A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

REVIEW: Sunday lunch at Edwardian Tearooms, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Being one of my favourite places in the city, I was over the moon to head along to the Edwardian Tearooms alongside my fellow Birmingham bloggers to review their Sunday lunch. 

Arguably the most important meal of the week, i'm always up for trying a new Sunday lunch. But when the venue is as beautiful as the Edwardian Tearooms, which is located within Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, it isn't hard to enjoy the meal even more. 

To start the meal, we were given the option of red or white wine. Of course, we chose both! The white wine was Chilean and one I've never tried before. Called 'Santiano' Sauvignon Blanc, it was beautiful and crisp, and went alongside the meal perfectly.

For main, we had a selection of three, pork, beef and wild mushroom wellington. I went for the Roast Pork Loin with sage and onion stuffing. The pork was absolutely delicious, incredibly succulent and the crackling was lovely and crispy. The main came with roasted carrots, seasonal greens, red wine gravy and the biggest Yorkshire pudding I have ever seen! The meal also came with cauliflower cheese, which was super creamy and a great added extra. The other bloggers had the beef, which looked fantastic, and the wild mushroom wellington also looked super tasty.

To say that the main was filling would be a total understatement - talk about food baby! But, you know me, there is always room for dessert. I opted for the sticky toffee pudding which was served with custard. Now, this may be slightly biased as that is already my favourite dessert ever. But it really was absolutely delicious.

What I really enjoyed about the meal was that it's not trying to be special, or remarkable, it's just trying to be good, tasty food, which is all we really want on a Sunday afternoon right? It is a fantastic lunch, full with flavour, and for the price, actually quite the bargain! Every Sunday, you can enjoy two roasts for £20! Considering how much food you get for that price, I think it is incredibly reasonable.

The meal was incredibly enjoyable, but the venue really is something else. Full of character, colour and fun, even if you're not up for a Sunday lunch, you have to head there just to experience an hour or two in a wonderful venue. It is also the perfect opportunity to check out the museum and see one of the many exhibitions taking place.

However, it really is the staff that make the Edwardians Tearooms what it is. We were fortunate enough to meet many members of staff during our Sunday lunch visit, including the incredibly friendly head chef, and they couldn't do enough for us.
I cannot recommend this Sunday lunch, and the venue, enough. If you're on the hunt for a cracking roast in Birmingham, say hello to the Edwardian Tearooms. 


Women Power Protest exhibition to open in Birmingham

Feminist artists who have explored protest, social commentary, and identity in their work, will be showcased in a major new contemporary art exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery this November. 

In the anniversary year for women’s suffrage, this exhibition asks just how much has changed for women? Women Power Protest includes bold contemporary artworks from over 55 artists drawn largely from the Arts Council Collection, along with pieces from Birmingham’s collection. 

The Arts Council Collection National Partnership exhibition looks at the experiences of becoming and progressing as a woman amongst varying degrees of opportunity and oppression in relation to race, class, geography and sexuality. Through debate, protest and radical endeavours, women fought for their right to voice their opinions in a public realm that systematically silenced women. 

Women Power Protest showcases female artists whose work has highlighted their personal experiences and continued to push for women’s rights over the last seven decades. 

Including notable names such as Lucy Gunning, Margaret Harrison, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Sonia Boyce, Susan Hiller, Lubaina Himid, Marion Coutts, Mona Hatoum and Mary Kelly, the exhibition will draw attention to the progress made since the first women were given the right to vote 100 years ago, and the immense challenges women still face today. 

A work from the iconic Post-Partum Document series by Mary Kelly (1978/79) is displayed in the exhibition. The 18 slate tablets, resembling miniature Rosetta stones, are the part of a six-year exploration of motherhood and Kelly’s relationship with her son. 

Meanwhile For the Fallen (2001) by Marion Coutts transports the viewer back to their own school years through a wooden vaulting horse recognisable to many from P.E. lessons. Engraved with the words For the Fallen it turns the object into both a war memorial and a monument to embarrassing childhood experiences. 

The exhibition does not shy away from difficult issues. An early work from Sonia Boyce, Mr close-friend-of-the-family pays a visit whilst everyone else is out (1985) is a charcoal drawing which depicts a challenging scene, that explores the abuse of trust experienced by a young woman, and reflects some of Boyce’s concerns about power relationships. 

Margaret Harrison’s Rape (1978) uses media texts and images to boldly highlight the injustices against women in rape cases. A work by 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid – Cotton.com (2002) – uses pattern to explore the conversations that may have taken place at the time of the Cotton Famine between workers in Lancashire’s cotton mills who defended the lives of African slaves in America.
All three works in Claudette Johnson’s Trilogy series (1982-86) form part of the exhibition. The large-scale portraits were created when Johnson was a member of the BLK Art Group in the 1980s in Wolverhampton and her empowering paintings aim to make black women visible in the art world.

Works from the 90s mark the rise in the popularity of female artists at this time. Lucy Gunning’s Climbing Around My Room (1995) was her first video work and is on display in Women Power Protest, alongside Tania Kovat’s Grotto (1995), a playful 2-metre high cave-like structure. Kathy Prendergast’s The End and the Beginning (1996), is a small intricate work in which three generations of human hair are wound around a wooden cotton spool. 

The theme of identity and heritage continues in Mona Hatoum’s Plotting Table (1998) - a fluorescent green map which viewed in the dark turns the world into a board game designed for territorial wars. 

Birmingham has a history of female protest and the exhibition includes works from the city’s collection. Works from the collection include Louise Bourgeois’ The Bad Mother (1998), Barbara Walker’s Bliss (2012) and Barbara Hepworth’s Four Figures (1951). 

Emalee Beddoes-Davis, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “This exhibition acknowledges the monumental step taken for women’s rights 100 years ago, but through challenging contemporary artworks it explores some of the experiences common to being a woman in 21st century society, and the progress still to be made. Feminist activism continues as women across the world strive to have their voices heard and this is an ideal time to reflect and showcase these artworks in Birmingham. 

“As women, not all the artists featured in this exhibition have gained the recognition they deserve. The exhibition recognises the historic bias in collections and how we have to continue to strive to ensure female artists, and in particular those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, are given the platform they deserve.” 

Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection, said: "Representing the work of female artists in the Arts Council Collection is an important aspect of our work. Last year, for the first time, we acquired more work by women than men and in this important year for all women, I am delighted that our National Partner, Birmingham Museums Trust is exploring their contribution in this exhibition." 

The exhibition will be marked with a weekend of thought-provoking events and activities from Friday 16th – Sunday 18th November, including performances, spoken-word poetry, debates and talks. Women Power Protest is at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from 10th November 2018 until 31st March 2019.

Make your own marathon with a Birmingham hospice

As marathon fever hits Birmingham this October, a local hospice has created a 26-mile sporting event that everyone can get involved in – even if they haven’t done any training!

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice’s ‘i-Marathon’ challenges people to complete 26.2 miles of activity across the month of October. 

The virtual marathon will see participants choose their preferred sporting activity– whether that’s running, cycling, swimming, walking or mixture of all them – as well as picking where, when and how they’ll complete it. 

So whether that’s one mile of running on the treadmill for 26 days or six miles of cycling every weekend, the i-Marathon is a fantastic opportunity for beginners or people with busy lifestyles to introduce exercise into their day-to-day schedules. 

Laura Nash, events manager at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “October is marathon month in Birmingham, so we wanted to create an alternative challenge that still lets people get involved and go the distance but at a pace that suits them. 

"We know how daunting 26.2 miles can feel to do at once, so the i-Marathon is a great starting point for people looking to do a marathon in the future or for those simply looking to keep fit and active.”

Participants will receive a free hospice t-shirt when they sign up and for those who reach their 26.2 miles goal and raise the minimum sponsorship, they’ll be awarded their own commemorative medal.

All funds raised will go towards the Hospice, which provides vital care to people and their families living with life-limiting illness across Birmingham and Sandwell. 

Laura added: “As well as completing such a gruelling distance, participants really will make a difference to the people and families that we care for. Last year, the i-Marathon raised over £5,000, which will help make beds available for people needing expert care and support at the Hospice.”

Every day, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice cares for 400 people in their own homes, in their local communities and at the Hospice. Registration for the i-Marathon is £5 and participants can sign up, here.

REVIEW: Midlands Whisky Festival 2018

Recently, me and Dan headed along to Midlands Whisky Festival. Having heard about the event so much over the past few years, I was keen to go along and see what the fuss was all about! Organised by Stourbridge based wine and spirit merchant Nickolls and Perks, the event took place at THESTUDIO on Cannon Street in Birmingham city centre. 

Upon arrival, we collected our wristbands, dram glasses and a dram token as well as handy list of all the spirits available to taste, and purchase, before making our way into the event. The event took place over two halls and was absolutely packed with whisky connoisseurs! Admittedly, I didn't even know where to start, and not being a huge whisky drinker myself, I was unsure if I was really going to fully enjoy the event.

 Thankfully, there was plenty of bourbons that are more up my street, and a selection of other spirits to try.

My first dram of the day was Michter's Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which at first had a huge kick to it, slowly warmed me up and was delicious! 

My second dram of the day was the Tennessee Bourbon Whisky, which was my favourite of the day. It tasted a lot like the smoky flavours I'm normally used to, but a name I had never heard of before. One that will definitely be added to my Christmas list! 

Another favourite of the day was the Whistlepig Straight Rye Whisky. With it's slogan being 'Drink Something Real', that most certainly is what it is! Although it did leave a burn in the throat, it was oaky, smooth and tasty. 

However, the most interesting flavour of the day had to be Glenfiddich's IPA experiment. It had all the smoky and dryness of a traditional whisky, but with a funky hit of IPA-like flavour. 

As well as a whole range of whisky to try and enjoy throughout the day, the event also boasted a variety of masterclasses, expert talks and more. It was also the perfect opportunity for whisky lovers to all come together to discuss their favourite spirit, try something new and discover their new favourite whisky. For whisky lovers, this is the event you simply cannot miss!

Find out more about the event and when it is set to return here


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

REVIEW: Pop Music at The REP, Birmingham

With a packed soundtrack including huge hits from the likes of Beyonce, Oasis and The Killers, I knew this was going to be my kind of show. However, throw the likes of Whigfield's Saturday Night and Madonna's Holiday, and I knew this was going to be my DREAM show. I have been obsessed with pop music my whole life, and have a habit of remembering what song was playing in very precise moments. A lot like what the basis of what Pop Music, now on stage at The REP in Birmingham, is all about. 

Pop Music, a short and sweet 75 minutes long, takes place at a wedding. It's late at night, the bride and groom are off to a Travelodge for their honeymoon and the dance floor is getting emptier. However, the free bar is still going strong, and so are gobby Kayla and sensitive G. At first, the two have absolutely nothing in common. But as they dance their way through 30 years of pop in a wonderful cocktail of nostalgia and drunkenness, they learn that they in fact knew each other at school. Kayla, as the leader of a popular girl gang, and G as the shy kid who got bullied - by the likes of Kayla. 

As each song booms out onto the dance floor by the moody DJ - the type who absolutely takes no requests - the two reminisce about their pasts whilst singing and dancing along to their favourite tracks. However, it isn't until they talk about where they are at in their lives now, that the show takes an emotional turn. Kayla, who dreamed of being a singer as a teen, has ended up in a dead end office job and G, who went on to have a hugely successful career, is in a dark place after his mother has passed away. It doesn't stay sad for long though, and the two become the best of friends despite what happened as teens.

The play has a very simple and understated set, as it really is all about the talent on stage. Just three actors are on stage for the whole show, but they are outstanding. The role of loud and boisterous Kayla is played by Katherine Kotz, whilst the role of G is taken on by Rakesh Boury. The third actor on stage is Remix, played by Ciaran Alexander Stewart, who not only provides BSL interpretation for Kayla and G, but also has incredible dance moves and fantastic comedic timing. Thanks to a monitor with subtitles too, the show is accessible to all, so we can all enjoy it equally. 

As the title suggests, this play, created by Anna Jordan, is all about the music and the role that it plays in our lives. The soundtrack is simply brilliant, and really does take the audience right to the heart of a classic wedding disco, or a Saturday night in Popworld! The soundtrack is only the start of what makes this show an absolute must see production. It is the perfect blend of hilarious one liners and incredibly emotional moments. But when I say it is hilarious, it genuinely is! The audience laughed out loud the whole way through, and with its cheekiness and downright dirtiness, it really is like being amongst your friends at a dreadful wedding - the type that always turn out to be the best ones!

However, what I loved most about this show is just how intimate it was. With it being in The Door at The REP, the audience were very close to the show itself, making it feel even more like we were actually the guests at the wedding, watching this unfold before us. Pop Music reminded me how great fun filled light-hearted shows can be. The type of production that makes you want to get up and sing along is a winner in my eyes. 

Director James Grieve says himself that Pop Music is a 'love letter to pop' and that is exactly what the show is. If you live for music, the way it can impact your life and the way it makes you feel, then do yourself a huge favour - book yourself a ticket to Pop Music. Don't forget your dancing shoes!

Pop Music: 10/10
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