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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article appears in Walmley Pages Magazine, a local magazine delivered free to Walmley, Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As this is the ‘Season of Goodwill’ in this month’s tax tips we are focusing on the tax implications of Giving.
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!
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.
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.