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Tag Archives: igersbirminghamuk

Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Birmingham, January 2023

Venturing into China Town Birmingham to celebrate the Chinese New Year was a colourful affair. Hurst Street was set up with a stage and there were a number of market stalls set up along the street. The main action when I arrived was down in the Arcadian where the dragon dancers were in residence. The dancers put on a great show and these are a few pictures of the costumes and people that were in Chinatown to celebrate the New Year.

Chinese New Year, New Street Station, Birmingham, January 2023
New Year Blossom for Chinese New Year in Birmingham New Street Station
Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Birmingham, January 2023
Getting close to the action in the Arcadia
Chinese New Year, Chinatown, Birmingham, January 2023
Getting lost in the action. Picture Credit – Lena Mac from IgersbirminghamUK

Walking in Digbeth, Floodgate St, January, 2023

“Walking after you” is a line from an old CCS song called Walking that was released in 1971. The band CCS was led by Alexis Korner and was my introduction into blues music. The song mirrors my photography as I walk along the streets of Digbeth. Arriving early on a January morning before 8am, the street lights were still on in Floodgate street and there were not many distracting cars around. I quickly got out and started taking pictures. In my excitement, I did not get the right focus on my Fujifilm x100v but my iPhone came to the rescue. The opening picture caught the reflections in a large puddle formed from the overnight rain. This is a classic view of Floodgate Street and one that fortuitously worked very well. It did not need much processing and the cropping was critical to remove lettering and stray reflections.

Walking in Digbeth, Gibb St, January, 2023
Gibb St provides many photographic opportunities plus reflectionshots.

Having parked my car in Selfridges multi story, I wandered back to Digbeth as I had time before my morning appointment in town. I used my x100v exclusively for the majority of the pictures. The streets were shiny as the rain had been heavy the previous morning. Puddles were grouped along Gibb Street and Floodgate Street providing more photographic opportunities. My visit included a wander to the edge of Deritend to see the sunrise and then back down Upper Trinity Street which completed my trip around of the area.

Walking in Digbeth, just off Floodgate St, January, 2023
Mind where you park

Constant change is synominous with the area. Shops have changed hands, new restaurants and night clubs have sprung up. There is new Street Art and old graffiti has to survive the constant mindless tagging that takes place. Around there are new building projects and Digbeth High Street is still scarred with tram works although one lane is open for traffic.

Walking in Digbeth, Gibb St, January, 2023
Street Art, arches, lamposts and people, all add to the photographic mix.

For street photographers, there is a constant stream of scenes forming in front of your eyes and most of the inhabitants seem resigned to being photographed as it goes hand in hand with living in such a creative district. Walking after you is my theme and we have several people set against the backdrop of the Digbeth buildings. There are also pictures of the latest street art on the different buildings. The street mural highlighting Parkinson’s disease was previously advertising Peaky Blinders. This wall next to the High Street has become a sought after location.

Parkinson's Disease Mural, Deritend, Birmingham, January 2023.
Parkinson’s Disease Mural.

There are more pictures below taken during my visit to Digbeth. At the end, I have put links to several of my past Digbeth blogs for further reading.

Walking in Digbeth, Floodgate St, January, 2023
Another view of Floodgate Street with the Floodgate on the left.

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Welcome to Digbeth, Birmingham, January 2023
Welcome to Digbeth

Looking back through my blog, I found that I have an extensive collection of pictures that feature Digbeth. This includes a few more pictures of Floodgate St and Gibb St as well. Please feel free to browse through my pages and comment on what you see and read.

My Top 4 pictures of 2022, Damien Walmlsey

Each year photographers share their top photographs and I am no exception in doing this. I wrote a blog about my personal favourites for 2021. Now it is the turn of 2022 and I have limited to my top 4. Why four? Well the arrangement works well for Instagram and I am not such a fan of the Top 9 where the pictures are even smaller. The four pictures that I have selected all have a story to tell. The picture may have done well in national or local competitions. There may have been some nice comments about the style and composition that were pleasing to hear. I hope you enjoy the selections.

Regency Wharf
This picture received a commendation in Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2022 and was featured in the published book. This was quite an achievement for me as this is a very competitive competition and a place in the book is very much sought after. I wrote a blog about this picture and it explains how and why it was taken.

Regency Wharf, Birmingham, Commended in LPOTY2022 picture taken January 11th
Regency Wharf, Birmingham, My picture of Regency Wharf, Birmingham that was Commended in LPOTY2022

Selfridges 2022
This iPhone picture was well received by many people on my various social feeds. The picture celebrates the new look Selfridges after the discs has been replace. “The discs are back in town” is a blog I wrote about this and other pictures of Selfridges.

Selfridges July 2022
An upward view accentuating the symmetry.

Westside BID winner
Last year I failed to get shortlisted for the inaugural Westside Business District Calendar competition. So this year, I entered in again and I came first which was I was so pleased about. The prize was £175 voucher to an exclusive restaurant next to the ICC Birmingham. The winning picture is below and a description of how it was done in covered in my blog.

Winning photograph Westside BID calendar 2023
My winning photograph for Westside BID calendar.

Broken Life
I am not very good at Still Life photography and it was one of my assignments in a 52 week photography group that I belong to on Flickr. I am not sure why I went for this picture approach and it was well received on the Weeklies. It was my only shortlisting last year for #wexmondays. I am going to do more photography like this for 2023 so watch this space. Also read my blog about how it came about.

Broken plates
A place setting with broken plates and cups. What has taken place?

Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022

The IgersbirminghamUK team were invited to view Orelle, the newly opened restaurant situated on the 24th floor of 103 Colmore Row. Three of the Igers team, Lena, John and myself arrived at the Orelle Cafe on the ground floor where we received a warm welcome from the staff and then we took the lift up to the 24th Floor. Once again we were greeted warmly by the staff working in the Restaurant. This week, the restaurant was undergoing a soft start and the official opening was still to take place on the Friday. We were shown to the private dining room and served a glass of champagne. We had the room to ourselves and we duly obliged by taking lots of photographs. The sun was setting over the city and whilst the sunset was not a spectacular one it still threw up some lovely colours.

Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
View from the private dining room
Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
Sipping Champagne as the sun sets
Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
Urban view of Birmingham and the rotunda

Having exhausted all the possible photographic opportunities we could think of in the private dining room, we moved into the main restaurant area. There are several aspects to Orelle’s that set it apart from other similar places I have visited. First the views are spectacular and the sunset followed by the blue hour made the surrounding landscape stand out. Second the restaurant is well designed and the ambiance and design is very easy on the eyes. Finally the staff are so pleasant and enthusiastic. They are proud of the place. This showed in their willingness to chat about the restaurant and discuss what it was like working there. I talked with Bart, one of the waiters, who described the menu options. They sounded delicious. I wish Orelle restaurant every success and hopefully I will return for an evening dinner along with another sunset.

Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
A view through a glass
Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
Bart was an enthusiastic waiter who typified the friendliness of the staff.
Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
Views from your table
Orelle restaurant, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2022
Atmospheric setting

Please visit my blog on 103 Colmore Row during the Key to the City Brum Festival


The Bull in the Car Park, Ladywood, Birmingham, October 2022

The Bull enjoyed an intense period of adulation during the Commonwealth Games as the Birmingham Public took the Bull to their hearts.  Standing tall next to the Central Library, the Bull became the main attraction in Centenary Square.  I visited the square several times with the family.  Whether you were young or old everyone loved the Bull.  However, rumblings about its future began to surface as we learnt that it was not going to be a permanent fixture.  There was an open debate what would happen after the Commonwealth Games were over.  My blog account of that first day when the bull was moved to Centenary Square after that amazing opening ceremony, shows how much it was loved.  There was much discussion about the future and the decision was to keep the Bull on show till the end of September.  

The Bull at the peak of its powers during the Commonwealth Games

On the hour during the games, there was an amazing display from the Bull. The animatronics included leg movement, shaking of the head and smoke coming out of the nostrils.  All this ceased as the team who operated the internal levers and controls moved onto other contract work in the UK.  The Bull remained standing proud and was admired by the many visitors who came to Birmingham.  Then not quite at the end of September, the Bull was moved from the square.  It quickly transpired that its new home was a piece of waste ground in Ladywood near to the Birmingham canal navigations.  There were coverings over the structure to protect it from the elements.  Protection is needed as the Bull is of mixed construction with a metal outer skin, but internal organs made of foam and electronics.  Within its centre was a telehandler, a type of tractor that enabled the bull to be moved around.

The Bull in the Car Park, Ladywood, Birmingham, October 2022
The Bull behind barbed wire

So how is the Bull these days?  My pictures reveal life as a Bull in Birmingham after the Commonwealth games.  The Bull stands alone by the canal behind barbed wire, covered with a tarpaulin. There is a single security guard on duty.  My pictures show it is lonely and that people do not know it is around.  My picture of the lonely bull with the couple passing by captured the imagination of Instagram and it was featured by BirminghamLive bringing its plight to the attention of the whole of Birmingham.

The Bull in the Car Park, Ladywood, Birmingham, October 2022
Behind bars and do not touch.
The Bull in the Car Park, Ladywood, Birmingham, October 2022
The lonely Bull in the Car Park

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022

This was one venue that I was not able to book onto during the #keytothecitybrum project and therefore my visit was a few weeks after the Commonwealth Games.

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022
Simon blows the whistle on whistles

Simon Topman, managing director of 150-year-old ACME Whistles greeted our small group with the words “You are part of the leftovers”.  No, this is not a reference to a meal or a restaurant, rather Simon was referring to the “Key to the City”.  During the festival, the Whislte tour only took place on Wednesdays, and as I was soon to realise, only small groups could be taken around the factory premises.  Therefore, I was one of many that could not get on a tour during the Key to the City dates.  I was determined to complete the full set of venues with my key and so I was more than happy to attend and proud to be one of the “leftovers”.  

Whilst we waited for Simon to appear for the tour, we had coffee and biscuits in the upper meeting room.  The place reminded me of my grandmother’s sitting room with so many fascinating memorabilia on display.  There were items from the two wars, recent links to the England football team and the late Queen’s Jubilees.  The furniture was wonderfully luxurious, and the focus was all about whistles. 

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022
A tub of whistles

There are several accounts on the Internet about the ACME whistle tours led by Simon, and these have elevated the experience to a legendary status.  What does this account add to a thoroughly entertaining 2 hour tour of the factory?  To start with, Simon is a first-class raconteur and a master of storytelling.  We learnt about the history of the whistle and how the business started.  It all began with Joseph Hudson and his invention of the police whistle in the 1870s and the company have not looked back since.

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022
WW2 bomb damage from shrapnel

For a photographer, the tour was a delight and I had fun taking pictures of the various factory scenes that unfolded.  At the start of the tour we surveyed the bomb damage in the ceiling from WWII. Then we entered the working factory. Each area provided an interesting viewpoint of the making of whistles.  What was intriguing was how the light changed throughout the grand Victorian building.  The shiny surfaces of numerous whistles resulted in a host of pictures.  There were several macro-opportunities of the whistles themselves. The people who worked at the factory were the stars and I hope they did not mind being photographed as their contributions to the manufacture of the whistles was interesting.  I took pictures of the different processes that took place in the production of both the metal and plastic ACME whistles.  I took the opportunity of photographing Simon and was taken aback when he informed me that not that many people ask to take his photograph during the tours.  But like a professional actor, he quickly posed with both whistles and rackets.  I would love to spend the day photographing all the people working in the factory.  There is so much that is happening that deserves to be recorded.  

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022
Rattle and Whistle.

Then the tour was over.  I looked at my watch 2 hours had sped by.  The fee for the tours goes directly to charity and the factory has strong links with a local school for children with special educational needs.  I brought one of their silent dog whistles and three of their authentic Titanic whistles which is another story that Simon tells so well. It is worth just booking on the tour to hear about how the original whistle was used on the Titanic and its reprise in the successful film.

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022
The Tiled entrance hall with a bell in the corner

I left by the front door, admiring the beautiful tiling and other tokens of a long successful business in the world of whistles.  Outside the Victorian building looks resplendent and has seen many events during its lifetime. Simon informed me that the front street was to feature in the new ITV series written by Lenny Henry called “Three little birds”.  I forgot to mention to Simon that this was an opportunity to market a new whistle to commemorate the Influx of immigrants from Jamaica.  Such a whistle would prove to be very popular at carnivals and other celebrations!

ACME Whistles, Key to the City, Birmingham, 2022
The entrance to the Whistle Factory

There are many accounts on the Internet about the legendary Whistle Tour led by Simon Topman and I have put some of the links below.

Please follow my blog with all the entries to the “Key to the City” start with my Key ceremony. Please follow further links to view the other venues.


Key to the City Brum, Raja Monkey, Birmingham, 2022

The Raja Monkey restaurant in Hall Green has an international reputation in the world of curries and again was one of the more unusual entries in the #keyofthecitybrum project. I was nearing the end of my key quest and I was wondering how to organise a visit to the restaurant.  Unbeknown to me, Sandy and Sian were very interested in having a meal at the restaurant and so we booked on the Thursday when the opening ceremony to the Commonwealth Games was taking place.  We arrived to a warm welcome and shown to our seats.  We remarked on the décor of the restaurant which gave it a middle eastern look.  Then we received our special menus for the #keytothecitybrum.  Both Sandy and Sian went for the traditional curry option whilst Jim and I went for the special menu. 

Key to the City Brum, Raja Monkey, Birmingham, 2022
The Special Menu

The special menu had an Indian food base but was heavily influenced by Bangladeshi food preparation.  There were three courses and when the food arrived the waiters explained in detail the source of the food.  There was also a lot of pride in what they were serving.  

Key to the City Brum, Raja Monkey, Birmingham, 2022
To Start
Key to the City Brum, Raja Monkey, Birmingham, 2022
To Follow
Key to the City Brum, Raja Monkey, Birmingham, 2022
To Finish

At the end, Sandy and Sian said “one of the best curries they have had”. We reflected that the restaurant has a wonderful family atmosphere. The food was superb with excellent service. Thanks to #keyofthecitybrum for allowing us to discover this wonderful establishment.

A wonderful meal @rajamonkey and highly recommend visiting the restaurant.

Key to the City Brum, Raja Monkey, Birmingham, 2022
The sign of a good meal.

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, Aston Hall Birmingham 2022

Aston Hall is a beautiful Grade 1 listed building near to the Aston Villa football ground and is considered to be a leading example of a building from the Jacobean era.  When I arrived at the Hall, a wedding party was setting up.  Two Lamborghinis drove up and parked outside the hall.  They provided great photographic opportunities. 

Key to the City, Aston Hall Birmingham 2022
Fast Cars in front of the Hall

I went into the house and as it was an early Sunday morning I found that I had the place all to myself.  I have been to the Hall several times and always find it fascinating.  So many highlights including the room where King Charles 1 stayed during the Civil War. The staircase where there are the remains of cannon ball damage in the wood which have not been repaired.  The Long Hall always takes your breath away with its simple magnificence.  I made my way to the staircase which leads up Dick Garretts room.  Dick Garret was a servant accused of stealing food and then took his life in the Attic room named after him. 

Just before Dick Garretts room there is a grandfather clock and to the left a door followed by another door which has a lock.  My key opened this door which opened quickly and noisily.  Once through the door, there are several rooms that you are able to access. You enter the first two which are unfurnished and then the last one that is furnished with bed, mirror and writing desk.  I realised that I was all by myself in this secret area. Aston Hall is supposed to be the most haunted place in Britain. Not only is there the ghost of Dick Garret but a Grey Lady that is seen around the Hall.  Fortunately, I did not encounter them or any other ghosts.  

Key to the City, Aston Hall Birmingham 2022
The room with the entrance to the secret chamber.

Or was the ghost already there, I will never know?

Key to the City, Aston Hall Birmingham 2022
Face at the window

What I did capture is a series of pictures and a fun visit to Aston Hall. If you enjoyed this blog then follow up with an account of an instameet that was held at the Hall.

Key to the City, Aston Hall Birmingham 2022
Lights on the Staircase.

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


HiVis Festival, Digbeth, 2022

The HiVis festival this year was at the Tea Works on Canal street. The wide open setting allowed for a range of Graffiti artists to ply their trade on the surrounding walls. I went to the festival with my family on the Saturday afternoon.

The graffiti painters were in good form as well, with many ready to chat with you and let you know what they were painting. All the walls were in action and several artists were already working when we arrived. Seeing Annatomix painting was a bonus. The family were keen to get back to the shops and I only discovered her working on her scorpion design on the way out. There were many different art works on display but due to timing, most of them were works in progress. I will go back later in the week to check out the finished artwork. Stay tuned. The queues for the children’s graffiti painting were slow moving and we did not get a chance for the grandchildren to try out some painting. There was just a high demand in that area and we will be ready for next year.

We loved the skate boarding and the energy around the place. The skate boarders were excellent and there was the opportunity to get up close and see them in action. There was a gap which the skaters jumped over before turning around on the ramp. All the skaters negotiated the RedBull Road gap successfully and there was also a rail to skate along as well. The boarders are very skilful and also fun to photograph.The HiVis event is organised by Graffiti Artist and I am already looking forward to the next event in 2023.

If you want to see my report on the HiVis festival 2021 then please take a look. All of my Birmingham Graffiti posts are popular and I love to support the artists’ work and the HiVis festival.

HiVis Festival, Digbeth, 2022
Welcome

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood

After two abortive attempts to get to Touchwood, one at the wrong time and the other at the right time (but too near the stores opening time), I arrived at the ideal time.  Midnight is when the centre allowed #keytothecitybrum holders to enter the shopping centre. As you can imagine, this is not an easy time for most people and as I walked down a dimly lit alleyway in Solihull next to McDonalds, I started to get second thoughts.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
In a dark dark street….

The after-hours entrance is not a solubrious placeI as I walked down to the gates and pressed the intercom.  A voice kindly welcomed me to the venue, but I had to wait while they did their evening checks around the centre.  After 10 minutes I was admitted.  In the meantime, two other key holders had arrived.  It was a dark foreboding alley, and I was apprehensive as they approached but then reassured when I saw their blue boxes holding the key. 

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
Out of hours entrance to Touchwood

Once inside the main shopping hall, the security people took us to the information kiosk.  The key opened a locked box on the desk.  Inside were sachets of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate which the security team used to make mugs of drinking chocolate for their visitors.  We were then allowed to wander around the deserted shopping centre with our cups in hand.  It was a surreal experience.  

All the shops looked like there were in stasis just waiting for the people to arrive.  The area around the cinema was interesting without people around.  I think it was the lack of voices and general noise that made the centre feel so different.  I loved the Polestar car showroom where all the cars had their headlamps full on.  The Apple shop did not have queue outside it but of course it was not open!  The restaurants had the chairs upturned ready for cleaning.  I spent a good 45 minutes looking around, taking selfies, and looking around the empty shops.  Time then to go home and get to bed after my late night visit!

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
No Queues at the Apple Shop LOL
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
Night time driving in an empty shopping centre
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
No noisy working machines
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
Cineworld is empty!
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Touchwood
The selfie had to be done.

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