Just another WordPress.com site

Author Archive

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.


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.


Christmas and New Year is the time for giving – but what are the tax implications?

As this is the ‘Season of Goodwill’ in this month’s tax tips we are focusing on the tax implications of Giving.

Charity Donations

Firstly let’s consider the donations you make to Charities. Many people are aware that if you make a donation to a charity via the gift aid scheme, then the charity will receive an additional payment of basic rate tax from HMRC. But what many people paying higher rates of tax may not realise is that they can also benefit from tax relief on donations.  By declaring their charitable Gift Aid donations, they can claim relief equal to the difference between the higher rate of tax and the basic rate of tax at 20% on the total value of the donation.  So if you donate £100 to a charity, and you are currently paying tax at 40% you can claim additional tax relief which saves £24 tax!

‘Small’ gifts

What about the gifts to family and friends? Well you can make small gifts up to the value of £250 to as many individuals as you like in any one tax year and they will all be exempt from Inheritance Tax when you die.

Annual exemption

You can give away additional gifts worth up to £3,000 in total in each tax year and these gifts will also be exempt from IHT. There is also provision to carry forward the unused part of the £3,000 exemption from last tax year.

Wedding gifts/civil partnership ceremony gifts

If you give cash or gifts or because of a Wedding or civil partnership, then this will be exempt from IHT if it is below the following limits:

Parents –  each up to £5,000

grandparents and great grandparents – each up to £2,500

anyone else – up to £1,000

Regular gifts or payments that are part of your normal expenditure

If you make regular gifts out of your after-tax income, these can also be exempt from Inheritance Tax. These gifts will only qualify if you have enough income left over to maintain your normal lifestyle.

Any other gifts

Gifts in excess of the above exemptions, but which were made more than seven years before the donor dies are free of IHT. However, if you reserve any benefit from a gift – such as continuing to live in a house you have given away- “gift with reservation” rules may apply tax as though your gift had never happened…

 We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered to homes and businesses in Sutton Coldfield, Walmley, Minworth and surrounding area’s.


Property Has the nation rekindled its love affair with property?

After a five year drought, the television schedules are awash with property programmes once again. Grand Designs is enjoying its annual run of programmes, but these are all brand new projects rather than updates on programmes that were first run a few years ago. Kevin McCloud can also be seen in Man Made Home, a quirky series about building a beach hut from recycled materials. Sarah Beeny, who made her name showing amateurs how to make money out of property development, is now telling them how to achieve their dream house for half the cost of upsizing.

Caroline Quentin has recently finished her latest series of Restoration Home, a programme about people who spend hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring historic properties that should probably have been left to crumble to dust. Meanwhile, a brace of architects are showing self builders how to create a perfect home for a pittance in The House that £100k Built. Recently, I saw the first episode of Location, Location, Location, that wasn’t a rerun from six years ago, in a long time. In case you’ve forgotten the concept, this is a house hunting show fronted by Kirsty Allsopp and Phil Spencer. All this and I haven’t even started on the numerous property shows that litter the daytime television listings.

Sutton Coldfield hasn’t returned to the days of 2006 when this kind of programme was at its height. The money no object, fortunes to be made exuberance of the mid noughties is long gone and may never return. Instead, the focus is more on getting the absolute maximum of bangs for your buck. For instance, the concept of Sarah Beeny’s show is that people who have run out of space can extend and renovate their current property for half the cost of selling up and buying a bigger house. But we can still take heart from this; people are passionate about property again and that can only be good news for the housing market.

Craig Brown

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered free to homes in Walmey, Minworth and Sutton Coldield


Puffed up and Puffed out – from Walmley Pages Magazin

Did you remember to change your clocks? Autumn is a time to curl up and let the world pass me by. All I seem to think of is how long it will be until spring! However that feeling soon gives way to appreciating the smells and colours of the great outdoors that surround us here in Walmley. Just a walk in the Valley country park is enough to freshen even the most jaded of psyches. Jaded is how I feel after another round of the talking head hot air that are the annual party conferences. I cannot even get heated about the guff that flows from these self congratulatory and self flagellatory talking shops. What I can do instead, and I urge you to join me, is to laugh at `em. Just as they are being laughed at by the unions, by the BBC, by the illegal immigrants, by the feckless underclass, by the bankers and by the industry that surrounds political correctness and Health and Safety.

Talking of politicians (and indeed I was) I wonder whether the much heralded and derided HS2 railroad has been junked yet ?

I have no wish to pay for the construction of this folly of the future. If it such a good idea and guaranteed success why is  private investment not being sought ? Has not history shown us that these grand government vanity projects don`t work , always overrun on cost and time, whereas private projects with shareholders and profits to worry about ,invariably work or don`t get built.

Last thoughts for November, enjoy a safe Bonfire Night on the 5th.

Try to make it to the War Memorial, Walmley Village on Sunday 10th for the annual Remembrance day service. Always well attended and very moving.

                                                                                                                                                                                              

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, distributed free of charge to residents and businesses in the Walmley and Sutton Coldfield area.

 


Cheers and Cheeps – Article from Walmley Pages Magazine

Do we in Walmley realise how lucky we are to have a number of unpaid and unsung heroes who quietly enhance all our lives with no thought of recompense or reward. This attitude goes straight to the real heart of that elusive ideal, “community “. People like the group of pensioners who weekly tidy round the church and church hall, the early morning duo who tidy around the Select n Save area, THANKS to you all.

The magical appearance of our hanging baskets, Christmas tree and lights, they all have silent arrangers behind the scenes as do the annual Remembrance service at the memorial, ditto the carols round the tree each December. THANKS to you all .Too many to mention who help out in our Country Park, those who pick up other folks litter , those who help to cut back overgrowth , those who always answer the call for workdays. THANKS to you all, Chrissy , David, Chris, Jenny, Paul, Bill…….The list is extensive and covers many ages and both genders. All of these hardy souls do not sit back and whine “something must be done”, they get out there and do it !

I know that through August and September your garden birds have been quiet and less in evidence . This is perfectly normal and is as a result of their annual moult when they feel vunerable , so don’t sing and tend to skulk. By now they will be coming back and this is a good time to establish a feeding station in your garden to ensure plenty of winter entertainment from a convenient window.

Provide clean water and a variety of foods in your chosen spot and enjoy.  Remember keep it clean and regular. Small quantities at first to avoid attracting vermin. Just one reason to look forward to winter. Lastly, a date for your diary…

 

Saturday October 12th    Crocus planting in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield

All welcome, just bring your trowel, and dig it ! 

 

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Sutton Coldfield.

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

 


Lichfield – the city of the summer

Lichfield, it seems, is on the map and we’re attracting famous people. Maybe Princess Anne started it with her visit to Beacon Park back in the spring. Or perhaps Bob Geldof, sighted wondering around the city last year, or our very own Tony Christie.

The truth is that Lichfield has a vibrant arts and social scene, and this summer we’re set to play host to many more famous and talented people. People like comedians Alan Davies and Chris Addison, Tracey Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson and celebrated singers Elkie Brooks and Laura Mvula. There’s even an audience with Sir David Frost at the Garrick on 13th June.

Festival fever

The line-up of events is just as impressive. The Lichfield Festival bursts into life on 4th July for 10 days of music, dance, comedy and more, at venues all around the city. This jewel in the crown of our city’s cultural life draws performers and visitors from around the world, such is its reputation as one of the premier festivals of the summer season. Grab a programme from the Festival Office in Cathedral Close and pray that there are still some tickets left.

The other big summer event in Lichfield is Fuse – the free music and arts “event in a tent” at Beacon Park from 12th to 14th July. This year’s theme is “Keep it Local”, so pack your picnic bag, slap on the sunscreen (nothing wrong with a little optimism), and wander down to your local festival, which just happens to be one of the biggest free community events in the Midlands.

Activity overdrive

The summer holidays brings a host of activities and events which could keep you and the kids going every day for 6 weeks. Three of the best are Beacon Park fun days, the Staffordshire Regiment Museum Discovery Days and Erasmus Darwin House Wacky Wednesdays.

So there you have it; Lichfield, our lovely, lively, little city of the summer. Famous faces, world-renowned events, and a summer calendar packed with exciting activities. Enjoy!

This article appears in Recommended Lichfield Magazine, delivered free

to homes and businesses in Lichfield and surrounding area’s.


A Gem of a Jewellers

Tucked away in Blewitt Court on Bore Street there’s a rare gem of a jewellers that’s worth discovering. esjewellery came to Lichfield almost 10 years ago and have established a firm following with their friendly and unpretentious style.

Jewellery Repairs

In the shop you will be dazzled by Pandora, Thomas Sabo and other contemporary designer names. But there’s more to this story than the glitter of famous brands. The ES stands for Emma and Steve, the husband and wife team who cut their teeth in Birmingham’s famous jewellery quarter and who are both accomplished designers in their own right. Both went to the School of Jewellery in Birmingham and Steve has been repairing and making jewellery for almost 30 years.

“We sometimes worry that people don’t realise we repair jewellery, and also that we design and remodel jewellery. Almost everything is done by us here on the premises in Lichfield so there is no risk or delay.”

Renew your Jewellery

esjewellery specialise in bringing old jewellery to life with new designs. Perhaps you’ve inherited a bracelet or a ring with precious stones but time has taken its toll and it is either damaged or dated. “We can reset the stones into something more contemporary, giving it a new lease of life but honouring its past and the special place it has in your heart,” says Steve.

Fit for a Princess

Emma’s talent lies in the rare art of designing and making wedding rings that fit exactly with your engagement ring. The process involves making a wax model of your wedding ring. This allows you to see how it looks and to make design adjustments before the actual ring is cast in gold or platinum. Emma says, “A wedding ring is so personal and you can be part of the design process to get it absolutely right. We can also do ring sizing and polishing while you wait.”

Pandora Summer Event!

On Saturday 15th June esjewellery are showcasing the new Pandora collection for summer 2013. A free Pandora spacer is yours when you spend over £50, and there are goodies and a glass of Pimms for everyone. It’s the ideal time to discover this gem of a jewellers.

This article appears in Lichfield Recommended Magazine, delivered free to homes and business in

Lichfield and surrounding area’s.


It’s Carnival Time in Sutton Coldfield again!

After fears that there would be no carnival at all in Sutton Coldfield this year, now there’s a bigger one than ever. It takes place over two days at the end of June, proving that this 50 year old event has a special place in the life of the community.

The fun starts on Saturday 29th June at Meadow Platt in Sutton Park with a giant children’s picnic. The will be food, fun and games for up to 200 local children and their families.

The Carnival is the following day, Sunday 30th June, and it looks set to be a vintage year with all the usual favourite stalls and activities, including the final of the WOW Factor singing competition and the Sunday Afternoon Laze acoustic sessions; plus the addition this year of a beach!

August Antics in Sutton Park

It’s a fantastic line up but we’re the first to admit that one carnival does not a summer make. So what else is happening this summer in Sutton Coldfield?

Look no further than Sutton Park. We sometimes forget how lucky we are to have this oasis in our midst; an historic landscape covering an area of over 2,000 acres and attracting more than two million visits every year. Special activities this year include the Sutton 6 Pack and August Antics – ranger organised events which will keep the whole family happy. Pop into the Visitor Centre at Town Gate to find out more.

Whatever the Weather

There may be the odd rainy day, not too many we hope; so what’s happening away from the weather? A trip to the newly re-opened library is a good start, where you’ll find a brand new children’s section and an exciting “Once upon a time” story area.

There’s a family festival at the town Hall on 16th June from 12pm to 4pm, called Mum’s the Word, celebrating family life. Also, check out the summer’s blockbusters at the Empire, Sutton’s wonderful art deco cinema.

There’s plenty going on, so enjoy your Sutton summer, 2013.

This article appears in Sutton Coldfield Recommended Magazine, delivered free to 40,000 homes

and businesses in Sutton Coldfield and surrounding area’s. 


Property – Are there sunny skies ahead for the property market?

Figures recently released show that the number of residential properties sold rose by 5% in 2012 to 932,000, the highest since 2007. No one should get too over-excited by this; that figure is almost exactly half the number of properties sold in the 2006-07 financial year and is a drop in the ocean compared to the 2.2 million that changed hands in 1988. However, one encouraging sign is that almost all this increase took place in the final quarter of the year as the funding for lending scheme (FLS) began to take effect.

 

More money is being pumped into the FLS and the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) is predicting that the number of properties sold in 2013 should rise significantly once again. Both the Halifax and Nationwide are predicting that house prices will remain flat this year, but they could be wrong. Even if they are right, that is not the end of the world; rapidly rising prices can create just as many problems as rapidly falling ones. The important thing is that volumes are increasing and there is growing evidence that the mortgage rationing that has suppressed demand for the last four years is beginning to ease. I would think that increasing demand should feed through into at least modest price rises, particularly when you look at what is happening to rental costs.

 

Although output in construction continues to fall, a lot of that is linked to cuts in government spending. Most large house builders are in rude health and laying out plans for major developments, helped by the relaxation of planning laws.

 

If you feel the time has come to upsize or you are looking to take your first step on the property ladder, 2013 could be the year to do it. Mortgages are cheap and becoming more plentiful and there is an increase in the number of properties coming on the market. Why not give your friendly local estate agent (or better still 3 or 4 of them) a call and ask them for a valuation?

This article recently appeared in Walmley Pages,

a local magazine delivered free to homes in the B76 postcode

including Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and Minworth

Craig Brown


Should you be completing a Tax Return?

Under the self-assessment system, certain taxpayers are liable to complete a Return; if they are a Director of a company, if they are self-employed, have income over £100,000, if their expenses claim exceeds £2,500, or if there is untaxed income in excess of £2,500 or capital gains.  This year there is also a new category of taxpayer required to complete a return – those who are required to pay the High Income Child Benefit charge. This new tax charge is anticipated to affect approximately 1.2 million families where one or both of the couple earns more than £50,000.

If you fall into one of the above criteria, you do need to ensure that you obtain a tax reference and file a tax return for the year ended 5 April 2013 by 31 January 2014.  Failure to file a return on time does create huge penalty issues; a return three months late could result in penalties in excess of £900 even if the person owes no tax!

If you have received a 2012/13 Tax Return, then you have until 31 October 2013 if you want to complete a paper version; after that date you are obliged to file electronically by 31 January 2014.

Common areas where you might need some advice regarding the entries on your Tax Return:-

·         You are self-employed or a director of a limited company.

·         You want to claim for expenditure incurred personally in respect of your employment. This could include your professional subscriptions or for business mileage undertaken in your own car

·         You receive income from property. This could be from a ‘buy-to-let’ property, a holiday home that you let or even a lodger in your own home.

·         You have a variety of investment income sources, such as a managed investment portfolio, and differing rates of tax have been deducted at source.

·         You are a higher rate taxpayer and you regularly make Gift Aid donations or personal pension contributions so wish to claim additional tax relief.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village

This article appears in Walmley Pages, a local magazine delivered free to homes in the B76 postcode.


Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

CG Computing Tips –   Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

1. Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert Copy the highlighted text or selected item.

2. Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert Paste the text or object that’s in the clipboard.

3. Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y Undo any change. For example, if you cut text, pressing this will undo it. This can also often be pressed multiple times to undo multiple changes. Pressing Ctrl + Y would redo the undo.

4. Ctrl + F Open the Find in any program. This includes your Internet browser to find text on the current page.

5. Alt + Tab or Alt + Esc Quickly switch between open programs moving forward. Tip: Press Ctrl + Tab to switch between tabs in a program. Tip: Windows Vista and 7 users can also press the Windows Key + Tab to switch through open programs in a full screenshot of the Window.

6. Ctrl + Back space and Ctrl + Left or Right arrow Pressing Ctrl + Backspace will delete a full word at a time instead of a single character.

Holding down the Ctrl key while pressing the left or right arrow will move the cursor one word at a time instead of one character at a time. If you wanted to highlight one word at a time you can hold down Ctrl + Shift and then press the left or right arrow key to move one word at a time in that direction while highlighting each word.

7. Ctrl + S While working on a document or other file in almost every program pressing Ctrl + S will save that file. This shortcut key should be used frequently anytime you’re working on anything important.

8. Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + End Move the cursor to the beginning or end of a document.

9. Ctrl + P Print the page being viewed. For example, the document in Microsoft Word or the web page in your Internet browser.

10. Page Up, Space bar, and Page Down Pressing either the page up or page down key will move that page one page at a time in that direction. When browsing the Internet pressing the space bar will also move the page down one page at a time. If you press Shift and the Space bar the page will go up a page at a time.

Article supplied by C G Computing based in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local publication delivered free to homes in Sutton Coldfield post code B76

 


Tax Tips Starting a Business – What Do You Need To Do?

Welcome to the Hill Lillis & Company  Tax Tips.

One of the most challenging things you may do is to set up a new business, our primary advice is “Do what you love, love what you do”. Your business is going to be your        livelihood – you should have a good time doing it, but make sure you get the ground work sorted from the outset; it helps to prevent a whole load of future problems!

Firstly you need to decide how you are going to trade; the main choices are as a sole trader; as a partnership, through a LLP or through an incorporated structure. Each has different tax and accounting consequences and needs to be registered in a different way. Once you have set up the business you will need to notify HM Revenue & Customs:

 

  • A limited company needs to be register for Corporation tax
  • A sole trader or partnership needs to register as self-employed and this will also         include registration for class 2 self-employed national insurance.
  • CIS registration is necessary if you intend to work within the construction industry
  • If you have employees then you will need to set up a payroll system and operate PAYE, advising HMRC as you make payments to your staff.
  • VAT registration is also necessary if your turnover exceeds the relevant thresholds. For certain B2B trades you might wish to consider registering for VAT even if you do not expect to reach these thresholds, particularly if there is a flat rate VAT scheme that can be used to simplify your VAT computations.

 

As well as notifying HMRC there are many other factors you will have to consider for your new business:

 

A Business plan is very useful; it enables you to set out your goals and plan how you will achieve them, particularly how your cash flow will cope.

Your business will probably need a business bank account and you may need to obtain additional start-up funding.

You will probably need to arrange business insurance, this could include public     liability, employee liability, trade insurance, professional indemnity, premises or vehicle insurance.

You will need to ensure you are keeping proper business records.

 

We offer a free 30 minute consultation, so if you would like any additional information regarding the above or any other tax issues concerning you, then please contact us or visit us in our offices in Walmley Village, Sutton Coldfield.

This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free to homes in Sutton Coldfield, postcode B76

 


Snowflakes and Sore Losers

Sometimes February seems the longest darkest month of the year, even though we all know that it is the shortest. It is also the hardest for our native fauna to survive. Please remember the wildings outside your window and put out some feed and water for them. If at all possible feed little and often, keep feeding stations clean and provide fresh water. It`s only chicken feed but it`s always going cheep.

 

It seems that our battle to change the Boundary Commission proposals to merge us with Erdington was won. However, it appears that the spoilt kindergarten inmates that we elect to parliament to represent us had a fit of the sulks and will not even get to debate or discuss the proposals. All because the LibDems feel slighted over Lords reform, which WAS debated but rejected. This used to be called democracy. Can someone explain to me why we bothered. What a waste of emotion, mobilisation and demonstration of community in action, all for nothing. Baulked by a party with just 8-10 percent of the vote. They should all be ashamed.( I needed to say that !)

 

Imagine the cold stygian darkness of a January morning replaced by sparkly clear light. Waking to a quiet and cold morning after it snowed even I rose earlier than norm. The grim grey world became a wonderland to be enjoyed by families and friends who seemed not to mind being cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world. eing cold and wet but were rosy cheeked and happy out playing together. Even the publisher of this modest booklet was out with sledge and kids (yes, I saw you , Richard). Whatever the weather, get outside and enjoy our green or white world.

This article appears in the February edition of  Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free each month to homes in the B76 postcode in Sutton Coldfield.

Article written by Jeff Gilbert or Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.

 


Fashion – Winter Coats 2012/2013

The most popular length this year is to the middle of the knee and midi. Faux fur is big; from full fur to a furry collar or hood, cropped or long, leopard printed or plain, fading out colour, shaggy….the choice is yours! Leather is popular, mostly seen as large block inserts or for collars, cuffs or hem. The puffer is back but discards its previous sleeping bag image as it appears with a more structured shape, embellished or with graphic print.

 

Oversized coat anyone? Exaggerated proportions with wide set shoulders are popular; ensure they are not ill fitting – sleeves should fall to just below the wrists. Warning – petite figures can look swamped in this style! But they do allow plenty of space to layer on snugly jumpers beneath if you don’t mind looking a little larger than usual.

 

Once again, the military style is king – choose woollen coats with leather trim, double breasted with shoulder straps or a classic trench coat. Fashionistas are loving this look which can be feminine and flattering. Coats without fasteners are also bang on trend; they won’t offer the best protection against the cold but you will look hot! Fasten with your own belt to warm them up or choose a coat with hidden fasteners.

 

This year’s colour palette is either subdued shades or brights; you can merge with the crowd or stand out. The classic black and white shades are always current – this year a black and white combo is also popular. Vividly contrasting colour blocks feature too, or choose a coat that plays on light and dark shades of the same colour. Imitation snakeskin print and animal print are hot and, for knitted coats, pastels are a great choice if you want to look smart and professional.

 

All ready to face the elements? Let it snow!

Sarah Hughes

This article appeared in Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered free to 8,000 homes in the

B76 postcode area, including Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and Minworth.


DIY for Beginners – Chalk Board Walls

Forget stuff pinned to your fridge –use your wall instead!  Use masking tape to define the area you want to paint.  Make sure it’s stuck properly so the paint doesn’t leak.  Using a roller, fill the area with chalk board paint making sure you get good, even coverage.  Two layers should be plenty.  Use a little paintbrush to get the corners perfect and then scribe to your hearts content.