Category Archives: Midlands tourism

33 different faces of Digbeth

The idea of snapping faces developed during today’s photowalk around Digbeth, a district just south of Moor Street Station in Birmingham that’s a little bit arty, a little bit gritty and with a whole lot of industrial heritage contained within. Thanks to Matt & Pete’s Photo School for running the two-hour walk – more photowalk events can be found here. A night-time walk is apparently imminent.

Travels around my garden

What do you take holiday photos of? And can that be applied to your own backyard? Well let’s see. In a new destination, seeing it with Alice-in-Wonderland eyes, I take photos of:

The main attractions

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A tour of Birmingham’s ring road (drives me to despair)

Pedestrian-free zone

Who said local tourism had to be glamorous?

As part of the first Still Walking festival, urban planner Joe Holyoak’s Walk the Queensway tour was the first walk of the event to sell out. I’m not sure of the attraction for others but for me it was an excellent follow-up to last weekend’s Architectonic, Concrete Walls 1958-1980 exhibition of photos in Brussels (which sounds incredibly pretentious now that I write it down but more down-to-earth words will come in a future post about the Atomium).
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Time travelling to Stirchley Swimming Baths

I’m interested in all kinds of travel, even the trips you take inside your head. So when the opportunity to visit a local landmark – Stirchley swimming baths where I learnt to swim as a child in 1977 – came up, I was first in line.

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Or rather 20th in line. It seems I wasn’t the only one on a nostalgia trip. Here’s the queue for the Stirchley Baths Open Day. The baths were built in 1910, closed in the 1980s and are about to be converted into a community centre thanks to Tesco’s 30 pieces of silver.

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The most amazing video you will ever see about Birmingham

This appears to have gone out on Sky 3, I’m not sure when, but is Pure Fried Comedy Gold.

Someone in my Twitterstream pointed it out a while ago but their video link seems to have been removed, so catch this one while you still can – it’s the only one I could find.

http://rd3.videos.sapo.pt/play?file=http://rd3.videos.sapo.pt/46H7EmOPmH01O9PQA3yT/mov/1

It features an amazing but quite scary cast of regulars of The Sportsman pub in Brum as they expound on their favourite pub subjects of cider, eating rabbits and lightbulbs, and falling off a bridge onto a railway and into the path of TWO trains.

You’ll have to watch it to get the visual punchline to the story.

Tourism slogan: “Visit Brum – if you think you’re hard enough.”

Enjoy.

Buying a bit of Birmingham

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A recommendation for anyone travelling into Birmingham city centre to do their Christmas shopping: walk three minutes up the High Street from the Bullring and go visit the We are Birmingham shop for some unique local presents.

If you want to buy into something made in Birmingham rather than mass-produced, this shop offers a route to market for the area’s arts and crafts talent: from record vinyl bowls to quirky jewellery to Birmingham t-shirts.

It also offers gigs, sofas for a sit-down other happenings. There’s an art gallery in the basement so you can get your cultural fix without having to walk all the way to the Ikon or BMAG.

And it’s something Birmingham can be proud of.

Here’s their website for further info: We Are Birmingham.

Check out the cute knitted tree decorations I bought there last week, only £2 each.

My B30: Stirchley Community Market

Following on from my joy at my postcode getting a blog called Fuck Yeah Stirchley – thanks to a mention on The Archers – comes the joy of Stirchley Community Market – which earlier this month had its own feature in The Guardian, and fresh from which I am in the door.

Somehow the Stirchley of my childhood – home of skinheads, teds, Bottle Bill, flashers along the River Rea, and getting duffed up in the park – has turned into a name to drop and a place to feature. Even Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture Martin Mullaney was at this little postcode car park market, tucking into a jambalaya and talking about Brum’s potential to become a gastro city.

Why? Why is Stirchley suddenly so, what’s the phrase?, on the radar?

I’m not sure. Maybe someone knows someone at the Guardian – certainly, it’s interesting that the Guardian feature notes the presence of a scriptwriter from The Archers, so there’s a serendipitous link there.

Perhaps it’s the hint of trendier Moseley and Kings Heath vibe, that one of the stall-holders put down to people buying in Stirchley but missing the B13/14 vibe. The Guardian says Stirchley’s “movers and shakers” (lol) are graduates of local universities “who have settled in the area and seem determined to improve it”.

What else can explain bare-footed tuba players and organic veg stalls being held in the car park of Stirchley United Working Men’s Club, of which my dad was a member, where we shared a father-daughter Sunday pint and where his funeral wake was eventually held.

It’s probably no wonder I feel slightly strange and bemused about the national press attention and slightly weird market demographics. But I’m not unhappy. Just a little weirded out.

This feeling is compounded by being served a beautifully handmade Lemon and Earl Grey cup cake by a former prison offender who makes cakes as part of his rehabilitation.

It would seem that Another Stirchley truly is possible!

So here, in lofi mobile camera glory, is the newer, hipper, hippier and right-on Stirchley.

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• The next Stirchley Community Market will be held on 28 September.