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I Love The Cake

We are a local, Walmley based company who specialise in making cakes in all shapes and sizes, and teaching the world the art of cupcake decorating through workshops! Our chief cake baker and decorator has always had a passion for baking cakes, since being a wee small girl. She dreamt that one day she’d be able to offer delicious cakes of all shapes and sizes – the likes of which she’d only seen in glossy magazines – to anyone who wanted one! It started with cakes for family and friends birthdays and anniversaries, and soon people started to want to give her money for her cakes…I Love the Cake was born in October 2011, and has gone from strength to strength since.

We were finalists in The Mall Retail Factor 2012 – you may even have bought a tasty treat from our time in The Mall over the Easter period this year – and you may have sampled our delights at the Sutton Carnival this year! We make cakepops, cupcakes, celebration cakes, cake truffles and most recently, cookies – nothing sweet is safe from our oven!

We also run a number of workshops each month for adults and children on weekends, evenings and weekdays for people like you (yes, you!) to learn the basics like how to create beautiful swirls, decorations and co-ordinate your colours. Will your friends and family believe you created them yourself? Probably not – depends how trusting they are!! BUT you will go home with 6 cupcakes you have lovingly decorated with your own hard-working hands, in a presentation box and some helpful guides and recipes to help you at home. All you need to bring is 2.5 hours of your precious time, an apron and a sense of humour – we’ll provide the rest. Including copious amounts of tea!!

If you are in a cake pickle, and would like to swing by and have a cuppa, a cake and a chat about how to get out of said pickle, drop us a line – we can help you!

Maria Higginson

Chief Baker and Tester

I Love the Cake – 07793 131918

This article featured in Walmley Pages Magazine


Trust and Rust

Is there any one left that has earned or deserves our trust ? All of our major institutions have recently been tested and all have been found seriously wanting. Politicians on the fiddle and not listening, Journalists with the ethics of the playground, Bankers without any ethics at all . Even Doctors and Police trying to hang on to unrealistic pension rewards that you and I could only dream of. Do these people think that they are entitled to have so much more than “ordinary” folk ? On what basis and at what level do they disconnect from real life to attain their “superstatus” of entitlement that the rest of us have to contribute to? Unfortunately the only checks and levers of control are held in their own hands and in the hands of their peers . They aint going to change it any time soon!   On the brighter side of life , I cannot tell you how relieved I am that the boffins under the Alps have found the Higgs boson. Just like the car keys or my spectacles , I knew we had put it somewhere safe and can now relax. Can the Cern collider now put in a no win , no fee claim for whiplash ?  Butterflies . Could there be any more cheerful or colourful sign of summertime than the sight of butterflies floating over a wildflower meadow? Down in the Valley we must be doing something right. In 1999 there were recorded just 9 varieties of butterfly. So far this year , up to mid July, our hardy if rain rusted recorders, Bob and Steve have clocked up a magnificent 14 species. If the weather decides to improve sometime this year maybe this total can be surpassed. Keep looking fellers.

Jeff Gilbert

Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley
This article appeared in Walmley Pages Magazine


June and Jubilee

May has run it’s course and we enter June. This is the month that contains the longest day , so after that it will be all downhill. May seemed to forget that it is supposed to be our best spring month and decided to make liars of the Water Companies who declared a drought. Wetness returned with a  vengeance and our brooks, rivers and lakes filled fast. The countryside greened like never before . All the early flowers and blossom went head down in the drizzle and I expect that lots of us stayed in and missed the first flora of the year. What we did not miss was the arrival of our first swifts and swallows , who could be seen searching the sky for a meagre ration of their favourite insect fare. Also our garden birds started off their breeding season with tits, blackbirds and dunnocks all very active .The tits in particular are now feeding young in a non-stop frenzy. Someone somewhere with nothing better to do has estimated that each year Blue Tit parents feed to their young no less than 35billion moth caterpillars. Even without any of the other sources of food that is a lot of trips to nature’s supermarket !

At last ,as I write this in the last week of May , the sun has come out and we have the sun on our backs and faces . Why does the first real sunshine of the year affect people in such funny ways ?

Please look in the mirror before you come out and ask yourself or your   partner “do I really look OK in this or should it stay in that dark cupboard?”

Finally of course, in whatever way you please, celebrate and enjoy the     Jubilee Holiday, it may be the last time we have such an occasion again. Congratulations to our Queen and mind your step on that boat trip.

 

Jeff Gilbert

This article appeared in the June 2012 edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 8,000 homes in

Walmley and surrounding area’s.

 


The Sporting Life

Half the year gone, nights drawing in, what happened? July this year is sandwiched between the Jubilee and the Olympics. Still, not wishing to waste good telly time it seems that there is a football competition occurring to fill the gap, and not to forget Wimbledon. Blimey, I’m worn out all ready. We are now in the real summer of our seasons and hopefully St Swithin will be kind to us and it will not rain on the 15th and stay dry for the Olympics. The vibrant colours of spring are being replaced by the more muted midsummer greens and tans as the early spontaneity of flower and blossom dies away. The young and juveniles of foxes, hedgehogs and muntjac are striving for independence. Birds that not long ago were highly sexed and brightly coloured now seem quieter and subdued. Maybe just cream crackered ‘cos kids can be demanding can’t they ? Oh yes I have just remembered, our school holidays start this month as well. Back to nature, I am often asked whether we should feed the birds during the summer in our gardens. The answer is a definite Yes. If the birds are used to coming to your garden for food, i.e. an established feeding station then keep them coming by still putting out small amounts of their favourite foods but do not overfeed. Water is still also very important. In this way we can help the birds recover from the ravages of the breeding season and ensure a thriving population to amuse us in those short winter days. It is a two way process, you get your garden kept clear of grubs and bugs and the birds get a easy living summer, win win for all. Two months now and no mention of politics and no rants. Can I keep it up? Wait and see.

Jeff Gilbert

Article features in the July 2012 edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 8,000 homes in

Walmley and the surrounding areas

 

 


May and Meadows

May is the real heart of an English spring. It is the month when we realize that winter is finally over and summer is before us. The birds and bees are doing that which birds and bees do, blossoms and blooms are fresh and bright. The month holds such promise,…and yet it could also be cold and wet and windy. Who knows what this May holds in store ? We can only hope that our first open day of the year at the New Hall Water Mill will bless us with a fine day. On Sunday the 13th we invite visitors to come and see the mill working as it has for the last three centuries. Grinding local grain by water power into fresh bread making flour. There is no charge to visit , a field to park in and a tearoom to enjoy. If you have not yet visited us please try this year, we are open on the second Sunday of May, June, July, August and September. You will not be disappointed. On the June open day we will be taking a walk into the Valley to search out and try to identify the many varieties of wild flowers that now have established in a couple of the meadows. Come and join us and see what we can discover. The range and diversity of wildflowers seems to have increased greatly since the mowing regime of “cut and collect” has been used over the past couple of summers. This means that while seed has time to drop to the ground ,the cuttings which would enrich the soil if left ,are collected and used for hay.         Wildflowers dislike good soil and thrive on poor ground.

Whilst on the subject of poor ground, I trust that you voted in the local   election. Boring as it seems, it remains the only voice that we civilians have. If you do not vote then do not moan. Remember, we get the politicians and government that we deserve, local or national

 

 

Jeff Gilbert

New Hall Water Mill

New Hall Water Mill

This article appeared in the May 2012 edition of Walmley Pages Magazine, delivered to 8,000 homes in

Walmley and surrounding area’s

 


Health – Sleep

The average adult in Sutton Coldfield now sleeps for less than 7 hours per night, but most of us need 8 hours. Even a minimal reduction in sleep affects your mood, efficiency and energy levels. Sleep is made up of stages and cycles which restore and refresh the mind and so, to stay healthy and perform optimally, getting 8 hours sleep is a necessity rather than a luxury! (more…)


Property – Is spring in the air for property market?

The news in the property market makes pretty grim reading. Average prices have fallen slightly over the last year and are predicted to stay flat in 2012; mortgage lending is still subdued while minimum deposits remain high and sales volumes are close to an all time low. The strange thing is it really doesn’t feel like that to me; it feels like spring is in the air. (more…)


Daffs and Longer Days

What a traditional March we have just had. Worked at the Mill in hot sunshine, walked in freezing sleet across the Valley with the grandkids, went to work in thick fog, took my vest off and put it back on , been warm and wet, cold and dry. Now we have changed the clocks and I hope April is kinder to us all. We have just passed the spring equinox so let`s see if this spring lives up to our expectations (ignoring, of course, the last Budget!) Already the snowdrops and crocuses are over for another year and the daffodils are at their last gasp. Must just mention the Walmley Get Real group who organised last years daffodil planting. To all who took part many thanks, the  village centre has enjoyed a great spring show.

Lots of things to remember this month. Let`s make a show of a few flags for the 23rd , St George`s Day. I realise that George is not a good role model , what with killing endangered species ( dragons ) and running off with maidens but at least he is ours , or Turkish or Maltese or whatever. Early Easter to celebrate in the usual way, Church and chocolate, buns and bunnies.

Down in the Valley the spring surge and urge is there to be seen and heard. From the increase in song from our many and varied birds  (70 species so far) to the flowering of first the blackthorn , followed by the hawthorn. It always gives a lift to the heart of everyone who is alert enough to notice these subtle changes and rhythms.  Remember that you have to get out there to fully experience and enjoy a real British spring, it only comes once a year!

Jeff Gilbert

 

This article appeared in the April 2012 edition of Walmley Pages Magazine,

delivered to 8,000 in Walmey and surrounding area’s


Easter Fun at Bathrooms4All

Come and hunt for an Easter Egg at Bathrooms4All, Erdington from 6th – 9th April.  Everyone who finds an egg will receive a free Easter Egg and, if you order in store after finding one you’ll receive an extra 10% off your order (in addition to the sale discount!) or a free bathroom mirror!  Kids and parents will both be happy.  So if you’re looking for a new bathroom and some Easter fun, why not visit Bathrooms4All in Erdington.

Bathrooms4All, 1163 Chester Road, Erdington, Birmingham, B24 0QY     0121 382 0403

Bathrooms4All are featured in Walmley Pages and Recommended Sutton Coldfield


Recipe – Curry Roast Scallops

Unusual recipe for readers of Recommended Sutton Coldfield and Walmley Pages

Serves 4

Ingredients

16 scallops

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mild curry powder

50g butter

1 lemon

100g peeled & chopped parsnips

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp coriander seed

1 tsp fenugreek seed

100ml cream

100ml milk

2 granny smith apples

 

Method Start by making the parsnip puree; toast the cumin, fenugreek and coriander seeds in a pan, then add the chopped parsnip, milk & cream. Cook this mix until tender, then puree in a food processor until it is smooth and lump free. For the apple salad, just grate the apple on the coarse part of a grater, or cut into match stick sized strips.

Now for the scallops; mix the curry powder with the salt and season the scallops well, heat a pan until very hot, then add a little olive oil and allow this to come up to temperature. Add the scallops and cook for just one minute each side, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little – 2 minutes should be long enough. Add the butter and lemon juice; shake the pan to emulsify the butter with the lemon juice. Serve with a little of the pan sauce and fresh coriander sprouts.

Daniel Jimminson Restaurateur

Recipe featured in Walmley Pages Magazine,

delivered to 8000 home in Sutton Coldfield


Motoring – Convertibles You Can Use Everyday

The appeal of a convertible is plain to see – good looks, especially with the top down, and the joys of wind in your hair motoring. Most of us need to use our cars all the time, though, and need practicality too – space for four passengers and their luggage, good build quality and reliability and, most importantly in this day and age, low running costs. Here are four ways to have your cake and eat it.

 

Volvo C70 (2006 to present) Based on the S40, the C70 is undoubtedly the best looking Volvo you can buy. It has an all singing, all dancing folding metal roof, all the safety features you could wish for and the ride, handling and refinement of a luxury  saloon. There are some hugely powerful   Turbos in the engine line up but I’d go for Volvo’s excellent 2.4 litre D5 diesel; it delivers all the performance you could wish for but still manages 40mpg around town. Better still, there’s plenty of room for 4 adults and a  commodious boot. A 2007 model with 75k on the clock can be yours for a very reasonable £8,500. For: Looks, quality, refinement, performance Against: Antique dealer connotations

 

BMW 320d Convertible (2000 to 2005) I still maintain that the last generation 3 series was the best that BMW has ever made and the convertible version totally proves my point. It is a stunning looker, particularly with the top down, and still sets the benchmark today as an all-round dynamic package. The silky smooth 3.0 litre straight six is hard to resist but I’ve gone for the most excellent 2.0 litre diesel which will punt you up to 62mph in 9.7 seconds but still give better than 50 mpg on a run. They are surprisingly expensive; £8000 puts you in a 05 plate with a hefty 85,000 miles under its belt. For: Lovely looks, great to drive, very economical Against: Last year’s model

Audi A4 Cabriolet (2000 to 2005) Ever since Princess Di bought one, the A4 Cabriolet has been an Audi icon. Underneath the celebrity glamour it is actually a very good car. It combines timelessly elegant looks with peerless build quality and precise handling. Audi makes the best diesel engines in the business and the 2.5 V6 is one of their finest. This is a car that will hit 140 yet still average 39mpg in mixed motoring. The Diana effect is still noticeable in the prices; you will need to stump up £8k for a 2004 version that has covered 60,000 miles. For: Style, build quality, performance. Against: Pricey, overly firm ride

Saab 9-3 Convertible  (2003 to present) Saab has had its ups and downs over recent years but the 9-3 soft top has been a consistent success story. The styling is still crisp 8 years down the line and it retains   several of the quirky features that Saab  loyalists cherish so dearly. Mechanically it has been left behind though; the 150bhp 1.9 diesel takes a painful 11.2 seconds to drag it up to 62 and the scuttle shake and under steer are relics of yesteryear. On the plus side, it is a reasonably well built old bruiser and there is plenty of room in the cabin. It’s relatively cheap too, a four year old with a mere 45,000 miles on it will cost you £7,500.

For: A handsome old brute, Saab individuality, value for money Against: Poor performance and economy, handling

 

Have you been persuaded?  Perhaps we will be seeing more convertibles in Sutton Coldfield soon.

 

This motoring feature appeared in Walmley Pages Magazine,

delivered to 8000 home in Sutton Coldfield


Travel – Viva Riva

I first heard about Riga from friends who had been for a stag weekend there; like Prague and other ex-Soviet Bloc cities, it is well established on the lad’s stag circuit. Unlike my friends, I decided to go for a romantic weekend with my girlfriend and, also rather differently, we went in  February when the temperature routinely plummets to -25°C. An act of madness? – let’s find out! 

Riga is the capital of Latvia, a country I had never heard of, which lies on the other side of the Baltic from    Sweden. Until 1991, it was part of Soviet Russia but it doesn’t feel like a Russian city, although you sometimes sense a world of gangsters and black marketers lurking beneath the surface.  In fact, some of the bars are run by gangs and exist solely to fleece unwary male tourists – a pretty girl will get chatting to you and ask you to buy her a drink; when the bill arrives it will be for several hundred pounds. It happened to a friend of mine so beware!

The main tourist area is  centred around the old town which is incredibly pretty and looks like something from the lid of a chocolate box. If you are into your  architecture, it is apparently the best example of art deco architecture in Europe. There is a nice mixture of         museums, bars and restaurants in the old town and it’s a lovely place to have a  wander around. All of   Northern Europe had been experiencing a seriously cold winter when we went and it was so cold in Riga that  people were skating on the river. We knew what to   expect though and had brought ski clothes along and it was actually good fun wandering around in the snow.

 

Latvia has its own currency, the Lati, and one of them is worth about £1.20.   Everything in the old town costs twice as much as   anywhere else in the city but, even so, a beer is still a very reasonable £2.40. We stayed in a small independent hotel in a lovely old building just outside the old town and it was charming and incredibly friendly. Our extremely  comfortable double room cost just £48 per night. The restaurants in Riga serve just about every type of food you can think of, though quite a few specialise in  Russian or Latvian food. On our first night we pushed the boat out and went to a place called Vincent’s and had a fantastic meal – not bad for £25 per head. The following night we went to a Russian place and ate our fill of stodgy but delicious grub, essential to soak up all the vodka they ply you with.

 

Our second day was taken up with a visit to the central market which sells all manner of things, many of them a bit dodgy, so I stocked up on suspiciously cheap Marlboros. The covered area of the market is built from a recycled   hangar that used to house Zeppelin airships, not   something you see in Sutton Coldfield. In the afternoon we did probably the most terrifying and   exhilarating thing I’ve ever done in my life, went on a genuine bobsleigh ride. We were the two passengers in between a professional driver and brakeman. I doubt that they go at full speed but you still hit 80mph and it is a huge adrenaline rush – not for the faint hearted!

 

Riga is a great place for Sutton Coldfield residents to go for a short city break; just try to avoid the tourist bars and, if you go in the winter, make sure you wrap up warm!

Matthew Trent

This article features in Walmley Pages Magazine, Sutton Coldfield


Sutton Coldfield Property – Can you afford a sustainable home?

I’ve recently watched the two episodes of Kevin’s Grand Design. Kevin McCloud, the Grand Designs presenter, has previously confined his efforts to observing other people’s attempts to build their dream home. Now he has put his money where his mouth is and has invested in a project to build 42 homes on a new development in Swindon. This development is not just about building a few houses; it is an attempt to build a sustainable “happy” community. Some of the houses are to be sold; can they be sustainable and still fetch the market price?

 

The sustainable features differed from a standard new build in a number of areas. Each house would have a huge “chimney” which was in effect a ventilation shaft. All the houses would be rendered in “hempcrete,” a highly   insulating material which is also carbon neutral. The lofts were insulated with sheep’s wool which is sustainable but also bulky and expensive. Other eco-friendly ideas included a boggy common area that would soak up rainwater, a communal allotment and the concept of parking your car in the garden so that it didn’t clutter up the shared area in front of the houses.

 

The extra cost of the sustainable elements had to come off the budget in other areas; the kitchens were very cheap and nasty and there were no built in storage areas at all. The net result was that the houses earmarked for sale could not be sold at the break-even price of £160,000. As an estate agent trying to sell one of these houses a few years down the line, I’d have a number of     problems. Hempcrete is an unproven product so any surveyor is bound to have issues with it. An upmarket kitchen invariably adds value and makes a house easier to sell. Family homes with no storage space are notoriously hard to shift and off road parking that takes up your garden is never going to work.

 

I love Grand Designs but if I want a few tips on property developing I’ll stick to Sarah Beeny.

 

Craig Brown – Estate Agent

Article features in Walmley Pages Magazine, Sutton Coldfield


Walmley Pages – IT and Media – Is the internet losing its sting?

 

The latest internet scam to affect Sutton Coldfield residents comes in the form of Android apps that contain illegal malware. What happens is this; you download a popular App such as Angry Birds from Android Market, which is Google’s version of Apple’s App Store. The download  appears to fail but that’s okay as you haven’t been charged for it. What has actually happened is that you have just given your phone “permission” to send a text message that will add £3 to your phone bill. This is a fairly widespread problem; a  security consultancy identified 27 apps on  Android Market that contained this malware, its name is RuFraud, and estimated that they had been downloaded some 140,000 times. Google has now removed all the infected apps.

It was glaringly obvious that this problem was going to occur. Google has never  vetted any of the apps that are listed on Android Market and even made a big deal of it, claiming they wanted to create an “open” marketplace. They may now have to rethink this strategy, particularly when you consider that Amazon has put its financial weight behind its own app market where every app is vetted before it can be listed.

Let’s put this latest scam in perspective though; admittedly, 140,000 people have each lost £3 and that is annoying, particularly for Google, but it is hardly the end of the world. Compare that to some of the other plagues that have stalked the internet over the years and it pales into insignificance. The most prolific internet scam that has generated the greatest losses has to be phishing which has been around for an         astonishing 15 years. This is where you receive an email purporting to be from your bank or credit card company asking you to enter your account details, user id and password. These details are then used to transfer money out of your account or buy things on your credit card. Countless people have lost thousands of pounds through phishing scams; globally losses are  estimated in the billions of dollars.

Then there are computer viruses, normally  transmitted by email, that do anything from slowing down your operating system to wiping your entire hard disk, many of which seem to have been created simply for the malicious  pleasure of causing the maximum amount of inconvenience to as many people as possible. Or what about malware – spybots, worms and   Trojans that can hijack your computer and use it to send spam emails, or record your keystrokes, or enable someone to spy on every email you send or website you visit.

The thing is, all of these threats are receding and I put this down to three developments. The first is the creation of anti-spam software that is  selective, effective and inexpensive. Computer viruses and phishing scams operate via email so anti-spam software greatly  reduces the threat from them. Secondly, anti-virus software is now highly developed and free versions are available online, from AVG for instance. This means that even if a virus should evade your anti-spam software or arrive on a memory stick, it will be detected and quarantined before it can do any damage. Finally, anti-malware software is now  extremely sophisticated and is usually incorporated in anti-virus software; Windows 7 and the latest version of Internet Explorer also have malware protection built in. Malware is not transmitted via email but rather via the internet – you can pick up a Trojan Horse simply by going on the wrong website – so this is a  major development.

I admit that there are issues around social media these days but these are more to do with privacy than internet security. There’s a simple solution, don’t post information online that you wouldn’t be happy for anyone to see.

The Wild West was eventually tamed. It is my firm belief that one day the internet will be to.

Graham Iek – IT Consultant

Article featured in Walmley Pages Magazine, Sutton Coldfield

 

 

 


Smoking Cessation

Smokers in Sutton Coldfield don’t worry – this article is not going to be another lecture about stopping smoking! You have to want to give up the cigarettes yourself; without a strong desire and determination to stop, you won’t achieve it, however much your partner would like you to. These days, we are all aware of the health risks that come with cigarette smoking; if and when you decide to quit, smoking cessation can occur with or without assistance from health care professionals or the use of medication, but there are a few things that can make life a bit easier:

 

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), in the form of patches, inhalers, gum, nasal spray, lozenges or microtabs can be really helpful. Your GP, pharmacist or your local NHS Stop Smoking Service can help you choose the treatment that will be most effective for you. This is dependent on many factors, such as how many cigarettes you smoke or whether you light up first thing in the morning. NRTs are a temporary aid to help you through the tough initial withdrawal period. Some smoking cessations treatments, such as Bupropion Hydrochloride are available on prescription only.

 

Cigarette withdrawal can also be aided with complementary therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis and meditation. These can be used alone or in conjunction with NRT or other smoking cessation medications. Hypnosis has become known for its ability to change behaviours quickly by relaxing the mind enough to identify unconscious triggers. Acupuncture is a technique derived from traditional Chinese medicine that uses tiny needles to stimulate certain points on the body; for smokers, the idea is to help reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms throughout the body. Meditation is intended to relax the body and refocus thoughts; it is claimed that meditation releases dopamine in the brain, a process similar to nicotine triggering, the relaxing feeling that smokers crave.

 

If you are ready to quit, well done to you! Keep strong and motivated and enjoy a healthier and wealthier 2012!

Phoebe Hodge

 

For further information see www.smokefree.nhs.uk

Article featured in Walmley Pages Magazine, Sutton Coldfield


Sutton’s Kidz UK Sponsored Skydive

A number of willing volunteers will be jumping out of an aeroplane at 10,000 feet and freefalling for 5000 feet before floating back to earth on a tandem skydive.  They are doing this to help raise the funds to enable Andi Markham and the Sutton Coldfield based KidsUK team to continue to share the great message in the unique, fun and unforgettable way they do with thousands of children in our local schools.  Many children in Sutton Coldfield will recognise Andi and of course his friends Jack and Grandad. They’re hoping to raise £2000 by doing this.

Can you help?  You can donate online by visiting www.KidsUK.org

Can You help by becoming a KidsUK SkyDiver Yourself?  (There are still a couple of SkyDiver places left. For information please email Andi on info@KidsUK.org)

Kidz UK appreciate any support you are able to offer

 


Local Magazine Celebrates 6 Year Anniversary

 

 

Walmley Pages has been serving the local communinity in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield for 6 years.  Promoting local businesses, events and news.  Special thanks were given to Jeff Gilbert of Jeff’s Useful Shop who contributes an article each month, most of which will put a smile on your face although some have more serious content.  Jeff is keen to promote our local parks and nature reserves in Sutton Coldfield and encourages us to appreciate the flora and fauna.  The ethos at Walmley Pages is Run by Local People For Local People.  Anyone wishing to contirbute an article, charity event or advertise can contact the editor Richard Barnes on 0121 351 6513.


Used Car – Old Rollers That Won’t Roll You Over

For over a hundred years Rolls Royce has produced cars that are the last word in luxury, quality and exclusivity. Have you spotted any recently in Walmley or Sutton Coldfield?  Naturally, they are extremely expensive but, if you shop carefully, you too can join the millionaires club and own a car that is also an investment. Here are the ones to go for:

 

Rolls Royce Silver Shadow      (1965 to 1980)

As stately as the queen and as understated as a Barbour jacket, the Silver Shadow was the first modern Rolls Royce. This car was an exercise in craftsmanship; the Connolly hide seats were hand stitched, the burr  walnut dash was hand polished and only the finest lamb’s wool would do for the carpets. The self levelling suspension gave a ride that is a match for a modern day Jag. Power from the huge 6.75 litre V8 was described as “adequate,” certainly enough to waft this hefty car along in near silence. Prices start at £2,500 but a pristine 1977 model with a scant 80,000 miles under its belt can be yours for £8k.

For: Luxury, presence, value, quality

Against: Doesn’t do corners, too many are used as wedding cars

 

Rolls Royce Camargue  (1975 to 1986)

The Camargue is a 2 door coupe based on the floor pan and mechanicals of the Silver Shadow. The Pininfarina styled body is  timelessly elegant and hugely luxurious. In 1976 this was the most expensive car in the world and the fact that only 500 were made makes it extremely collectible. Even so, I found a truly immaculate 1982 model with 64,000 miles on it for £43k. That may seem like an awful lot of money but this is a car that is only going to increase in value.

For: Glorious looks, immense style, a sound investment

Against: You’d probably never drive it

 

Rolls Royce Silver Spirit  (1980 to 1998)

The Silver Spirit was a new car for a new age. The 80s were all about brash, go    getting entrepreneurialism and this new Roller reflected that with its monolithic,    in-your-face styling. It was as big as the QE2 and as luxurious as Donald Trump’s penthouse suite. The owner was more likely to be boss of his own company than a titled landowner and more likely to be behind the wheel than sitting in the back. Unfortunately, it was based on the same mechanicals as the Silver Shadow and retained the same aversion to corners and lack of performance. This might explain the falling rock depreciation – these days you can pick up a ’93 model that has been barely run in over 49,000 miles for £7,500.

For: Huge comfort, road presence, the  bargain of the century

Against: Rather ugly, massive running costs

 

Rolls Royce Silver Seraph        (1998 to 2002)

By the time the Silver Seraph came on the scene, Rolls Royce had fallen into Volkswagen ownership (they kept the   Bentley brand and sold the Rolls Royce name to BMW). The engine was a 5.4 litre BMW V12 that finally gave the car the power it deserved. The electronics, equipment and running gear were all state of the art, but a lot of the craftsmanship that was a Rolls Royce hallmark had been lost. Visually, it was sleeker, curvier and more compact than anything that had gone before. Unfortunately, those compact dimensions also extended to the interior. You can pick up a ’98 model with a minimal 74k on the clock for £28,000; not bad for a car that cost £155k when new.

For: Looks, sophistication, ride comfort, road manners

Against: It’s really a high end Beamer


Cocktail Tequila Sunrise

This cocktail is not shaken or stirred. Its name derives from its supposed resemblance to a sunrise in having a graduation in colour from a deep red at the base to an orange or yellow at the top.

Tequila and orange juice are poured into a glass of ice. Crème de Cassis is then carefully added. Being denser, it falls to the bottom of the drink. A less alcoholic version can be made by substituting grenadine syrup for the Crème de Cassis. Serve with a Maraschino cherry on a stick.

Other spirits can be used to replace the tequila and pineapple juice can be mixed with the orange juice.

Why not relive the hazy summer days in Sutton Coldfield with this colourful cocktail.

 

George Leslie

Article provided by Walmley Pages Magazine, Sutton Coldfield

 


Gardening – Rain Dance Anyone?

ome would argue that our weather has never been the same since we started putting things up in space – including tons of metal ‘cans’ and the odd (and slightly reluctant) chimp and stray dog. Others would blame the wrath of the gods demanding some sort of sacrifice, or even an aberration of the sunspot cycle. I had this very debate only the other night in the local pub when, after much mirth and nine pints of foaming ale, it was  finally decided that Wayne Rooney was the most likely culprit!

 

As I write this, it is a gorgeous August day outside – perfect for lazing in a deck chair with an ice-cold drink and a decent paperback – but absolutely hopeless if you’re trying to nurture a newly planted border. I can’t remember the last time we had a consistent downpour to quench the ravenous thirst of my herbaceous borders. The Phlox and Helianthus are not looking good at all and most of the shrubs, such as Camellias, that enjoy a dampish root run are looking decidedly miserable.

Clearly I’m not the only keen gardener lamenting the lack of rainfall this  summer in Sutton Coldfield and the rest of the UK, the topic is probably second only to the re-launch of Big Brother in the ‘irrelevant conversation’ rankings. People are also talking about an early autumn this year – presumably because all their trees and shrubs are busy shedding leaves to help preserve any last vestiges of moisture. Realistically, it is a persistent drought that we are experiencing but, thankfully, in most cases the damage is normally only temporary and most plants should recover next season with few  apparent problems. In much the same way as last winter’s devastation of anything slightly tender, where plants have been left in situ they normally show dramatic signs of recovery given time.

 

The problem is what do we do in the  future? Do we keep persevering with our typical English garden favourites, or do we throw the towel in and accept that we really have been “globally warmed?!”  In that case, we might as well start stocking up on sun-lovers such as Lavenders,  Cistus and a few Cactii for dramatic    interest. Personally, I’m not convinced that our fair land will become the first European desert, but I do think that our weather has been ‘Wayne Rooneyed’ and we are in for more erratic and dramatic weather patterns. This shouldn’t mean that we necessarily have to change what we grow, but it will mean that we have to be more aware that we could get caught with our trousers down with intensely cold weather or, as is currently happening, longer periods of drought conditions. With a bit of judicial planning it will still be possible to garden the ‘English’ way and the use of organic  matter in the soil, mulches and companion planting will certainly help fight the effects of reduced rainfall. Equally, by having the right sort of protection measures such as cloches and some rolls of horticultural fleece, we can save some of the more tender species, provided you remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast/ pine cone and don’t mind a bit of extra work to wrap your charges up nice and snugly!

 

Apologies to anyone who thinks I’ve just joined the predictable ranks of the “English Weather Whingers” – I try to be a bit different but, when it comes down to the welfare of my precious plants, then I probably do get a tad defensive. Not sure if it would help but I may even go so far as enlist the local Druid faction to  organise a proper Rain Dance – partners please!

 

Jonathan Wild

Garden Consultant and Rain Dancer

Article provided by Walmley Pages Magazine in Sutton Coldfield

 


Health – Obesity – An International Epidemic

 

 

During the first half of the twentieth century, people started using cars more and doing less physical jobs. Food shortages during and after the second world war meant a decrease in food consumption, but by the 1960s food became plentiful again and, within a decade, levels of  obesity had risen sharply.

A problem that was originally limited to rich western countries is now sweeping across the globe. An estimated 500 million people across the world are now classed as obese. In the UK, one in four is   currently obese and this figure is predicted to rise to 40% by 2030. Across the Atlantic it is even worse – a third of adults are already obese and this is expected to rise to half within 20 years. It is estimated that obesity-related problems now account for between 2% and 6% of health care costs in most countries.

With the increasing availability of fast food, this global issue needs to be urgently addressed.  Researchers at The Lancet believe tough legislation is needed, such as a tax on unhealthy food and drinks and traffic light labelling on food. This would ultimately save money by reducing health care costs. Hungary has just introduced a tax on pre-packaged foods containing high salt and sugar content, such as crisps and chocolates; similar taxes are already in place in Finland and Norway. Restrictions on junk food advertising and school-based education are also recommended by the researchers.

So how will our health benefit if we reduce weight to within a healthy range? Being obese can put you at risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints, sleep apnoea and heartburn and urinary stress incontinence.

Residents in Walmley are advised that a simple first step to reducing your weight is to reduce consumption of sugary foods and drinks and fatty foods, whilst eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It must also be noted that under eating to achieve a ‘size zero’ figure is not a healthy aim. All things in moderation for a happy and healthy life!

Phoebe Hodge                          Further reading http://www.thelancet.com/series/obesity

 


Daffs and Laffs

Nights are really drawing in and Autumn is upon us. This year the leaves started to turn to their fall shades in early August. This was a result of our very very dry June and July. It seems that the rest of the country was getting drowned while we just got drier and drier. However there seems to be plenty of food in and on the hedgerows for our feathered and furry cohabiters. How do blackberries, plums, damsons and sloes manage to be so juicy and plump eve when there is hardly any rain? It is one of Mother Nature’s miracles, like the turn of the year and the daffodils in the spring. Oh did I mention Daffodils? Funnily enough Getreal Community Group are again having a Saturday Daff Planting Day. They’ve got the Bulbs now all they need are the bodies to do the planting. Look out for the Gazebo in the village on October 15th, grab some bulbs and plant, complicated it aint. Last years bulbs were a delight this spring and you can add to our display for next year. The cycle path extension through to Pype Hayes and Eachelhurst Road seems to be a great success. A sunny Sunday stroll showed happy groups, all genders, all ages, all promenading a la continent. A delightful sight to see as part of our community. The Valley Boardwalk, in Newhall Valley Country Park, Walmley, has now been reopened and rebuilt thanks to this community. Many turned up and many worked. The sound of sawing and hammering was interspersed with the sound of laughing and coffee slurping. Not only is it a stunning achievement but a good time was had by all. It was a big task but we are a big hearted community. Pat yourselves on the collective back. (if it has stopped aching by now)

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Walmley, B76

 


he departure of Steve Jobs from the  position of CEO in August due to ill health puts Apple in something of a quandary. Apple is currently the biggest company in the world by market value so it seems absurd that one  person can have such an impact on the business. However, Apple has been      inextricably linked with Steve Jobs for most of its existence.

 

Jobs was one of the cofounders of the company in 1976 and oversaw the spectacularly successful IPO in 1980 which created 300   millionaires in the  business. Next he headed up the team that developed the ubiquitous Macintosh which still forms the backbone of Apple’s offering in the PC and laptop sectors. A year later he was ousted by the board following a dispute with the CEO. He set up his own  software firm, NeXT. Although Apple enjoyed a brief golden age between 1988 and 1991, by 1997 it was on the verge of bankruptcy following three years of heavy losses. Jobs     returned as CEO and effectively saved the company, first by redesigning the Operating   System around his own NeXT software to create a credible rival for Windows, then by going in to partnership with Microsoft to create a version of the market leading Microsoft Office that was   compatible with the Mac.

 

The rest is history; the spectacularly successful iPod revolutionised the world of personal    stereos, the ubiquitous iPhone made everyone want a smartphone and the iPad turned the tablet computer into the world’s must have accessory. But how much of this is down to the influence of Steve Jobs and how much is down to having good product development teams and simply being in the right place at the right time?

 

Jobs has delivered some basic but ground breaking ideas. Firstly, he understood the need to combine hardware and media. It was iTunes that made the iPod such a huge success and turned downloading music from an illegal fringe activity to the principle media of the music industry. The App Store was what made the iPhone the definitive smartphone because it allowed users to download numerous software applications cheaply and easily. It has also helped make the iPad the definitive tablet  computer. Jobs also recognised that form is just as important as function. Every device Apple makes is sleek, minimalist and stylish – they are the Bang and Olufsen of the computer world. Finally, he realised that the way people use computers is changing; they are no longer just a work tool, they are a   multimedia portal, a games console,   communications device and much more besides. The iPad is all these things; just don’t try and type up a memo on it.

 

Most importantly, Jobs has never been afraid to take risks. Before the iPhone Apple had never made any kind of mobile phone; before the iPad they had never made a tablet computer. Every gamble Apple has taken in the past 10 years has paid off – and paid off big! Jobs is known for his single mindedness and his arrogance; it’s my way or the highway is his maxim and he is a tough taskmaster. He doesn’t   compromise and he doesn’t learn from others; a good example of this is the way he pushed ahead with his own operating system at a time when over 90% of the PCs in the world ran Windows. Arguably, if he had adopted Windows in 1997 instead of developing a Mac compatible version of Microsoft Office, he would have sold a lot more laptops and desktops. Then again, perhaps he wouldn’t have created the mobile operating system that made the iPad and the iPhone possible.

 

My feeling is that Apple will become a much safer and more conventional company and the world of IT and media will be all the poorer because of it.

 

Graham Iek

IT Consultant

 


September Song

Amazing how a year can fly past.  It is already September but it seems like only yesterday that we were anticipating summer.  Kids back to school, holidays now just a memory, travel plugs back in that drawer and plans to be made for Christmas.  Even our politicians will soon be back at work, for a couple of weeks at least.  I wonder which bit of our lives they will want to fiddle with next?  I suspect that the majority of us carry on and survive in spite of politicians not because of them.  I think we are lucky in Walmley in our choice of city councillors regardless of their political affiliation.  They are very much hands on and supportive of our efforts in the New Hall Valley.  Recent work on the boardwalk rebuild has been part funded by the Community Chest, with our application endorsed by all three or our       Newhall councillors.  Other developments in the valley are as a result of the boardwalk fire earlier this year and have emerged from discussions with the emergency services.  For example, the bridges over the brook are now painted in bright colours so that should a member of the public wish to phone in an incident requiring the attendance of Police, Fire or Ambulance the colour of the bridge nearest will be an easily communicated location.  Also, the entrance under the rail bridge in Ebrook Road has been identified as the best way into the centre of the valley.  A couple of sharp corners have been widened and strengthened and some overhanging brushwood cut back to facilitate the passage of any emergency vehicles.  All of this work has been done by the Community Payback team.  A great example of justice being seen to be done and completed to our advantage.  Many thanks to them all. 

Finally, have you got on your bike yet?  The new part of the cycleway is now open from Penns Lane through to Eachelhurst Road and is an easy level ride or pleasant walk.  Like I said earlier, we are lucky in Walmley.  Enjoy.

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop