Lists… I do love a good list, and arriving or leaving a place often calls for a round-up. I could never cover all the fantastic parts of Birmingham I have discovered in one go, but it’s easy to pick out a few highlights for you! Buzzfeed may have taught many of us bloggers that lists don’t have to happen in multiples of 10. However, I’m going to stick to my nice round number. Rebel.
1. Independent Coffee Shops
Urban coffee (above) has three quite different but very enjoyable branches – my favourite has to be their newest one in Harborne. It’s tiny, built into an annex of an old school with pointed chapel-like windows, and contains beanbags, board games and excellent music. It was also on my cycle route back from work, so on dark rainy evenings I could stop by (as it opens until about 10pm – massive novelty for a country girl!) and read my book with a hot chocolate. Mmm. Also not to miss: York’s Bakery, 6/8 Kafé, Cherry Red’s, the Kitchen Garden Café, and a few others which I will feature on my new café review map soon :D.
2. The Bear Tavern Clock-tower
The view from my bedroom window featured this quirky clock-tower, on the Bear Tavern, adorned with carved bear-heads. Underneath the clock “TEMPUS FUGIT” (‘time flies’) is written, and yet the clock was forever stuck at 3pm. I always felt this was rather poignant, but I never quite decided how.
3. Urban Cycling
My fitness improved from cycling up and down the roads from Bearwood to Edgbaston & my many jaunts around the rest of Birmingham. I’m not sure that cycling on Birmingham’s roads did much for my life expectancy overall though.
4. The Barber
This has to go on the list partly because it’s the reason I moved to Birmingham in the first place… for a very enjoyable internship at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts! Time has indeed flown by and I was lucky enough to see exhibitions such as Sonic Visions (compositions inspired by paintings) and John Monks’ huge and colourful paintings and help to promote them. Make sure you drop by if you ever visit the city!
5. Random Free Events
This picture has very little to do with random free events. This is a picture of me wearing a crazy shoe. I just felt like including it. Aside from this, I found many cheap ways to enjoy myself in Birmingham – from mini festivals (including a cycling one), to food or freebies being given out in the centre, and free live music around the place. (I usually found these through twitter, or sites like Birmingham Promoters & Live Brum).
6. ‘My’ Place
7. The Hare & Hounds
8. The Shared Reading Company
I’m unquestionably going to miss going to ‘Make Friends with a Book’ on a Thursday morning. This ‘Shared Reading Company‘ group has introduced me to short stories, poetry, and given me an opportunity to listen to other people’s stories.
9. Eastside Projects
Eastside Projects fascinates me. Tucked just the other side of a railway bridge in Digbeth, you never know quite what you’re going to get there. One time I went to an opening event and there was a raffle full of things you wouldn’t want to win. The next event featured a giant letter to Michael Gove. Another time, it had a pop-up café serving sort of community-sourced foods in what was called the “Feral Trade Café”. That was obviously my favourite.
Bearwood is an understated area of Birmingham, just outside the city centre. On the surface it has a lot of pound & betting shops. Scratch a bit further and you find a community of creatives (partly because it’s a bit cheaper to live there) running Bearwood Handmade, and Bearwood Pantry alongside a couple of decent cafés and Warley Woods right on its doorstep.
That’s enough for now… after all, I’m sure I’ll be back at some point to discover more. Birmingham hasn’t seen the last of me, that’s for sure.