Monday, 16 May 2011

Vintage in Birmingham!

Here is a tasty version of an article I wrote for last week's Redbrick Newspaper... Enjoy!
Last Saturday saw the launch of “Birmingham’s Newest Independent Fashion, Home and Arts Fair”;  

Retro Brum.

Held, fittingly, at the Custard Factory’s Space 2 in Digbeth, the fair was jam-packed with treasures old and new; from antique watches and granddad jumpers to scrabble-letter rings and hand-made greeting cards!

The Custards Cream Stall... see

 The quid entry fee was worth it for the atmosphere alone; haggling with the traders, grooving whilst browsing and mooching on the battered sofas eating caramel shortbread was made ΓΌber-fun by the sexual tracks spun by the Tantrums. Saturday afternoon well spent I'd say!

DJ + full sleeve = YES
A quaint vintage tea room took over the bar area selling delicious cakes and nibbles on kitsch chinaware, and some stalls were dedicated wholly to cupcakes, tray-bakes and other heavenly treats! My company and I headed to Yumm just round the corner instead for their scrummy mezzalunas (like a calzone/panini/pasty!?) and spicy wedges. Sorted out our hangovers a treat!

 Two low-key catwalk shows were held, styled by Bad Apple and Ove-ra Monkeys, which were short but sweet and featured ‘real-life’ models (none of this Size-Zero malarkey). Folks from The Vintage Salon were offering retro pin-up hair and make-up over in Zellig, and you could even get beautiful henna tattoos done. 

There were over 40 stalls selling titbits old and new, from well-loved leather bags from Tea Cup Kitsch right up to new but vintage-inspired tees from Daisy Chain Clothing. Do not despair if you missed it- the fair will be on 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month from 11am! There’s also a vintage market on 25th June at Stan’s Cafe in the Jewellery Quarter, and weekend car boots like ‘Bar Boot Sale’ at the Hare and Hounds from 1pm Saturdays or the city-centre Sunday morning one, which are often dotted with vintage finds. Don’t forget the vintage stalls in and around the rag markets, plus there’s vintage to be found in a garage-y warehouse shop near Sing Fat Ltd Chinese supermarket- if you can find it!

The Custard Factory is also home to Urban Village and Frock On Vintage, and of course there’s the iconic vintage warehouse COW on Digbeth High Street, so why not make your trip to the fair into a thorough vintage shopping experience. 

Urban Village

More Urban Village

COW has a sister shop near Urban Outfitters in the city centre too, and the Urban Renewal (Men here and women here) section at UO stocks one-off treads made from vintage, surplus and pre-loved materials. Also check out Top Banana in Kings Heath, Yo Yo in the city centre, the vintage section on the top floor of Oasis, and keep an eye out for Forgotten Vintage’s next hanging-rail vintage market!

COW in Digbeth

You can check out this article in it's original format at Redbrick Online right here...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Birmingham's Best Bits... On The LASH!

Here is Chapter 2 of the Birmingham Gospel According to Me: Where to go Out on The LASH!

Disclaimer: It must be noted that these suggestions are coming from a student, with limited funds, who is able and more than willing to go out during the week when normal people go to work. Do not expect an all-encompassing view of Birmingham's night life, as I am by no means knowledgeable enough to give it!

Having said that, there are a few MUST-GO-TO places in Bham, my favourite places being The Rainbow (cool place, cool people), Snobs (Indie, Messy, FUN,), Mechu (dress up a bit, still get smashed, it also serves food), and the infamous Fab'n'Fresh on Saturdays at my SU: The Guild.
If you fancied a whole week on the LASH, here is a suggested diary:
  • Monday- Bambu or Loaded at Gatecrasher.
  • Tuesday- Naked Lunch at The Rainbow (if it's on), or Stupid Tuesdays (which seems to switch venues constantly, anyone know where it is now?)
  • Wednesday- Full Moon Party at the HMV Institute (see an earlier review here) or Snobs
  • Thursday- Minted at Mechu, or DV8, or Jam House.
  • Friday- Propaganda at The 02 or Anarchy at Subway City.
  • Saturday- Fab'n'Fresh at the Bham Uni Guild of Students, or Snobs, possibly followed by Subside.
  • Sunday- sleep it off!
Bambu; not to shabby!
So considering what kind of night you're after:
If you want to get your rock on, then you want the quirky Flapper and Firkin, followed by the fortnightly Anarchy at Subway City on Fridays (£10 entry, 10 free drinks!), Subculture Saturdays at the 02 Academy, and alternative/rock bar Subside (open 'til 6am!). A new club is opening next weekend, ran by Subculture, called Vudu; Fridays are set to be the new Ramshackle, and Saturdays will be full of Indie/Rock tunes too.

Gatecrasher, admittedly on a busy night!
If you want Indie, then Snobs is always a winner and the Sunflower Lounge often has cool bands playing downstairs for pre-drinks. Also it's decisions decisions for Indie on Fridays: you can choose from Propaganda at the O2, Supersonic Vague at Gatecrasher, or Subway City's other fortnightly night; Resurrection.
A band playing downstairs at The Sunflower Lounge
 For cheesy, it's gotta be Flares, Reflex or the gay clubs; DV8 and Nightingales. If you want to get your rave on, wait for a proper event to come to (what's left of) the Custard Factory, or Godskitchen at Air, or Raveology held at places like the Rainbow. 
Standard queue at DV8...
For 'nice drinks' rather than 'drunk clubbing', try the many bars at The Mailbox (Penny Blacks, Pitcher and Piano, Bar Room Bar etc), or the bars in the Arcadian complex near China Town (Sobar, Poppyred, Arca Bar, Mono Bar etc).

Also don't be afraid to think outside the box a little; the Yarbird jazz club is awesome, and the Jam House is a cocktail-tastic proper-dancing bar owned by Jools Holland which is pretty swingin' and always seems to have live music on. Also check out the Island Bar for it's cocktails, the Gothic-inspired Bacchus bar beneath the Burlington Arcade, and the achingly-cool Victoria, which also holds quirky events like 'A Crafty Beer' (knit and drink- win win!).

I'm yet to explore the evening delights of nearby Moseley and Kings Heath or the Jewelery Quarter bars, but I hear that these are the places to be, and so must try them out before I leave Birmingham!

One final note on going out in Brum- avoid Broad Street at weekends unless absolutely necessary. The reasons for this needn't be listed, just take my advice.Yes, it's were Gatecrasher resides and some of the bars along it's sick-blood-and-lager strewn length are passable, but only people who don't know Birmingham very well, or who are laddish balding men/crazy almost-menopausal women enjoy Broad Street at weekends, unless you're doing Carnage; the awesome charity pub crawl (sounds oxymoronic but it's true!)
"A typical Sturday Night on Broad Street" from the Daily Mail

I also wouldn't particularly recommend Air in Digbeth, Oceana is an acquired taste but you may love a cheeky bit of Vodbull on Thursdays, and Risa must be saved for when it's absolutely necessary.

If you want to look for 'What's On' in terms of club nights and special events like silent discos, comedy nights and roller discos, these are the best sites I've found; WOIB (What's On In Brum), Live Brum, Visit Birmingham, Itchy, Don't Stay In, Birmingham Theatre Guide and also the Birmingham Mail website.

The End

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

5.5 Points of Procrastination

So now I've handed in my dissertation (halle-freakin-lujah!) I have time to publicly procrastinate!

1) TOWIE (You should know what this is, if you don't, click here, you are missing out) is so unbelievably crap, yet is as addictive as Maltesers, if not more! One of the 'hunks' of the show, if you could call them that, is Kirk Norcross, who I've discovered features in a random music video, shirtless and mute, looking like a bit of a spare part, which you can watch HERE. I've got to admit, he does have a bit of a sexy smouldering thing going on here, but the singer (NY apparently) has some crazy schizophrenic hair going on which reminds me of the hilarious new Boots advert (watch it here).

2) Royal Wedding FEVER was wonderful, wasn't it? I attended a fab street party and helped decorate the lovely cakes below... (I did the cool ones by the way, the 'bejeweled' ones were my friends' creations!). Many glasses of Pimms and much BBQ food later, we came to the conclusion that Harry is much hotter than Wills, Kate's sister Pippa has a peachy bottom but is not prettier than Kate, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugene looked ridiculous. Also, hurrah to two kisses on the balcony, and to lip-readers interpretations of the Big Day Banter!

I only ate four of these I swear...

3) Someone please buy me these Jeffrey Campbell shoes? They're only £95, but alas! My meagre student budget must be spent of food/alcohol/train tickets instead. They're tapestry but I promise I won't ruin them?

In the style of Homer drooling over donuts... Mmmm... Shoooes...

4) HOW COOL is this wash basin (now there's a sentence I've never said before...)

5) Kind of like guerrilla gardening, but different and less messy; public embroidery. A nice idea, special if you see it or are involved in it, probably isn't going to change the world but nevertheless, I like it.

And finally, it was only a matter of time before even entry stamps at clubs and such places started trying to sell you stuff. I think having them printed in lickable ink would be just swell!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Student Fashion Blog Review

Want to see me pretending to model for a review I did for the Student Fashion Blog? Click here!

I road-tested some clothing from Get The, and paraded them around my Birmingham house for photographer Emmanuel (idrawwithlight).

I have had the pleasure of working with Emmanuel before on this shoot and review... where I got my geek on wearing J!NX T-shirts in our Uni Library!