Taking in the views from Birmingham’s new Central Library

I like mini-adventures. Recently we visited Birmingham city centre, primarily to visit the new central library, but also taking developments at New Street Station and Birmingham Town Hall.

No, pooh, poohing please. I’m a Midlander, and have worked in Birmingham in the past, so I’m always keen to see how it re-invents itself. Another reason is that my wife’s first job was working in the Birmingham Central Library.

The new more grandly named, Library of Birmingham, is the fourth central library building. The third building was designed in the brutalist concrete style, and hopefully will be demolished now its no longer used, except for tatty retail shops on the ground floor.

The new Library of Birmingham is of modernist design, which seems to suit Birmingham’s view of itself – confident, fond of the new, and sometimes a little brash. It’s surprising to me that Birmingham’s new buildings pay no homage to the Birmingham Town Hall, opened in 1834, which is an elegant building of classical design and proportions, which the city forefathers must have been justly proud. More about the Town Hall later.

The Library of Birmingham has two outdoor viewing area, which afford magnificent views over the city. Taking in these views was a main destination, as was the café, which sadly disappointed. Anyway, here are my photo’s of arriving at the Library, and ascending through it’s centre to the upper viewing platform.

6 ways to protect your home from burglars when you’re away

logoAn email from Surrey Police provides information on how to protect your home from burglary, especially when you’re away from home, even if it’s just for a short break.  A burglar, who admits to over 70 burglaries in Surrey, tells Surrey Police how he did it.

This time last year the area experienced a large spate or burglaries. At the time a number of arrests were made with one suspect admitting to over 70 burglaries in Surrey. Interviews with this and other burglars have given us an insight into what they look for and how they do it:

1-What did the burglar say?

“The first thing I’d look for were houses where bins were left outside the house in a road where no one else had. This let me know there was a chance that the occupants weren’t home.”

How you should respond:

If you are planning on going away, even for a short period of time, ask a neighbour or relative to bring bins back in. If you do keep bins outside your property make sure they are away from walls or fences preventing easy access to areas out of public view.

2-What did the burglar say?

“If the bins were still out I’d go in for a closer look. Another good sign its empty is being able to see the post building up. A look through the letterbox or glass doors makes this easy.”

How you should respond:

If you are going away ask a neighbour or relative to collect post, putting it out of sight from front doors. If you are away for an extended period of time try contacting the postal service and requesting delivery to an alternative address.

3-What did the burglar say?

“Sometimes people put timers on lights when they go away. If the curtains then stay open the whole night or I notice that the curtains haven’t moved over a few days, it normally suggests that no one is home.”

How you should respond:

Timers are a great crime prevention device however it can be even more effective if used in multiple rooms. Arrange for someone to check your property whilst away. Each time get them to open or close the curtains to suggest people being home.

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The Mons is no more, but the sign will remain for all to see

Readers will know of my interest in the shop sign over The Mons shop in Frimley Green, firstly writing HERE about preserving it, and recently HERE too, when I learned it was to be saved.

I was delighted to get the opportunity to speak with Ken Sibley, owner of The Mons, about his plans for the historic shop sign. Here’s my conversation with him, which begins by Ken describing how discussions with local and military historians determined that the sign was painted in situ.

All we’ve got to do now is get Surrey Heath Museum to accept this sign and protect it for future display. Hope you enjoy this little slice of local history.

SONY DSC The Mons sign & Ken Sibley

Biddulph Grange Garden, a splendid surviving Victorian garden

We recently visited Biddulph Grange Garden near Stoke-on-Trent. Saved from dereliction by the National Trust in 1988, and subject to many years of restoration, the gardens are a magnificent survival of the great age of Victorian gardening.

Biddulph Grange was developed by James Bateman (1811–1897). Bateman was the son of a wealthy coal and steel industrialist. From a young age Bateman was fascinated by plants, particularly orchids which were a lifetime passion. His wife Maria was also a passionate horticulturist.

Plant hunting and collecting was all the rage in the middle to late 1800’s. The Bateman’s were no different to other wealthy Victorian plant collectors. Their garden was created over 20 years from 1842, with a variety of individual gardens, each with their own microclimates, enabling exotic plants to flourish. Biddulph Grange Gardens featured as one of the gardens in the 2014 BBC TV series British Gardens in Time.

The history of the Grange and Gardens is described by the National Trust HERE. Meanwhile here’s a selection of photo we took of the Gardens.

Middlesex soundly beaten by the Indians in one day match

On Friday we visited the home of cricket – Lord’s – to watch a one day 50 over match between Middlesex and India touring test team.

A large part of the 10,000 audience were supporters of India, providing vocal support, and colourful attire. It’s a while since I’ve been to Lord’s. It’s a great place to watch cricket. Not only are the seats comfortable, many are under cover.  We positioned ourselves, in the Grandstand, so as not to repeat the drenching we got at the Oval cricket ground. After the lunch interval we moved into the sun and to be closer to the pitch.

The clamour to get the Indian test crickets autographs was especially busy when Indian captain M.S. Dhoni fielded close to the boundary. The support for Dhoni from the Indian supporters was amazing. No one was interested in the cricket for a while after he entered the field of play. iPhone’s were held aloft, with everyone seemingly to want a photo of him.

The match was a warm-up fixture for India’s series of One-Day-Internationals with England. Here’s my brief photo-montage of the day’s events.

Are you concerned about aircraft noise over Lightwater and nearby villages?

Lightwater-resident Rosalie James is active in presenting the case for reducing aircraft noise over Lightwater, which also affects the adjacent villages of Bagshot, West End, and Windlesham.  All comments registered here will be passed to Rosalie, who writes,

“Since the end of the recent Heathrow trials, I have made numerous complaints via the Heathrow website regarding noise from aircraft. It is my belief that noise has not reduced to pre-trials levels, particularly late night and early mornings, something which Heathrow disputes.

Following correspondence directly with Heathrow and Michael Gove, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow has offered a meeting to discuss the situation with Cheryl Monk, Head of Community Relations and Policy.

Cheryl Monk has extended the invitation to any other residents wishing to attend, hence the reason for this post.

As 12 people from Lightwater and Windlesham have so far confirmed they would like to attend.  I shall be requesting that the meeting take place locally rather than at Heathrow.  It is likely to be towards the end of September, time and date to be confirmed and probably require a short meeting before then to organise objectives to maximise the opportunity of the meeting.

If you, or any other residents you know who feel impacted by noise wish to attend, please email me at info@ripe-media.co.uk to register your interest.”