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.
The Stratford Greenway is a 5 mile stretch of disused railway that runs from the west of Stratford dwon towards Long Marston. Along the way there are iron bridges, signs, wild flowers and beautiful countryside to view. My photo buddy, John and I met at Stratford Cycle Hire at the start of the trail. Parking is easy and a short walk leads to two train carriages. The first is the bicycle hire and the second is Buddy’s Café with views over Stratford-upon-Avon Racecourse. I had previously arrange the bike hire with Vic the owner and there was a cheerful person to meet us and get us ready for our bike ride.
The track runs along the racecourse and the first encounter was the iron railway bridge. Lots of beautiful rust and overgrowth of bushes etc around the bridge. There is also the change to get down onto the river path and take some tourist pictures looking back at the bridge. The bridge is fascinating, and the iron rust makes for contrasting views with the greenery of the countryside. Many leading lines and processing in black and white. It was one of those structures that I could have spent a lot of time photographing.
The cycle trail takes you through some picturesque Warwickshire countryside and you are able to move along holding a conversation. My experience is that the Greenway is relatively quiet and therefore only occasionally do you have to go single file. This may be different at the weekends. Several minor roads and farm entrances are passed on the way. It is part of the National Cycle way and therefore many signs are place commemorating this.
At Long Marston there is still the old railway lines in the road. There is a large industrial estate and rail works and so a left turn and around half a mile down the road and you arrive at Expresso Coffee. Time to sit down with a coffee and a pastry. The café is owned by ExpressoStation They have outlets at Dorridge and Moor Street railway stations and expanding further afield. A lovely rustic place to stop and refuel. Rust is the word in this blog.
Then the return journey. At the half way point we took the right hand fork for a slightly different route and discover another train carriage which is Milcote Station Café. It was after 4pm so the place was quiet and not open. However the camera was at the ready and we were able to take some great photos of the place. Then the final bit back to get the bikes in before 5pm. There was then a chance to take a few pictures of Bobby’s Deli café and the Stratford Racecourse.
A grand day out and one to recommend for photographers who like to add a bike ride to their day out.
The Jewellery quarter is one of my inspirational places for photography. Affectionately known as the JQ, it contains so much history wrapped in its character. Old and new blend together with interesting details including churches, shops, doors, alleyways and jewellery shops. Arguably the centre piece is St Paul’s square with the beautiful Church in the centre. The spire is taller than the building making it difficult to frame for the photograph. However, there are a few areas where you can frame it correctly using the surrounding trees. I wandered around the square and then down Bennett’s Hill on a quiet Sunday morning. The only company were cyclists and joggers. A few people were sitting on the benches taking in the early sunshine. These are a few pictures taken around the square and down the hill.
There are a few places that are active on social media including the Soda Bread Cafe and up and coming photographer Rebecca who posts lovely photographs of the JQ skyline. It is sad to see the Jam House as I have many happy memories of nights out there. It will be a while before it opens again. The square holds many happy memories for me. It was here that one of my photographs first got featured as a BBC Midlands picture of the day. The Jam House, Andersons and St Paul’s House all have special family and work memories. So a quiet Sunday in June was spent not only taking photographs but reliving memories of a favourite Birmingham spot. Don’t let me have it all for myself why not visit it yourself but remember to take your camera with you.