A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Alfresco performance of Sense and Sensibility coming to Birmingham



Jane Austen’s tale of love and heartbreak will be brought to life in the great outdoors this September in a bid to raise vital funds for a Birmingham hospice. 

Birmingham St Mary’s is hosting ‘Live at the Pavilion: Sense and Sensibility’, where they are inviting local people to enjoy a magical evening of theatre and picnic under the sky. 

Taking place on Sunday September 2nd in the hidden grounds of King Edward’s School’s cricket pavilion, the performance will follow the loves and lives of the famous Dashwood sisters as they make their first forays into the exciting world of Regency society. 

Adapted by the award-winning writer Laura Turner, viewers will watch as Elinor and Marianne fall in love, make mistakes and experience heartbreak for the first time, as well as find that all-important balance between sense and sensibility. 

In addition to the drama, spectators will be able to enjoy a luxury picnic hamper which includes honey glazed gammon, homemade quiche, seasonal berry Eton Mess and more. Prosecco, wine and other drinks will also be available to purchase. 


All funds from the picnic will go towards Birmingham St Mary’s, which provides vital care and support to local people living with life-limiting illness. Laura Nash, events manager at Birmingham St Mary’s, said: “What better way is there to enjoy Sense and Sensibility than in the magical surroundings of the great outdoors? Come rain or shine, we’re excited to bring this Jane Austen classic to Birmingham and look forward to watching the Dashwood drama unfold like never before.
“It will cost £8 million to run our hospice this year, so Live at the Pavilion is a unique way to enjoy a relaxed theatre performance whilst raising vital funds for charity. We really do rely on the kind generosity of local people to ensure we can continue to provide our expert hospice care to everyone that needs us, wherever and whenever they need us.” 

Every day, Birmingham St Mary’s cares for 350 people across Birmingham and Sandwell, whether that’s at the hospice, in people’s own homes, or in community locations. 

Sense and Sensibility will be performed by the Chapterhouse Theatre Company from 4.30pm to 9pm. Tickets cost £16 and picnic hampers start at £14.50 and include cutlery, plates and napkins. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets or deck chairs. 

To find out more or to book your place, head here
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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

REVIEW: Ladies' Day at Wolverhampton Grand


With big laughs, big hats and even bigger dreams, Ladies' Day, now on stage at Wolverhampton Grand, is the light-hearted show we all need to put a huge smile on our faces. 

The production follows the lives of four fish mongering women who long for a better life. But they may be in luck thanks to an unforgettable trip to Wolverhampton Racecourse for Ladies' Day. 

The four women, Jan, Pearl, Shelley and Linda, head along to the races in the hope of meeting famous Wolves players and hitting the champagne bottles hard, only to find that the event is sold out upon arrival - that's until they find four VIP tickets. And that's only the start of the antics for the ladies, and their luck, after they put their money into the Jackpot. 


Throughout the show, more is revealed about the characters and the audience learns more about the issues each woman is going through, giving us the chance to get to know them more in-depth and relate to them. It is ultimately a tale of friendship, love and hope, and heart-warming scenes take place where the characters come together to help each other through their personal issues.
Created by Amanda Whittington, the show was originally based in Hull but has been adjusted to modern day to suit the Black Country for the theatre's summer show, with hilarious references to local pubs, the areas 'posh spots' and of course, the accent. 

Seventies crooner Tony Christie's music has been the soundtrack to the play since 2005, thanks to his huge comeback with Peter Kay. However, the production's stint in the Midlands is the first time Tony has taken to the stage and it really helped bring a whole new element to the show. Starting the show with his classic hit 'Is This The Way To Amarillo', the singer continues to appear on stage throughout to perform his other hits. At times, it is totally bizarre, but it is also brilliant! 

It is a stellar cast, with the likes of Cheryl Fergison taking on the role of Jan, whose take on the role was absolutely fantastic and she was by far the star of the show thanks to her hilarious 'drunken' scene, which I'm sure we can all relate to, and had the audience in fits of laughter. She is joined by Emmerdale's Deena Payne, who takes on the role of warm and kind hearted Pearl, and Roisin O'Neil, whose role of Tony Christie's biggest fan Linda was simply made for her. 


Emma Rigby, who takes on the role of flirtatious and sassy pocket rocket Shelley, was both funny, endearing and brought a super fun and playful element to the cast. Of course, the cast had to attempt to perfect the Black Country accent. Now, seeing as I do have a Black Country accent, it was easy to see early on who had the gift of the gab, and who...just didn't.
Cheryl and Pearl could have been mistaken for being from Wolverhampton themselves, but unfortunately, Emma's take on the accent, despite her really trying, often sounded like a mix between Scouse and South African! However, this only made me like her role even more to be honest and made her more funnier than expected. 

The set was simple and easily flowed between scenes. Sometimes, the set was a bit small for such a big stage, but it worked well and was as imaginative as possible for a racecourse, without bringing horses on stage!


Ladies' Day isn't life-changing theatre, but it doesn't need to be. It's hilarious, super fun and incredibly light-hearted. In fact, on my walk out of the theatre back to the car park, the whole street was singing Tony Christie songs and talking about how much of a great time they had, and isn't that what theatre is really all about?
Ladies' Day is on stage at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday, 28th July. If you're looking for a fun filled evening with a whole load of laughs, don't miss it! 

Ladies' Day rating: 8/10
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Sunday, 15 July 2018

REVIEW: Wok To Walk, Birmingham


With chains all across the globe, Wok to Walk have finally arrived in Birmingham, and it is fair to say that it is making quite the name for itself in its little home on New Street! I was recently invited along to step behind the scenes at Brum's coolest new spot, and I wasn't disappointed. 

Wok to Walk is quite small, with a handful of stools to perch at, but the team of staff are super welcoming, friendly and talked me through the whole process, as well as the history of the company and how they have found themselves in our wonderful city. Before I get onto the food, I've just got to tell you that this place also has plugs and charging points to use whilst waiting for your dish, which if you're anything like me, will make you super happy! 

Although Wok to Walk is the ideal city centre lunch location - just a short walk away from both the Bullring, Colmore Row and Broad Street - it is also open until late at night, making it perfect for dinner too or even a post-night out snack. Everything the staff use is freshly made on site, and to make the place even better, they also give out any leftovers to the homeless. 


So, lets get to the food. The Wok to Walk team prepare plenty of nifty orange takeaway boxes beforehand, and each customers box is full to the brim of flavour. You start out choosing your base, with a selection of four different types of noodles with fresh vegetables and egg, three different types of grains, again with fresh vegetables and egg, and vegetable mix.
Then, you move along to flavours. With everything from chicken, beef and bacon through to calamari, tofu and cashew nuts; there is a huge selection of flavours to choose from to add to your box, which is super strong and sturdy, so you can take it on your travels without any spillage. 


You then move along to the sauce section, where you can choose from Tokyo Teriyaki, Hong Kong Sweet & Sour, Beijing Oyster Sauce and many more to make your box even more delicious. There are also a selection of toppings, including fried onions, jalapenos and pink ginger.
For me, with the help of the Wok to Walk team, I went for the base of Egg Noodles, topped with Chicken, Peppers, Cashew Nuts, Red Onion and Bamboo Shoots. Not only was it totally delicious, and super fun to get behind the flames (even though I was convinced my hair was going to set on fire), it was also packed full of flavours and was incredibly filling! 


There is also a great selection of drinks, from homemade lemonade, fresh orange juice and soft drinks to a handful of alcoholic options, Wok to Walk have what the beverage you need to enjoy alongside your meal.
Price wise, Wok to Walk is a little more expensive than your average supermarket meal deal, but for the amount of food you get, you won't be craving those 3pm snacks thanks to your little orange box. For the base, it's £3.95, and the flavours and toppings come in at an extra cost, so the final price of your box really comes down to what you choose to order - so it can be as cheap or as expensive as you wish. But with the sheer amount of choice, it's hard to not want to try every single thing on the menu! 

Wok to Walk offer a great alternative to other fast food outlets, with healthy options but at the same speed you'd wait for a burger and chips. I can also guarantee this place will fill you up for much longer too. It's cool and a refreshing touch to the city's food scene and I hope they open more branches across the city soon! 
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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Meet Birmingham photographer Verity Milligan


After meeting Birmingham photographer Verity Milligan over two years ago, I have become a huge fan of her incredible work. Her huge variety of photography across the city has allowed me, and many others, to fall in love again with out favourite places and discover picturesque spots.

Nowadays, she is hosting more and more exhibitions showcasing her work across the city, including her current show at The Printroom at 70b, which is part of Park View Gallery in Kings Heath, titled 'Brum and Beyond'.


Hi Verity! What have you been up to recently?
Hi! I’ve been super busy juggling commissions, teaching, workshops and my own personal projects. 2018 has really been one of the busiest years yet, and we’re only just about halfway through, so I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

Tell me about the exhibition and what people can expect from it?
The exhibition is something I’ve been working on with The Printroom at 70b which is part of Park View Gallery in Kings Heath. It’s probably been about a year since we started planning it and I have to say that the crew at The Printroom (Roger, Steve and Ali) have been brilliant.

The exhibition is called “Brum & Beyond” and features ten never before exhibited images of Birmingham as well as ten other images from further afield. This collection of images were captured and crafted over the last couple of years and stand as an exploration of Birmingham’s urban evolution juxtaposed with pastoral imagery of beautiful landscapes from the graceful meres and fells of the Lake District to the rugged, wild coastlines of the Outer Hebrides.

The prints look amazing, and it’s been a truly amazing experience seeing them hanging up in the gallery. I think that’s the part I’ve loved most, seeing these images come to live in print. The exhibition runs from June 30th till July 28th, is free to visit and is open Tuesday - Saturday.

How many exhibitions have you had in Birmingham now? 
This is my second exhibition, and I was worried about having it so soon, but really it’s a completely different affair and none of the images I’ve exhibited previous pop up again. I really enjoyed my first solo exhibition and the Museum of the JQ, it was one heck of a learning curve and I hope I’ve taken all that experience into this current exhibition.

How does it feel to have your photos displayed across the city and sold it shops? 
It feels pretty nuts to experience people, especially strangers, buying my work. I’m not sure it’s ever going to be something I get used to. There’s something very special about knowing that someone else enjoys your work enough to invest in it and hang it on their wall. I put a lot of myself into my images, verging on a ridiculous level of perfectionism at times, and it gives me the warm and fuzzies to see someone recognise that and be willing to purchase a print.

How did you get into photography and how has photography changed since you first started?
I didn’t really get into photography until I was 25 when I first picked up a camera. I grew up in a small town where the countryside was accessible on all sides so an appreciation for the natural world was instilled in me at an early age, but I thought my path would be that of a painter or artist. That dream was somewhat shattered when I was 18 and I found that my often literal take on the world was not going to get me through my A-level in art. So I diverged into a much more academic career, and was happily going down that route until I picked up a camera and realised that this was the way I could be creative.

It took a few more years for me to think about it as a serious career choice. I think Photography as an art form is having a bit of a fight back. Yes, there is a proliferation of imagery and cameras out there, but only a small percentages of people are creating great work. I think that people are realising that there is a value to what they do and giving work away for free not only devalues the industry, but their own creative endeavours. It’s not a hard and fast rule of course, I tend to give imagery away for free to people and organisations I have strong links with because we already have that establishment professional arrangement.

In terms of Birmingham, the photography scene has exploded since I moved here in 2012. Back then, there were only really a few of us shooting and sharing on social media, but now there are literally hundreds and this is mostly down to great work of the IGersBirmingham community who do fabulous work organising instalments and basically being a conduit for talent in the city.


What is your favourite part of Birmingham and what is your favourite building to photograph? I would say one of my favourite places is the top of the Rotunda. Birmingham doesn’t really have that many rooftops and from there you get this amazing view over the city. I also really love Oozells Sq when the cherry blossom is out. Going further out, I love Sutton Park, it’s such a wealth of habitats all in one space and makes you feel like you’re a million miles away from the city centre.

What plans do you have for the future?At the moment I’m gearing up to start a YouTube channel which will hopefully be a mix of behind-the-scenes, tutorials, locations etc. So that’s going to be my focus for the next six months. I think there is an audience out there, it’ll just take a little bit of work.



What is your favourite part of what you do?
I think the favourite part of what I do is that every single day is a little bit different. The light is always changing, and I could photograph anywhere on two separate days and they would be differences. I also really enjoy engaging with clients and bringing their vision to life, that’s really satisfying.

Photography can be a tough field these days, and I always feel grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to build a career out of it.

Verity's exhibition 'Brum and Beyond' is at The Printroom at 70b until Saturday, July 28th.  
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Friday, 6 July 2018

REVIEW: Matilda The Musical at Birmingham Hippodrome



Being not only my favourite book of all time, but also easily one of my favourite ever films, the story of Matilda means more to me than I can even explain. Growing up, I found my comfort and happiness in books, and to this day, I am never happier than when I am reading a good book. I was totally inspired by Matilda's strength when I was a young girl, and continue to be. 

So, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly terrified to see what the musical take on the classic story would be like. Occasionally, when new songs are thrown into a story that everyone knows, it simply doesn't work. Matilda the Musical, on stage at the Birmingham Hippodrome for the whole summer, is an exception to the rule. It is a total triumph. 

The original story created by arguably the greatest children's writer of all time, Roald Dahl, the musical adaptation thankfully doesn't stray too far away from the classic novel, and of course, much loved film. Written for the stage by Dennis Kelly and hilarious yet emotional music and lyrics from Tim Minchin, the duo are a winning combination, and it's no wonder why the production has become such a hit. 


In fact, the show was first brought to life in the Midlands at RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010 before heading to London's West End the following year, so it's no surprise that thousands of people are set to enjoy it in Birmingham this summer. After all, it has won multiple awards and became a modern day classic.
The production follows the story of an extraordinary little girl, Matilda, who is smart beyond her years. She lives at home with a family who hate books and wish she would just be 'normal' and watch TV. Her favourite place is the library, where she tells intense and mature stories, and of course, school, where she meets the wonderful Miss Honey. However, just like her home life, school has it's challenges as well thanks to the truly terrifying ex-Olympian headmistress Miss Trunchbull.  

However, thanks to her energetic school friends and her own personal talents, Matilda succeeds at out-smarting Miss Trunchbull and finally getting the happy ending she deserves. 

With there being a whole series of classic scenes in the 90s film, I did question whether they would be able to bring the magic of those onto the stage. Thankfully, they did. From the scene where Miss Trunchbull swings Alice round by her pigtales, which was one of the highlights for me, to the iconic chocolate cake scene with Bruce Bogtrotter. 


As well as the magic of the scenes themselves, which are incredibly easily transitioned without any stopping and starting, the set of the production is truly mesmerising. Though fairly simple, it is full to the brim of imagination, with shelves of books and building blocks, which transform the audience from Matilda's tough home, to the library, to school and so many others in between. The set highlight was by far the famous 'swings' scene, where the cast perform When I Grow Up whilst performing a captivating routine on swings that fly high out into the audience. It was at this bit where my bottom lip started to wobble and I realised that this production is as special as the book and film that I so desperately love.
As for the characters, there is a whole host of incredible talent in this show. The title role of Matilda was taken on by the outstanding Lara Cohen, who was simply made for the role and she thoroughly deserved her standing ovation at the end of the show. Miss Honey, played by Carly Thoms, was totally believable and Matilda's dad, played by Sebastien Torkia, was both hilarious and terrifying at the same time. 


However, the star of the show is by far Miss Trunchbull, who is played by Craig Els. Although super scary, she has much more comic effect and likeability than in the book and film, but it completely works for the show, helping balance out humour and the deep meaning of the story. In fact, at times the production was actually quite scary and much more intense than I could have imagined. But, it works and shows the realness of the story itself.
Being the first time I watched this show, I hadn't heard any of the songs before. I can confirm I have had them on repeat since I left the theatre though. From fun, energetic songs to deep and meaningful numbers, the songs bring a whole new element to the classic story, my favourites being Naughty and When I Grow Up. 

Matilda the Musical is by far one of the best shows I have seen, ever. It is so imaginative, fun and simply mesmerising. It is definitely not one that I will be forgetting anytime soon, and hope that it continues to live on for years to come. I could not be happier that the show doesn't ruin the book and film for me, just brings a whole new side to the story. 

I cannot recommend the show enough, it is the must see show in Birmingham this year and I can guarantee that you will love it! 

Matilda The Musical: 10/10 
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