Bethan In Brum

A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

REVIEW: Noel's Bar and Restaurant

Blush pink, gold statement pieces, sleek and contemporary features - it's fair to say Noel's Restuarant and Bar, set in the idyllic location of the canal opposite the likes of The Mailbox and The Cube, is one of Birmingham's best new gem's. With gorgeous modern and stylish decor, alongside a menu to take you from lunch into night and a cocktail menu that dreams are made of, this venue is one you should absolutely be booking a table at your earliest convenience. 

I recently headed along to the restaurant with a guest on a Wednesday evening to try out the venue's 2 For 1 Pizza and Cocktails menu, which runs from 12pm until 7pm every Monday to Friday. 

The cocktail menu boasts a huge amount of gorgeous cocktails, some classic and some new and exciting options. I went for my favourite cocktail, a Bellini, which comes in four different flavours; peach, raspberry, strawberry and passion fruit. I went for the Strawberry, and it was delicious and very refreshing! My guest went for a Pornstar Martini, which was also very tasty and was a modern twist on the classic drink. I also had a scan over the venue's other drinks menu's, and they have a huge amount of choices, especially Wine, so I will definitely be returning to check them out.

We started the meal with a selection breads and olives. The pizza menu includes everything from Margherita's, Mexicana's and Calzone's. However, I just had to go for the Salmone e Stracchino! Salmon is one of my favourite pizza toppings, so I was over the moon to see this on the menu. The pizza consisted of mozzarella, smoked salmon, spinach, creamy Italian cheese and rocket salad. It was absolutely delicious, and was also a very generous portion. I did order a side of Mac & Cheese, not expecting such a big dish. Fair to say I was well and truly stuffed by the end of the meal! My guest went for the Gamberetti e zucchini, which consisted of mozzarella, prawns, courgettes and lemon dressed rocket - she loved it!

As the experience was gifted*, I didn't have to pay for the meal. However, if I'd had have paid, the pizza would have come to £11.50, and the cocktail £7.95. However, with the 2 For 1 special, both mine and my guest's meals would have come to a reasonable amount, considering the quality of the drinks and the size of the meals.
The decor was by far my favourite part of my experience at Noel's. It is just gorgeous, in fact, it is a Millennial dream; all the 'in' colours at the moment; blush, gold, deep reds, forest greens; it was beautiful and such a light, clean and airy space. There is a bar area separate to the restaurant area, which was equally as beautiful. It would have been nice to see some outdoor seating, but I think by the design of the windows that these may open up to bring the outdoors in, but don't take my word for it! 

Considering me and my guest spent around 2 hours at the venue on a Wednesday evening, it was a little busy but not packed, as expected during the week, which was pleasant. I imagine that it is much busier on a weekend, being in such a sought after area of the city. But the vibe of the venue was lovely; the music was cool and relaxing and the staff were very friendly, keen to please but not overbearing.
Me and my guest had a wonderful time at Noel's Bar and Restaurant. I am keen to head back on a weekend to see if the venue is any different then, and of course to try out a dish or two from their normal menu, as the pasta dishes in particular looked divine. I'd also like to head along just to try more of their drinks menu and to sit in the bar. I am very much looking forward to heading back!

Noel's Bar and Restaurant: 9/10

*I was fortunate to be asked along to the venue to try their 2 For 1 weekday offer in return for a blog post. I didn't pay for the experience, but left a tip and paid for travel there and back. I was not expected to write a good review, I genuinely enjoyed the experience. 


Sunday, 14 July 2019

Birmingham Cocktail Weekend: My Top 5 Cocktails

Birmingham Cocktail Weekend returned this weekend – AKA one of the very best weekends going in Birmingham! 

The event, which is celebrating its fifth birthday this year, is the perfect excuse to try cocktails from a wide range of venues across Birmingham. And at just £4 for a cocktail, it’s also fantastic value for money. 

Venues taking part in the weekend were across the city, from The Mailbox, to Brindleyplace, Colmore Row to the Jewellery Quarter. Venues included Be At One, Birmingham Hippodrome, Malmaison, Dirty Martini, Fumo, The Edwardian Tearooms at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Nocturnal Animals, The Canal House, Hotel du Vin and many, many more. 

I headed along on Saturday afternoon, and picked up my wristband* from the hub in The Mailbox, and got moving! Trying out different cocktails is by far one of my favourite things to do, so to combine that with the chance to explore all kinds of venues across the city, is the ideal way for me to spend a weekend! 

Here’s five cocktails from Birmingham Cocktail Weekend I loved the most… 

‘Swallows and Glamazons’ from Gas Street Social 

Gas Street Social is one of my favourite bars in Birmingham, so this had to be the first place I headed to. Gas Street Social’s signature cocktail for the event was the ‘Swallows and Glamazons’, which was an absolutely delicious mix of White Rum, Aperol, Rhubard and Pineapple. The cocktail even came with a temporary Gas Street Social tattoo and there was actually a tattoo application station in the bar! I loved this cocktail, however the venue was so busy that I wasn’t able to get a seat so unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay as long as I’d have hoped! Cocktail was super delicious and tasty though, and I love ANY drink which has a splash of good old Aperol in! 

AC Hotels Birmingham
Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of this one – but it was amazing! The cocktail came with a marshmallow on top which we had to dip into the cocktail, which then dissolved and made the cocktail sizzle and sparkle, which really made the drink much more of an experience and so fun! The cocktail tasted like bubble gum and was so tasty! I had also never stepped into AC Hotels, and it was absolutely gorgeous, definitely a hotel to keep in mind for the future. 

‘Citrus Canal’ from The Canal House
The Citrus Canal from The Canal House was one of the most unusual cocktails I have ever tasted! It was a mixture of Jameson’s and Tribal Pale Ale, which is a combination I never thought I’d try. It was really cool and unique. However, it tasted much more like beer than a normal cocktail, and unfortunately, I do like a sweet and fruity cocktail and this was more like having a pint. Saying this though, I still enjoyed it as it was so different! The Canal House is also up there in my top five favourite bars in Birmingham, so I love any excuse to head along there. 

‘Unlucky For Some’ from Arch 13
I absolutely love Arch 13! It is my favourite bar in Birmingham, so I simply had to go there and see what they had going. Arch 13 have the most wonderful staff, a super cool layout, a great selection of drinks and bar nibbles, and a wide range of brilliant board games to play whilst you drink! So I picked up the game of Scrabble to play alongside ‘Unlucky For Some’ which was my dream mix of Elderflower, Aperol and White Wine. This cocktail was by far my favourite of the day. It was fun, fruity and super refreshing and tasty. It was also a very generous cocktail in a huge glass! 

‘Braveheart’ at Pub du Vin
I ended my day at Birmingham Cocktail Weekend at Pub du Vin with the ‘Braveheart’ cocktail. The ‘Braveheart’ was an incredible combination of Glengoyne Whisky and Honey Session IPA. I am actually a huge Whisky fan, and the combination of the super sweet IPA too was the perfect mixture, and I absolutely loved it. It was also my first time at Pub du Vin, as I normally end up staying upstairs at Hotel du Vin. However, it was such a cool and relaxed place with plenty of comfy areas to sit back and relax with my cocktail! 

Find out more about Birmingham Cocktail Weekend here

*Wristbands for the event cost £10. I was gifted two Wristbands for this event, but I purchased all Cocktails with my own money.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

REVIEW: Educating Rita, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Educating Rita is, by far, one of my favourite plays of all time. I absolutely adore Willy Russell’s work; his way of putting working class stories onto the stage is something I have always admired. 

Having spent four years of my life in Liverpool, and being a working class girl myself who never quite felt smart enough to go to University (still did though – maybe I was inspired by Rita herself?), I connect with the storyline of this play so much that when I left the theatre after the production, I felt like my heart could burst. 

Willy Russell’s hugely successful play premiered in June 1980 at The Warehouse in London, before becoming a film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters – arguably the role that made her a household name. 

It follows the story of Frank, a down and depressed university lecturer who finds all his happiness at the bottom of a bottle. To pay for his drinking ways, he takes on a student through the Open University. Enter Rita, real name Susan, who is desperate to learn everything – really, everything – about English Literature quicker than you can say Charles Dickens. 

Rita, a working class Scouser, never cared much at school, because it wasn’t cool. But now late twenties, married and with a husband desperate for children, Rita realises that there has to be more to life. Applying for the university course is so much more than just learning academically, she’s on a mission to discover her true self. 

The play follows Rita’s insecurities, that she’s not smart enough or rich enough to study, turn into confidence, and knowledge. The charismatic, charming pocket rocket becomes smart and has intellectual conversations. At first, Frank loves seeing this side of her. He knows his work is actually working. 

However, over time, as Rita becomes more confident in her abilities, Frank becomes bitter and mean, not wanting to lose the one thing keeping him alive. 

 There’s just the two of them on stage for the whole show. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it always shows just how much talent there is on stage when just two people can keep the audience interested and engaged in their story.

Now, the talent! The role of Frank is taken on by Stephen Tompkinson, one of the country’s very best actors. He makes this role his own and it suits him to a T. His character goes from incredible highs to sudden lows throughout the play, and it just shows how much of an outstanding actor he is to be able to make the audience believe that he really is going through these emotions.
Rita is played by Jessica Johnson. What. A. Star. I absolutely adored Jessica’s take on this role. She did it absolutely perfectly. From the accent to the characteristics she has definitely picked up from Julie Walters role, she was just ideal for this role. She was able to make the audience completely fall in love with her, making us belly laugh as well as wiping the tears away. But the combination of both Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson was the perfect match. 

The set was simple but very effective, and Patrick Connellan’s design was filled from top to bottom with books – essentially my dream room – with mess scattered around the room and hidden bottles to show the issues Frank is facing without being too obvious. 

Another aspect of the show that I loved was the costumes, which showed the transition of Rita without being too noticeable. Rita goes from wearing heels and jumpers at the beginning to fun and stylish dungarees and jeans throughout the show, again showing that she was keen to reinvent herself and start again. 

Educating Rita made me feel so many emotions, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage for the whole show. It was hugely enjoyable, funny, heart-warming and I left feeling so inspired – and desperate to dig into a good book! It is a fantastic production, and a wonderful way to spend an evening. 

If you get the chance, you should absolutely go and see this show! 

Educating Rita: 10/10 

*I was gifted two tickets to enjoy this production from Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in return for a review. I was under no obligation to write a good review.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

REVIEW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Birmingham Hippodrome

I’ll be honest, Any Dream Will Do is by far one of my favourite songs of all time. In fact, there’s not many songs from the musical that I don’t absolutely adore. As a child, I used to watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat on a weekly basis and it’s the show I’ve seen the most on stage. It’s colourful, whacky, packed full of fantastic numbers and is a fun, family friendly show. 

 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was the first musical written by duo Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber back in the 1970s. Five decades later, the musical is still going strong, being the longest touring show in history. But being the musical that launched the careers for the likes of Jason Donovan, Philip Schofield and more recently, Lee Mead. 

So the big question of the night was always going to be if Union J’s Jaymi Hensley was going to be the next successful Joseph. 

Taken from the Book of Genesis, the story follows Joseph, a talent young man who has been gifted the talent of being able to tell those around them what their dreams mean. Being the most successful son of Jacob, who is father to 11 sons, Joseph’s brothers grow incredibly jealous who eventually sell their brother into slavery after Jacob gifts Joseph the most beautiful technicolour coat. 

 Joseph ends up in Egypt, where he ends up in jail before his luck strikes in his favour and becomes a personal assistant to the Pharaoh. Joseph eventually reunites with his family, but not before teaching them a lesson or two. 

The production is packed full of a hugely talented cast, who were all absolutely fantastic singers, which of course really helps the show as every single inch of the script is music. Union J’s Jaymi Hensley was absolutely incredible as Joseph; he was enthusiastic and simply made the role his own. I was absolutely shocked by his beautiful voice. I think being in a boyband, I didn’t expect his voice to be as good as it was. But it was simply stunning, and also very good at acting naïve, scared and incredibly powerful. 

One part of the musical I have always loved in Joseph is the Narrator role. This time, it was taken on by Trina Hill, who was absolutely brilliant with a fantastic voice and so much charisma. The real stars of the show though were the fantastic children’s choir, who sat on the stage for the whole show and sang along to every word of the musical. They were absolutely adorable, and so very talented.
The sets were fairly simple but anything over the top really wasn’t needed. Scenes flowed very easily and there wasn’t too much of a gap between them. The biggest highlight of the show was of course the music, which was so nostalgic and brought back so many wonderful memories. 

Alongside Any Dream Will Do, the musical also included all the hits, like One More Angel in Heaven, Go, Go, Go Joseph and Jacob and Sons. 

One of the only issues I faced with the production was that the sound at times was really off. At times, I could barely hear the person on stage, and then other times it was just far too loud. This didn’t make it any less enjoyable, but I do hope the crew picked up on this too! 

Overall though, the show was incredibly enjoyable, super fun, enthusiastic, and such a wonderful and nostalgic way to spend an evening, and we can absolutely expect to see Jaymi Hensley take to the stage in more productions in the future! 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat: 8/10 

*I was gifted two tickets to enjoy this production from Birmingham Hippodrome in return for a review. I was under no obligation to write a good review.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

REVIEW: Calendar Girls The Musical at Birmingham Hippodrome

The story of the 'real' calendar girls is one that has inspired me for so many years, and in fact, I've been fortunate enough to enjoy the original version a couple of times. It is a story which I completely love, but I did question how music would play a role in it. Calendar Girls The Musical, written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, is based on the original motion picture and is everything I wanted it to be, and more!

The production, which is currently on stage at the Birmingham Hippodrome, follows the story of a group of middle aged women who are part of their local Women's Institute (The WI) and is set in an idyllic village in Yorkshire. I've always had a love for the WI, especially after finding out that my Great Nan was her local WI Chairwoman, and anticipate that it is something that I will most likely join later in life!

After one of the women, Annie, has to suffer a huge loss after her husband sadly passes away, the group decide to raise money for a new sofa for the hospital in a totally unique way; a nude calendar. The idea proves controversial in their little sleepy village, and each woman has to deal with their own issues and insecurities before finally deciding to strip off all for a good cause. 

It really is a beautiful, heartwarming story that always manages to completely fill my heart with joy. But with the help of a wonderful selection of songs to go alongside the story, the production is really brought to life and the music helps bring a whole new element to the show.
Let's face it, Gary Barlow simply doesn't write bad songs, and the ones in this production are simply fantastic, my favourites being Yorkshire, which popped up throughout the show, as well as the beautiful Sunflower and What Age Expects was both catchy and inspiring. 

The production is packed full of amazing talent, and so many well-known names. Stand out performances came from Sarah Jane Buckley, whose portrayal of Annie was just incredible, Sue Devaney, whose role of Cora was absolutely hysterical and Lisa Maxwell, who made the role of Celia her own. Other cast members included the wonderful Lesley Joseph, who played Jessie the ex-headteacher, the fantastic Rebecca Storm, who played Chris and Julia Hills who did a brilliant job of playing the quiet yet fiery Ruth. 

Other stand out performances included extraordinary young talent from Isabel Caswell, who played bad girl turned good Jenny and the absolutely hilarious Danny Howker, who did an absolutely fantastic job of Danny. In fact my favourite moment of the show was when Danny sang 'Hello Yorkshire, I'm a virgin', absolute comedy gold. 

However, all of the casts voices were incredible and were a huge pleasure to watch. 

The set was simple yet effective, with the roaming hills of Yorkshire always in the background. The scenes flowed smoothly without an issue and a lot of the acting seemed much more natural than an average play. 

The production has the fantastic ability to make you belly laugh with absolutely hysterical moments and scenes throughout, as well as make you hold the tears back and send you on a rollercoaster of emotion. By the end, I was wiping away both happy and sad tears. The show is incredibly life-affirming, and leaves the audience with such a positive feeling. 

I absolutely adored this show. It was such a pleasure to watch and hugely enjoyable. From the story to the cast, this new adaptation with the added bonus of a wide selection of fantastic songs is simply brilliant, and it can't be missed!

Calendar Girls The Musical is on stage until Saturday 8th June. 

Calendar Girls The Musical: 10/10


Thursday, 18 April 2019

Thinktank launches new Planetarium

Birmingham's Thinktank museum have launched their new and updated Planetarium to the public. The updated Planetarium, which is now 4K, offers the public a brighter and much sharper image, with crystal-clear surround sound - a total transformation from what the space used to be,

Thinktank's Planetarium is the only one in the West Midlands, and boasts the very latest video technology to create a truly immersive experience.

With a huge dome on the ceiling, by just looking up you can experience the universe and various planets with the help of Thinktank's staff who are on hand to answer any questions you have as well as telling you exactly what to look out for.

I was really fortunate enough to head along to experience the new Planetarium recently, and absolutely loved it. Space is always something that has totally fascinated me, and I was really glad to see that the space isn't just targeted towards children, it is interesting for both a young audience, and those a little older!
As well as heading around the globe, we also had the opportunity to see what the sky would be like 12 hours in advance, choose which planets we wanted a closer look at (we chose Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Pluto) and learn so much about the night sky, what to look out for at night and stars. We also had the opportunity to learn about star constellations and how to find star signs in the night sky, as well as finding the North Star, and seeing just how many satellites there are floating around above us.

This was all down to the help of the Thinktank's staff, who are not only very experienced and know exactly what they are talking about, they are also incredibly passionate about it, and it helps get those taking part in the session to get enthusiastic about it all too!

The new Planetarium also offers a wide variety of shows for the public to attend, which allows you to travel through the human body, dive under the ocean, shrink to the size of an atom and allow yourself to be immersed completely in music and light.

Thinktank planetarium will also often run special events soon to support significant events. Events in the past have even included evening astronomy talks, solar observing and even theatrical productions.
Planetarium shows are £2.50 per person per show in addition to admission price. Annual Pass holders can enter for free but must book a ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket desk on arrival. Find out more here

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

REVIEW: Kinky Boots at Birmingham Hippodrome

Ladies, gentlemen and those who haven't quite decided yet! Kinky Boots has strutted onto the stage at Birmingham Hippodrome and if you have your tickets booked, get ready to fall in love with those who dare to be different in this truly remarkable show. 

It's always exciting when a show which has enjoyed huge success on Broadway and in the West End comes to Birmingham, and this was no exception. The production is packed full of fun, colour, true talent, raunchiness, sex and a downright brilliant selection of songs. 

The show follows a true story of men's shoe factory in Northampton, Price & Son. The business has been left to the manager's son, Charlie, who finds out shortly after starting his new life in London with his fiance, that his dad has passed away and that its his time to step up. He soon discovers though that the business is failing. But with thanks to a chance encounter with drag queen Lola, and with the help of team member Lauren, he finds a gap in the market for good quality, and attractive, kinky boots for drag queens. 

The production is so much more than it's story line though. With a strong focus on the relationship between father and son, and being true to who you really are, the story is an emotional journey of hope, friendship and passion, with a whole lot of fun thrown in.
The star of the show is of course, Lola, played by Kayi Ushe. As Lola, Kayi is larger than life, big, loud and irresistible. When Lola appears on the shop floor as Simon, in men's clothing, there is a hint of vulnerability, with the safety shell gone. But it is the scenes that Lola shares with narrow-minded Don, which really brought a lump to my throat. All Lola asks for from him is to accept others for who they are. Kayi is immensely talented, with the most incredible voice and stage presence, and completely made the show as wonderful as it is.  

Charlie, played by Joel Harper-Jackson, was a hugely lovable character, with so much charisma and charm. But what made him such a spectacular character was his extraordinary voice. He took on a variety of songs throughout the show, and sang them beautifully. Charlie and Lola were often joined on stage by the 'Angels', Lola's supporting act of amazing drag queens. They brought super fun routines to the stage, all choreographed with so much sass and sparkle that it was hard not to get up and join in with them!

The other stand out performances in the show came from Don, played by Demitri Lampra, who took on the role of the arrogant 'real man' but eventually accepts others for who they are, and Lauren, played by Paula Lane, also known as Kylie Platt in Coronation Street. Her ditsy but lovable take on Lauren, who can't help but fall head over heels for Charlie, was absolutely fantastic and she was incredibly funny.

The costumes were also so beautiful and creative, and the boots were VERY kinky! The songs in the musical were also incredibly catchy, with the right mix of emotional songs as well as sassy and stomp filled numbers. Personal favourites included the super raunchy Sex Is In The Heel and What A Woman Wants, as well as the emotional Not My Father's Son. 

The set itself was also very good, and transitioned easily between the factory in Northampton to a catwalk in Milan. The show is incredibly funny, and packed full of hilarious references and super fun moments. The whole ensemble are at the very top of their game in this production. 

This would normally be the part of a theatre review where I would discuss the moments I think need improvement. Kinky Boots requires absolutely no changes. Honestly! There is not even one second of this production that I would change. It is total perfection, and by far one of the best shows I have ever seen. It is moments like at the end of Kinky Boots, where the audience is clapping wildly to the cast who they have fallen madly in love with over two and a half hours, where I remember what theatre really is all about. It's diverse, it makes you think, it makes you laugh, cry, question society and what more we can do.
If you're looking for a show to really pick you up in these uncertain times, do yourself a favour! Get yourself a ticket to Kinky Boots. On at Birmingham Hippodrome until March 23. 

Kinky Boots: 10/10

Blogger Template Created by pipdig