Birmingham Pride 2018 – The Photos

Birmingham hosted an estimated 70,000 people at its two day Pride event that takes place in the gay quarter around Hurst Street each year. The parade kicked off at midday from the civic quarter with thousands of people lining the streets to watch businesses, charities, and social clubs marching through the city, or dancing on flamboyant floats.  See parade pictures here.

The main sponsor this year was HSBC, and it was great to see so much support for Pride from businesses national and local – with representatives marching from PwC, KPMG, Deloitt, Gowlings WLG, Pinsent Masons, NHS, Fire Service, Barclays, JLR, National Grid, and so many more.

It was sad but unsurprising to see on social media some negative response to this outpouring of joy in the city. Such homophobia should remind us of the roots of Pride parades; they were not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but for the right of LGBT people to exist without persecution.

Literally hundreds of artists filled the three stages inside the ticketed site. Dozens of drag artists and vocalists filed through the hot-pink carpeted Cabaret Stage compered by the very rude Sandra.  The Hippodrome’s Kinky Boots cast did a couple of brilliant routines from the show which is coming to town next spring. The dance stage had sets by renowned DJs such as DJ Zinc. Top highlights from the main stage for me were 80s legend Howard Jones, SuRie (our diva from Eurovision), and Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) who brought his unashamedly flamboyant Freddie-esque act to Pride as he starts to promote his new single. He was simply outstanding.

It’s not all about the partying, of course. Over the last five years Birmingham Pride have raised over a whopping £300,000 for good causes around the city. This year it has a focus on homelessness and is supporting SIFA Fireside, St. Basils, and Birmingham LGBT. Apposite choices given a disproportionate 24% of homeless young people identify as LGBT, and of those 77% say that coming out to their parents was a major factor in them ending up homeless [source: The Albert Kennedy Trust].

A brilliant weekend with friends, thanks all who made it so brilliant!

And now, the photos…

Posted in Area: Hurst Street / The Gay Village / South Side, Article, Special Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Birmingham Pride 2018 – The Parade Photos

What a weekend!  I don’t know where to start with writing it up!  I know you all love the photos, so here’s a few hundred to be getting along with.  I’m posting a gallery at a time so come back soon for even more photos.  We had an absolutely excellent weekend with friends celebrating the 21st Birmingham Pride.  Well done organisers and staff, the whole event seemed to run like clockwork.

We watched the wonderful parade, so brilliantly supported by local and national businesses and organisations alike.  The main sponsor, HSBC, brought an army of supporters and staff with them!  They were closely followed by The Alliance Network, which brings together professional services firms’ LGBT staff – PwC, Pinsent Masons, Gowlings WLG, E&Y, Deloitte, KPMG etc.  We saw lots from the public services with police, NHS, and fire service out in force.  The parade included all kinds of professional and friendship networks from gay dentists to LGBT Pagans and Christians!

Click an image to open it and then move through the gallery with the arrows.

Posted in Area: Hurst Street / The Gay Village / South Side, Article | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Purecraft Bar & Kitchen Supper & Beer Club

The team at much loved Purecraft Bar & Kitchen on Waterloo Street are launching a new treat on the first Monday of each calendar month, with their new supper & beer club starting Monday 4th June.

Head chef Neil, who’s food we have enjoyed not only at Purcraft Bar & Kitchen but also at an outstanding popup at 1000 Trades in the guise of One-Twelve Kitchen, will be serving a 5 course taster menu where he will be trying out new dishes mixed with some Purecraft classics.

Our sneak peak at the menu planned for the first meeting of the club includes:

Chefs Snacks:

Pork Belly with Apple

Smoked Eel with Horseradish

Colemore Sour Bread with Beef Fat Butter

Isle of Wight Tomatoes, Bacon Dash, Goats Curd

Turbot, Asparagus, Chicken Cream, Roast Chicken Sauce

Lamb, Cucumber, Black Garlic, BBQ Potato

Sheeps Yoghurt and Liquorice 

Chocolate, Praline, Milk Ice Cream

At 5 courses for £30pp or £40 including a beer flight matched to the courses, we expect this to be popular

You can book now at and by selecting Monday 4th June

Posted in Area: Colmore Business District, Birmingham Restaurant, Cuisine: English, Special Event, Uncategorized, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant | Leave a comment

Tiffin Indian Cuisine, Harborne

Tiffin ExteriorOccasionally our friends R&M knock a review up for us, so thanks to them for this one.

We’re quite partial to a curry on a Friday night.  Indeed we can often be tempted on a Saturday night as well. Having sampled the delights of all of Harborne’s curry houses regularly over the past two decades, we were naturally eager to try out the latest entrant to the market – Tiffin.

Tiffin opened in February in the old “Turners at 69” restaurant on the High Street, after Richard Turner unexpectedly announced its immediate closure. Only a minimal refurb was carried out by the new owners to this small and somewhat cosy venue, and so it very much retains the chandeliered, somewhat flashy look of its former incarnation. This isn’t exactly how you might expect your average curry house to look, and so we were intrigued to see how the overall offering would be pitched.

Various rumours swirled around about Tiffin before it opened, notably that it would be Out In Brum - Tiffin - Poppodomserving traditional Indian street food.  Putting to one side how trendy street food would have fitted in with the rather bling restaurant interior, we were really quite excited about the possibility of having delights such as chana chaat available on our doorstep. It transpired, however, that this was not actually the case, and the menu very much reflects the traditional curry house fayre on offer in the other restaurants locally.

Naturally we booked a table on a Friday night, opting for 9pm to allow for a cheeky post-work beer beforehand.  On arrival the restaurant was full, and it quickly became apparent that our table was not ready due to other guests staying longer than anticipated.  The small Out In Brum - Tiffin - Tiffin Starter 2size of the restaurant means that there is no space for a bar or other suitable waiting area (other than the serving area, which also acts as the corridor to the toilets), and so we were
asked if we would take a seat at one of the small number of tables outside.  On a chilly spring night this wouldn’t have mattered so much if there was heating and better lighting for the exterior seating, but unfortunately there was neither, nor was our drinks’ order taken so we could while away the time with a beer.  Worried about dehydration we went back inside to specifically ask for some.

Out In Brum - Tiffin - Tiffin StarterWe were seated in the restaurant around 15 minutes later.  To be fair, once at our table the waiters were apologetic and offered us complimentary poppadoms and dips.  Unfortunately, there is little they can do with the space available if guests already in the restaurant take longer than expected.

After a somewhat shaky start, and back in the warmth, things began to improve. The table was beautifully presented, and the glasses and tableware had a higher end feel than many other local curry houses we have visited (although the cobwebs and numerous blown light bulbs on the two chandeliers could do with being fixed, and quickly!).  The menu was also
well designed and of a standard that you would expect to find in posher city-centre establishments (sad as it may seem, I do enjoy a well-presented menu!).  Alongside the Out In Brum - Tiffin - Mainusual traditional favourites on offer at curry houses nationwide, there was also a decent selection of chef’s recommended specials.

The poppadoms were warm and crisp, and the dips fresh and spicy.  For starters, we opted for the harra chicken kebab and shami kebab.  The chicken was moist and full of flavour and really rather better than countless similar starters we have had elsewhere on the High Street.  The lamb was spicy but disappointingly dry.  Both came with a rather uninspiring undressed factory-prepared side salad, which somewhat let them down.

For mains, we had a korai and tawa, served with a plain naan and a boiled rice.  For us, the korai was the stand-out dish – served in its own mini wok, the lamb was succulent and full of flavour, with just the right amount of onion.  The tawa was a mixture of minced and diced lamb served in a sizzling dish, again warmly spiced.  The rice was steaming hot and incredibly fluffy, and felt to us as if it had been freshly cooked rather than sat in a warmer for a while.  The naan was the perfect combination of both lightness and crispness, with a drizzle of butter, a million miles away from the heavy doughy breads so often served.   The plates were hot, and the portion sizes just right.  We often find we simply cannot eat the Out In Brum - Tiffin - Main 2portions served in many curry houses, but these were perfect for us.  Our plates were cleared, and we were replete.

All-in-all, and putting to one side the glitch at the start of the evening, both the food and service were of a generally high standard.  In fact, in our opinion better than that on offer in most of the other local curry establishments.  The restaurant was bustling but not overly loud, and despite the small size did not feel cramped.  Although we stuck to our traditional Indian lager (2 large Cobras please), there was a decent wine menu on offer, with the head waiter happy to chat through his recommendations for wine-food pairings.  Most customers seemed to be opting for a bottle of wine, rather than beer, which would certainly suggest that they have the wine offering about right.

Tiffin is aiming to provide a more sophisticated experience than much of that on offer locally, and it succeeds in part. We have visited three times now.  The team of waiters is universally friendly, and hard-working and enthusiastic manager Rolly does his absolute best to try to help customers have a great evening.  We enjoyed the food, which compares favourably with the local competition, and notably each individual dish tasted fresh (and not as if made from a base catering pack of sauce/spice mix).  The place is clearly already attracting regulars and we suspect its popularity will continue to grow.  That being said, we couldn’t help but feel as if it aspires to be rather better than it is, and (whilst certainly good) the food and overall experience is not a patch on that on offer in either Asha’s or Lasan.  The small size of the restaurant and lack of any bar/waiting area clearly creates problems.  On a second visit (again having both booked and arrived on time) we were asked to wait for our table standing in the corridor to the toilet, constantly being moved to allow for waiters and food to pass.  We were not the only ones this happened to.  They really need to sort this particular issue out, even if it means booking tables further apart or giving a time period for each table at busy times.

Prices are a little higher than you will pay at most other curry houses in Harborne, although not hugely so.  Expect to pay around £5-7 for starters, £9 for a traditional classic main and £12-15 for chef’s special main courses.  The dishes are also on the spicier side, and so if you prefer your curry milder it is definitely worth requesting this when ordering.

We’ll definitely be back again, no doubt for our traditional Friday night curry.

Posted in Area: Harborne, Birmingham Restaurant, birmingham restaurant review, birmingham review, Cuisine: Indian, Price: Average, restaurant review, Uncategorized, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Vanguard Meadery & Cocktail Bar

Out In Brum - The Vanguard - Sam Boulton Shaking

Independent venues have been opening at a rate of knots in the Jewellery Quarter over the past couple of years. It’s become a firm favourite location for Friday evening drinking and dining with everyone we know. From The Pig & Tail to Ana Rocha, there’s something for Out In Brum - The Vanguard - Gosnells Citra Sea Meadeveryone.

One of our go-to venues is ‘1000 Trades’, named after our second city’s Victorian nickname for being known as “the city of 1000 trades” where our residents worked industriously in tiny back-to-back houses making everything from chain to glass eyes, from teddy bears to bear traps.

Sharing that same building now, on its second floor, is Sam Boulton’s new offering, The Vanguard Out In Brum - The Vanguard - Fernet Branca
meadery and cocktail bar.  Sam has spent a decade in the drinks industry starting as a glass collector and working his way through to bar consultant. His new place, much of it hand built by him and his dad, will be where he gets to show off his acquired knowledge, and his love of interesting spirits, ingredients, and slightly odd obsession with the drink mead.

Mead is made from fermenting honey in water. It was drunk all over the ancient world, from Vikings to Diogenes era Greeks. They all certainly knew how to have a good time, and mead would definitely have been part of of their revelry. Sam will tell you that some modern producers are knocking out vodka with water and “honey flavour” as “mead”, unfashionable as the drink has been over the last thousand or so years no one has codified how it may be made, unlike the strict laws on so many libations, so be careful what you’re buying.

Sam sells several styles of mead from 4% – 14% alcohol, £4.50-£10.  We tried the entry Out In Brum - The Vanguard - Interiorlevel Yore mead with strong honey and mint notes, and the quite weird Gosnell Citra sea mead, which had a mouthfeel like licking a nine volt battery – not one for me!  The dry hopped mead was light and refreshing,  and we really enjoyed it, perfect entry mead for beer drinkers. I’m sure they’d be wonderful as food matches but I don’t recall ever being offered any, perhaps it’ll be a trend over the next year or so.

As well as mead, The Vanguard offers a good selection of cocktails, listed by flavour profiles rather than base spirit to encourage you to move beyond your regular favourites. One uses Sam’s favoured digestif, Fernet Branca – a menthol, medicinal, put-hairs-on-your-chest, affair. While some people (including myself) enjoy a small Fernet after dinner, for many it’s too overpowering. Sam’s restrained use of it in the cocktail ‘The Barman’s Handshake’ gives a heady depth of flavour. We also sampled Branca Menta, a more menthol forward and lighter version of the syrupy drink.

The Vanguard compliments Jon & John’s offering downstairs at 1000 Trades.   I look forward to spending an evening here between the two bars for aperitif, beers, dinner, wine, and digestifs.

Posted in Area: Jewellery Quarter, Article, birmingham review, Price: Average, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Cocktail Bar, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birmingham’s First Dedicated Whisky Bar set to Open in the Jewellery Quarter

Birmingham is set to get its first dedicated whisky bar on Vyse Street from the founder of The Birmingham Whisky Club and Festival.

Set inside the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter the bar will have a unique selection of roughly 300 whiskies and other fine drinks.

Where possible the other drinks will underpin the story of the whisky i.e. barrel-aged gins and gins made by whisky distilleries. Ports, sherries, other fortifieds, cognacs and armagnacs, the casks of which are often used in the whisky maturing process. Bourbon and whisky finished beers.

There will also be a small selection of interesting wines and soft drinks for those not partial to a wee dram.

Known for pioneering the whisky community in the city, Amy Seton has worked with Intervention Architecture to transform the space which will open to the public in February this year.

Speaking about the concept Amy said: “I set up the whisky club six years ago and have helped to build up a thriving community of whisky lovers. Opening a bar was the logical next step, giving our members a home and creating a space to introduce more people to the exciting world of whisky.

“Birmingham has shown a real love for a dram or two since I set up the club. Our annual festival sells out 600 plus tickets year-on-year and we attract high profile brands and whisky drinkers from as far as Cornwall to our events.

“We welcome everyone to our new bar from whisky aficionados to complete beginners who are looking to start their whisky journey.”

As well as all of the previously mentioned drinks sold by the measure or glass, Amy is creating some ‘Whisky Stories’. These are the team’s own tasting flights that will be available with each ’story’ telling a different tale through the whisky served. i.e ‘Amateur Dramatics’ will be a beginners guide to whisky with four whiskies that are good to start your whisky journey. Under the Cherry Blossom Trees will be a journey through Japan with four whiskies. These ’stories’ are presented at your table with a written guide so you can taste through at your leisure.

The unique partnership between Birmingham Museums Trust has been spearheaded by commercial director Alex Nicholson-Evans, commenting on the partnership Alex said: “I’ve worked with The Birmingham Whisky Club on a series of successful events over the last few years and when Amy and I were discussing the idea of a whisky bar we had lightbulb moment.

“Birmingham Museums Trust is an educational charity so we are always looking for interesting collaborations with local businesses and for creative ways to raise vital funds, so this seemed like a perfect partnership. The Birmingham Whisky Club bar will transform a currently empty space within the museum building and is a very welcome addition to the Jewellery Quarter.”

The bar will be open to everyone who wants to get a preview before the refurb is fully complete. A free dram for whisky lovers on arrival and there will be a good selection of beers, wines and spirits for non-whisky drinkers.

The Birmingham Whisky Club bar will open to the public on February 14th opening times are Wednesday to Sunday midday to midnight.

Although not exclusively a member’s bar memberships are available which give access to special events and discounts.

Posted in Area: Jewellery Quarter, Uncategorized, Venue type: Bar | 2 Comments

Enjoy the Sun of Benidorm Live at New Alexandra Theatre


Benidorm Live! At the New Alexandra Theatre December 3rd to 29th 2018

 Derren Litten’s smash hit ITV comedy BENIDORM is set to bring sunshine and smiles to the UK and Ireland as the first ever stage version of the ITV comedy marks its world premiere at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle from Friday 7th September 2018 and opens at Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre for a fun-filled Christmas season from the 3rd to 29th December 2018. The show will be produced for the stage by Michael Harrison and David Ian.

Litten has written an all new set of Alicante escapades for the much-loved cast members, including Jake  Canuso (Mateo), Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline), Adam Gillen (Liam), Sherrie Hewson (Joyce Temple-Savage), Shelley Longworth (Sam), and Tony Maudsley (Kenneth) as they swap sangria for the stage next year after a quick spruce at the Blow ‘n’ Go!

Benidorm – Live will be the stage debut production of the hugely popular TV show, and on making its transfer, writer Derren Litten said: “I’ve loved ten years of writing my TV show Benidorm but despite a successful writing career I’m first and foremost a performer so have always been secretly frustrated I couldn’t hear the audience’s laughter. This national tour of Benidorm Live will not only make a long lasting dream come true but will also mean I no longer have to stand in strangers gardens listening at their windows at 9 o’clock on cold winter evenings.”

ITV’s smash-hit comedy celebrates a decade of all-inclusive hilarity, having followed the ensemble cast of holiday makers and staff for nine series since it first broadcast in 2007. Season 10 is due to broadcast early 2018.

Critically acclaimed, Benidorm has received two National Television Awards a TV Quick Award and nominations at the British Comedy Awards and BAFTAs.

After leaving school in Hull in the late 1980’s Derren Litten spent a year working as a professional magician whilst auditioning for drama schools.  He won a place on the 3 year acting course at the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama where he met fellow student Catherine Tate.

After 10 years of working as an actor, Derren was asked by Catherine to write for her newly commissioned TV sketch show,The Catherine Tate Show; in which he also appeared in many of the sketches.  After co-writing and appearing in two series and a Christmas Special, Derren was given a script commission by legendary comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins, “just write anything you want as long as it’s funny” he said; that show turned out to be ITV’s BAFTA nominated hit comedy Benidorm. Derren’s hobbies include drinking and karaoke, usually in that order. He splits his time equally between homes in London and Spain.

Tickets are now on sale.


Twitter: @benidormonstage

Instagram: @benidormonstage

Facebook page: Benidorm on Stage


3rd to 29th December 2018                                                  0844 871 3011

New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham           *

Posted in Area: City Centre, Uncategorized, Venue type: Entertainment | Leave a comment