release something called brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. The only thing that gets it out into the body is exercise – it’s absolutely dependent on us moving around. BDNF helps reduce inflammation which not only causes physical problems but it can cause issues with our mental health, too. So, by walking and reducing it you can help tackle things like anxiety and depression. MAKE US HAPPIER One of the major benefits of walking is stress relief as the act of physical exercise increases concentrations of norepinephrine in the body – a chemical which moderates the brain’s response to stress. AID CREATIVITY Walking can really get your creative juices flowing and there’s lots of anecdotal evidence that some of history’s greatest philosophers were active walkers. Let’s face it, you are far more likely to have got a good idea if you’re walking through a beautiful forest than if you're sitting down, doing nothing. It is widely reported that the late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, regularly held meetings on the move. And research by Stanford University supports his thinking by demonstrating that walking significantly boosts creative inspiration. INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY Employees who regularly exercise are said to be far more productive and have much more energy than their more sedentary counterparts. Not only that, but

july 2021

12 noon is apparently the optimum time of the day to reap the benefits so, if you fancy surviving the midday slump, be sure to take that lunchtime stroll. GOOD FOR METABOLISM Engaging in low-level activity across the course of the day is better for regulating your metabolism than engaging small bits of intense but infrequent activity. People tend to overestimate the benefits of going to the gym and pounding out an hour on the treadmill when they’ve been inactive for the rest of the day. In fact, there is some evidence that this behaviour can lead to exercise-induced inactivity. IMPROVE POSTURE For many of us, the working day involves going from sitting in our car to sitting at our desk, to sitting on the sofa. This can result in a bad posture and back problems. Getting up and walking around regularly can help prevent a bad back and improve our posture. STRENGTHEN AND REPAIR JOINTS The more you walk, the more you repair your cartilage, and the thicker the cartilage becomes and the stronger the joint becomes. PREVENT DEMENTIA Walking, like all forms of physical exercise, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevents degradation of the hippocampus – a vital part of the brain for memory and learning. Researchers have found that walking for just 20 minutes a day boosts memory and improves overall brain function. I

WALK FOR PARKINSON’S Parkinson’s UK has launched the charity fund-raiser to help improve support for those with Parkinson’s – and the people in their lives. Walk for Parkinson’s features socially-distanced organised walks across the country, including in Sutton Park, Birmingham on Sunday 11 July. If you’d like to take part, or join in one of the virtual walks instead, visit: www.parkinsons.org.uk/get-involved/walk-parkinsons.

birmingham living 31


BHAM_ (Page 32) health_workingout:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:22

Page 32

HEALTH

PLAY SAFE THIS SUMMER THE BALL’S IN YOUR COURT AS NEW RESEARCH REVEALS A DIRECT LINK BETWEEN RISING TEMPERATURES AND AN INCREASE IN INJURIES

32 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 32) health_workingout:Layout 1

23/6/21

11:23

Page 33

HEALTH

prains, broken bones, dislocations, sun damage – welcome to the toll of playing games with family or friends in the summer garden and great outdoors. Don’t believe us? Well, research from Bupa health clinics shows as many as two-thirds of people sustain a seasonal injury as a result of spending more time outdoors during the summer months. The trend is set to explode even further this summer as we’re all inspired to get outside and take up tennis and football to try and emulate our sporting heroes from Wimbledon and the delayed Euro football championships.

S

EASY DOES IT The UK on a warm summer’s day is one of the best places to be and it’s great that so many of us enjoy the great outdoors. However, it’s important that we take the necessary precautions. A friendly game of sport could become much more serious if someone hasn’t been active for a while and jumps straight in.

july 2021

Here are just a few sensible tips to help you stay fit, healthy and injury free:

I Play nicely – When playing games with friends and family, it is ok to take a breather now and again and always make sure you are wearing the correct gear for the sport you’re playing. I Listen to your body – If you feel faint, dizzy, or simply too hot, stop. Start with shorter workouts, longer rest periods and lower intensity sessions. You can increase the intensity as your body adapts. Initially just focus on keeping yourself as healthy and safe as possible. I Wear appropriate clothing – Lighter coloured, sweat wicking clothes are a must-have. Not only do we want to keep our core body temperature lower, but we also want to ensure we’re comfortable too. I Know your limits – Go at a pace that suits you and your body. Have a quick jog around and stretch your calves, hamstrings, back and arms. This can take no less than three minutes to do a full body stretch – so why not! Prior to starting a new fitness regime or sport, see a physiotherapist or have a full body health assessment to ensure your body is at the right level before progressing. I Early riser – Exercising in the early hours of the day has the advantage of not only being quieter, it’s also a lot cooler. If you’re not an early bird, waiting until the sun goes down will be your second-best option. It won’t be as cool as it is in the morning, but the heat will be considerably lower allowing you to train without too much trouble. I Hydrate – One of the biggest issues when training in the heat is dehydration. As we exercise, our body’s core temperature will naturally increase resulting in us losing bodily fluid through sweat. You should drink 250 to 300ml around 30 minutes before your session, continuously sip water throughout the workout, and ensure that you drink between 500ml and one litre post-workout. I Unwanted bites – To avoid being nature’s feast, make sure you cover up after a workout. If you are bitten, act straight away and avoid itching by buying a cream from the pharmacy. Anti-biotics are sometimes necessary if the bite gets infected. It’s important to monitor any changes surrounding the bite and visit a pharmacist if you’re unsure. I Combat allergies – One tip is to put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen, it may feel odd but it can help reduce the symptoms. Avoid grassy areas during the early morning and evening as this is when the pollen count is highest. I Stay protected – And remember, whether you’re abroad or in the UK, everyone should protect themselves from the sun to avoid damage to the skin. It is important to know your skin type as this will determine the level of sun exposure you can handle before burning. I

birmingham living 33


ing livSTYLE

BHAM_ (Page 34) style:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:53

Page 34

TWO PIECE OR NOT TWO PIECE?

HONESTLY, THERE’S NO PRESSURE EITHER WAY IS THERE? WEAR WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL HAPPY AND GENERALLY WITH SWIMWEAR THAT MEANS A GREAT FIT THE NEW BLACK

Bikini top and bottoms £14.99, M&Co

34 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 34) style:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:53

Page 35

STYLE ZIG AND ZAG

ANIMAL MAGIC

Missoni Mare zig zag print swimsuit £295, Harvey Nichols

Animal Kingdom square front swimsuit £45, Oliver Bonas

LESS IS MORE

Chevron texture swimsuit £45, Oliver Bonas

SCALLOP EDGE

Bikini bottoms £15 and top £22, Very

t the time of writing Portugal, which had looked like the saviour of summer, has been hoofed onto the Government’s amber list and international travel is slipping further away. Gibraltar anyone? Whether we’re getting on a plane or not, we’ll be rocking swimmers and sipping mojitos at the vaguest hint of summer wherever we are and realistically that might be a deckchair by the fountains in Centenary Square. See you there? In our view, beach body ready is a stupid notion and one that we don’t buy into. Ditch the scales, embrace your body not someone else’s and invest in swimwear that fits like a glove and makes you feel tip top. Try before you buy is ordinarily our swimwear mantra, but currently fitting rooms are no-go areas, so if you are able to, we recommend buying a handful of styles and sizes to take home and try. Wriggling around and

A

july 2021

TAKE THE PLUNGE

Shaping swimsuit £35, Very

FAB FRILLS

Zimmerman Cassia frilled bikini £240, Selfridges

RIGHT STRIPES

Aceana bikini bottoms £15 and top £15, Regatta

birmingham living 35


BHAM_ (Page 34) style:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:53

Page 36

STYLE

COVER UP

Maui cropped rash vest £115, Alma Society

36 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 34) style:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:54

Page 37

STYLE

CUTE PRINT

MAKE IT MOSAIC

Marigold tidal wrap swimsuit £38, White Stuff

Swimsuit £19.99, TK Maxx

CROSS BACK

fidgeting in an uncomfortable, ill-fitting swimsuit doesn’t ooze confidence, so when you find one that does, buy in a few colourways. It’s tempting to go for the safety of black, but a pop of colour can look terrific and lift your mood. If you’re not a bright neon sort of gal, try khaki or navy for understated alternatives. While we’re advocates of getting out and shopping in Brum, if you’re looking online, you can’t beat Figleaves for quick delivery, easy returns and fast refunds. It’s not a substitute for feeling the fabric quality and seeing the colour in the flesh, but not a bad alternative. I

Teal swimsuit £39.50, FatFace

RAISE THE ROUCHE

Hidden turtle rouched bottoms £19.50 and top £22.50, FatFace

july 2021

FLOWER POWER

Blue floral bikini top £2 and bottoms £2, Primark

birmingham living 37


BHAM_ (Page 34) style:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:54

Page 38

STYLE

GLAM SQUAD

Halterneck swimsuit £30, Joe Browns

HELLO SUMMER

LEAF IT OUT

Leaf drawstring bikini top £19.95 and bottoms £15, White Stuff

Green and white leaf bikini £12.99, TK Maxx

GREAT SHAPE

Green leaf print plunge swimsuit £12, Primark

GO GREEN

High waisted brief £29 and plunge top £29, Crew Clothing

38 birmingham living

OFF THE SHOULDER

Gold foil swimsuit £12.50, F&F

COOL KHAKI

Colour block swimsuit £32.99, M&Co

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 34) style:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:54

Page 39

STYLE

SPOTS FOR THE WIN

Bikini top £8 and bottoms £6, Matalan

GOLD TRIM

Underwired gold trim bikini top £10 and bottoms £7, Matalan

july 2021

SHINE ON

Sparkle stripe Bardot swimsuit £45, Oliver Bonas

BUCKLE UP

Plunge stripe swimsuit £20, F&F

birmingham living 39


BHAM_ (Page 40) beauty:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:50

Page 40

BEAUTY

BEAUTY DESK

1

We’re focused on dewy, healthy skin this month, so we’ve picked out a handful of products that will boost hydration and achieve the glowing complexion we’re after

2

1. LIMITED EDITION BENEFIT HOOLA GLOW, £27.50, BENEFIT This won’t boost your skin’s actual hydration, but in make-up terms it’ll leave you looking fresh and glowy. I haven’t used Hoola since around 2004 and I’m not sure why, but this limited edition might just have won me back. It contains superfine pearlescent pigment that leaves a natural, subtle sheen – although it’s possible to build up for an ultra-glow if you’re not so subtle. A winner.

2. BLUE HEART CRÈME DE LA MER MOISTURISING CREAM, £240, CRÈME DE LA MER Okay this is pricey, however, if you’re feeling flush, it’s well worth it. Luxurious, rich and soothing, it contains the secret Miracle Broth that runs through all La Mer skincare. It’s ideal for dry skin nourishing and hydrating intensely, plus we like the brand’s commitment to ocean conservation efforts as well as the cute, limited edition jar.

3

3. CLINIQUE MOISTURE SURGE WITH ALOE BIO-FERMENT, £25, JOHN LEWIS The original Moisture Surge was great and this new pimped-up version goes even further. It’s deeply hydrating containing aloe ferment, caffeine and activated aloe water leaving skin dewy and plump.

4

4. CODEX BEAUTY LABS ANTÜ BRIGHTENING SERUM 30ML, £85, CULT BEAUTY Codex Beauty Labs is all about high quality biotech beauty. The Brightening Serum, which is vegan and cruelty-free, rejuvenates and protects the skin barrier defending against exposure to airborne pollutants. In lay terms, it results in brighter, smoother skin and has a calming effect that’s very welcome. Suitable for any skin type, but a dry/dull complexion will benefit most. 5. DRUNK ELEPHANT D-BRONZI ANTI-POLLUTION SUNSHINE DROPS 30ML, £30, BOOTS We love almost everything Drunk Elephant launches and while the Sunshine Drops aren’t new, we haven’t found anything else like them. One teeny drop in your usual moisturiser boosts hydration and gives you a subtle sun-kissed glow. The bottle looks small for the price but lasts 12 months at one drop almost every day.

40 birmingham living

5 july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 41):Layout 1

19/5/21

13:16

Page 41


BHAM_ (Page 42) menstyle:Layout 1

22/6/21

18:01

Page 42

STYLE FOR MEN

GREAT FIT Whale print short £120, Pink House Mustique

IN THE

SWIM WHILE SECRETLY WE HAVEN’T COMPLETELY ABANDONED THE NOTION OF FLYING OUT OF BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT IN THREE WEEKS’ TIME, WE’RE TRYING NOT TO GIVE IT THE KISS OF DEATH BY SAYING IT IN PUBLIC… OH!

42 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 42) menstyle:Layout 1

22/6/21

18:01

Page 43

STYLE FOR MEN

TURTLE BAE Daymer turtle swimwear £35, FatFace

CLUB TROPICANA Bold print swim short £12.50, M&S

BUG’S LIFE Beetle swim short £120, Pink House Mustique

he Great British holiday is looking firmly on the cards, but there’s no reason to sacrifice your chic Med beach vibes. Whether you’re splashing about in a tepid lido or huddled behind a windbreak in Polzeath you might as well do it in style. Imagine a time when Speedos in varying colours were the only swimwear on offer – tight, revealing, unflattering. We’re ever thankful for the more subtle swim short that has relegated the budgie smuggler to a choice rather than the only choice. With swim shorts, length and fit is everything. Too long and billowy looks a bit teenage skate park, while too tight teeters on the edge of Love Island territory. If you make your check-list the universally flattering mid-thigh, great fit, decent fabric and striking print, you can’t go far wrong. This might of course be academic if the weather doesn’t play ball – in which case pack a dry robe and accept your body will be as pale as the day you arrived. I

T

CHECK MATE Multi gingham swim short £19.99, TK Maxx

RELAXED VIBE Palm print swim short £17.50, M&S

PRINTS CHARMING Camber palm print in charcoal £39, FatFace

july 2021

UNDERSTATED COOL Geo navy swim short £10, Matalan

ZIG AND ZAG Teal swim short £19.99, TK Maxx

birmingham living 43


ng il viHOMES

BHAM_ (Page 44) homes:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:22

Page 44

HEY PRESTO AL FRESCO!

EATING OUTDOORS IN THE SUMMER IS A WONDERFULLY ROMANTIC NOTION THAT SOMETIMES FALLS SHORT IN REALITY. WELL NOT ANY MORE…

44 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 44) homes:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:23

Page 45

HOMES

ong lazy lunches in the garden are pure joy enhanced immeasurably by having the right gear and conversely ruined by not having decent kit. Comfortable chairs, sturdy wobble free table, a parasol to cast some shade, lighting to lengthen a get-together after dark, candles to ward off bugs. You get the gist. Add something tasty to nibble and a cool drink and you’re good to go. The garden has never been more important than over the last 18 months – at times it was the only place we could entertain, come rain or shine. Remember Christmas drinks huddled round the chiminea in groups of three? Obviously, it makes more sense now summer has arrived and we can host larger groups of friends, but are you ready?

L

WHEN IN ROME Luxurious Rome lounging range from £1,594 and more formal Adelaide range from £269, BoConcept Birmingham

july 2021

birmingham living 45


BHAM_ (Page 44) homes:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:23

Page 46

HOMES

SMART CASUAL Cane-line two-seater sofa £2,100, Nest

TOP TABLE Zuiver Vondel large garden table £879, Cuckooland

46 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 44) homes:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:23

Page 47

HOMES

If you‘re looking to update your furniture, make sure you choose a set that can happily stay outside allyear-round. Dragging hefty furniture about is a step too far. Consider how many people you need to seat regularly and occasionally and work out what kind of size you need realistically. Spend as much as you can afford on your main pieces. You can pick up accessories reasonably and if the quality isn’t top notch, they’re easy to replace, but if you scrimp on the big items you might find them irritatingly flimsy. BoConcept in Edgbaston has a 15 per cent discount until 1 August which is well worth a look. Top quality and high design, you might just pick up something beautiful that really defies the price tag. While you’re there, check out Neptune and OKA for a more traditional vibe then hop to Minima’s cool new home in the Jewellery Quarter for a fantastic range of brands. 

july 2021

LIGHTS FANTASTIC Parasol fairy light and festoon set £16.99, Lights4Fun

birmingham living 47


BHAM_ (Page 44) homes:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:24

Page 48

HOMES NICE SPREAD Tableware from HomeSense

DAY TO NIGHT Elba chairs £199 each and Torino table (180cm) £1,429, BoConcept Birmingham

48 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 44) homes:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:24

Page 49

HOMES

TWO IN ONE Heatsail BEEM pendant light with heater £2,060, Cuckooland

july 2021

birmingham living 49


BHAM_ (Page 50) finishingtouches:Layout 1

22/6/21

14:20

Page 50

HOMES

MIRROR MIRROR Weathered outdoor mirror £20, Wilko

MATCHY MATCHY Outdoor tableware from Next

INSIDE OUT Cane-line Drop outdoor kitchen unit £2,905, Nest

FINISHING TOUCHES

SET THE MOOD Large metal garden lantern £59.99, Lights4Fun

YOU’LL WANT TO BE ADDING SOME LOVELY ACCESSORIES TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN SHENANIGANS SING…

STAY COOL Culinary Concepts silver plated Champagne bath £120, Cuckooland WHATEVER THE WEATHER Astreea Downtown pod with PVC weatherproof cover £739, Cuckooland

CHIC CHEVRON Pink chevron garden cushion £9.99, TK Maxx

50 birmingham living

ALL THE RAGE Hosta outdoor rug £149, Lee Longlands

FRUITY FAVOURITE Pineapple drinks dispenser £10, B&M

INJECT SOME COLOUR Armando woven garden lounge chair £119, Cult Furniture

LIVELY LIME Lime garden cushion £29.99, Homesense

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 02):Layout 1

24/2/21

13:27

Page 35


BHAM_ (Page 52) motoring:Layout 1

22/6/21

18:00

Page 52

MOTORING

FREE AND EASY

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE SPORTY OPEN-TOP MOTORING TO EXCITE THE SENSES – AND IF YOU WANT AN ADDED DASH OF LUXURY, MERCEDES’ E-CLASS CABRIOLET IS THE PERFECT COMPANION, SAYS SUE COOKE

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Model: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet two-door Price: £50,015otr Engine: E220d Performance: 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 149mph CO2 emissions: 139g/km Combined fuel consumption: 53.3 to 47.1mpg (WLTP)

52 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 52) motoring:Layout 1

22/6/21

18:00

Page 53

MOTORING

am at my happiest when driving a sporty open top car. There is a wonderful sense of freedom, apart from butterflies in the tummy and a ridiculously huge smile on my face. And the Mercedes E-Class cabriolet is so good to be seen in. Fresh styling introduced last year to the front sections adds even more zing to this car, as do the LED headlamps which have a torch flame effect. There is a new diamond radiator grille and tail-lights. And when restrictions are lifted, the E-Class cabriolet with its classic fabric top offers spaciousness and comfort on long journeys for up to four people, all-year-round. As an option, the cabriolet can be fitted with the AIRCAP electric draught-stop system and AIRSCARF neck-level heating which means open top motoring even on colder days. I always feel quite cosy, even in the fast lane of a motorway.

I

DRIVE OF DISCOVERY The acoustic soft top, a standard feature which is multi-layered with insulation, helps to reduce any wind and driving noise. My family were able to enjoy relaxed conversation in the vehicle, even at higher speeds, on a wonderful drive of discovery last weekend, exploring towns and villages from Nuneaton to Stratford-upon-Avon. We were taking advantage of Visit Warwickshire’s new road trips – five inspiring driving routes launched to encourage visitors to sample the length, breadth and attractions of our beautiful county. (visit https://visit.warwickshire.gov.uk/greatdrives) The Mercedes’ luxurious interior features an upper section of the dashboard that almost appears to hover. Leather sports seats which are heated are very comfortable and at the same time provide excellent support in harder cornering. You can even choose sun reflecting leather seats! And when the height of your body is entered on the media

display or via ‘Mercedes me’ (the digital helpful assistant), the seat automatically moves into a position generally suitable for someone of your height, which then only needs to be fine-tuned by the driver. BELT BUTLER Put the key in the ignition and as in all Mercedes, the seatbelt holder automatically moves forward to make it easier to buckle up. The ‘belt butler’ saves having to dislocate whatever limb, to reach behind your seat to grab the belt. Wonderful! Other useful features include keyless entry and keyless start, so no need to rummage around in a handbag or pockets trying to find the ignition key. I road tested the E220d model which has excellent acceleration and power when you need it. There is a range of diesel and petrol variants and Mercedes is extending the electrification of its powertrain for the E-Class. All round, I found the cabriolet a very easy car to handle, manoeuvre and drive – as well as being a real summer stunner to look at! I

SHOWROOM

Mercedes-Benz of Erdington, 144 Bromford Lane, Birmingham, B24 8DE. Tel: 0121 514 0567 www.lshauto.co.uk

july 2021

birmingham living 53


BHAM_ (Page 54) ygb:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:43

Page 54

YOUNG, GIFTED & BRUMMIE

MAR!K WE CAUGHT UP WITH SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN AND PRODUCER MAR!K AFTER THE RELEASE OF HIS POWERFUL TRACK, GEORGE FLOYD’S SONG

ne year on from George Floyd’s death, BIMM student and songwriter, Mar!k released a song he penned in response to the brutal murder titled George Floyd’s Song. Powerful, slow-burning and atmospheric, Mar!k asserts, “If you look like me you’re oppressed,” before echoing George’s final words as police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes: “I can’t breathe, can’t breathe, can’t breathe, somebody help me!” Released to mark the one-year anniversary of George’s death, Mar!k actually wrote the song last year just after the murder and says: “I made this track as a response to the racism I see every day around me. He wasn’t the first unarmed black man to be killed by a police officer in broad daylight, but George Floyd’s death was a catalyst for change at a time when the world was finally able to watch and listen.”

O

DEFINING FACTOR He adds: “Whether it’s on TV, online on social media or in the outside world, racism is a problem that needs to be addressed in America as well as the UK. I’m not an activist or a freedom fighter. I’m just a 19-year-old teenager who doesn’t want to grow up in a world where the colour of my skin is a defining factor of someone’s initial perception.” Of Chauvin’s conviction, Mar!k says: “It’s like one step up a 200storey building with no lift. It’s a start, but there’s a long way to go.” George by Mar!k is available on all major streaming platforms. For more information, check out www.instagram.com/musicbymarik/

54 birmingham living

Mar!k also delivered a powerful speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in Leicester highlighting the disparities of racism in the UK. The response to his speech was instant and members of the audience were so inspired they requested a recording of it which he has made available in the second half of his two-part release, simply named George. Musical from an early age, Mar!k learned his craft at church events, school performances and song writing camps. While song writing is his strength he also plays guitar and bass. Later forming a rap collective, he studied music production, threw himself into freestyling and beat-making, and explored other genres, including reggae, gospel, soca. ECLECTIC BUNCH Mar!k’s musical influences are an eclectic bunch ranging from UB40 to Black Sabbath. He says: “I’m a bit all over the place! I like to keep it broad. My mum’s into R&B so there’s that too.” Now a first year student at music college BIMM, Mar!k can’t wait to get back into face-to-face classes and collaborate with fellow students. He says: “Due to the pandemic, there are people on my course that I’ve never actually met. I just know them via a screen through their Zoom name.” Mar!k has missed performing live this year and says: “I’ve done a few live streams, but it’s not the same. I can’t wait to do more shows and festivals.” In terms of ambitions Mar!k isn’t holding back: “As well as performing on huge stages and selling out festivals I’d like to be at the Grammys, winning awards for songs I’ve written not necessarily performed. That would be very cool.” I

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 54) ygb:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:43

Page 55

YOUNG, GIFTED & BRUMMIE

I’M JUST A 19-YEAR-OLD

TEENAGER WHO DOESN’T WANT

TO GROW UP IN A WORLD WHERE THE COLOUR OF MY SKIN IS A DEFINING FACTOR

july 2021

birmingham living 55


BHAM_ (Page 56) school report:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:44

Page 56

GROWING PLACES

HOWZAT!

WELCOME BACK BMet has welcomed Pat Carvalho as its new principal and chief executive taking over from Cliff Hall on his retirement. Pat grew up in Birmingham and will be moving back to the city after more than 30 years in London and is joining BMet from Harrow College, where she was principal. During her time at Harrow she played a pivotal role in a number of successes at the college, including improving students’ achievements and the Harrow College estate itself.

Birmingham Phoenix cricketers Marie Kelly and Kirstie Gordon joined pupils from Colmore Junior School in King’s Heath for a taster session as part of the Dynamos Cricket Does The Hundred scheme which aims to encourage more youngsters to pick up a bat and ball. The session was one of eight taking place across the country, encouraging more kids to get involved in cricket, both through playing Dynamos – a new programme aimed at 8 to 11-year-olds – and watching the Hundred tournament at their local city ground.

SCHOOL REPORT

FLYING HIGH

A student from King Edward’s School is flying high after being named Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet for the West Midlands region. Year 12 student Cadet Sergeant Zain Aslam from 2030 (Birmingham Airport) Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets was appointed to the role at a virtual investiture ceremony. Zain is one of just eight cadets to become a Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet for the county for the forthcoming year. He will assist the LordLieutenant and deputies at events such as Remembrance Sunday and Royal visits.

CAREER CHANGE

Ruksaar Altaf stepped out of her comfort zone by enrolling on training group BCTG’s post-19 bricklaying course at its construction skills centre in West Bromwich. She heard about the course from her support worker at Birmingham Children’s Trust. Russell Simms, BCTG’s centre manager, said: “It’s a real pleasure to welcome Ruksaar onto the course, where she’s showing a real aptitude to the job. She is just one of the great examples of people from diverse backgrounds on our courses.”

56 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 56) school report:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:45

Page 57

GROWING PLACES

WEST END DATE Nine senior school pupils at Moreton Hall have been selected to perform alongside the Welsh Musical Theatre Orchestra this summer. Following their auditions, pupils were welcomed into the school’s amphitheatre, the venue for the event, A Night at the Musicals to receive the news. The pupils will now join a cast of West End professionals in singing hits from the musicals and will also be joined by the school’s Show Choir, who will perform the vocal ensemble in a unique socially distanced way.

YOUTH THEATRE SUCCESS Year 12 EHS pupil and head girl, Fareedat, fought off competition from thousands of hopeful youngsters to make it into the National Youth Theatre (NYT). Young people across the UK auditioned online earlier this year and Fareedat’s two-minute monologue taken from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s onewoman stage show Fleabag gained her a second audition. Fareedat will spend a fortnight over the summer at the NYT’s Summer Acting Intake Course leading to the opportunity to appear in NYT productions and to access professional castings.

TENNIS TRIUMPH

Bromsgrove School pair Latesha Grant and Lilli Boersch have won the Midland Girls’ tennis tournament in a keenly contested competition. After five group matches, the Bromsgrove girls played a strong Kings High Warwick pair in the final. Having previously lost to their rivals in the group stages, the girls played some fantastic tennis to secure the win – the first time a Bromsgrove pairing has won the 109-year-old trophy.

july 2021

birmingham living 57


ing livBUSINESS

BHAM_ (Page 58) business:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:56

Page 58

DISKO KIDS

The feel-good music inspired brand is on the move, growing, recruiting,

thriving and giving back. We caught up with plucky founder Helen Dukes

e’re always blown away by the city’s rich mix of inventive businesses that make Birmingham sing that bit louder and not content with simply thriving in their own bubble, there’s a supportive, collaborative and generous vibe which benefits us all. Firmly in that camp is music inspired clothing brand, Disko Kids. Launched by music lover and former DJ, Helen Dukes, the business has reached that pivotal moment of needing bigger premises and more people. About to move into a unit in Stirchley, Helen has taken on five people. At the last count there were 83 boxes piled high in Helen’s house, so it really is time to move! A converted powder factory in Stirchley will be Disko Kids

W

58 birmingham living

new home very soon hopefully. Helen says: “We should’ve been in by now, but the factory is being split into units and isn’t ready, so we’ve no address and can’t move until we do.” Five new part-time staff will be a change for Helen. Having built up Disko Kids on her own, the interaction with a team is both exciting and a shift in mindset. Helen is acutely aware of how part-time work is viewed by many and is keen to get away from that. Part of her career pre-Disko Kids was in retail and while working part-time at Apple, Helen remembers how she felt as a mother of small children. “I had to leave work at 2.30pm and the younger members of the team would say, ‘ooh are you leaving already?’ They probably didn’t mean anything by it, but the

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 58) business:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:57

Page 59

COMPANY TO WATCH

attitude toward part-time or flexible working that somehow it’s just not as valuable needs to change and is changing I think thankfully. I’m really pleased to be able to give people the opportunity I didn’t have in an environment that’s free from that stigma.” GIVING BACK Helen has always been into music in a big way and it was that love that brought her to Brum initially. A weekly DJ gig at night club Wobble saw her travelling up and down the M1 every weekend until 20 years ago she thought she might as well make the move to the city. Retail jobs including managing a Next store alongside DJing were the norm until she gave up the day job and focused entirely on music, travelling all over the country and beyond gigging. When Helen’s partner and father of her child was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she put her career on hold for a few years to care for him and their daughter. He sadly died in 2010. Helen supports bereavement charity, Winstons Wish through Disko Kids and fund-raises for Cancer Research through charitable runs. She says: “It’s really important to me to give back particularly now. Due to Covid charities are really struggling as events and runs just aren’t happening.” KITCHEN DISCO Helen met her partner in 2012 and they ran a business together producing dance music inspired men’s t-shirts called No Way Back. She says: “It’s quite niche. There have been collaborations with record labels and DJs and I just thought it would be cool to come up with some designs for kids.” Cue Disko Kids. While Helen’s partner still runs No Way Back, Disko Kids is her baby. She learned Photoshop and came up with the distinctive font print, roller skate illustrated and cassette designs and has just sourced a designer to come on board. As well as tees there are retro-style prints too, one of which has been a hit during the pandemic – the Kitchen Disco print. In fact, sales generally have grown through the pandemic. Helen says: “The product seemed to fit the mood, so the Kitchen Disco print and date sweaters as presents have sold

july 2021

well. The fact that shops were closed and online ordering was the only method helped us too.” Not that Covid was a doddle – Helen still had the familiar juggle of having kids at home while running a business. NEXT STEPS Social media, particularly Instagram, has been crucial in the growth of Disko Kids. “It’s a great place – really supportive. We’ve raised our profile through collaborations with other businesses on the platform or through influencers sharing photos of them wearing our product. I’ve also met some really great people.” Disko Kids has been nominated for a prestigious Junior Design Award in the Best Unisex Fashion Collection category which is a big deal and Helen’s beginning to feel like she ‘has her career back and feels fulfilled’. The next step is key – as well as freeing up space at home, the new premises will mean more wholesale and the ability to stock more product. “For example, I’ll be able to stock more of the date sweaters. Up until now I’ve had to do pre-sale on them as I didn’t have space to stock every year.” I

FIND YOUR GROOVE Check out Disko Kids at diskokids.co.uk and follow @diskokids on Instagram

birmingham living 59


BHAM_ (Page 60):Layout 1

60 birmingham living

23/6/21

11:14

Page 60

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 61) business news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:51

Page 61

BUSINESS

THE ICC AT 30 Birmingham’s ICC has celebrated its 30th birthday. The venue was opened by the Queen in summer 1991 and has seen landmark events in its three decades, including hosting the G8 summit, political party conferences, major banquets and football’s European championship draw. A multi-million-pound refurbishment programme from 2015 to 2018 saw the facilities revamped and modernised. Allan Boyle, general manager of NEC Group Conventions, said: “Organisers, contractors, delegates and staff have an affinity to the ICC.”

SUPER AGENCY

Birmingham-based JC Social Media has been acquired by new marketing ‘super’ agency Low&Behold. JC Social Media was founded in 2011 by Jodie Cook, pictured, former winner of Birmingham Young Professional of the Year and Forbes 30 under 30 honouree. The agency grew by 20 per cent in 2020 by adapting its business model and seeing an increase in demand for social media consultancy services. Darren Low of Low&Behold said: “We’re delighted to have JC’s fantastic team as part of our new agency.”

AID FOR INDIA Birmingham Rotarians have given their support to a Heart of England campaign to fund emergency oxygen concentrators to help ease the Covid-19 crisis in India. Members raised thousands of pounds towards the cost of the vital equipment which saves lives by filtering noxious gases from oxygen used to treat patients. Nine generators have already been sent to India after nearly £16,000 was raised, with members working to secure a further 32.

july 2021

NEWS

BUSINESS

ED JOINS TOP TEAM The Belfry Hotel & Resort has appointed Ed Richardson as hotel manager. Ed has more than 22 years experience in the hospitality industry, leading teams in luxury hotels and resorts in south-east Asia, China, Australasia and the Middle East. His most recent role was as hotel manager at Fairmont St Andrews Scotland. He said: “Demand for staycations is high this year and I am very excited to be working with the talented team to showcase the world class facilities that the Belfry has to offer.”

birmingham living 61


BHAM_ (Page 61) business news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:51

Page 62

BUSINESS

FILM STARS A Dudley hairdresser and her six-year-old son have become media stars after a short film they appeared in won more than 30 awards at film festivals around the world. Wheel Gone Kid featured Rita JagpalMohan and son Reece, a pupil at Tividale Hall primary school. They became unexpected stars after a chance meeting at Rita’s salon with Hollywoodwinning film producer Keith Large, who said: “I discovered they both had natural acting ability.”

GIVING THANKS

Staff and residents at a care home gave first responders a big thankyou as part of national Volunteers Week. Rebecca Long and two of her team at Broadway Halls, Dudley delivered goody bags to West Midlands Ambulance HQ at Brierley Hill, where they were met by Andy Jeynes, community response manager for Birmingham and the Black Country and three of his team of first responder volunteers. The bags contained gifts made by Broadway Hall residents and cakes and biscuits made by the home’s head chef.

BAKING A DIFFERENCE Birmingham branch of Helping Hands Home Care raised £230 by hosting a bake sale and raffle for Stroke Association UK. Branch manager Anna Thorn said: “As a team we wanted to give back to our community and raise awareness as well as a donation, as charities have struggled through the pandemic.” Helping Hands Birmingham currently supports 82 customers in the area and employs 39 local carers.

WORK FROM HERE: Founders Tim Andrews and Jo Seabright, seated, with Harriet Park Davies of Penta Hotel

WORKING FOR CHANGE

A new platform has been launched in Birmingham offering remote workers a directory of city-wide venues, providing collaborative working spaces and an opportunity for people to communicate, connect and create collectively. Work From Here is using Birmingham as its pilot city and is backed by some of the city’s favourite hospitality spaces and venues, including Loki Wine, Penta Hotel and Jojo Lounge. Bespoke packages include free Wi-Fi and

BACK TO BACKS WIN

varied menu offerings.

LOFTY AMBITIONS: James Driscoll, development director of Elevate Property Group with Aiden O’Gara, director of Kavannagh Construction

HISTORIC NEW HOMES Work is underway to create 56 homes at historic Heaton House Lofts in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Elevate Property Group appointed Kavannagh Construction of Kings Heath to deliver the Camden Street project, which is due for completion in the third quarter of 2022 and will boost 14 townhouses, 42 apartments, 4,300 sq ft of commercial space and 19th century Heaton House itself – a 3,360 sq ft, four-bedroom home.

The National Trust’s iconic Birmingham Back to Backs has won a top national award honouring organisations that have become dementia-friendly for customers and employees. The Dementia Hero Award in the Dementia Friendly Business category was announced at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Alzheimer’s Society supporter and TV presenter Richard Madeley. Birmingham Back to Backs in Hurst Street has been working with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust to make a meaningful difference for people with dementia and their families.

62 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 61) business news:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:52

Page 63

BUSINESS

BITES RUN-RAISERS BUSINESS QUEEN’S AWARD Two employees at a Midlands construction firm put on their running shoes and completed 5k every day for a month to raise money for local youth homeless charity, St Basils. Ben Sharp and Oliver Dolman clocked up a combined distance of 150km, raising more than £5,000 – double their target – for Keon Homes’ chosen charity of the year. Oliver said: “The support we received has been remarkable and we’re blown away by the amount we raised.”

HIGH STREET HERO

West-Midlands-based charity EmployabilityUK has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their communities. EmployabilityUK supports young people from deprived areas, giving them the skills and confidence to succeed in the workplace.

HOTELS DEAL

Birmingham-based agency WPR has been appointed by Warner Leisure Hotels to lead its PR strategy. WPR managing director Jane Ainsworth said: “Warner Leisure Hotels is a fantastic brand with scope to reach a wider audience. Our work with clients including Drayton Manor, National Trust and Camping in

Property investor and developer Sam Ginda has

the Forest has seen us create impactful

launched a new company aimed at revitalising high

campaigns in this space.”

ON THE UP

streets struggling in the wake of the retail crisis. Starting in his hometown of West Bromwich, Sam’s

Law firm Thursfields Solicitors has announced

first deal through Future High Street Living is the acquisition of Queens Square shopping centre, which sets the tone for his vision

nine promotions. Leading the way are HR

for how high streets will take shape over the coming years, centred around new

director Jade Linton who joins the executive team

residential and mixed-use developments, including build-to-rent provision.

LAW MOVES Midlands law firm mfg Solicitors has promoted 10 specialists following another year of growth. Farming expert Alexandra Phillips becomes a partner in the firm’s agriculture and rural affairs department. Andrew Chandler, who deals with contentious probate cases, commercial property specialists Ben Rothery and Rhiannon Clark and Sally Smith from the firm’s private client team also gained partner promotions. A further five lawyers were promoted to senior associate and associate level.

july 2021

at board level and Sharon Oakley who is promoted to director in the wills and estates team.

DUO ON BOARD Two key appointments have been made to the board of trustees of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. Vivienne McVey, pictured, chief executive of health care services deliverer Virgin Care, will sit on the charity’s general board and join the clinical services development working group. Neal Hooper, managing director of fire and carbon monoxide protection company Aico, also joins the board and the charity’s fund-raising committee.

birmingham living 63


ing ON il vWHAT’S

BHAM_ (Page 64) whatson:Layout 1

22/6/21

15:05

Page 64

THEATRE LAND IS OPENING UP! FINALLY, SOME CRACKING SHOWS TO LOOK FORWARD TO OVER THE COMING MONTHS. IN MANY CASES, TICKETS ARE STILL STRICTLY LIMITED – SO DON’T DELAY IN BOOKING IF SOMETHING TICKLES YOUR FANCY. PLEASE NOTE ALL MAY BE SUBJECT TO LAST-MINUTE CHANGES OR CANCELLATION.

WHAT: East is East WHEN: 3 to 25 September WHERE: Birmingham Rep, birmingham-rep.co.uk Opening the celebratory season, the smash-hit comedy-drama returns home for its 25th anniversary Since premiering on the Rep’s stage in 1996, East Is East has sold out three London runs, been adapted into a BAFTA award-winning film and become a modern classic of comic-drama.

WHAT: Van Gogh Alive WHEN: Now until 11 July WHERE: Birmingham Hippodrome, birminghamhippodrome.com

WHAT: TILT Festival WHEN: 12 to 23 July WHERE: Digbeth, tiltfestival.com A stunning aerial and physical theatre festival delivering high quality teaching and performance from national and international circus artists. This year it’s even gone hybrid with both an inperson and online programme, so anyone can join in.

Following the huge success from last year’s UK premiere, the world’s most visited immersive, multisensory experience returns. Including more than 3,000 inspirational images with an evocative classical score, visitors are surrounded by a vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance for an unforgettable experience.

WHAT: Walk for Parkinson's WHEN: 11 July WHERE: Sutton Park, parkinsons.org.uk/get-involved/walk-parkinsons Help fund vital support for people affected by this terrible condition with every pound raised matched by the Frank and Evelyn Brake Connect Fund. There’s even more scope to get involved this year with the 66-mile-in-July challenge and also the Walk for Parkinson’s Your Way where you can choose to walk two or six miles wherever you are.

64 birmingham living

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 64) whatson:Layout 1

22/6/21

15:06

Page 65

WHAT’S ON

WHAT: THSH Jazz Festival WHEN: 23 to 28 August WHERE: Town Hall and Symphony Hall, thsh.co.uk/whatson/season/jazz-fest A brand new jazz festival that’s launching in partnership with Jazz FM. Enjoy some amazing talent with a week of music that showcases the full spectrum of jazz, from international touring artists to local community bands. Acts include Soweto Kinch and Jazz FM’s UK Jazz Act of the Year 2020, Yazz Ahmed.

WHAT: Rock of Ages WHEN: 19 to 21 August WHERE: The Alexandra, atgtickets.com/birmingham The award-winning smash-hit musical returns to tour the UK and the whole thing kicks off in Brum! A cracking musical comedy lavished with more than 25 classic rock anthems, played loud and proud by an awesome live band. Unmissable!

WHAT: The Comedy of Errors WHEN: 13 July to 26 September WHERE: Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, rsc.org.uk A cracking play about family reunions and people finding each other again. Cleverly adapted for this specially constructed outdoor space, it’s a very welcome return from the RSC. We’ve missed you!

WHAT: Gaydon Land Rover Show WHEN: 31 July to 1 August WHERE: British Motor Museum, britishmotormuseum.co.uk Now in its seventh year, the popular and dedicated weekend show will showcase hundreds of Land Rovers from 1948 to the present day and is one of the biggest events in the calendar for Land Rover fans and families.

WHAT: Lichfield Festival WHEN: 8 to 18 July WHERE: Various, tel: 01543 306271, lichfieldfestival.org Eleven days of ballet, cabaret, symphony orchestras, steel pans, family fun, chamber music, live cooking, drama and comedy returns to the beautiful cathedral city with headline performers including Mica Paris, our front cover star Alistair McGowan and comedian Justin Moorhouse.

july 2021

birmingham living 65


BHAM_ (Page 66) upclose:Layout 1

22/6/21

13:59

Page 66

PERSON TO PERSON

CLOSE WITHÁ

TRU POWELL Background doesn’t matter and life is limitless. That’s the mantra of the creator of Creative Entrepreneurs podcast who is a massive champion of Brum and the people and organisations who make our city great

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT I’m an award-winning creative entrepreneur, publicity coach and personal branding strategist helping people to cultivate their personal brands. I also run the MBCC (Multicultural Business and Community Champion) Awards which celebrate individuals and organisations that make the world a better place. IT’S WHAT I DO I recently launched the Creative Entrepreneurs podcast which has been really well received. Guests so far have included Gym Shark’s Ben Francis and Jamelia with lots more inspirational people to come. The aim is to inspire the next generation to turn a passion into profit and monetise their talent. People tend to see a creative leaning as a hobby rather than a career, so I’d like to change that mindset. The podcast was a difficult thing to do and I procrastinated a lot. I knew I wanted to do it, but I definitely felt the fear. I still fight with insecurity about my Brummie accent for example, but the more I talk on national platforms, the more I get used to it. I’ve also built a Creative Entrepreneurs community of more than 20,000 on audio platform Clubhouse which gave me confidence. I got over the fear and did it anyway and I’m so glad I did. Working on the MBCC Awards is a joy. We’ve got some amazing ambassadors on board this year as well as nominations. We’ve added a category for Frontline Worker of the Year. From consultants to cleaners we’re looking for nominations for people who have gone the extra mile.

66 birmingham living

WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE I know it’s a cliché, but genuinely just to be the best version of myself. I’d like to be an example to those from similar communities. Representation is really important and I’d like people to think ‘if he can do it, so can I’. BIGGEST SUCCESS My biggest achievements are my most rewarding, so working with young people at Aston Performing Arts Academy is up there. I may have met young people whose lives were on the verge of destruction, but then having worked with them for 10 years or so watching them grow and succeed is special. BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED That I shouldn’t allow previous circumstances define me. Background doesn’t matter and once you embrace that life is limitless. For lots of people, growing up in the inner city with zero representation means that success doesn’t feel like an option. We need to silence those limiting beliefs and representation is crucial to achieving that. WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM The people! I love Birmingham. The Midlands is the beating heart of this country. It’s passionate and vibrant and full of community spirit whether that’s business or grass roots. DOWNTIME Three things – fitness, reading and family time.

july 2021


BHAM_ (Page 67):Layout 1

23/6/21

13:23

Page 67


BHAM_ (Page 68):Layout 1

23/6/21

13:22

Page 68

Profile for Birmingham Living Magazine

Birmingham Living July 2021 (issue 103)  

Birmingham Living July 2021 (issue 103)  

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded