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Tag Archives: Birmingham City Council

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022

A readymade garden in the middle of Birmingham really caught the imagination of the public.  PoliNations was not like any other garden and there was huge anticipation on what to expect. We were promised lots more activity during the B2022 Fesitval surrounding the Birmingham Commonwealth games. This display was stunning and also so different to what had gone before in the festival.  PoliNations is difficult to sum up in a few words.  I will try to describe the scene but I am aware that the gardens brought out many different experiences from those who went.

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Reflections in the Garden

To put it simply, Victoria square was transformed into a garden.  The paving stones, concrete, and other parts of the square were covered with grass and flowers. There were 5 manmade trees with large umbrella like canopies.  These trees were 40 ft high and towered above the landscape with the trunks covered with a colourful pattern.  At ground level, there were walkways through a garden of plants.  Access was by several entrances which lead to different zones.   Iconic plants such as apple, fern, roses and tulips were featured.  Other parts which were called Fringe, Sunny or Temperature zones had flowers to match the theme.  The map shown provides a key to the different areas.  The sensory garden had many different variety of flowers all based on those you would normally find in the City.  I visited twice once while it was raining and the second time when the sun shone. I enjoyed all the textures, interaction with people and the use of mirrors on the public seating.  

There was a full programme of events including music, dance and theatre which were held on either the large stage or the many smaller places through out the installation.  I was not able to attend these shows but my visits during the day gave me a flavour of the place. PoliNations was magical but quirky, natural but also unreal.  The diversity of the place was displayed in the range of flowers, the colours on offer and the people passing through. The place eventually caught up with you and made you sit down and take in the uniqueness of everything.  

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Taking Time Out

PoliNations was a photographers delight and there were many different views of the place with pictures taken with my camera.  There were many other stunning pictures taken using drones but I am a simple foot on the ground photographer and this is my interpretation of the place. A simple search on Instagram shows the variety of pictures that were taken. Please enjoy my pictures of my visit to PoliNations which serve as a memory of an extra-ordinary visit.

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Map of PoliNations

More pictures to view of PoliNations in the rain and the sun.

PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Rain does not stop people from enjoying the gardens.
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Take it slow
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Relax
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Take it easy
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Have fun
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
Great interactions either live or virtual
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
PolNations
PoliNations,Birmingham, September 2022
The Floosie in the Jacuzzi and PoliNations

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row

By far the most popular venue for the #keyofthecitybrum was Birmingham’s newly built skyscraper, 103 Colmore row. On the 18th floor, there is a south facing viewing platform that provides amazing views of the City’s major buildings.  When the Key started, Instagram was inundated with pictures of the City of Birmingham from this platform.  Many of these pictures were excellent and circulated by the social media team at 103 Colmore Row.  I left my visit to the building till late July and wondered how I could do a different picture from the platform.

Arriving in the foyer of the building with Nicky Warwickshire, my photo companion for the day @nickywarwikshire, we were met by Touwa, one of the volunteers for the Key to the City Brum.  Touwa welcomed us to 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, England. He explained that the newly built building was a 108-metre tall 26-storey commercial office skyscraper.  We were going to the 19th Floor and above this floor is the soon to be opened restaurant on the 24th floor. We were not going to the viewing platform but to a floor that provides a 360o view.  The floor was empty, and I was able to get pictures of buildings such as the BT tower and the Rotunda.  I even did a panorama to take in the skyscrapers.  It was also possible to capture views of the people visiting who were fascinated with the views.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Admiring the view
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Panorama of the City

My different picture?  I got down low and framed the top of the BT tower in the frame of the windows.  I was pleased as I had got a different view which still conveys the sense of height above the city.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
A different view of the BT Tower
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
My picture on BBC Midlands Today

Finally a few more pictures showing the colours of the City for the Commonwealth Games taken from the 19th floor of 103 Colmore Row.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Looking over the City and beyond. What can you see?
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Colours on the pillars.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
The view with everyone’s favourite the BT Tower.

My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.


Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Lapworth Museum

Northfield Community Garden

The 61 and 63 buses routes are ones I know well as I use them to visit the dental school at Pebble Mill. I don’t often stay on the bus but for the keys of the City Brum, I carried on and headed down to Northfield.   The final bus stop was only a short walk from the Northfield Community Garden.  There were large iron gates which were locked by the heavy but majestic Yale lock.  The gates had to be pushed open and then I entered.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
The gates to the garden with lock
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Welcome to the garden

There was a lovely welcome sign, and a garden-decorated tractor was also there to greet you.  The garden, next to a busy road, is a mixture of different influences.  My first thought is that the plants needed a good watering, but one could not overlook the enthusiasm that the gardeners have for the place.  There are several car tyres used to good effect providing places for the growing plants.  There were some welcome benches where one could sit down and take in the area.  In one way it was chaotic, but this was also its charm.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful display
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful tyres
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful chairs
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful Garden Shed

As the garden sits next to the busy Longbridge bypass, there is a dull noise of traffic in the background.  Over time this noise recedes, and it is possible to relax, reflect and take in the surroundings.   I loved the garden shed which was a colourful metal container painted with several colourful designs.  Overall, a pleasant place to visit and wander around.

Lapworth Museum

I took the 61 bus back up the Bristol road and jumped off for the University.  This #keyofthecitybrum was home territory for me as my visit was to the Lapworth Museum which is part of the University of Birmingham.  The museum has won several local awards and been nominated for national awards.  Geology is the theme, and this is highlighted by the magnificent Rock wall which reaches up to the ceiling.  The display cabinets have many drawers to pull out with each one revealing different parts of the collection The large number of windows make the museum a delight and the light streaming through is a feature of the place.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Lapworth Museum
Lovely designs

But the centrepiece is a large dinosaur which is centre piece to the main museum room.  Rory the Allosaurus is a commanding skeleton, and he is also the key to finding the lock as described in the instructions.  Finding the lock could have been a challenge but I was ready for something hidden having already been to Acocks Green Cemetery.  I found the lock in the cabinets opposite to Rory and inside there was a fascinating display of various rocks and fossils.  The pictures of the colours from the rocks is shown in the pictures. This treasure hunt for the key was rewarded with a lovely display.  Very well done.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Lapworth Museum
Rory shows the way

My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.


The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022

The star of the commonwealth games is the mechanical bull that was revealed at the opening ceremony. It stands 10 metres tall and sits atop a motorised vehicle that allows it to be manoeuvred. Both the head and the legs move and there are numerous working clogs and gears. When viewed close up, the details are astounding.

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
The Bull fenced in with emblems of the Commonwealth countries.

The Bull wowed the world at the opening ceremony and then immediately afterwards was escorted to centenary square in the City Centre. The public response has been amazing and as soon as news leaked out that it would be dismantled after the games, there have been a multitude of calls for it to stay. A petition has been set up and Birmingham City Council is being lobbied to keep the bull. The difficulty is that it is not easy to find a place to display a 10 metre high mechanical bull but a lot of thought is being given on how to achieve this. Meanwhile the Bull is attracting large crowds and everyone wants to have a selfie taking in the backdrop of Birmingham. Here are some pictures including intricate details of the bull for you to enjoy.

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
A man in the bull
The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
The bull casts a majestic pose

At the start of the week, the plan was to dismantle the bull at the end of the games. Now the City Council are planning to keep it due to the popularity of the structure. Fingers crossed people far and wide will be able to enjoy seeing this remarkable metallic puppet for many years to come.

Read these articles from the BBC to find out more.
Commonwealth Bull” A tourist attraction
Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Council considers keeping bull in the city

The Birmingham Bull. Centenary Square, Commonwealth Games 2022
The Bull has become a tourist attraction and a sensational one as well.

Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre

The Commonwealth games are coming to Birmingham and the City council has gone overboard to make sure that the streets and roads are looking their very best. There are new pieces of artwork, refurbishing of old artwork and the enhancement of buildings.  All guaranteed to make a Brummie proud.  The following pictures provide a flavour of what is taking place across the City. Birmingham is making a statement to the Commonwealth and the World that it is a vibrant and exciting place to visit.  

Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Perry, the mascot, is following the trams
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Our young people are the future of Birmingham.
Chamberlain Square colours
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Colours are everywhere…..
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
and everywhere you look there are giant posters.
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
The best way to get around is by foot or by bike.
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Taking a walk through the colours is fun.
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
You can even Cycle through the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
What would our forefathers thought of all this?
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Bollards with the Be Bold colours.


Lots of pictures around the city and it has been so exciting to see it all. I just hope this leaves a lasting legacy on the City of Birmingham. John Bray of the BBC has put together a wonderful set of images of Birmingham and his photography is excellent.
Commonwealth Games: Bright colours transform Birmingham landmarks – BBC

Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
The Council House, Queen Victoria, 103 Colmore Row, Iron:Man and a Seagull

Sunset glow over the water

Surprisingly I have never been inside Sutton Park.  Why not I ask myself, having lived in Birmingham and Solihull for over 35 years.  I have been to Sutton Coldfield many times but not to the park.  With some meetings cancelled, I planned a visit and got there around 45 minutes before the sun was to set.  I timed my walk to be at Bracebridge pool when the sunset was due to take place. 

Bracebridge Pool at Sunset
Bracebridge Pool at Sunset

It was muddy on the trails and I did get distracted by Blackroot pool on the way as the tree lined avenue next to the train line was glowing in the setting sun.  Eventually I arrived on the shore of Bracebridge and I sat down to admire the colours of the sunset.  I had debated whether to bring my tripod with me and I therefore played around with the ISO and left it at 400.  The colours were beautiful, and I lingered a long time around the pool. 

The shore at Bracebridge Pool
The shore at Bracebridge Pool
Reflections in the water
Reflections in the water
A bench with a view of the sunset
A bench with a view of the sunset

It was dark getting back and the prospect of negotiating the woods alone but luckily I met a couple who were disorientated and wanted to get back to the same car park.  The park does get very quiet when the sun goes down.  I came back and processed my pictures.

Blackroot pool in Sutton Park
Blackroot pool in Sutton Park

There was one I was particularly proud about and I received some interesting comments on it from Ewen in the British Tech Network Slackroom.

Sunset glow over the water
Sunset glow over the water

“So at that distance F10 to F8 is zero noticeable difference and F10 to F5.6 would have been a small enough amount for sharpening to reduce the difference. Handheld I expect myself to be able to shoot successfully at 1/15th There are trees there to brace against or you take off your shoe laces and tie them around the camera and hold the other end under you feet to get a taught line to pull against. All of these give you extra stops back to reduce the ISO. My first choice is always to maintain the lowest ISO and highest image quality as possible. Zooming in you already have excess grain in the water through the higher ISO and lower light level. Secondly, when adjusting the RAW file, use of ‘highlight’ slider to reduce the glare form the sun is the starting point as you need to get the ambient light on the rest of the image up. Your job is to balance the colours AND the textures. You’d nailed the textures but lost the awesome colours in everything but the clouds around the sun. Your next question is ‘what looks natural’ and when looking towards the Sun, your natural vision is ‘blown out’ in order to see the other details, so its ok to burn out the clouds around the sun a little more than you feel the histogram is telling you to. In that way you see more of the great detail in the trees and lake and you still get great colours in the clouds…just a little further away from the sun.”   

Always good to get such advice and thanks Ewen.

If you are thinking about visiting Sutton Park then there is a good website from Birmingham City Council which has maps and information.
Sutton Park, Birmingham City Council