Issue 340
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She gets up when she wants except on Wednesdays when she gets rudely awakened by the dustmen
She puts on her trousers, has a cup of tea and she thinks about leaving the house
Okay, okay, Alex Nicholson-Evans does rather a lot more than that. The Birmingham Museums Commercial Director runs Birmingham Cocktail, Wine and Restaurant Festivals, when the government allows, and when it doesn't she goes to parks. All of them. Alex spent Lockdown One keeping busy by walking dozens upon dozens of green spaces and documenting her rambles on Instagram. And now the dark of Lockdown: The Sequel is being beamed to households across the nation, YOU TOO need to get out for some physical and mental calisthenics. Alas, you're probably done with your local and you're possibly all Cannon Hill Parked out, so here's six parks you (probably) haven't been to and really should. Take that lockdown, you big sweaty misery.
Plantsbrook Local Nature Reserve (B76 1EJ)
Alex says: "This absolute gem is hidden away just down the road from popular Pype Hayes Park. Blink and you’ll miss the small brown sign indicating the track you need to go down to discover this lesser known green space. When you do find Plantsbrook you’ll be spoilt with 26 acres of woodland, wetland and wildflower meadow. The highlight is the five pools of water, brimming with wildlife. Follow the boardwalk paths — there's plenty of them, a bit like Moseley Bog — around the pools and lose yourself for an hour. Expect mallards, coots, moorhens and the usual swans and geese."
Jones Wood (B76 1GT)
Alex says: "Look out for the little wooden sign and green railings on Fox Hollies Rd. This is another lovely space in the middle of housing that you could easily miss. It's worth persevering to find. Jones Wood is a small, historic woodland. A peaceful haven. Logs mark out a series of paths through the trees. This is a little site but it’s full of charm. Now is the perfect time to visit for autumn colours, but not too much mud. With benches scattered around the wood, it’s a lovely place to ponder. Pack a flask of coffee, wrap up warm and enjoy the shelter of the trees."
Perry Hall Park (B42 1RS)
Alex says: "One of Birmingham’s many award-winning parks, but so often overlooked in preference of better known Green Flaggers like Cannon Hill. Be sure you don’t make the same mistake, this is one of the nicest parks in the city. A whopping 158 acres of predominantly grassland. A great spot for picnics in the summer months but equally as gorgeous for winter walks. Follow the River Thame through the park and you’ll soon see why this green space bags trophies. The bridge is idyllic and the water seems much clearer than say, the Rea. Kids seem to love this one, too."
New Hall Valley Country Park (B76 1QU)
Alex says: "If you’re in Sutton Coldfield looking for a park, chances are you’re about to visit Sutton Park, and you really should. However, the (tongue-in-cheek) 'cool kids' are going to the lesser known New Hall Valley Country Park. It’s worth the detour to explore the 198 acres of green belt countryside. Walk alongside the stream running through it and you may just spot both kingfishers and herons. I did and it was pretty magical. This is real dog walking heaven. Explore further and you’ll find a 13th century manor house, now New Hall Hotel. Discover this historic park in full using the Walk Birmingham book from Birmingham Museums."
Bromwich Wood (B32 4JB)
Alex says: "An ancient woodland full of winding paths to explore. Be sure to look up as you walk through through towering oak trees, this is also a local nature reserve with birds galore. For a longer walk, there is a footpath to Bromwich Wood from the better known Woodgate Valley Country Park. Enjoy the 450 acres of countryside in the Country Park then finish with a secluded walk through the woodland. Bromwich Wood lies immediately north-east of Bartley Reservoir, stop en-route on Scotland Lane for a great view across the water."
Moseley Park and Pool (B13 8DD)
Alex says: "There's a good chance you've been to this one, given it's home to a raft of excellent annual festivals, but what you may not know is that, despite needing to be a member to gain access, they have a weekly open day, every Wednesday. It's a charming 11-acre oasis owned by Moseley Park and Pool Trust and you’ll find the entrance nestled between Pizza Express and an estate agents in Moseley Village. It's like your own secret garden and, if you love your visit, consider an annual membership for year round access from £60. Moseley Park and Pool is also home to 'I AM YOGI'. If you book onto one of the daily classes  — £9 for drop-in, but £5 on zoom during lockdown — you'll find a yogi buzzer on the far right hand gate post. Press this for access and walk the grounds after your session."
Follow Alex on Instagram for the lockdown lowdown on all her latest finds. Check her IG stories for the first 31 parks she's visited.


As just discussed, sitting on your sofa for a month is highly NOT recommended, but there's likely to be quite a lot of sitting over the coming weeks and, buddy, that doesn't mean you need to let your brain become a flabby lazybones. The University of Birmingham's Festival of Social Science returns November 7 to 15 with an ambitious programme of free (so the price is right) virtual (so the distancing is right) events, videos and talks. Amid a global pandemic, society is changing dramatically and at breakneck speed. The way we work, socialise (remember that?), seek medical support, spend our dosh and manage our relationships (remember those?) have been turned on their heads, and this year's fest will explore what this 'new normal' will look like going forward, as well as taking a deep dive into some of the other big issues that have made the frenetic 2020 news. Headlining will be an event looking at how Black celebrities such as John Boyega (pictured), Marcus Rashford, Reggie Yates and Megan Thee Stallion and are using their platforms to influence policy and people. The event will answer the question – do they hinder or help movements? Help, surely, but let's play ball and see if we're wrong. Closer to home, the festival will also explore what it means to live in Birmingham and have a ‘brummie’ education with an ace panel of local experts including award-winning writer, Brummy Mummy of 2, Councillor Brigid Jones and Professor Colin Diamond CBE, Professor of Educational Leadership at UoB. There's ten other events too, so check out the full programme here. Also have a butchers' at this vid.
Venue: Peels on Wheels, by Peels at Hampton Manor; Website
Choice: Three courses (£39 per person or £36 for vegetarian) 

You know that bit in Celebrity Masterchef when they have to 'do a service' at a fancy restaurant and, say, Adam Woodyatt gets b*llocked by Tom Aitken on national telly? Fancy doing that but nobody is shouting at you, there's no pressure at all and Ian Beale isn't crying in your kitchen? Introducing Peels on Wheels the delivery and DIY pack from Michelin-starred, Hampton Manor-based, Peels. A runaway (it's doesn't runaway) success during the first lockdown, these always sell out within 24 hours, but they've kept a load back for ICB readers
here. Complete with video instructions, it's really quite hard to screw up. When I ordered, bread and butter was provided, which just needed heating. Burnt that, no probs. The next course, however, was cold, so I couldn’t burn that. Cured salmon topped with crunchy crumb, smoky charred cucumber and a dressing of spring onion oil and buttermilk. Mercy, this went gangbusters. Dressing drizzled elegantly over the salmon? Not so much, it was sort of sloshed all over the place, but this was excellent and elegant, the light salmon thrashing it out with the smokiness of the 'cumber in a taste-based rumble in the jungle. That dressing, though. Stiffen the wombats, I'm sure I heard it laughing at the bottled Pizza Express stuff in the fridge. Mains was lamb with confit tomatoes, tomato compote and couscous with a tomato and basil oil. The quality of the meat clearly absurd, it was a cinch to put together, achingly rich in flavour and looked superb on the plate, as you can see by the photo I definitely, definitely took above. The next round of PoW includes beef blade and (ignore the picture above, I took that) charred broc, and will be delivered November 13 and 14. More
I Choose Birmingham is going back to fortnightly until we are all allowed out again. Next issue will be November 19. Sad face, crying face, gone completely batty face. 

Loki and The Wine Events Company are tag-teaming a James Bond online vino tasting this Saturday (November 7, 6pm) to chat about the history of 007's favourite drinks, with a special focus on the wines he seemingly never got drunk on. From £40

If whisky's more your thing JQ-based The Whisky Club has not one but six online events over the scheduled lockdown period, starting at £15

Provide now sell 'Alright Bab?' scarves, £23.99

Stay strong. You got this. 

"Land forests are the coral reefs of the ocean of air."

Steven Magee

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