This page is dedicated to items of news that have caught my attention during the year.

Summer 2011 - my god daughter Anna has been studying at Aston University and in her first year lived in one of these towers - Lawrence Tower. It was a very emotional experience to watch the two towers at Aston University coming down - to share in the experience click here.

October 2011

As reported in the Birmingham Post screenwriter Adil Ray's new sitcom focuses on a businessman and his family who live in Sparkhill.Citizen Khan will become BBC1's first Asian sitcom and although it is set at the heart of a Birmingham community it will be made in-house at MediaCityUK in Salford. Mr Talwar who is chief executive of Punch Records said it was "tragic" it would not be filmed in the city. I am also disappointed as we have a wonderful bus tour - the Birmingham Tours Broadcasts Bus Tour which highlights all the wonderful programmes made in Birmingham - this show would have made a great addition to the script!

October 2011

My source of information - the Birmingham Post reported that a Birmingham businessman had been refused permission to demolish his derelict factory because of its important industrial history. Christopher Wray the owner of Christopher Wray Lighting said he had unsuccessfully tried to restore or sell the former brass fitting factory in Bartholemew Row, Eastside for years. The city's planning committee have refused application for demolition of the building and chairwoman of the conservation and heritage panel, Coun Paula Smith said "This is part of our heritage. Too often in the past we have allowed historic buildings to be demolished and they have been lost forever".

I have always liked this building especially with its juxtaposition to the modern black and white buildings of the masshouse development. I remember purchasing some lamps when it was open as Christopher Wray Lighting. I would love to see it occupied as a Made in Birmingham museum - my ultimate dream! and this also could work in Island House.

November 2011

I was very sorry to hear that the Great British Eatery at Five Ways had closed down - they served up the best fish and chips.

On the reverse I am really excited to hear that the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill including a Laurent Perrier Champagne bar has opened on the 25th floor of The Cube. I am looking forward to going after Christmas to check out the food and the spectacular views.

I was saddened to read about the closure of Tucker Fasteners. Our company Europa Translations Ltd did a lot of translation work for Tuckers in the past and it is always difficult to read about another manufacturing loss in the West Midlands.

December 2011

Did you love the bull in a jumper - I did!


February 2012

I am delighted that Ann Sumner Director of the Barber Institute has been appointed to take over the merger of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Thinktank which will be known as the Birmingham Museums Trust. Both museums are undergoing redevelopment with a new science garden and Made in Birmingham exhibition being created at Thinktank and a new £9 million Birmingham History Galleries due to open at the BMAG later this year - fantastic news.

March 2012

I quite like the idea of naming rights if you can get an appropriate amount of sponsorship and a suitable name! I am not sure, however, about the NIA, A Barclaycard Unwind Experience! Still I would be very happy to brand the Big Brum Buz as the Barclaycard Big Brum Buz if I could get the money! Are you listening Dan Mathieson, head of experiential marketing and partnerships at Barclaycard.

I really hope that Auchinleck House will be refurbished and turned into a luxury four star hotel complete with rooftop restaurant and conference centre. The conversion of the office block into a 300 room Park Regis Hotel will be operated by the Australian Staywell Group and this will be there first hotel in Europe.

One of the worst areas when we come past on the bus is Auchinleck Square so I hope they sort this out at the same time. Apparently, the statue of British Second World War hero - Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck - the `Auk' will be moved to Broad Street if plans are approved. His statue has stood in Auchinleck Square since 1965. However, the Bruce MacLean design on the side of the office block will be removed and not included in the new scheme. Severn Capital has agreed to safely take it away and preserve it if asked to do by Birmingham City Council Planning Committee - maybe another piece of art leaving for the Museum of Lost Heritage!

Recently, I took the following pictures - the one of the Birmingham Rep reminds me of that old fashioned block of vanilla ice cream between two wafers! I was fascinated by the new sculpture in the Bullring next to St Martins Church and the exhibition Lost in Lace was superb.

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LostinLace2012 LostinLace2012

Saturday 14th April 2012

Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. For some reason it touches my heart - perhaps because my father who was born in 1908 had such a strong memory of this awful tragedy. For my birthday this year we went on a factory tour of Hudsons Whistles which created the original Titanic whistle - what an amazing place. Later in the year we will be selling as part of our Birmingham Tours charms collection a silver titanic whistle charm. So are there any links with Birmingham - well yes. Six crew members and 11 passengers were from the city. Two local firms were contractors for the vessel - Thomas Pigot supplying the steam exhaust pipes and Hoskins & Sewell all the beds, cots and mattresses as Birmingham has been one of the world's great centres for bedstead making. A Birmingham company Webster and Horsfall laid the transatlantic cable that carried the news of the disaster across the ocean and on a local theme the captain Edward Smith was from Stoke on Trent. One of the victims William Hipkins who was manager and then director of J & E Wright Ltd in the 1890's has a memorial stone in Warstone Lane Cemetery.

Monday 16th April

Extract from the Birmingham Post - "A Birmingham cyclist has taken inspiration from the London Underground map creator Harry Beck in a bid to get people on their bikes. Nick Meara, has created a map showing the city's traffic free cycle network in the style of the legendary cartographer" - what a great idea - visit to download a map.

St Georges Day 2012

This was the car they had at Notcutts - gorgeous!


Monday 7th May

Bank holiday Monday and it is raining! someone asked me would the bus be running on bank holiday Monday and I thought no, it will rain! what shall I do - work on the website!

Congratulations to Albert Bore who has become leader of the city in the local elections and interestingly we have chosen not to have a mayor.

I like the idea that brewers Davenports have marked 185 years of brewing by unveiling a special plaque and that they have indicated that they may move back to Birmingham. As a child I always remember Davenports in Bath Row with their Beer at Home Delivery service.

I like the idea of a Bank of Birmingham. Michael Wilkes has championed the idea "which would be based on the near forgotten principles of service with fairness and responsibility and without profiteering and exploitation".

I like the idea that the owners of the Grand Hotel have won planning permission for a £30 million scheme to restore the building to its former glory. It will be transformed into a luxury hotel with 152 rooms, the historic facade, grand staircase and Grosvenor Suite restored and the main entrance moved to Church Street.

I am sad that Valor Fires is closing after over 120 years in Erdington - production is being transferred to Ireland. This is a reminder of other manufacturers we have lost such as MG Rover, LDV, HP Sauce and others in recent years.

I like the idea of the Metro extension schedulated for completion in 2015. The extension will provide a fast link between Birmingham's two major rail stations and aims to deliver more than 3.5 million passengers a year right into the city centre. Trams will follow a route from the existing stop at St Paul's via a new Snow Hill stop and then along a £9 million viaduct already built. It will go down Upper Bull Street, Corporation Street, Stephenson Street and then stop outside a new entrance at the rebuilt New Street Station.

I really like Two Snowhill and I am delighted that it should be completed in 2013 - it has been such an eyesore. It is a 14 storey building of office accommodation in glass, the only new office building in Birmingham to be delivered to the market until at least 2015. As part of the BREEAM `Excellent' scheme they are committed to improving the wider public realm by installing a `green wall' between the scheme and Snow Hill station. Apparently, the 220m long and up to 7 metre high wall will incorporate 604 sqm of planting, interspersed with decorative steel panels and will be the largest of its kind in Europe.

I like that the Barton Arms pub is celebrating 111 years of serving with a beer festival and its own ale. The pub was built in 1901 and was to be the jewel in the crown of Birmingham brewer Mitchell's fledgling pub estate. The building in brick and stone neo Jacobean style is said to be inspired by nearby Aston Hall.

I have got to say I really like the new development of Edgbaston Cricket Ground - Edgbaston’s £32 million redevelopment of the Pavilion Stand has made it the second biggest cricket venue in the UK with a capacity of 25,000. In 2012 Edgbaston will host England in all three forms of the game for the first time

    • o   Test match vs West Indies in summer half term week (7-11 June)
    • o   One Day International vs Australia (4 July)
    • o   T20 International vs South Africa (12 September

Basically I like the lights!


Tuesday 22nd May

The funeral of my mother in law - she will be sadly missed by all the family.

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Monday 25th June - what a great image


Sunday 24th June

Did you see the performance of the Voyage in Victoria Square to celebrate the start of the London 2012 festival?

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Monday 25th June

Our dog Zippy in the bushes!


Monday 2nd July 2012

It is the flower festival in Birmingham again - this is the creation next to where the bus starts - is it Hussein Bolt? we think his arms are the wrong way round!


Sunday 8th July

So what has been going on in Birmingham this weekend. Mini tennis promotion in Victoria Square and the very popular Harborne Carnival - check out the photos on the right hand side.

Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th July

This weekend was really good with sunny weather! On Saturday 14th July we did a tour at the end of the day as part of the Colmore Business District Food Festival. The bus was heaving and it was very interesting to see how many restaurants, cafes and food related businesses are in this area. I also sampled some of the cuisine in Victoria Square and it was excellent.

On Sunday the Lord and Lady Mayoress took a ride on the 12.30 tour. Mary our guide was fabulous as well as our driver Mick. Visitors on the bus not only included Brummies but from as far away as Germany, the Czech republic, Kazakhstan and Tasmania - we are a truly international bus promoting Birmingham to the whole world! Check out the photos on the right hand side.

Monday 16th July

I am so sorry I missed the Queen - she was in Victoria Square - she could have had a tour of Birmingham on the Big Brum Buz. I did, however, actually see her in the early sixties when she came to visit our school.

As per information in the Birmingham Post changes are a foot with our road network. Cars will be heading the `wrong way' down Moor Street Queensway as well as up. Corporation Street's ten bus stops will be relocated to six plush new interchanges from July 22nd. This is all part of the plan to pedestrianise Corporation Street as well as the forthcoming tram extension linking Snow Hill and New Street station.

This will affect the Big Brum Bus and our tour for the Colmore Business District Food Festival may have been the last time we will go down Corporation Street - an historic event.

I really like the new public square in Church Street. It has seating, soft landscaping, trees, enhanced lighting and piece of public art called Umbra by Wolfgang Buttress - a great idea.

Saturday 4th August 2012

The Big Brum Bus was at the Olympics! when Mo Farah and Jessica Innes triumphed.

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Towerbridge Olympictowerbridge

Friday 17th August 2012

Did you see in the Birmingham Post yesterday the article entitled Tourism boom for Birmingham as city aims to cash in on 'Bolt effect'.

Based on the information in the article new figures revealed the city attracted 33.5 million tourists in 2011, up 740,000 on the previous year. Now a campaign `BigUp Birmingham' has been launched to build on that success after Olympic 100 and 200 metres champion Usain Bolt thanked Birmingham for its role as Jamaica’s pre-Games training camp base. Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said: “Birmingham’s visitor offer, and its impact on the city’s economy, continues to grow".

The Jamaicans team comments were a really fantastic boost to promoting the image of Birmingham but it was a shame I could not get them to have a tour of the city as any time anyone comes to Birmingham we should SHOW IT OFF!

It is really good news to hear about visitor figures but it would be great to see more people on the bus. It would also be great to get acceptance and funding from the Council and Marketing Birmingham that the bus should be seen as a service which is an essential part of the overall marketing plan of a city.

I shall write again to Albert Bore!

As a result of this I was asked to talk about tourism on the radio - did you hear me? The radio presenter was out to make a joke and wanted a stop at Winson Green Prison - I suggested Spaghetti Junction which I think went down well! However, he then mentioned he had been on a bus in Barcelona and when I said that Birmingham was equally good I think he doubted me - yet again someone who does not believe in Birmingham - the only answer is come on the bus and we will SHOW OFF what a great city we have.

Thursday 20th September 2012

There is a wonderful TV commercial `We are so City' which has recently been produced for the Bullring. It has been done in conjunction with Aardman Animations which are the producers of Wallace and Grommit. It is very beautiful and clever - if you would like to watch it follow the link

Sunday 21st October 2012

Birmingham Half Marathon team - John, Michael, Ricky, Susie and Sam!

HalfMarathonteam HalfmarathonMichael

Wednesday 31st October 2012

How could we end up going to New York for Michael's birthday just after Hurricane Sandy! We found the Wall Street Bull and obviously went on the New York Gray Line Sightseeing bus tour - the guide was brilliant.

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6th December 2012

Just before Christmas Birmingham City Council and its regeneration partners, Wates Construction and architects, Patel Taylor completed the new £11.75million Eastside City Park. This is the first new park in the city for 130 years. The 6.2 acre park forms part of the Big City Plan and contains 310 trees, formal lawns, public squares and a canal feature incorporating 21 jet fountains. The park includes the Science Garden and I think it is a very beautiful space.



Monday 24th December 2012

As we come to the end of 2012 I have included a couple of photos which I really like in the right hand column of this page. It has been a sad year with the loss of Nellie - Bren's mother but it also has been a fantastic year with some memorable events from the Olympics to the Birmingham half marathon to our trip to New York for a special birthday. If you look at this page we wish you a very happy Christmas and great 2013.

Sunday 6th January 2013

Wishing you a fantastic 2013. As it has been raining so much I decided to go and look at our little respected River Rea - see the pictures below to show you what a force it can be.

River Rea River Rea




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