A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

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.
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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.
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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.
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