Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Hall Green Library

The following visits were quiet and enabled me to reflect on my journey around Birmingham with my #keytothecitybrum. Two different venues, but each allowing a key holder to stop, pause and take in life.

Robin Hood Cemetery

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Acocks Green Cemetery
Approach to Lavender walk
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Acocks Green Cemetery
Opening the vault.

The key took me to Robin Hood Cemetery near Hall Green, a place I have visited several times previously saying my respects to good friends who have passed away.  This time it was for the #keyofthecityBrum project.  The place was relatively quiet as usually when there is a large funeral taking place, access is difficult.  When I arrived, there was a funeral in process and I kept discreetly in the background.  Passing the main buildings, I made my way to the pergola over a path called Lavender walk.  Here the overground vaults were laid out along the walk.  The key opened one of these vaults.  There were no signs or indications of where this would be.  After 5 minutes I looked up a photographic colleague, Elliot Brown who had already discovered the vault.  Reading his account, I realised which vault I should focus on.  Immediately I saw that there was one vault which was slightly different to the rest and it had a lock on the front.  My key opened the vault and inside there were drawings, ceramic pins, and other objects.  There was a lovely poem about the sea and a few other notes.  An interesting find that made me pause and reflect.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Acocks Green Cemetery
Mementoes left in the vault
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Acocks Green Cemetery
A poem about the sea.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Acocks Green Cemetery
The Lavender walk

Hall Green library

All the public libraries in Birmingham were participating in the #keyofthecityBrum project.  You just needed to visit one of the listed libraries to access a lock.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Hall Green Library
Entrance to Hall Green Library

As it turned out Hall Green library is not far from Robin Hood Cemetery.  I arrived just after lunchtime as the Birmingham libraries close for an hour and reopen at 2pm.  The place was busy, but the librarian showed me the metal box which was padlocked.  My key opened the lock allowing me to access a red book.  Opening this book, I found that I was asked to write down a list of my experiences of visiting the various places in the #keytothecityBrum.  The book was brand new, and the librarian informed me that I was the first person to visit Hall Green Library and ask to see the box.  I wrote down my entry replaced the book and  locked the padlock.  I left thanking the librarians.  Outside I took several pictures.  Once outside I wondered how libraries are surviving in the present era of digital changes. This library may look a little dated on the outside, but it was very much part of the community judging by the number of people who were using it.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Hall Green Library
The safe box in the Library
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Hall Green Library
Retrieving the book out of the safe.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Hall Green Library
My reflections.

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, Blyden's Garden

My next two venues for #keytothecitybrum were close to each other and both were intriguing. They took me to a part of Birmingham that I have rarely visited. I have had no previous reason to visit the area and I have only passed through on the dual carriage way onto Perry Barr. The north west part of the City is relatively unknown to me and I was about to find out that I had missed some hidden gems.

The Blyden’s Garden

This was a delightful place to visit.  A private garden in the middle of Birmingham.  When the #keystothecitybrum were released, this place was the most intriguing.  A small plot of land was going to be shared with the larger Birmingham community.  I did not know what to expect and headed out to the garden.  Finding Brooklyn Avenue, I went along to the end of the cul-de-sac and located the road that went behind house 63.  The place did not look inviting and one of the houses on the street had a stack of rubbish on the front lawn.  I turned the corner and at first did not register anything except an open gate.  As I took in my surroundings, I saw a shocking pink door with a welcome sign.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
The pink door to the garden

This was nothing like the picture in the booklet!  My key fitted the lock.  The door needed a good pull as it opened towards me and once inside I discovered a quiet oasis.  The place was set out with herb plants including strawberries.  There were motivational words hung up on the surrounding fences.  There was a large bench where you could sit down and survey your surroundings.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
Motivation signs
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
A corner of the garden
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
Plant pots hanging on the fence

A blackboard was set up near to the door and someone had written in chalk a question of the day.  

“If you could go back in time and meet your 10-year-old self. What advice would you give yourself?” 

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
My advice to myself from @dammodammo

I am not sure that my answer was profound enough for the board, but it was fun to participate.  I took a few pictures and then sat down.  I took some time out to reflect and soak in the ambiance of the garden.  Then I took some pictures and before long (around 10 minutes later), I decided it was time to move onto the next venue on my #keytothecitybrum quest.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
Reflecting on my time in the Blyden’s Garden
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
My friends for the day

Thank you to the Daniel and Rebecca Blyden for making this happen.  A lovely experience and one to treasure. I found this link about their garden and gives more insight into their vision

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Blyden's Garden
Leaving the garden and onto the Legacy Centre.

Legacy Centre of Excellence

The Legacy Centre of Excellence is on Potters Lane, Birmingham.  Upon arrival, I was made welcome by Sarah who showed me what my key unlocked in the building.  The room I entered had pictures made from card cut-outs hanging on the wall.  These were drawn by Dr Martin Glynn, lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University.  The collection of pictures was called “Moments and Memories” and were inspired by the Covid19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, the Legacy Centre
Moments and Memories
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, the Legacy Centre
The cut outs were striking and very visual.

Dr Glynn investigated the themes of reflection and during his journey wished to immerse his audience into his work.  Dr Glynn’s pictures resonated with my own reflections.  I have done a series of articles of life during and after the pandemic.  In a similar way, I have been on a part of Dr Glynn’s journey.  His cut-outs provided very powerful imagery.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, the Legacy Centre
The face echoes moments from the pandemic.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, the Legacy Centre
More of Dr Glynn’s pictures

Sarah gave me details of the Legacy centre and showed me the main stage that was set up for a B2022 Commonwealth Games Community Engagement event: A journey through Windrush.  Sarah agreed to having her picture taken and I discovered that she is an artist in her own right and examples of her work are on her Instagram site @whitecanaryillustration.  Another fascinating place on my Journey with the Key.

Negotiating the City

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

Link to the Legacy Centre


Selfridges July 2022

The Selfridges building is now back to its full glory after a period of renovation. The silver discs were causing problems by becoming detached and falling off the building. All this was happening prior to the pandemic. There were additional problems as the original manufacturer of the discs was no longer operating and a new supplier needed to be found. When the contractors were ready, they covered the building in a spectacular pink and black cover designed by Osman Yousefzada and underneath this “skin” replaced the discs. I liked the Infinity Pattern 1 design as it was a such a different take on the building.

Selfridges July 2022
An upward view accentuating the symmetry.
Selfridges July 2022
A reflection capturing the work being done near to the HS2 site

The repair work continued during and after the pandemic. Finally, the scaffolding came down revealing the new replacement discs. I take part in a weekly photographic project and the week’s theme was geometry. The Selfridges building is perfect for this theme and I went out and about with my camera taking pictures to accentuate the amazing patterns. There was also the chance to get some interaction with reflections of people sitting next to the building. There was a good reaction to the pictures and I find that many people love the design. There are many people who dislike the building but everyone agrees it does put Birmingham on the map.

Selfridges July 2022
An opportunity for a few more reflections.
Selfridges July 2022
Wherever you look there is a different pattern revealed.

I have included some past posts which will provide details of my previous photographic blogs that have involved this iconic building.

Selfridges Study

The Changing Face of Selfridges

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022

Several mornings during July, I ran into Kardamena from where I was staying.  My hotel, Acti Beach, is around 2 miles away from Kardamena.  Getting up early and watching the sunrise develop during the Golden Hour is an unforgettable experience.  Two years ago I was here in August and the sun rose over the sea. In July, the sun rises behind the mountains. Therefore I saw the sun start to rise by the golden colours appearing on the white buildings of the town as I ran towards Kardamena.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The rising sun creating shadows on the walls of the whitewashed buildings.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The sun appears from behind the mountains.

I run with my iPhone13 and I was able to stop for a few minutes and capture the golden rays. The fun is getting back to the hotel and seeing what the results are like.  These pictures were taken on different mornings and when posted on my social media, they received a positive response.  I certainly want to get back to Kos in the future and experience more sunrises on this beautiful island. This is the last of my Kos Island sequence and hope you enjoyed them.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise on the sun loungers at Malibu Beach
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
A view of the sunrise from a jetty at Kardamena.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise in the harbour with golden rays on the Pirate ship.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The day begins.

Here are my links to Kardamena and Kos

I love Kardamena 2022

Reach for the sky

Back in 2020 when I first visited Kardamena

And where it all started with my daughter’s wedding on the beach in Kos

Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham

Oozells square in the westside of Birmingham is unremarkable other than the IKON gallery which is on one side of the square. The IKON is a highly acclaimed contemporary art venue and when you have finished looking over the latest exhibits, take a well earned rest in Yorks coffee shop.  However in the months of March and April the square erupts with cherry blossom and becomes one of the most photographed squares in Birmingham.  I also took many photographs.  The square was featured in a BBC news and my photograph was included.  I have also added a few more of my own in this post.

Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
A favourite reflection is produced around the water feature
Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
the blossom turns and ordinary square into the extraordinary.
Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
A traditional view of the blossom with the IKON in the background.
Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
Another traditional view of the blossom in the square.

Further links include
The IKON gallery
Yorks Cafe

If you would like to see previous entries on this square then please visit
Blosson in Oozells Square
Cherry blossom experiments

Reflections in Birmingham

There have been many opportunities over the last couple of weeks to take pictures that rely on reflections. Surface water from all the rain leads to puddles on footpaths and pavements that are a good source for taking reflective pictures. Modern cameras have a flip screen that allow you to get low and take the picture without having to get too uncomfortable on the floor. The placement of the lenses has to be very low to take advantage of the reflective split. On the iPhone 13, the positioning of the lenses allows you to get closer to the water. However take care as in doing this you will find your mobile phone getting a little wet! Straight after the rain, I am always looking for a new angle for my photography using reflections from the water and here are a few examples. Most of them are taken with the iPhone camera. However during the visit to Upton House near Banbury, I discovered a very large reflective pool in the garden that provided a wonderful opportunity for a reflection.

Upton House March 2022
The reflecting pool, Upton House and Garden.
This was featured on the lunchtime weather news of BBC South.

There was some local and national successes with several of these pictures being picked up on Instagram by both National Geographic Traveller and BBC weather watchers. Some were successfully featured in local instagram pages. There are explanations behind all the images shown and whilst you are reading this blog post, I am still on the look out for reflections.

Reflections taken in Birmingham
Taken on a wet night in Birmingham looking up towards the Bullring.
This was featured on the Birmingham.City Instagram pages.
Reflections at Umberslade Estate
The line up of trees at Umberslade Estate becomes the perfect setting for a puddle reflection.
Reflections at Moor Street Station
Waiting for the train home and I happened to catch these puddle reflections which were perfectly placed for the picture.
Reflections in Birmingham
A classic view of the IKON gallery in Oozells Square. The “river” of water provides the reflection.
Reflections in Birmingham
A puddle in Gas Street Basin provides a great reflection. He looks like he is walking on water.
This was featured on the National Geographic UK traveller Instagram pages.

Brindley Place, Birmingham

If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by
Song and Lyrics composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by Hal David

The following images should be viewed when listening to the song by Dione Warwick although there is the alternative version by Isaac Hayes which is worth a listen as well. These pictures were taken in Brindley Place, Birmingham using my 70-200mm lens on my Canon 5D IV. The rising sun casts a shadow against the brick wall and as people walk by it appears as if the shadows are making an arrow. Add in the bonus reflections and it makes for a superb place for street photography. Enjoy the following set of 5 pictures.

Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa

Royal Leamington Spa is long associated with the family. We used to visit in the late 1980s and think it was so exciting with the Parade and the Parade and the Royal Priors shopping centre. Returning over the years, the town still looks impressive with the Georgean and Victorian buildings looking clean and impressive in their whitewashed coatings. The opportunity to do a photographic walk around Leamington Spa was organised by my fellow photographer buddy, John Bray.  I arrived in the town inbetween two storms, Dudley and Eustace. The sun came back during the lull which whilst welcome, created strong shadows during our morning walk.

Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club
Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club
Blossom on the trees, Leamington Spa
Blossom on the trees along the River Leam, Leamington Spa.
Bandstand, Leamington Spa
The Bandstand in the Royal Pump Room gardens.

Our first stop was the home of bowls, Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club. The groundsmen were preparing the greens for spring and the greens looked beautiful. Our walk followed the river Leam and we passed through the Royal Pump Room gardens with the impressive Bandstand.

Moving over the river again we headed past All Saints Church where there were some opportunities to take reflective photographs. We went onto Mill Road and then Mill passage lingering on the impressive iron pedestrian bridge over the river. It was here that we encountered our first street art with a mural of elephants painted on an electricity substation hut near to the entrance to the bridge.  This work was painted by the Brink Contemporary Arts group and makes a feature of three elephants who used to live in Leamington

The river Leam was full following the recent rains and there was a strong current under the bridge.  There was also a fine mist of the spray from the waterfall crashing over the weir.  Having photographed the bridge and the river our next destination was the Grand Union canal.

Our walk took us through the streets of the town and we commented several times at the hidden gems of architecture.  Just before the canal there is a mixture of light industry and new buildings that leads onto an old factory where the Brink art group has facilitated more street art.  The pedestrian canal bridge has curved steps and provides views of the street art.

Pedestrian Bridge over the canal
It is in this area around the Pedestrian Bridge over the canal that the Leamington Spa Street Art is concentrated.

A selection of the murals is featured in my next blog.  My favourite was a mural painted by @n_4_t_4 on the side of the canal.  There were several others that are featured and part of the Brink Art group.

Street art by N4t4
Street art by N4t4

Making our way back to Jephson park, we stumbled upon a small oasis of crocuses in bloom showing that spring was well on its way.  Following on from Jephson park, we took in coffee in the city centre before heading off to Clarendon Square where many films are filmed including Upstairs, downstairs.  The latest TV series to be filmed there is “Stonehouse” based on the MP who faked his own death. 

Clarendon Square
Clarendon Square

Royal Leamington Spa is well worth photographic attention as there is much to see from the beautiful architecture to the contemporary street art. All the pictures were taken mainly with my Fujifilm x100v compact camera unless otherwise stated.

If you found this interesting then please take a look at the following site for more information about Leamington Spa
The street art in Leamington is overseen by the Brink Street Art Group.

Spectacle of Light, Compton Verney

Winter is dark and whilst the arrival of Snowdrops heralds the early signs of spring, the nights are still dark. What is needed is for someone to conjure up a colourful festival to raise the spirits and light up the dark nights. That is just what Compton Verney have done with their spectacular light display in the grounds of their beautiful estate. What would the landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown who designed the gardens think of a light extravaganza that took advantage of the reflections from the lake and the other structures such as the bridge across the river? I am sure he would have been proud of this artistic light show.

Spectacle of Light, Compton Verney
An illuminated forrest

The opening night was cold and dry with a waxing gibbous moon rising in the clear night amongst the stars. The lights lit up the night sky and it was exciting to see the house from afar as we approached from the main road. Once parked and through the main entrance, the path led us through the illuminated wood onto the shore opposite to the house. The bridge, grounds and house were all subject to a colourful rotation of lights that were reflected in the still lake. The trees shimmered in the water like colour ghosts.

Spectacle of Light, Compton VerneySpectacle of Light, Compton Verney
Compton Verney in light.
Spectacle of Light, Compton Verney
A picture on the light.
Spectacle of Light
Lanterns against the house.
Spectacle of Light
Lanterns lining the path.

Moving on through the grounds, we were guided by lanterns through red lit trees into tunnels of light. Everywhere you looked there were rich colours boldly painted on the black canvas of the sky. Once we had exhausted all the photographic opportunities, we realised how cold and hungry we were and luckily outlets from the Digbeth Dining Company were there to satisfy our needs. The hot food and drinks were very welcome. The quality of the food was high with lots to choose from and served piping hot.

Spectacle of Light, Compton Verney
Leaves in light. Compton Verney.

Having taken so long to move around the grounds, we found that we were one of the last groups to leave. However it was to our advantage as we had no people to interrupt our photographing and were able to take pictures of several of the light exhibits without interference. The evening experience was unforgettable although it was good to get into the car and get the heating on for the journey home.

Spectacle of Light, Compton Verney
The moon amidst red trees.

There is a more extensive article on the BBC website about the event.

Want to learn more, please visit the Compton Verney website for more information. If you are interested in learning more about the Digbeth Dining Club, their website is a good starting point.

You may like to see more of my pictures about Compton Verney on my blog. Enjoy the reading.

Regency Wharf

My first walk around Birmingham this year was an eventful photographic journey. The pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v.  It was a cold and sunny day. My walk was a circular route of my favourite photo spots including Snow Hill Car Park and the Jewellery Quarter. Of course I could not forget about the Birmingham canal navigation and I therefore included Brindley place and Gas Street Basin. 

Underneath the arches of Snow Hill Station
Underneath the arches of Snow Hill Station
Train leaving Snow Hill Station
Train leaving Snow Hill Station – lovely light from the sunrise
St Paul's Church
St Paul’s Church with the spire caught in the sun
Brindley Place
Brindley Place catching the light.
Entering Gas Street Basin
Entering Gas Street Basin from under the Black Sabbath Bridge.

The pictures taken in Gas Street Basin went down well and the picture of the reflections at Regency Wharf was long listed in ShareMondays2022 and shortlisted on the Fotospeed weekly competitions. 

Regency Wharf
Regency Wharf reflections.

There were other opportunities for pictures of reflections and I wanted to take those that are popular on the social media pages. People standing in the doorway of the Tap and Spile is popular. The white wall of Pierre Bistro is another one.

Gas Street Basin reflections
White shoes.
Gas Street Basin reflections
Walking the line.

After a refuelling with coffee at the Exchange, I went into the Birmingham Library.  The sunlight was strong for January and with it being a clear day you could see a long way.  I could see the Barr Beacon and the Clent Hills.  It was time to get back to the car and go home and the final part? A walk back through Centennial square and Chamberlain square finished off the walk nicely.

Terrace at Birmingham Library
A different view from the Terrace at Birmingham Library.
Inside Birmingham Library
Selective Colour on the Escalator in Birmingham Library.
Classic view of the BT Tower Birmingham
Classic view of the BT Tower Birmingham from the Library Secret Garden
Old and new view from Chamberlain Square
Old and new view from Chamberlain Square

My Fujifilm camera was on Aperture priority, ISO on automatic and I just moved between f/4 and f/11 depending on the light and what field of view I wanted.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

If you want to see more pictures of Birmingham then follow @igersbirminghamUK where I am one of the team that select photographs for our Instagram account.

More from my Blog

If you like my pictures then here is a taster of some of my popular posts about Birmingham

The Exchange meets IgersBirminghamUK
Moseley Instameet – IgersBirminghamUK
Digbeth, Digbeth – so good they had to name it twice