Birmingham city centre has been transformed by the re building of the Bullring to provide some of the best shopping in the country. The complex design ensures that you feel that you have never quite seen it all. It is almost like two shopping centres linked together underground, one part of which is made up of the distinctive Selfriges "Handbag" Building. All the major retailers of clothes, shoes and cosmetics are represented there. You will find food outlets to suit every palate.
Outside the Bullring shopping centre you will find wonderful plaza's with water features and modern sculptures. Corporation Street is the main street that runs through the city centre from the Bullring, to the Square with the "Floosie in the Jacusi" outside of the Museum and Library.
Most of the city centre is pedestrianised, it's a great place to be day or night, with its wall to wall shops, street stalls and street artist it is reminiscent of many continental city centres.
Which ever way you go in the city of Birmingham you will see something different. Round one corner you will find the markets including the world famous Rag market. A different corner and you will find the Mailbox a high class shopping mall in one posh red building. Go round another corner and you willl find the NIA where you can see world class shows and yet another corner you'll find the Hypodrome theatre.
Birmingham is the Gateway to the rest of the country, whether by Road, Plane Metro or Train you can get anywhere in the country from Birmingham. You can easily reach it from the M1, M5, M6 and the M42. 90% of all the trains that run pass through Birmingham New Street Station.
From the very first visit, a fleeting stop on the way to Leicester, I have loved Birmingham. As a city it's got everything a modern girl could need, with funky buildings and amazing architecture (the Mailbox and the Bullring spring immeadiately to mind). It also has a rather large central train station and excellent bus and coach links in and out of the city.
There is a wide, wide range of new shops and services in Birmingham, and everything has that sparkly feeling of just being built. The people are friendly and the night life is great. Brilliant if you end up going to uni here as there is always something to do, I know a couple of people who did just that and had a really amazing time.
The Bullring is great if you're looking for a diverse shopping experience, with it's iconic building and Selfridges store, it has many shops you wouldn't find anywhere else in the Midlands (such as a Krispy Kreme, yum!). One of the many reasons I adore Birmingham is it's hidden heart - did you know it has moire canals than Venice? The centre is a bustling hub, but it's not hard to find a quiet place to yourself (I'd highly reccomend Brindley Place if you're looking to while away a few hours) and of course there is the NEC, great for all the events and shows you want to see.
Now this is not something you hear people say often but me I am proud to say that I love working and living near the UKs second city which is the wonderful Birmingham. I have to tell you though that I did not always like Birmingham and when I was younger I used to avoid it like a plague. I used to think it was too busy and very dirty and up until when I was 22 I had actually only being into the city three times. Considering I live fifteen minutes away everyone thought it was pretty strange. So when I turned 22 and needed a full time job I began to work in the city and ever since then I have loved it and here in this review I will attempt to tell you why.
The one thing that nobody can fault Birmingham for is for its shops. It is like a shoppers paradise with all the high street, designer and small boutique shops you could want. I have yet to experience not finding what I want in the city as there is so much to visit.
The main place I suppose now is the Bull ring which is probably what most people have heard of as it is quite new still. The Bull ring is very snazzy and contains shops for everybodys taste and preferred spending costs. The sort of shops they have range from New Look, Debenhams and then Borders and a variety of phone shops. I worked in the bullring for about 6 months and never really went shopping out of it as I found you can buy so much from there that you need.
In sale times the bull ring gets very busy indeed so you have to get there early. I think it is lovely though as it is well looked after, a lot of security is there and the place is spotless.
The main city centre homes hundreds of shops of all sorts. You can find high street and designer but the thing I recommend is to actually walk down the side streets as this is where you find unique shops. There is a great clothes shop at the side of superdrug which sells clothes that I would never see anywhere else and they are affordable so everybody can go vintage.
The newest shopping paradise in Birmingham is the Mailbox which is wonderful. The only thing is the shops are all designer so unless you have loads of money then you cant shop here. I cant afford anything but I love looking around as it is clean and new and the whole building just looks so smart. At the back is where you can find the canal which is lovely to sit by and have a stroll down.
Now I am a girl who loves her food so nice restaurants are a big part of my everyday living. Birmingham has a lot of restaurants on offer and again they range in style, cuisine and also price so there are a lot to choose from so if you fancy Italian, Chinese or sushi you can find it in the city.
My favourite place to eat at the moment is Bar Estillo in the Mailbox as I walk past it everyday and the smell makes you want to run in there. They do great tapas for lunch and the menu is full of everything really. Inside it looks funky and being in the Mailbox there is such a great buzz about the place.
Seriously though there is so much to offer from Chez Jules and pizza hut which are so nice and cheap and cheerful and then to places such as San Carlos which is very expensive and attracts famous people when they visit the city. Also you can eat in the city centre such as in the bullring if you are shopping or go to the mailbox and eat by the canal or even go and eat at Brindley place which is a very nice area to go to.
Bars / Nightclubs:
Birmingham is famous for broad street which hosts exclusive bars and nightclubs. You literally have to walk down here after about 6 in the evening and it is busy with people enjoying the night and having fun. You have your places like Chicagos and then they go to things like Zen which if you go upstairs then you have stunning views over the canal and some great cocktails.
I know I keep going on about the Mailbox but there are some great bars here and my favourite has to be Pennyblacks in which I have spent many a drunken night there. Also by the canal is the pitcher and piano which is very nice to go to. I dont go nightclubbing very often so I cannot really tell you mush else about them apart from there are loads.
Birmingham boasts two great comedy clubs which are Jongeleurs and the Glee club which are both a great laugh to go to.
Things to do:
Well Birmingham is full of things to do and my favourite place to go to is the seal life centre which speaks for itself really. This is a great place to take children but me and my fiancé went last year and had a great time just the two of us.
The think tank is the newest place to go in Birmingham and is basically a science and technical museum. It is very good here and well worth a visit as there are lots to see and many of the rooms have small things that you can have a go at. At the moment there is this alien exhibition so I think may go next weekend.
Just out of the city centre are two major places that I definitely do recommend you make time for if you visit. The first is Cadburys world and who can resist the lure of chocolate. I know I cant! This is a great place and you get lots of free samples of chocolate which is always welcome in my eyes. Then we have the botanical gardens and they are truly wonderful. In the summer it is great to just go and have a stroll around and one of my favourite memories of school was going there and they had a swearing parrot which was very funny indeed. A great place for all in my eyes.
Birmingham also does have a magnificent library and also an art museum which is fantastic.
I know many people wont support them but Birmingham has two major football clubs, Birmingham city and Aston Villa so if you live here or visit and fancy catching a game then you should be able to see some good matches.
Theatres / Exhibitions:
There are some great theatres in Birmingham and the three ones in the city centre are the rep, the Alexandra theatre and the hippodrome. They show some great things that are varied each year round and the prices range from about £10 40 so they are not that bad. Each theatre is clean and nice inside and the great thing about them is because they are not that big wherever you sit you should be able to see the stage which is always a plus.
One of my favourite places to see whats on is the National Exhibition Centre (NEC). It is fantastic here and my favourite events of the year have to be Crufts, the clothes show and the good food show. They also do lots of craft and train fairs and one great event is the memorabilia show where you can get to meet some great famous people. Last year we met some people from Buffy the vampire slayer, Star Trek, David Carradine and old Doctor Who Tom Baker.
The National Indoor Arena (NIA) is a great place and here you can get to see lots of artists perform. The place is huge so you can usually get seats but prices rae quite expensive at times depending on who is playing. The Symphony hall is also fantastic and plays a lot of classical music. The one thing I love here is the Christmas concert which trust me is just amazing.
Birmingham is fantastic for parking with multi storey ones everywhere and at each of the main centres or attractions you will find separate parking.
Birmingham is so easy to get to which I think is fantastic. Trains, the metro and buses go here so from anywhere in the UK you should be able to get to Birmingham. The airport is great and very easy to find your way around and is huge.
I suppose the final thing to mention about Birmingham is my overall verdict. I think you should have got the impression by now that I love the city and honestly I cannot think of a nicer place. People go on about the accent annoying them and I even had people at university calling me thick and dirty for living here but they couldnt be more wrong if they tried.
Birmingham is fast becoming the place to go and everywhere is always clean and nice and above all everybody is friendly here. I was walking into the centre on my lunch today and sneezed on two separate occasions and people said bless you which I thought was quite sweet. Birmingham people are fantastic and if you are ever lost then ask anybody and they will help you.
Now me as a young girl I do have to worry about my safety and my fiancé worries about me. In the centre though there are always so many people. I mean I get into work at about 7.30 in the morning and it is busy and then throughout the night it stays busy so there are always people around. The public transport areas are monitored closely by security and police do patrol the streets so you do feel at ease.
In conclusion I am just going to have to give Birmingham top marks because I love it and I am so glad I work in such a fun and vibrant city. When it is warm like it has been today and you get to finish work and have some drinks watching canal boats go by while in a nice area and listening to jazz people play like they were doing in the mailbox then I think you would love it to.
Thanks for reading.
I know Birmingham probably better than any other city even though I'm from down south, and have a certain loyalty to the city that has given me so many of the things that I love: Cadbury's chocolate, Duran Duran and Baltis. Ha. You think I'm joking. I first went to Brum in 1994, not really knowing what to expect but having a vague recollection that it was supposed to be the UK's largest city after London and that it was supposed to be less-than-desirable. When I first saw Victoria Square, my jaw hit the floor and I stood gawping at the spectacle in semi-shock - not what I was expecting at all. I was an instant convert. Birmingham doesn't get much better than Victoria Square, at least for an immediate positive impact. I soon realised that although Birmingham has many impressive areas, such as Colmore Row, St. Paul's Square and the urban design success story of the 1990s, Brindleyplace, the city centre has some severe physical problems. The inner ring road, bludgeoned tightly around the city centre in the 1960s resulted in the demolition of swathes of the city. A mixture of the bland and the monstrous sprung up alongside the ring road, giving the city a brutal, disjointed feel. It remains a city of bits and pieces, with a cluttered skyline of half-hearted skyscrapers and blocks of council flats with snatches of the Victorian city scattered in between. Attractive areas like the Jewellery Quarter and Chinatown soon peter out into an indistinct nothingness of impromptu sheds, warehouses and poor quality housing that surround the city centre, with only the plush and leafy Georgian suburb of Edgbaston to break that ring. It is a great shame, in many ways. One can walk through the city centre and be impressed one minute, depressed the next. There's a close-but-no-cigar-ness to the city centre's overall look. No sooner has the visitor found something to cheer about than some ghastly block lurks around the
corner to spoil the impression. You can rave about chic shopping complex the Mailbox 'til the cows come home, but nothing can disguise the fact that you have to walk down Navigation Street to get there, a street that is difficult to traverse without grimacing at the vista. Healing the damage of these planning mistakes is a huge job, and Brum is about half way through a thirty year process of convalescence. This has yielded some praiseworthy results, of which Victoria Square's refashioning and Brindleyplace are but two. Now the focus will move to the opposite side of the city centre where potential-laden Digbeth is up for a costly revamp. So don't come to Birmingham solely for the architecture. And don't come for interesting, independent shops and cafes - Birmingham is just about the worst city for cafes imaginable. *Do* come for the nightlife, which is frenzied and glamorous. *Do* come for the canals, which wind their way through the city like fingers of black silk. *Do* come for the people, whose warmth and friendliness will soon make you forget you ever thought ill of their accent. *Do* come for some fascinating suburbs, from the Tolkien-related 'bohemian' (groan) district of Moseley to the cosmopolitan areas of Handsworth and Sparkbrook, from the chocolate suburb of Bournville to the green paradise of Edgbaston. *Do* come for the Custard Factory and the increasing buzz and crackle of a city whose future is spelled out in the cranes that pockmark the skyline and which is finally discovering the confidence to be itself. Whatever Brum's shortcomings are, it does kind of get to you after a while. A quietly addictive city for those prepared to dig a little deeper for urban gratification.
Last weekend I was in Birmingham for my 40th Birthday treat off my husband. He had booked a hotel in the city centre so that we could see the musical Grease (op to follow ). I must admit I have only been to Birmingham once before when I went to see Kiss at the N.E.C. I didn't look round the place so I couldn't comment at the time. This time when we arrived at the city centre we struggled to find our hotel, which was The Comfort Inn on Station Rd. We ended up going round and round until I had to phone the hotel for help. As we toured round in the car, I saw the sign for The Famous Bull Ring, something told me to keep away from there, I had got it into my head that this was the rough area. I never did find out. I noticed that there were various hotels, some well known names, for eg Ibis, Comfort Inn, Posthouse. The city centre was all lit up for Xmas, it even had a carousel going round and round in Victoria Square. It was such a lovely sight. On the Saturday afternoon we actually went round to Victoria Square, it was an impressive sight with loads of wonderful buildings around it. One had scaffolding round, but they still made it look good by turning it into a life-like advent calendar, it was even numbered with different things in each window. Victoria Square had a lovely market in the middle, which was centred around the carousel. There were quite a lot of art and craft type stalls, they sold unusual items. There was also an area where you could have something to eat or drink. We went round loads of shops during the day, we went in several shopping arcades, and even ventured down to the canal area where there were shops and restaurants. There were a couple of Pizza Huts, which we went in both over the weekend, there were loads of pubs. Some even served meals for as cheap as £2.99 for Gammon.egg and chips, and by golly did they serve a plate full. We went into a great wine bar which was very g
rand, and so were the prices. We paid £5.50 for a Malibu and Coke, and a pint of Bitter. Some of the other pubs were cheaper though. We went to the Alexander Theatre at night which is larger than when you first approach it. I thought it looked more like a coffee shop from the front. There was also The newly refurbished Hippodrome. As for nightclubs there was something to suit everyone. We were going to go to XL's for Rock music, but went to Edwards instead because it was only round the corner from our hotel. There was also several trendy discos in the location and a casino. Near our hotel, was an adult club and table top dancing, to lower the tone. Across the road from our hotel was the railway station which had loads of eating areas and shop, including WHS. There were also several Chinese eateries. I couldn't get over the amount of pubs, clubs and shops in Birmingham, I'm even sure we passed Richard Ashcroft on a backstreet. He didn't recognise us though! Anybody doubting Birmingham should give it a try, I certainly was surprised and will be going again. The people were friendly, we did get approached by people begging in the street around every street corner, but I suppose you get that everywhere now.
When people ask me where I'm from (which happens a lot as I recently started university) and I tell them Birmingham, their reaction is predictable. It's either "oh" or, "oh I've been there, to Digbeth coach station". Er, ok. Or else they comment on my accent. I'm not originally from Birmingham, but my family moved there from Brighton when I was little so I have a bit of an accent. I think people get confused between Birmingham accents and Black country accents (like Lenny Henry) when really they are quite different. I feel quite defensive about what I consider to be my home town. When my friend from Spain visited me, she said she preferred Birmingham to Manchester and Liverpool. Me too! The people of Birmingham are generally down to earth and friendly. You have a great choice of shops, clubs and restaruants without the inflated prices of London. There is so much I can say about Birmingham, so I will split it up into sections. Shopping Birmingham city centre is great for shopping. Not only is there a great selection of shops, but it is mostly pedestrianised and compact. All the usual suspects, like Top Shop, H+M, Marks+Sparks, WHSmith, but also some great individual shops. The new Bull Ring hosts the rag market, which is clean and spacious in its' new home. You can pick up some great buys at the markets, from fruit and veg, to rugs, to T-shirts. The new Mailbox complex has a Harvey Nichols for those of us with a bit more cash (not me then) and various other designer outlets. Apart from the city centre, there is The Fort Shopping centre, Star City and the Merry Hill centre over in Dudley. Merry Hill is great for Christmas shopping as it is all under one roof and the parking is free. Entertainment I have written a separate op on clubbing in Birmingham so I won't go into too much detail about the clubs. I will just say that Birmingham has a club for everyone, whe
ther you are a skint student, an RnB, indie or dance music fan. There is a good selection of pubs and bars in town, but if you want to go out of the city centre, I would suggest either Moseley or Harborne, both of which have great pubs. I am biased though, as I grew up in Harborne! Reccomended pubs in Brum from me are-the Rat and Parrot on Broad Street, PJ's on Hurst Street and Walkabout on Broad Street. As for cinemas, there are three in the city centre, 2 UGC's and an Odeon. The UGC on Broad Street opened a year ago and it is huge, with massive screens. It's quite expensive, £5.50 on a weekend night. There are several more cinemas outside the city centre too. If you like the theatre, you will not be disappointed in Brum. Ok, it's not London, but there is still a good choice. You have the big players; the Rep, The Alex and the Hippodrome, which has just reopened after a massive refurbishment. The Rep also has a studio theatre called The Door which hosts new plays. It is only £2.99 on a Monday for students and under 26's and I totally recommend it. There is also the Crescent Theatre which hosts amateur plays and has a great youth theatre (can you tell I used to be a member?) There is the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, with some lovely paintings and a huge dinosaur that I remember from childhood visits. This is free. For new and modern art you could visit the Ikon Gallery in Oozels St, just off Broad St, which is also free and is a great place. There is also the newly opened Millenium Point Thinktank in Digbeth, which I haven't visited, but it looks great. Birmingham has a great gay scene if you are that way inclined. There are loads of bars and clubs down Hurst Street in the city centre. Transport The main form of public transport in Birmingham is the bus. Frequent and not too expensive, most people don't have an alternative other than the bus. If you are lucky, you will be on a route with the n
ice new buses that kneel down for pushchairs to get on. If you are unlucky you will be stuck on a bus with people smoking (it's supposed to be banned) and nowhere to sit. There is a metro (a sort of tram/train/bus crossbreed) that goes to Wolverhampton which is nice and clean, quick and cheap. The cross city trains are ok but only go to certain places. Most of the suburbs don't have a train station so the bus is the only choice. If you want to get out of Birmingham, there is plenty of opportunity, with a large train station, coach station and Birmingham International Airport. Birmingham in general Some people say Birmingham is rough and dangerous. I would say that it is as dangerous as any big city. I am lucky in that all the time I have lived there I have never been a victim of serious crime. As long as you know which places to avoid (Digbeth and other quiet parts of town at night) and act sensibly I think you will be ok. My only complaint about Birmingham is that there are no green areas to sit in the city centre but apparantly they are re-opening the cathedral grounds soon. For people who have never visited Brummy land, come on, give it a chance! You may be surprised. The city centre has parts that are very attractive, such as by the Council House where there is the statue of the Floozy in the Jacuzzi. The canal areas are also nice, especially around Brindley Place. Many people are surprised to hear that Birmingham has more canals than Venice, but it's true! It may be far from the sea (the nearest seaside is Weston SuperMare, 2 hours drive away!) but you are not far from lovely countryside like the Clent Hills, Malvern Hills and Lickey Hills. Areas out of town The nicest, greenest suburbs (in my opinion) to live in are Harborne, Moseley and Edgbaston. Edgbaston is home to the Botanical gardens, which is a great summer day out, and with a kiddies farm and adventure playground, it's not just
for plant lovers! When I was little it was free to visit, and on Sundays there was always a brass band playing on the band stand. I have many happy memories of picnics there. Bartley Green has Woodgate Valley Country Park, a huge parkland. It has a nature centre and stables on site, and is a great place for dog walking. There is also the Midlands Art Centre and Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston. The MAC, as it is otherwise known, hosts exhibitions, plays and films. Cannon Hill is a lovely park with a huge lake, tennis courts and a big kids playground. Cannon Hill plays host to Fireworks Fantasia every summer, a classical music spectacular set to fireworks. Take my advice-come to Brum!
I arrived at Birmingham university (Edgbaston) as a student in 1997, and left after 3 years when finished my course, so this is entirely a snapshot of what its like to come to the city in that way. Generally a lot of people complain about Birmingham, and its shops and entertainments, saying it is just a scaled up version of a small town (totally unlike, say, London) However, I never really felt this disappointment with it. Certainly in comparison to my home town, which is a very small and crappy place, Birmingham has everything. Both a great range of shops, pubs and clubs, including some very unusual and wacky ones, but also all the plays, exhibitions and bands that I wanted to see came to Birmingham. In fact, in comparison to London, where I have also lived to study, Birmingham is much more accessible to the student-type inhabitant. The layout of the town centre is relatively logical, without you having to find insider secrets to get to the cool or efficient places to shop. The public transport is very easy to follow, with key roads radiating out from the centre, and busses passing every few minutes. The main student area associated with Birmingham university is Selly Oak. There is actually a lot of friction between locals and students, and crime here is very high. I personally gave it a wide berth for this reason, and there are perfectly nice 'normal' areas to live in within easy walking distance. The university is situated right in this area, so you can theoretically live without even getting on a bus, the area has 2 big supermarkets, and tons of restaurants. Generally I found Birmingham a lovely place to live. Plenty of facilities, and exciting novelty places you get in a big city, good public transport, and the university itself on an attractive campus. It is easy to get to know and get a lot out of in only three years. And all the talk of curry is not wrong! Baltis in Birmingham really
are miles better than anywhere else I have been. And in many areas the streets are lined with them. This can be a disadvantage as well - now that I am away, I am addicted to the stuff and can't get it!
I’ve spent nearly 3 years now in Birmingham and have started to feel at home. For the first 6 months in Brummie, it was boring. The campus being far from the city centre doesn’t help. But I’ve managed to re-adjust. Brummie is different. It has an expanding city scene and the city centre is notably being redeveloped with the Mailbox being opened with Harvey Nich moving in. Bars and restaurants are now springing up in this part too, hopefully rivalling the city’s posh area of Brindley Place which is just behind the ICC symphony hall. For Britain’s second largest city, the improvements have taken a long time going. It now boasts the largest number of cinema screens in UK. The new UGC on Broad Street having some big screens and is worth the money. Anyway for those with stamina and excess energy to burn and looking for a night out then I hope this will help. Well to start the evening off in Birmingham, by eating out there are many restaurants in the city centre. But being in Birmingham, a curry is a must. Areas to go for curries are Sparkhill (birth of the balti) but my favourite being the Dilshad in Selly Oak (read posted op). Getting to Selly Oak is not a problem, with the trains running every 15mins (if its not late) or the frequent bus service (which admittedly I rarely use, remember to have the correct change!) and this is recommended. Getting a return service to Five Ways means a 5 mins walk to Broad Street. Getting off at New Street means ur at the centre of town and can venture anywhere you want. It’s a longer walk to Broad Street though, but much quicker to the Mailbox. This op will now separate to the various sections of the city. It is upto you where you want to go but if you’re really up for it, then mix it up by visiting the different areas, providing you can still stagger. A word of warning the city has a strict dress code, so no jeans and trainer
s. You’re not coming in even if you’re names on the list!! The op will include brief walkthrough of the main areas. See the other ops for more info on the clubs themselves. Broad Street Well it’s a long street and is the city’s buzzing place. From the Five Ways walkabout there is Bakers. Which is well worth going to but prepared for queues and the expensive entrance fee. Sports café is further along and next to the figure of eight. The drinks are cheap in the Figure of Eight and serves as a good meeting point or a pre-club drink session. Sports café entry in free before 10pm and 3 quid thereafter. The music varies and is loud. Drinks are not cheap. The Walkabout is at the other end of Broadstreet and is packed, Drinks are cheap. Getting served can be difficult though. Hey guys I’m straight, stop touching me up whilst I’m getting my drinks!! You ladies are welcome at any time though!! Music is played and varies. Surf paradise is next to it, but the dance floor is small. People present range from students to mature looking people. Very lively. Note getting taxis late at night can be very difficult. Brindley Place Up market part just off Broad Street. Very nice. Bars pleasant but drinks are expensive. Lively atmosphere and food is available from many of the places here. People tend to be more classy but not snobbish. Good starting point. New Street and the Centre Mainly pubs and restaurants. The Trocedero and The Shakespeare are pleasant but not really the young trendy place as in Broad Street. Still less distance to stagger to get a taxi. Odeon cinema nearby as the first of many Macdonalds and Pizza Huts. Acardian The Chinese Quarter bit. Have very trendy bars now, such as Bar Coast and 52 degrees north. Stars are supposedly hanging out at the latter. Mix crowd from young student types to classy looking mature people. Another UGC cinema f
or those interested. Around the corner is O’Neills and the Gay Quarter. Quite pleasant, surprisingly haven’t been touched up there yet! Opposite the Aracadian is the Steering Wheel Club, haven’t been yet and Legs 11 for those into their lap dancers. Near the Arcadian are more bars. Digbeth The Irish quarter. Many bars and clubs including The Sancturary, God’s Kitchen or Code. Fairly quiet in the streets, but very lively inside. Tend to more up-market student types in the clubs. Locals visible, The Last bit Well on my most recent Saturday night out, we decided to try something different and give Broad street the miss. We started queuing at the Cash Machine in the Arcadian, which was about 10 mins, but didn’t mind as we observed the classy people and scantily dressed walk by. People around was a mixture, but I would say where more of mid twenties with money to burn. Popping into the Toad, was a laugh, I was expecting this to be similar to the Walkabout but it wasn’t. Beer reasonably priced and good cocktails as well. Although quite busy, and with music playing, it seems to lack any atmosphere. A few drinks later didn’t make any difference. This is more of a stopping place for people going clubbing next door later on. The Zanzibar is across the road and is new but the queue deterred us from going in. So we settled on McCluskys. Well the 2 -4 -1 offer before 10pm persuaded us and the all night dancing. Paying the 4 quid entry fee, we were shocked to find a small dance floor and 80s music. The crowd is mainly locals, very few young student type around. Drinks are expensive even with the 2-4-1 offer. A vodka red bull cost 4.70. After downing the 2 and a couple of buds at 2.70 we observed the crowd. Me and my mate struggled to find any decent women to pull and my female friends were disappointed with the lack of decent blokes apart from us. Even the proposal by a mad bloke to
his girlfriend and the competitons failed to lift this place. A quick down of the last round to make us feel better about paying the entry fee we quickly left the place. The night was still young and not wanting to stagger far I wanted to visit the Steering wheel club. From the experience of McCluskys, (My choice) they quickly outvoted me and decided to wander into the unknowns of Digbeth. We wanted to flee in to The Sanctuary. After staggering across some major roads and the speeding cars like a drunker version of frogger,we made it to the Sanctuary. The queue was long and we had now decided to seek out the Code. Another of 10mins wander and wondering where it was, I saw the light, CODE is very well lit up and we walked over to it. The queue wasn’t that bad and we decided to go in. Security is tight and we were searched before we were allowed in. Women don’t worry, female bouncers search you. Now if only they searched us as well…. Entry fee is a crisp tenner. After only a minute of going in it seemed to be worth it already. The scantily clad dancing girls on stage, made us wonder whether we had entered a Gentleman’s club!! The music is LOUD! It is heavy dance material. After regrouping, we hit the bar, and was shocked to find a bottle of Stella was three quid. Oh well. The bar maid was very fit though!! After gradually settling into the music I was quickly grooving away, The place soon filled up and I was away looking for fit women. Another Stella later and I had failed to find any. Well single and free anyway. Another hard session on the dance floor followed and more attempts to find partners was a disaster. The number of men seem to outnumber the females quite heavily. And many of these seem to have an interest in me and my male friends, to the disgust of my female friends. The toilets are clean but lack any vending machines. Well this was an experience. The music was different but my body was seri
ously moving to it. Its simply hynotic. Our attempts to find normal companions for the night was a failure, though there were offers to my female friends for strange things though. After staggering out in the very early hours of the morning, we were very fortunate to hail a cab and get back home. It was an expensive ride though, thank god are guts held up.
If you are visiting Birmingham soon and expect to need a taxi between eleven and three, forget it. I have visited the city five times in the last seven months and have been subjected to misery at closing time on each occasion. Locals seemed well aware of the dire situation but had no solutions - either as suggestions or for themselves (since they too were moaning desperately). On one freezing cold evening in Decemember it took two and a half hours to get a cab. We tried goig into a hotel for help and ended up so desperate we very nearly booked a room instead. This would have been bad enough if it weren't for the fact that some joker was driving the streets with his window would down and mobile in his free hand asking people if they wanted him to call them a cab. Upon receiving confirmation that they did, he said, "You're a cab," and drove off.
Birmingham is the most seasonaly varying place I have encountered. In Winter, when the skies are grey and the rain frequent, Birmingahm is grim, cold and unappealing. The buildings look drab and dreary, the people look miserable and its not a fun place to be. In Summer, the light is softer, warmer and the buildings in the centre take on a very differnt aspect. In Summer, wandering the streets, sitting out or going out - its all great. Its ahrd to believe that its all one place. Birmingham museum is fantastic and contains some Pre raphaelite paintings, which I can highly recomend seeing. Entrance is free, and there's a good few hours worth of looking round to do. The Symphony Hall is quite central and really good - book in advance though. There is an ocean world or similar. It is very small and very expensive, I would not recomend it. The town centre Odeon cinema is pretty good. The seating isn't great, but it is really close to New street station, so is easy for people coming in. There are a few theatres in Birmingham, none of them outstanding, most of them god. The Alexandra often has interesting stuff. If you want something off the ebaten track, i would recomend the Mac centre - they have an arts cinema, and all sorts of musical and cultural events. Their prices aren't too steep. For wandering around, the best place to go is gas street baison - lots of narrow boats, some great pubs, and the place to be seen. It has a really good atmosphere. Shoppping in Birmingham is ok - a lot of the cheaper shops have gone with the Bull ring. There are some interesting places further away from the town centre but they are harder to find and it is a long walk. The Chinese area has some good shops, and the jewlery quarter is well worth a visit. As I visit places, I will add to this.
This opinion is NOT about Birmingham in it's entirety so if you're looking for opinions on that you will probably want to leave now while you have the chance. Once you start reading about the wondrous Bartley Green you'll not escape until you know every last detail about the place. Maybe. Unfortunately this is the best place I could find to put it so here it is. Bartley Green has been around for a few hundred years and was a seperate entity until it was swallowed by the industrial growth of Birmingham. Nowadays, it's a suburb in the South West of Birmingham and politically speaking is part of the more famous ward of Edgebaston. The area has a population of about 20,000 people and is fairly well serviced. There's adecent range of ages, from kids up to quite elderly people and in fact there is an Old Folks Home on the Hasbury Road. The main features of BG are the reservoir, the largest that I'm aware of in Birmingham (oooh, I'm so proud), Woodgate Valley Country Park and Senneley's Park. The Reservoir's kinda nice on sunny days, especially when the local sailing club or Sea Cadets are out in full force. Woodgate Valley Country Park is pretty big in area but the main bits you'll see are the visitor centre, the kiddie play area, the football pitches and the farm. The farm's not very big but great for kids to have a wander round (but closed at the moment for Foot and Mouth!). Haven't been in the Visitor Centre for quite a while but last time I did it was quite nice. Senneley's Park is quite big too, it's got a play area and football pitches too, but in addition there is a trim trail (which gets very little use), tennis courts and a BMX track. A travelling fair comes round a coupla times a year although it's a bit pricey and not amazing. Bartley Green Football Club play somewhere around but it's not like you'd be particularly interested in seeing them play. (They're not very good, I&
#39;m sure you'll disagree though, won'tcha Mike?) The shopping centre on Curdale Road is hardly deserving of the name "centre" any more. Ever since TSB closed it's doors a few years ago, the place seems to be slowly dying although the minimarkets like Costcutter and Circle K (= Alldays) seem in fine health and thankfully the eternal "Pat and Alans" will be there for ever. There are corner shops dotted around the place too, but if you want to do some serious shopping, you'll have to look further afield. That's not a major problem since BG has about 6-7 bus routes all leading to other big ol' shopping centres (Merry Hill, Birmingham, Harbourne, Northfield etc). The rest of BG is made up of residential areas. The architecture is not that great- there are quite a few blocks of flats dotted around the place which are not very easy on the eye. The rest of the houses are your fairly average 1960s&70s houses, with a bit of redevelopment over the last decade. The area has at least 4 churches and 3 doctors plus a dentist or two as well and a fire station. Plus 4 primary and 3 secondary schools. Ah. Schools. The main one in Bartley Green where most locals end up is Bartley Green School. You'll notice I said "end up" there because it is in very bad shape still, even after a few years of relative improvement. Completely at the other end of the scale from this is King Edward VI Five Ways School which is a grammar school. It doesn't have a great deal of contact with the rest of the area, but it is a good school and the only mixed sex grammar school in Birmingham. The other secondary is Hillcrest, an all girls school, which I'm told is hardly exceptional, but has a mixed Sixth Form. Many parents look further afield than BG for schooling. Personally, I'd recommend Leasowes School in Halesowen although from BG you may struggle to get in. Bartley Green school also has a night sch
ool for adults and a sports centre for hiring out various sporty bits and bobs. BG is the home of Newman College, a teacher training facility. Quite strange to think there's basically a Uni in Bartley Green but there you go. And check this out. Mother Teresa is meant to have been there to visit. Dunno when or why. How totally weird is that? She probably got attacked by some racist Bartley Greener while she was there. The nightlife is nothing special. There are about 4 pubs, all locals, so if you're looking for a posher night out, go down Broad Street or something (in town). The Woodgate Business Park is a big employer of the locals, and there's something like 10-20 businesses there. The other major employer is the Rover factory at Longbridge nearby. BG'd probably be in trouble if Longbridge ever closed. Famous people from Bartley Green. None. OK, it's produced some Z-list celebs: The tallest British woman of all time (whose remains are now at Brum Uni I believe), one time Coventry City football player Lloyd McGrath and Sneaker Pimps member Kelli Dayton. Heard of any of em? Nah, nor me. Best we've got though, unless I'm gloriously overlooking somebody obvious which I don't think I am. In fact that's pretty poor, isn't it! Well, my career as a world class rock star will just have to set all that right. Now, the problems faced by Bartley Greeners. There's quite a few and these are the reasons some (poor, misguided, realistic) people look down on Bartley. The youth are a bunch of yobs or at least that's what it seems like. When you see the 5% minority smashing bottles, getting drunk and generally causing trouble you start to believe it. Unfortunately there's not a lot for kids to do at nights so inevitably, they get bored. As a result crime in the area is on the increase, or at least it is compared to say 20 years ago. It's crime of the nicking cars and burning them out/
joy riding type, with some breaking into houses too. It depends on the exact bit of BG. There's also a fair bit of random vandalism, litter and although I personally haven't experienced it, I'm sure there is drug dealing going on around the parts, I'd guess in Senneley's Park. Locals can be racist (mainly kids again), particularly towards people of Indian and Pakistani cultures which is a disgrace but I've never seen it taken very far (not an excuse). Bottom line. Bartley Green can be a nice area to live. I've lived here 16 years so maybe my opinions are distorted out of all proportion, but I can't see myself living anywhere else (Unless I become that rock star....). If the young people start to grow up any time soon, the place'd be a lot better for it. I'd say there's another 10 years until the current wave of kids all progress into "adulthood", I'm just hoping they start to act like adults instead of just looking like them as some of the current "adults" do. *thinks to himself* ~so, to sum up, I'm saying:~ "This place is rubbish, but I'm crazy so I love it anyway. That means you should love it too!" ~hmmm, great argument Andi~
Now truly an international City. Birmingham. England's Second city should now be mentioned in the same breath as London, New York, Paris, Rome. The birth place of the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham is now the place to go. Whether it be to live, work, shop or play, Birmingham offers the lot. With World class facilities such as the NEC, ICC, NIA and the Symphony Hall. High class living quarters around Brindley Place and the Mailbox. Excellent shopping facilities with the brand new Bull Ring Area, shops such as Harrods and Armani and to top it off, an absolute kicking nightlife, visit Broad St, Star City or the new club Code. Not forgeting it has a brilliant football team - Aston Villa. As you can see Birmingham is now the place to be. Enjoy your visit!
Probably the ugliest city in England and the most dangerous if your carrying a mobile phone or something shiny as the city has very high ethnic population and all the poverty that encourages.Beware!. The shopping areas are dirty and The Bullring is an abysmal anachronism that requires the services of Fred Dibnah (TV Steeplejack) immediately. The vast sprawl and ethnicity demands caution on the darker lit areas only highlighted by crime stats and Police helicopters (Think about it). The arterial motorways and fly overs give you a chance to get out of here as fast as you came in although sadly Wolverhampton, Coventry and Wallsall are waiting for you at the end of them. It’s not the local’s fault and they have a wonderful dour sense of humor to cope with the grim surroundings and of course excellent sports facilities and concert venues. Getting there is very easy as they have more rails here than the whole of Norway with Europe’s busiest station, when there are trains only 80 minutes from the capitol and Manchester respectively. Fair play to the town planners as they have regenerated the canals in the city bowl where even Bill Clinton had a beer in recent years. If you’re working here like I was recently you can slip away at lunch for some decent pub grub and a beer or some sun in the hidden green spaces or the open areas near the theatre and exhibition centers. Nightlife is quite varied, as you would expect for Britain’s second biggest Metropolis with clubs and bars for all tastes including a rock club and Ronnie Scott’s jazz bar… …Nice. It’s probably a great city to study, as you have no loyalty to the place and your out on parole after three years. You can always stay in the affluent suburbs of Edgebatson and Aston where the red bricks hide although I reckon the night life is pretty good and you can have a wild time if you don’t spend all night queuing out side the t
rendy Designer Label only places and really get stuck in. The highlight for me was standing at the end of the runway ducking the 737s coming in really low at Birmingham International but don’t tell anyone ok. The heart of England. says it all about this country me thinks.
I lived in Brum for about one year, and I found this city the most souless and unfriendly place I have ever been this city seems to shut down at 7pm each night and I really do not know what these people do on an evening except hang around in Mcdonalds. The shops are pretty standard fare for a big city centre, and they are brums best feature, although most of the city centre looks like a 70's hellhole. The bus drivers were the rudest people I have ever encountered somewhere near to London bus drivers, and I didn't find the average Brummie to be much nicer, welcoming and friendly they weren't, the friends I made were all fellow "foreigners". I shudder at the thought of ever returning to this place I could never live there again.
Okay, I worte the opinion below about a year ago, and I have to say, my impressions of Birmingham have changed somewhat, perhaps I just needed a little time to get used to the place. The city centre - although extremely busy - has some serious merit, perhaps I just hadn't explored it enough, but down by the canal is lovely, I was impressed. Birmingham always has something to offer you, whether it be cinema/bowling/restuarants etc. There is also a wealth of parks and green places, always a breath of fresh air in a big city. The train service is reasonable and regular, running late into the night, which is always a plus point and I have to say that I quite enjoy spending time in Birmingham now, in fact I am somewhat fond it it. I guess I just needed to give the place a chance, although New Street Station still scares the life out of me :-) -- A family I know well recently moved to Birmingham, which means regular visits up to see them, and in my opinion, Birmingham isn't particularly brilliant. First I was greeted with the hell that is New Street Station, and I was knocked about like I didn't matter but people who seemed in a trance (okay, okay, I know they are busy) but it didn't stop, infact, when I got into the shopping centre it just got worse, nobody gave any consideration to anybody, but I guess thats just the way it goes. The Bullring was horrendous and after about 3 minutes in there I started to feel unsafe and legged it back out. The University though, is very nice and there are nice area to Birmingham, and the outer areas (that particularly impressed me) and there are parts like Bournville that are quiet and historical. There is also that lovely smell of chocolate... The Odean in town is awful, you feel like you are in a prison with sercurity yelling at you for standing on the stairs for about 2 minutes while someone nips to the loo, and the traffic in the town is bad, and so
is the Bristol Road. Still, you can see it has good point, and Birminghams one saviour is Reddingtons Rare Records.. Thank you for this little heaven Birmingham :-)