Spring time at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

For those of you who aren’t able to make it there yourself, Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens have begun to put together slide show images. The first is a selection of images from the gardens in early spring, listen carefully and you will hear the birds whistling in the background.

Don’t forget Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens ‘Easter Event’. Saturday 23rd April- 1-4pm. Free car parking. Click here for more information. 

INHABIT finale today

The INHABIT pop up arts tearoom project has reached Ladywood, Handsworth, Pavilions, Stirchley and Bromford, but it comes to end today as they are to celebrate with a final event- Bromford Dreams.

From 5-7pm, the tearoom and it’s visitors will be releasing lanterns in to the sky to represent their dreams, followed by a cup of tea of course.

Support the final event of this successful project by coming along to The Hub, Bromford Drive from 5-7pm tonight.

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens launches its first blog

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Blog

The beautiful Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens has launched its very first blog in hope that contributors and volunteers will come forward to help preserve this special part our history.

Already responsible for their successful Twitter account (@cbhallgardens) and Facebook page, press officer Graham High is extremely passionate about the gardens and hopes the blog will help to promote, inform and create opportunity for contributors.

“I wanted to open up the site to serve as an outlet for the many creative and knowledgeable people I have met, worked, and corresponded with during my limited acquaintance with the gardens. Volunteers, staff and visitors have quite an astonishing breadth of knowledge and experience, and I feel that it is a real shame that this resource remains largely untapped. It is open to anyone in the world who would like to contribute,” says Graham.

Grahams hopes that contributors will bring ‘knowledge, creativity and fun’ to the blog and that it will offer something different to any other heritage website.

“Our official website and Twitter takes care of the Trust’s news, so the blog has an opportunity to step out a little from the beaten track.”

The blog provides local residents with a great opportunity to get involved and help to preserve the history of Castle Bromwich. Contributors can be of any age group and articles can be about history, natural history, science, horticulture, stories, poetry, photography or arts. Graham also hopes that volunteers may also come forward to help in the running of the gardens as a direct result of the blog.

“I would like the blog readers to also occasionally take a moment to think of Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, what an incredible asset it is to the community and for them to help preserve this miniature wonderland by visiting or offering their services as volunteers.”

For more information about how you can contribute please click here.

Follow Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on Twitter.

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Polarbear performs ‘RETURN’ at The Hub, Bromford

Birmingham- born wordsmith Polar Bear, performed the moving piece ‘RETURN’ at The Hub, Bromford on Saturday 19th March, as part of the pop up arts tearoom project.

One of the most respected spoken word artists in the UK, Polarbear is renowned for delivering stories that make sense; stories that relate. With hip-hop roots that combine perfectly with his brilliant poetry, his performance was both unique and memorable.

“RETURN” tells the story of Noah, a man trying to figure out where he fits. Convinced he had to leave home in order to make his mark, Noah returns to find a world where a lot of things seem the same but nothing actually is.

Combining storytelling with a distinctive lighting and projection design, “RETURN” exploits its relationship with cinematic genres. The show journeys through scenes and landscapes, encouraging you to explore and, like a film director, be challenged to re-imagine as the story unfolds…

The Bromford tearoom slowly filled up, as people from outside crept in, intrigued as to why the room was so dimly lit and why we were all transfixed with this performance, once they were in, they didn’t leave.

His audience chuckled as they related to his 90’s film and music references and memories of hanging around girls in the park. His voice, his tone, his pauses between scenes were perfect; the soft music in the background and words projected onto the board behind put you in the scene immediately.

Both captivating and moving, Polarbear captures the sense of ‘home’ perfectly. His scene setting and descriptions allow you to picture the characters and places, making the performance all the more real. Polarbear encourages you to reminicse on your own memories of home, triggering emotion in those who have ever left and returned.

It was a unique performance that will stay with you for a long time and proved to be a great opportunity for his audience, who were appreciative and applauding throughout this compelling story.

Watch a small clip of ‘RETURN,’ performed at The Hub, Bromford.

All content in this video was filmed by B36Blogger.

Find out more about the pop up arts tea room in Bromford.

Polarbear’s website.

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Boot camp exercise class in Castle Vale

Image from Harriet Norris Personal Training

A Wednesday night in Castle Vale is spent getting rather sweaty for some certain ladies, who are regular attendees to a sucessful bootcamp workout session.

Harriet Norris from Solihull set up a women’s only bootcamp exercise class at Topcliffe Primary School in Castle Vale after the success of the same class in Water Orton.

By day, Harriet is a personal trainer, at just 21 she is extremely knowledgeable and skilled at what she does. The highly demanded class in Castle Vale is an extension to her personal training work and Harriet is calling all local ladies to give it a try.

The class is intense and tones just about every muscle in your body, and for just £5, you really are getting a good work out for your money.

“The class involves a full body work out,” says Harriet “We do cardio work, strength based work, full body toning and aim to reduce body fat.”

No matter what your age or exercise history is, Harriet lets you go at your own pace, “We have many different women at the class who range from early 20’s up to 55 years old, ” says Harriet “We currently have around 12 members who attend the Castle Vale class.”

The session is on a Wednesday night, held at Topcliffe Primary School in Castle Vale from 6:45 to 7:45 pm and costs £5. New recruits can also contact Harriet through her Twitter or Facebook page.

For more information about the class or Harriet Norris Personal Training, click here.

Pop Up Arts Tearoom arrives on Bromford Drive

Jane Baker / Greensnapper Photography

Driving through the Bromford Estate, it’s hard to spot- blink and you’ll miss it. Tucked away amongst the other shops on Bromford Drive is The Hub, home to Hybrid’s latest ‘Inhabit’ pop up arts tearoom project for the next few weeks.

Birmingham City Council funded the project that came into action after a tender was put out to fill empty high street shops around Birmingham. The project fuses artwork, tea and community spirit and has been successful in Handsworth and Stirchley. Hodge Hill is the latest area to play host to one of these unique pop up tearooms.

As I peek through the door, the woman sitting at the nearest table beams at me “Are you here for the tea room? Karen is over there.” I carry on walking past the old round tables and pretty cake stands accompanied by vintage cups and saucers when Karen pops up from under the counter.

Karen Meng, project assistant at Hybrid is working at the Hodge Hill tearoom over the next few weeks.

“It’s really culture on your doorstep,” she explains, “We want to bring people in to an arts space, it’s a great way to engage people with art work.”

The Hub already holds after school clubs on a weekly basis, so far the project has been popular amongst children and parents in Hodge Hill.

“When the children come in they get really excited and parents have been stopping for tea too,” says Karen “we sit at one big table so we try to encourage people to get chatting.”

There are a variety of different activities on offer at the tearoom involving several different independent artists commissioned by Birmingham City Council. Although the project does encourage local independent artists to come forward and they have the opportunity to host a workshop of their own at the tearoom.

“We have had different characters in each tearoom,” says Karen “from children to older people, the homeless and local workers who stop by for tea.”

So far, the project has been publicised through the use of Twitter and promotional post cards and has had attention from BBC4 and The Guardian.

Karen explains; “We like to take the soft approach, the project aims to target the surrounding area so usually we get a lot of publicity just by word of mouth.”

The project was funded from April 2010 and is due to wrap up at the same time this year. Many visitors to the pop up arts tearooms have been sad to see them go, so what does the future hold for projects such as this one?

“It wasn’t something that we anticipated would carry on, we knew from the beginning it would only last until April 2011. People could really benefit from permanent tearooms, just as momentum has built up with the tearooms it’s time for us to pack up again, particularly in Stirchley- people really wanted us to stay.

But what are the chances that a similar project would come round again? Due to Government cuts it’s not guaranteed that the project would receive funding again.

“It depends what funding is available and how the local council feel about the outcomes of the project. However it’s really not about the council, we hope that we have made an impact upon people and that a local business or local citizens decide to set something like this up through the social enterprise model.”

The next stop for the pop up arts tearoom is the Pavilions Birmingham, which opens on Thursday 10th March.

Find a full schedule of activities at the Bromford tearoom here.

Make A Difference With Data Unworkshop 24/02/2011

Have we, as local citizens of Hodge Hill, thought enough about what information is available to us online?

Frequently accessed data includes land registry information, crime statistics, planning applications and neighbourhood tasking meeting minutes, but what information would you like to access online?

Last night, B36Blogger attended the Make A Difference With Data unworkshop at Fazeley Studios in Digbeth, which is part of the Making a Difference With Data project.

We discussed what information is already available to local citizens, what barriers there are in accessing information, what information we would like to be able to access and how it would change things.

One interesting topic was the usefulness of Twitter, although we can complain to our local council via telephone or written letter, how many people complain via Twitter? It takes up far less time, common complaints can be easily logged and  categorised  and statistics can be compiled on a much easier and accessible basis.

Blogs, such as B36Blogger should also act as a complaints platform, local residents should make use of their local blog to make their opinions known and also create discussion around common complaints. Not only is this a great place to voice opinion, but through your local blog you can meet your neighbours and work together to get things done.

We want to be able to access statistics when it comes to complaints. We want our local council to record calls, put them under catagories and be able to access information on common complaints, and also find out how many are followed up, investigated or resolved.

As B36Blogger has already covered, Police UK have released a crime map web site for you to find out how many crimes are recorded in your area, but what we can’t access is the information regarding how often the information is updated, what was done in the area about the crimes and even when they took place.

It seemed to be a common problem that data can be confusing, data should be easy to read and easy to locate the most important information and highest and lowest statistics.

We want local authorities to make locating data easier, for example, Birmingham Ciy Council are often guilty for  making information hard to find and ‘burying’ it within their site. For exmaple, accessing minutes from the last neighbourhood tasking meeeting can be particularly tricky. This could be  because they have hundreds of pages and headings or perhpas that their search box isn’t effective or they are simlpy putting things under the wrong headings.

There are many issues surrounding access, availability and reading local data and statistics. Have you ever had any problems with local data, or problems accessing local statistics?

Nicky Getgood  interviews B36Blogger’s editor Jessica Dutton, listen here.

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