Banksy in Birmingham

A new Banksy artwork has appeared in Birmingham, highlighting the plight of rough sleepers in the city in a video that was posted on his Instagram page this afternoon with the message:

God bless Birmingham.

In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him asking for anything.

Being an enormous Banksy (and street art) fan, I immediately jumped in a taxi (after spending twenty minutes trying to figure out the location) and we headed off to the Jewellery Quarter. We were lucky – some news crews had just started to appear but as it was before the point where the school and working day had finished we were able to see it without any issues. The driver got out and came with me to take some photos too!

Banksy in Birmingham

Banksy in Birmingham

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Christmas Silliness at the German Market

The German Christmas Market arrived back in Birmingham a few weeks ago. Over the years it has become a source of debate among the locals (of which, after nearly 20 years of living in the city I now consider myself to be a part of). Like Marmite it is both loved and loathed in equal measure, with the call for the now duplicated stalls to be replaced by some of the many incredible independents that the city has.

I’ve never been one to stand around in the crowd to drink Gluwein, but I do try and visit at least once a year. I like the atmosphere, the lights and – of course – a rather massive German sausage followed by chocolate and banana crepe and some of those yummy mallow chocolate-covered things. And poffertjies. And large slabs of garlic bread that creates breath so potent that it could kill a vampire at one hundred metres. Continue reading

A Weekend in London Part 2

Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery (3)

It was my birthday last week and my sister, her boyfriend and The Bloke took me to London for the weekend to celebrate. On the first day The Bloke and I explored Westminster Abbey and the Great Hall at the Natural History Museum, followed by a Wagamama.

The focus of the trip was the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery – 150 artefacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most famous King are on display there until May as part of the final World Tour – which could potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them. Our tickets were booked for 10.00am, and so we joined the queue in the rain a few minutes before.

I’ve always been interested in Egyptian ancient history and culture, so this collection of items was a real privilege to be able to see in person, 100 years after their discovery by Howard Carter. Continue reading

Visiting Guy’s Cliffe House: A Hidden Gem in Warwick

Visiting Guy's Cliffe House in Warwick

The Bloke and I recently had a rare opportunity to explore Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick. It is rarely available to public viewing, so when we saw that it was open for its Heritage Open Day (and on a stunningly beautiful day) we were really excited about it.

Guy’s Cliffe House is a Grade II listed building that stands on an artificially levelled terrace above a north-facing cliff. At the present most of the house is in ruins and unsuitable to walk through, with only the Grade II listed chapel and service quarters in use.

From humble beginnings as a secluded place of worship in the 5th century, the house has grown and changed with numerous additions in different styles. Sir Guy of Warwick reputably died in ‘Guy’s Cave’ in 970AD,’ and King Henry V ordered the establishment of a chapel in the 15th century. It has been owned by Plantation Owner Samuel Greatheed – Member of Parliament for Coventry – and later by the Heber-Percy family, it was used as a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in the First World War and  as a Boys Home by the Waifs and Strays Society during the Second World War… It is currently owned by the Freemasons and preserved by the Friends of Guy’s Cliffe Society. Continue reading

Theatre, Abstract Art and a Hidden Gem

I often equate a lot of the experiences and opportunities that The Bloke and I have to  being at a bus stop… you wait for ages and then three buses all turn up at the same time.

The latter half of last week was exactly that.

On Wednesday we went to see the fabulous 9 to 5 musical at the Alexandra Theatre. What I didn’t include in my review was that we also went to the after party, during which we had the opportunity to meet the cast. I managed to have a little chat with Louise Redknapp, who was lovely and utterly stunning in person (and she hasn’t aged since the 90’s), and get a quick pic with Amber Davis. It was a weird experience – I knew that the show was coming up so I made The Bloke watch the season of Love Island that she was on so he knew who she was, but she looked completely different in person. I’m awkward at the best of times, but when you’re surrounded by incredibly talented individuals that you’ve just seen perform on stage is a little intimidating!  Continue reading

The Best Business Lunch Ever

Last month I took on a new client. I started her fitness class a few weeks before and we became friends, and this led to me helping her to develop her artwork and courses. 

The other day she invited me round to her house after the morning aerobics session for a business lunch to discuss areas of focus in September. She has a beautiful painting studio at the bottom of her (equally beautiful) garden and I was treated to a look through her artwork and sketchbooks, which are gorgeous. I’ve always admired that sort of creativity and her abstract style is one of my favourites, so it was nice to sit and go through ideas in the morning sun. 

However, what started as a business discussion turned into several hours of just enjoying being in her company, snapchatting her cat who was busy stalking squirrels from the fence, eating a rather tasty lunch and admiring the sunflowers on her table. 

Definitely the best way to spend the day!

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Of all of the blogging regrets that I have, my lack of knowledge when developing my blog and hesitation when setting up my social media accounts are the biggest. Why? Continue reading

An Evening at the Newly Revamped Marmalade Restaurant at The Rep

The Bloke and I were invited to the newly revamped Marmalade restaurant at The Rep in Birmingham last week.

The Marmalade team have been working closely with local businesses and artisan suppliers to provide customers with an all new dining experience that is inherently Brummie and combined with a new outdoor terrace that is capable of seating up to 200 people overlooking the recently developed Centenary Square, it is perfectly situated for both lazy summer lunches and date nights.

I liked the fact that the menus are environmentally conscious, utilising local suppliers with a focus on low environmental impact, including the use of heat exchange technology to reduce energy consumption and natural wetland systems. Continue reading

Things to See and Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Things to See and Do in Dubrovnik 3

In June I was lucky enough to travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the first time. As a huge Game of Thrones fan I had been eager to visit for a while, but nothing prepared me for how spectacularly beautiful it was. Steeped in history, clean, safe and with population of friendly and lovely people, it’s an absolute must-see.

While isn’t possible to see everything in just a single trip, here are a few highlights that may help when planning a future vacation of your own. Continue reading

Suzie and The Bloke Go to Blackpool

Blackpool Tower

The Bloke’s cousin turned 21 this week and we were invited to her birthday party last weekend… in Blackpool. 

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the Vegas of the North, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. We visited many times during my childhood years – on a clear day it was possible to see the famous tower in the far distance from my home and we had a yearly outing to the Illuminations, where my sisters and I would be in competition to win the coveted 20p for being the first person to spot the tower on the way. Of course, my mum felt guilty about giving just one of us money and so we would inevitably each get the money, but it remains as one of my happiest memories.  Continue reading