(Issue 137)
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Given the entirely glorious weather this week—and nothing to do with editorial scheduling—we thought it would be the ideal issue to talk about beaches. And though we are persuasive, we haven't yet managed to convince the sandy shores to move closer to the centre of the UK. What we have done is worked out precisely where you want to be when this great nation's two days of uninterrupted sunshine do arrive, all within three hours of Brum.
Beach: Barmouth Best for: Activity Travel time: 2 hrs 16 mins (113 miles)
Walk, swim, ride, surf, climb, kayak, fly, or maybe eat an ice-cream. Barmouth is located on the west coast of Snowdonia, with a long sandy beach and the sort of harbour which will definitely feature in an American film about Christmas in Britain. You heard it here first. Bordered by the brain bogglingly beautiful Mawddach estuary, Barmouth's got oldy world charm in frankly obscene measures. There's even a kite festival if you can time your trip for the final weekend of June. A kite festival.
Beach: Berrow Best for: Long beachy walks Travel time: 1 hr 59 mins (123 miles)
Talk to an indigenous Brummie about Weston-super-Mare and they immediately glaze over in a nostalgic spin of confusing childhood memories—they genuinely don't know whether to be happy or sad. Dear Birmingham, this West Country born word orderer has news: head down the road to Berrow Sands and your seaside experience will improve by the power of 11. It's got its very own shipwreck and would smash the 'mare in a top trumps and/or wrestling-based scenario.
Beach: Blackpool Best for: Unbridled chintz Travel time: 1 hrs 59 mins (126 miles)
Depending on the crowd, opt for the wide banks of Blackpool Sands, or head directly to the Pleasure Beach. If it's been a few years since your last visit, expect an ever growing arsenal of amusement parks as well as a refurbished sea wall and promenade, including Gordon Young's new Comedy Carpet, an artwork measuring 2,200 square metres
, full of jokes and punchlines. The Hightide Organ on the South Promenade is also worth the wander, using the sea's movement to create music.
Beach: Kinmel Bay Best for: Swimming Travel time: 2 hrs 7 mins (109 miles)
Also known as Sandy Cove (for the reason you are hoping), Kinmel Bay is to the beach scene, what Meryl Streep is to the Oscars. As well as five star water quality, the Marine Conservation Society recommends Kinmel, which — never one's for bragging — also holds a Green Coast Award. Hiding its light in Rhyl (north-east Wales), there's a nature reserve, a kite surfing centre, and grey seals are not an uncommon sight. De-light-ful. 


The greatest film ever made is being elevated to ethereal extremes with the help of of string, brass, woodwind and percussion—so an orchestra. Take in The Godfather via a suitably spiffy screen, with the recorded soundtrack removed and the film's massive score played out live by a specially formed orchestra. The work of Nino Rota, the Milan born musician achieved international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s for his work with Italian directors scoring movies including White Nights, The Leopard and La Dolce Vita. Starting at 7pm on September 16, the concept premiered to a sold out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014. Tickets start at £40.50, rising to £63. And they're selling proper smartish.


In 1976 Steven Spurrier, a British Wine Merchant in Paris, carried out a blind tasting competition. It was to be an amusing aside, as top Cuvées from Burgundy and Bordeaux were pitched against some ‘cooking wine’ from California. After a West Coast wine topped every category, the rise and rise of New World wines began. As a nod to this iconic tasting, Jackson Family Estates of Cali' will be putting their wines to the test against Bouchard Père & Fils from Burgundy. Hotel du Vin is on food for this one-off event, tickets for which are £85 to include four courses, eight wines and Champagne by way of apéritif. July 1. Call 0121 794 3005 or email events.birmingham@ hotelduvin.com to book. More


Meet Al. Al's been dead for around 150 million years (gutted) and as an Allosaurus, was pretty much the predator to be most scared of in the Jurassic period (as well as being the forerunner to the T rex). If you're in the market for a one-on-one with our Al, as luck would have it, The Lapworth Museum of Geology reopened on Friday, and they're giving him a place to crash until he can get back on good terms with his therepod dinosaur crew. Following an extensive £2.7m redevelopment, the completely free museum, which is open daily and housed on the University of Birmingham's campus has got 3.5 billion years of history to get to grips with. The team has also unveiled plans to open a theme park containing cloned dinosaurs on a remote tropical island called Isla Nubar. They haven't.


There are two kinds of scary: Donald Trump scary, and someone-coming-up-behind-you-while-you-listen-to-a-podcast scary. The Conjuring 2 excels at the latter, and isn’t too bad at the former. This time, we’re in a well-realised Seventies London, where the paranormal investigators of the first film examine a fictionalised version of the Enfield haunting. Saw director James Wan, and leads Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, are absolute pros at selling hokey material. Great fun. Times


Digbeth's adding to its venerable collection of body art this Saturday, with over 120 street artists (including Eins 29, whose work is pictured), across 18 spots, in the name of City of Colours. Forced to take a break last year due to funding (well, lack thereof), the team is back with a huge affordable art fair, retro gaming, battling of the illustration variety, a gorilla party in a car park, giant doodling wall and more graffiti than we ever imagined could be legal. From 11am 'til 8pm on Saturday. More
Venue: The Blue Piano, 24-26 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, B15 3AA; website
Choice: Singapore Carrot Cake (£5.25) Chooser: Chef patron, Siew Kuan

When Siew Kuan and her husband decided to launch a Southeast Asian restaurant, Siew's starting point was the family recipes she distinctly remembered as superior to the food she received at her friend's homes, growing up in Singapore. Based on the recipe Siew's sister perfected at her hawker stall, the "carrot cake" is in fact a homemade savoury rice cake (taken as a starter) which adeptly and surprisingly combines carrot, mooli, chilli and a mixture of spices the kitchen are not for revealing. Topped off with a bit more chilli, spring onion, egg and Asian radish, the dish is street food at its absolute best—gloriously fresh, dripping with authenticity and providing textures and tastes that, simply put, will make your mouth whoop. The big hitting beef rendang nasi lemak (Edgbaston's answer to a traditional Malay picnic) and the grilled black peppered pork ribs were also both serious contenders for the pick this week. Listen to Siew and you can't fail to order well. Menu
  • All things Martini are happening at 40 St Paul's, this Sunday, at 6pm. From the classic to the 1904 Dry, sup, discuss and even mix your own. Tickets are £25 + booking fee
  • Monday night jazz is back at Yorks Stephenson Street. From 7pm each week, the team's digs have grown considerably since our last visit. Full line up
  • Get a seat, a drink and actual sight of a big screen for this afternoon's local derby as well as Monday night's football-based date with Slovakia. The Mockingbird's opening up its cinema. Genius. More
  • Can't make it to Edinburgh this year? Catch Ben Hanlin (8 July), Zoe Lyons (9 July) and Ed Gamble (16 July) previewing their acts at The Old Rep Theatre. Tickets from £8
  • Tickets for Shock & Gore Festival are now on sale. There's even a screening of the world's only vampire snooker musical.
"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." 
- Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry
IMAGES: Chris Talbot (Berrow Beach)

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