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We're just about as happy as we get when promulgating Brum's sparkling secrets and lesser known spots. It was a smile-making day indeed, then, when we caught up with Steve Townsend and Jack Tasker - the laughably handsome team behind Hidden Spaces - and heard of their plans to open up forgotten Brum to the city. So, diaries at the ready, here is but a soupçon of the access available to you this June.
WHY: Short on time or basic organisational skills? The former Birmingham Municipal Bank will open its doors to the public for nine beautiful days exhibiting photographs and video footage of 24 of Brum's hidden architectural triumphs. And there's no booking required. The Grade II listed building - opened in 1933 - was the head office for the UK’s first municipal back, established by two time Lord Mayor of Birmingham and former Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. And we're totally up for staging an Ocean's Eleven style heist on the basement vault (pictured), if you are. More here.
WHY: The striking Victorian facade of the Council House is a near daily feature in many a Brummie's life. But what sits behind the grand exterior? Those nosy folk at Hidden Spaces have secured a series of guided tours through Brum's civic hub, which include the little-seen mayoral parlour and council chamber (pictured). And the really good news? They've held back a ticket release for the otherwise fully booked tours, exclusively for you. All you'll need is this link, the magic word ("ichoose") and plausible deniability as to why you need to be out of the office from 2pm until 3pm on Wednesday, June 10.
WHY: Get access to the top of a legend-filled folly and drink beer. While we are fairly confident that we could stop there, it would be remiss of us to leave out some finer details, such as the three ale tasting care of the Jewellery Quarter's Two Towers Brewery and the old tale that the tower - commissioned by a wealthy landowner in 1758 - is said to have inspired Tolkien's Minas Tirith in The Lord of The Rings. To take advantage of this absolute one-off, register your interest proper sharpish, care of an email to office@twotowersbrewery.co.uk. Tickets are £8.
WHY: In a season defining slam dunk for cinema nuts across Brum, Hidden Spaces has secured a guided tour of the UK’s oldest working picture house. See the projection rooms of the Electric and its paraphernalia-filled basement, while hearing about the somewhat chequered incarnations of the building the cinema occupies as well as the part it played in WWII. The cost of the tour (£9.50) includes a ticket to your choice of the matinee screenings that day. More here.
WHY: Ever wondered how it feels to be on the wrong side of the law? Explore the imposing interiors of Europe's largest single court complex, including the foreboding docks of the heritage courtrooms, the entirely stunning main hall and the law library, which smells just about as old as you'd expect. Now home to Brum's Magistrates' courts, you can book on to a guided tour if you are in the market for learning about the building's more grizzly tales - and - you know, its history. General entry does not require booking but we're plumping for a tour.

Take a look a Hidden Spaces' full "Unlocked" programme here.


The Rock has taken on everybody from Hulk Hogan to Brendan Fraser, and here we have him tackling God, or at least God in earthquake form. He's his usual charismatic, "please-be-my-dad" self playing a rescue pilot who saves estranged wife Carla Gugino and daughter Alexandra Daddario from a succession of the biggest earthquakes ever to hit California. In truth, in the summer of Mad Max this can feel at times like actors fleeing in terror from a cartoon building collapse, but the effects are solid and there’s a refreshing economy, avoiding the cast-of-thousands bloat of most disaster movies. And come on, it has The Rock in a helicopter and a surprise Kylie Minogue cameo.


It's an Edison ‘Bijou’ phonograph. And while it normally lives in the recesses of Brum's Museum Collections Centre, you can catch it together with a shedload of music boxes and mechanical instruments at Millennium Point from Monday, June 1. As part of internationally renowned experimental and music art exhibition, Supersonic, you can also expect a sound sculpture assembled from paper discs, synth modules, motors and fixings, which generates endlessly changing beats, as well as a five-octave pipe organ reconditioned by a robotocist. All Ears can be found at the second level concourse and together with a number of interactive workshops, runs until June 14. Entry is free.
Venue: San Carlo, 4 Temple Street, B2 5BN; sancarlo.co.uk/birmingham
Choice: Tagliolini all'Aragosta (£17.50) Chooser: Our waiter

Given the opportunity, we'd eat a lobster a day. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that when recommended half of one of these meaty beauties, served up with Ligurian egg pasta and a brandy sauce, we felt pretty good about the life decisions that had led us there. A rich and creamy plate of food, San Carlo's long perfected Tagliono all'Aragosta (as we still don't know how to say) in fact finds itself squarely in special occasion territory, lifted by the palpably fresh pasta and a generous squeeze of Sicilian lemon juice. Finding a place in our most moreish bites in Brum, the ludicrously simple yet unputdownable, super-slim garlic pizza bread with tomato sauce (£4.95) is out-and-out delicious. Just make sure you've got someone to share it with - essentially comprised of a whole pizza, in the wrong hands this "side order" could be meal ending.


This week, we're bursting with news of diary clearing, one off events. And Friday, June 26 is no exception - take in seven plates of specially crafted food across the studios of as many artists, resident at the Grand Union. As part of its 5th birthday celebrations, the Digbeth gallery and studio is opening up its space in conjunction with chefs Alex Claridge (Nomad) and Chris Hughes (Kitchen School). And with each artist working with the team to create a plate reflective of their art, it's going to be an aesthetically charged, flavour-filled night. The trail can be booked from 7pm, with tickets available at £50 (including wine).


Unlike everyone else on Earth (or so they claim) there's nothing we like more than blowing our own trumpet. That's why it's with off-putting volumes of pride that we tell you we won the Communications category of the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year awards. It's a big deal and it's not only a nod to the hard work we've put in, but it's a colossal acknowledgment of how wonderfully and warmly our readers have received I CHOOSE Birmingham since we launched, some 20 months ago. So we dedicate this accolade to you. And to Rachel Riley, who presented us with the award. Mainly to Rachel Riley.
  • El Borracho de Oro has opened for evening service on Harborne Road and the early signs are rather good. You can check out a sample menu for Brum's latest tapas joint here
  • Itihaas has created Sambha IPA - its very own beer - which you can try for free, along with some complementary nibbles, at its ever popular Selfridges Food Hall outpost, this Sunday (May 31) from 12 until 3pm
  • Tickets are on sale for the Cheltenham Science Festival, which takes place from June 2 - 7. Think Robert Winston, Professor Brian Cox and the science of just about everything
  • In preparation for world gin day, Cellar Door is hosting a gin masterclass at the Bureau on Wednesday, June 3. Tickets, at £19.95, include a G&T on arrival, canapes and an array of tastings. More here
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"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."  
- Winston Churchill
IMAGES: Tom Bird (Municipal Bank), Birmingham Post (with permission of Hidden Spaces)
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen

Copyright © 2015 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.

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