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Remember to Relax

Funny how after a vibrant and colourful Spring as we approach July all things seem to settle down and become more muted and perhaps understated. The bright greens, yellows and blues calm and soften as the season draws on. Birds that not so long ago were vibrating along every hedgerow are quieter and , after raising their chicks, more tired `cos kids can be very demanding of parents time and energy. Ready for the school holidays are we? This is a good time to dawdle along the valley and across the meadows just looking and listening and just breathing in some fresh air. Remember though to please be in control of your dog and clean up after it. Remember to please consider pedestrians when you are on your bike, all the valley paths are to be shared with care. Remember how lucky we are to have such a resource as the New Hall Valley Country Park and remember that it needs caring for and looking after. It really is a jewel in Walmley`s crown , it is as good an example of Community asset that we could wish for.

We are now nearer to next Christmas than we are to the last so lets get out into our gardens and relax. The glorious scent of the neighbour`s barbeque, the throbbing bass from a passing car, the house alarm that has been going since midday, the mowers, the strimmers……….. Still ,as of yet no sound of gunfire or rumble of tanks, I like to live in a country that people strive to get into rather than out of, don`t you ? ( apart from a Scottish Nationalist of course )

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to homes and businesses in Walmey, Minworth and Sutton Coldfield.

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Water, Wood and Wild Wander

Just a week or so after reading this it will be Midsummers Day !

How does a year go by so fast? At least we seem to be having proper seasons this year. Not much snow for snowmen though.

A great show of blossom this spring with the May (hawthorn)

lasting a full month, Apple and Cherry blooms promise a bumper crop later. In the Valley our grasslands are starting to reach a peak of colour as all the wildflowers compete for the attentions of moths, butterflies and bees. Join us for a Wildflower Wander through some of the best meadows in the West Midlands. Meet at the Water Mill 2.00pm Sunday June 8th. Hope for sunshine and we`ll see how many of the over 100 species are on view. Bonus is that the Mill is open and so is the tea room. Also in the Valley we are having a Grand Balsam Bash ! Sunday June 22nd 9.30am and we will try to clear the Plants Brook of this Himalayan invader to give our indigenous water plants and wildlife chance to grow and flourish out of the shade cast by the Balsam. Wellies essential.

How many readers recognise the name of “Jones`s Wood”??

This is the patch of ancient woodland next to the Deanery School and is in need of some urgent TLC. A meeting is to be held at the school on Wednesday June 11th 7.00pm to explore setting up a Friends group and to discuss ongoing issues and future maintenance. Nothing heavy ,just a bit of help for a neglected but much loved patch of Walmley past and present.

If you care about Walmley , the Valley or the Wood, come along to any or all of these events supporting our Community.

 

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to residents in Walmley, Minworth and Sutton Coldfield areas.

Sutton Wakes Up to Spring

As we cast off the dark days of winter and emerge blinking in to the sunlight, what’s going on in Sutton Coldfield to make ending our hibernation worthwhile?
Time Travel in Sutton Park
First stop, as spring is asserting itself, is Sutton Park. A great way to explore the park is to take one of the Friends of Sutton Park Association (FOSPA) archaeology walks. Would you have known that the park (long before King Henry Viii gifted it to the town) was inhabited by our bronze-age ancestors? Or that over 800 years ago it was a prestigious deer park, owned by the earl of Warwick. Pick up the FOSPA leaflet which contains 3 different walks and charmingly weaves in these stories of old.sutton park
Springtime Arts
What to do in the evening after a bracing day out in the fresh spring air? How about a dip into a Turkish bath? At Sutton Arts Theatre, Neil Dunn’s ribald classic Steaming is running from 20th to 29th March.
The Royal opera House comes to the Empire cinema with an “as live” screening of A Winter’s Tale on 28th April and there is a great line up of other London productions following. It’s as near to the real thing as you can get, without the expense of trekking to London.
Also not to be missed, and with more of a local feel, is Swinging on a Star, a big band music night with the fabulous Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra at Sutton Town Hall on 21st March.
Made in Sutton
If your winter hibernation has left you more in a shopping frame of mind, choose Saturday 15th March to make your trip into the town centre. That’s when local arts promoters Made in Sutton take over the shopping centre, presenting a day of arts, music and dance activities to accompany your retail therapy.
This spring it’s all about getting out there and enjoying all that Sutton Coldfield has to offer, from the natural oasis of Sutton Park to the vibrant arts and culture of our Royal town. Enjoy!

This article appears in Recommended magazine, delivered free to 40,000 homes and businesses in the Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.

Freedom Cycles, the Cycling store where customer service still comes first!

We are an independent Cycle dealer in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Situated in the bus station in this historic cathedral city, we opened our shop in April 2009. As cyclists ourselves, we believe we have the passion and desire to make sure everyone is happy on two wheels!

We started our store journey as part of the Raleigh Cyclelife network, and as such we are able to offer the full range of Raleigh bikes and accessories. As we have grown as a business, and our customer base has expanded, we have developed our range of bikes and accessories to satisfy all – bike brands stocked now include Diamondback, Focus, Haibike, Tifosi and more manufacturers are being added all the time.

We pride ourselves on our personal service, and attention to detail when finding the right bike for you. Whether you are young or old, expert or novice, adventurous or sedate, we will help you to choose the right bike for your needs, and ensure that it is the right size too.  Our aim is to show everyone how much pleasure it is to ‘get on your bike!’

We have over 80 bikes on display, with more in stock and readily available, ranging from toddlers trikes to tandems, full range of childrens bikes, bmx, town and country, all terrain and mountain bikes, and a full range of road bikes for all riders – right through from beginner to serious competitor.

Parts and accessories are readily available throughout the store, brands such as Altura, Polaris, Lusso and Moa for clothing, Campagnola, Shimano, Sram, Cycleops, Stans, Camelback, Motorex, Muc Off, Moon and many many more.  If we don’t have an item in stock when you call in, we can normally get a very prompt delivery from our suppliers.

We have been heavily involved with Lichfield District Council in supporting and helping to run the ‘Cycle Rides for All’, a community ride which takes place once a month from March to September, on the last Sunday of the month, and has grown in numbers over the last four years.  Further details of this years program of rides will be available shortly – see our website for updates.

 

Also, we have our very own FREEDOM RIDERS – a group of like minded cycling friends, and we ride from the shop every Tuesday evening at 6pm – this is a road bike ride, normally between 20-30 miles at a steady (ish) pace.  We organise a number rides throughout the year, culminating in the Freedom 69er – a 69 mile ride, normally in September which we raise funds for Charity, last year raising over £400 for SSAFA the forces charity.

This years planned rides so far are the March Den Engel run, a steady ride up to Leek on Saturday 22nd, stay over for a meal and drink, followed by a longer ride back on Sunday 23rd.  On August bank holiday, we will be leaving the shop in Lichfield at Midnight for a ride through to Barmouth – arriving on the sea-front in the morning – once you’ve done this one, you’ll want to do it again!  And of course the Freedom 69er in September.

 

Our servicing is carried out by Cytech qualified technicians, and we repair all makes and models of bike.  We are happy to quote on any service or repair job that you are contemplating.  Complete rebuilds, refurbishments, wheel builds, standard and special services, even replacing inner tubes!

As we are celebrating our 5th birthday in April, we will offer a 10% discount off parts and accessories to any customer bringing this copy of Recommended magazine with them when visiting the store.

The Bus Station, Birmingham Road, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6HU  01543 411633

This article appears in Lichfield Recommended Magazine, a free publication delivered to homes and businesses in Lichfiled and surrounding areas.

What’s on in Lichfield this Spring?

Spring fever in Lichfield
Spring is upon us and Lichfield is reawakening. The great outdoors beckons, Easter is around the corner and even the Lichfield Bower is in sight. Here’s a taster of Lichfield events and activities to catch that spring fever.
Step Outside
Blessed as we are with countryside all around, now is the time to explore. Head up to Cannock Chase for acres of woodland walks; step among the bluebells at Yoxall Woods (open from 19th April), or take a canal-side saunter at Fradley Junction with a cheeky pint at the Swan.
Closer to home, there is always something happening in Beacon Park and this spring is no exception. Would you believe the golf course is 40 years old? Join in the birthday celebrations on Sunday 23rd March. On the way to Burntwood, have you tried the Woodland Trust’s Pipe Hill Farm yet? It has over 100 acres of woodland and meadow with views back across Lichfield. Even more central, Leomansley Woods are carpeted in bluebells in the spring and offer a lovely, if somewhat soggy walk, with, at one elevated point, possibly the best view of Lichfield Cathedral to be found.
Easter Fun
Take the kids down to the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum for Sam’s Easter Adventure, Easter holiday fun with trails, activities and competitions every day. Erasmus Darwin House will also have Easter activities for children along with a series of special events to celebrate its 15th birthday in April.
A fresh start for the arts
Lichfield Arts has an eclectic spring programme of music including, among many others, blues, folk, swing, jazz and heavy rock. Over at the Garrick the choice explodes with opera, drama, dance, Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll; the last three – with the added qualifier (I wish) – being the title of a show on 4th April by Mike McGear McCartney, Paul McCartney’s younger brother, famous for the old Lily the Pink song.
Whatever your springtime plans, stay local and have fun!

This article appears in Lichfield Recommended, a magazine delivered free to residents in Lichfield and surrounding area’s.

LEAVES ON THE LINE

Thank goodness that is over , February I mean. It always feels so tired and grim and long. Let us now look forward to sap rising , burgeoning birdsong and green shoots shooting. March is when we can feel the quickening of the natural world, which is all around us. (well it is until it`s built on!) Birds and bees start to give overt displays of that for which they are known. Of our garden birds the Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes have probably already sorted out their partners and their nest site territories but most of our feathered friends will delay for the hopefully better weather at the months end. The winter visitors disperse and we await the arrival of the first swallows to herald spring.

Celandines, violets and primroses are all to be found in and around the New Hall Valley blooming low to the ground waiting to be discovered and admired . Towards the end of the month look out for the explosion of white blossom along the blackthorn hedges to be closely followed by the aromatic and unmistakeable hawthorn.

This is always a time of hope as we feel winter is behind us and we can anticipate summer coming even as we enjoy spring. Don`t get too excited though, always remember that April 1st is All Fool`s Day !

Talking of fools, I wonder whether any attack of common sense has broken out , since I wrote this in January, and that folly of vanity has been cancelled. Yes, of course I mean HS2. Just a thought ,but if it was cancelled then the Washwood Heath industrial site will not be required. Logic then suggests that the Peddimore site plan could be moved to that location and we would not need to develop that Green Belt at all. As I said , just a thought.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a free publication delivered to homes and businesess in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield.

Drops and Drips

February is the month that most of us just want to see the back of.

It`s short and gloomy and seems to last so much longer than 28 days. “February fill dyke , be it black or be it white “is an old adage that just about sums it up , although there is another that runs

“If February brings no rain it`s neither good for grass nor grain”. So you pays your money and takes your choice but on a brighter note if Candlemas day is cloudy and wet they reckon that winter is over and there is no more hard weather to come. (Candlemas was the 2nd. Did it rain ?)

Hopefully we are seeing some signs of Spring stirring. Snowdrops will peak during this month and be quickly followed by crocuses.

Should be some interesting types popping up around the village centre where many new ones were planted last Autumn. Look out for them. In a couple of places in the New Hall Valley, Sutton Coldfield one of the earliest wildflowers will already be coming into bloom. The understated Dog`s Mercury will throw little sprays of greenish white flowers. Look for it in undisturbed ground along old hedges and in uncultivated woodland. No, I have no idea where the name came from , any ideas?

Hope you have remembered to make your voice heard over the issue of Green Belt development. Speak up , fill in the appropriate form and send it in . Your voice is Our voice so do not leave it to everyone else, whatever your view , state it.

Short and sweet , as I hope this month is . Don`t forget my card on the 14th

This article is written by Sutton Coldfield resident Jeff or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road.  Printed in Walmley Pages Magazine which is delivered to homes and businesses in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield.

The rise and rise of the Bitcoin

From being a little known oddity confined to the geeks of Silicon Valley just four years ago, the Bitcoin is heading all the technology news boards and has even got some central banks running scared. So, what is it, how does it work and why does it matter?

 

The Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an unknown programmer called Satoshi Nakamoto, a name that is widely believed to be an alias. Although it is generally considered to be a crypto or virtual currency, it was originally just a means of exchange for online transactions. The way the transactions are processed is in the realm of the serious cyber boffins, I barely understand it myself, but suffice to say there is a definitive log of all transactions and when they occurred. Bitcoins are created by “Miners,” people who use computers or networks of computers to solve increasingly complex algorithms. If you think processing the transactions is complex, don’t even try and think about Bitcoin Mining. There are currently around 12.2 million Bitcoins in existence but there is an absolute cap of 21 million on the number that can be created. Bitcoins are also anonymous, they don’t have serial numbers like banknotes, and the people who own them are anonymous too – rather than a bank account, owners have a wallet which is accessed using a username and password.

 

So far, so geeky, but this is where it starts to get interesting. Although the Bitcoin is not a currency, in many ways it acts like one. Bitcoins can be used to pay for a huge range of online transactions, anything from school fees to casino chips, and increasingly they are accepted by physical retail outlets such as bars, bedding retailers and even burger stalls. Bitcoins can be bought using one currency and then sold in another currency, making them an effective medium for transferring money out of a country that enforces currency restrictions. Because Bitcoin owners are anonymous, there are widespread reports of them being used to fund drug deals, illegal arms trading and international terrorism. There are also claims that Bitcoins have been used for money laundering, though there is little evidence to support this. Most importantly, the value of Bitcoins fluctuates wildly. The first units produced in 2009 had a value of less than 2 cents. In November 2013 the value of 1 Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $1,250. A few days later the value plummeted by more than half in just one day when the People’s Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, banned the conversion of Yuan into Bitcoins.

 

It is worth considering what has driven this heavy demand for Bitcoins and the dramatic increase in value that goes with it. In China, citizens are limited to taking $50,000 of currency out of the country per year. The Bitcoin represents a heaven sent opportunity to get round this restriction. India also has similar limitations in place, coupled with a currency that is prone to serious inflation. It is no surprise that the Indian central bank moved to limit conversion of Rupees into Bitcoins. With such dramatic increases in value, speculators have inevitably jumped on the bandwagon, further fuelling the volatility in price. What is surprising is that, after the dramatic drop in early December, the value of the Bitcoin has already stabilised at about $800.

 

Despite everything that has happened, it looks as if the Bitcoin is here to stay. The US Treasury has made no move to outlaw it or limit transactions and the number of physical outlets that accept Bitcoins is increasing exponentially. Only when all 21 million Bitcoins have been mined will we know a realistic value for it, something that is estimated to happen by around 2017. In the meantime, it is an excellent example of technology being used to create genuine wealth and at the same time respond to a real need.

Graham Iek

IT Consultant     

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered free to Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.

Bhujon – The most fabulous restaurant you must give it a try.

bhujon 2

When we stepped inside Bhujon Restaurant in Sutton Coldfield, we immediately knew that we were in for a great evening.

Whilst walking into the sophisticated Bhujon Cocktail area where diners can indulge in classic and a bespoke selection of cocktails. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the spacious and attractive dining area below that just oozes class, comfort and style.

As were a family of six we were seated in a booth which was ideal, it was our own comfortable segment of a larger impressive restaurant, we perused the menu and were given advice and recommendations from the helpful staff.

bhujon 1

It was nice to see not only a good selection of traditional Indian dishes but also some very innovative choices that were something a little different to what you would find elsewhere.

We chose a variety of starters from Lamb chops adraki perfectly cooked and spiced to Chicken Tandoori tenders, chicken delectably seasoned, the starters were a taste of what was to come as each starter was delicious and the attention paid to the presentation was exquisite.

The highlights of our main courses proved to be a Bhujan speciality Tawa Chicken Jalfrezi cooked with onion green pepper strongly herbed and spiced with home-made sauce, it arrived on a piping hot pan and was sizzling as it was placed on the table, it was simply the best Indian dish I have had in a long time. We also tried an old favourite Chicken Massala a mild dish which was perfectly cooked and full of flavour accompanied at the recommendation of staff by fresh okra.

There was a great choice of deserts I personally had the Caramel Royal which was the perfect finish to a great meal. .

Owners Mr Miah and Mr Zaman strive to offer the highest quality food with a first class ambience and excellent service, something they are definitely achieving. They are certainly bringing a new first class dining experience to Sutton Coldfield.

Bhujon offers a terrific dining experience for couples,  families, friends and  large parties.  It’s creative with delicious food, great service and stylish but comfortable setting, it really is a fabulous restaurant and we recommend that you give it a try

Bhujon Cocktail Bar and Diningbhujon 3

290 – 292 Lichfield Road, Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield, B74 2UG 0121 308 0930

This restaurant review appears in Sutton Coldfield Recommended Magazine, delivered to 40,000 homes and businesses in Sutton Coldfield and surrounding area’s.

Christmas Time in Sutton Coldfield

December already, and another merry Christmas is ringing in. Have you started (or finished!) your Christmas shopping. Are you planning a special night out? Or perhaps you are planning a less commercial, more meaningful celebration? Here’s a taster of what Sutton Coldfield has to offer this Christmas.

Christmas gift ideas

The Gracechurch Centre, Sutton Coldfield, under new ownership, will have the usual seasonal cheers with bright lights, late nights and lots of little extras to put pleasure into your gift hunting. It’s open every day and right up to the wire on Christmas Eve – apparently the traditional time for men to start their shopping!

Or for something completely different, start early, on 1st December, at the Sutton Vintage and Arts Fair in the Town Hall.  Find unique and quirky Christmas gifts, vintage and handmade clothes and enjoy some festive fun.

Christmas concerts and events

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall plays host to some musical extravaganzas in December including Musical Memories, Past and Present on Friday 6th December, The City of Birmingham Brass Band in concert the following day and two Family Christmas Concerts at 4.15pm and 7.30pm on Sunday 15th December, which promise to be uplifting and heart-warming in equal measure.

Of course, Christmas is not Christmas without panto, but this year the pantomimes are not exactly at Christmas! Snow White runs at the Sutton Arts Theatre until 15th December and Aladdin plays at the Town Hall from 14th January to 19th January 2014.

 

London comes to Sutton Coldfield

Fancy something a little more highbrow? A quiet revolution has been happening in cinemas across the country, where “as live” screenings of National Theatre and Royal Opera House shows are beating blockbuster films at the box office. The obvious hit for Christmas is the ROH production of Nutcracker on 12th December at 7.15pm, showing at the Empire and a number of other cinemas near Sutton Coldfield. Last year’s Nutcracker beat Skyfall in cinema box office takings!

 

Whatever your plans, enjoy a happy Christmas in Sutton Coldfield, and here’s hoping that 2014 is your best year ever

This article appears in Sutton Coldfield Recommeded, a local magazine delivered to 40,000 homes and businesses in Sutton Coldfield and surrounding area’s.