Sneaks&Peaks #5

When: Saturday 6th September, 12:00 onwards
Where: Boxxed Workspace, Floodgate Street, Digbeth, B5 5SR
Tickets: £5 VIP tickets in advance (including queue jump and free raffle); £3 on the door

Edition 5 of Sneaks&Peaks will be taking place on Saturday 6th September at Boxxed in Digbeth, coinciding with the City of Colours festival.

Once again they’ll be bringing you the hardest to find kicks and leading fashion brands, supported by street art, live music, and a host of street food vendors, courtesy of Scoff Street Food.

Taking advantage of the new look yard plus the additional secret warehouse space, this edition promises to be the biggest and best yet!

Confirmed traders on the day include:

Advanced VIP tickets are £5, which includes first entry/queue jump and free entry in to the raffle; standard entry is £3 on the door on the day. For more information, see the Facebook event page.

City of Colours – Volunteers Needed!

When: Saturday 6th September, 10:30-20:00
Where: Various locations across Digbeth

We’re delighted that City of Colours will be partnering with a fantastic local charity, St Basil’s, with the festival raising funds and increasing awareness of this deserving organisation.

With a 42-year track record, St Basil’s works with over 5,000 people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness every year. Offering a range of advice, accommodation and support services to help young people regain the stability they need to rebuild their lives, gain skills, training and employment, with the aim of successfully breaking the cycle of homelessness, so that they can realise a brighter future.

St Basil’s will need a team of 60 dedicated volunteers to support City of Colours, who will play a crucial role and allow the event to actually happen. Volunteer marshals’ tasks include handing out maps and giving directions, supervising the art areas, distributing evaluation forms, holding collection buckets, and maybe a little bit of tidying up at the end of your shift.

Help is needed for two shifts: 10:30 to 15:30, and from 15:30 to 20:00. In return, volunteers will have their travel expenses covered, be offered car free parking, and get a warm fuzzy glow from supporting this event and indeed St Basil’s.

For more information or to register your support, please click here to visit the St Basil’s website, email fundraising@stbasils.org.uk or call 0121 772 9614.

Many thanks in advance to all the generous souls supporting City of Colours – Digbeth is proud of you!

Beach Party in Digbeth

When: Sunday 24th August, 15:00-18:00
Where: Digbeth Community Garden, Shaw’s Passage (close to The Warehouse), Digbeth, B5 5JG
Tickets: Free entry (suggested donation of £2)

This Sunday, Birmingham Friends of the Earth are hosting a beach party in the beautiful Digbeth Community Garden, which was recently opened by Councillor Yvonne Mosquito and John Gordon, Chair of DRA.

Originally a warehouse which was demolished in the 1980s, the patch of land has been lovingly transformed by volunteers and members of the community.

Along with seaside-themed activities such as ocean fact fishing, a sea quiz, and a making (things out of) rubbish competition, there will also be prizes for the best beach-themed fancy dress outfits. If you play an instrument, why not bring it along and have a jam?

A small BBQ and refreshments will be available, but feel free to bring your own food and drinks. For more information please visit the Birmingham FOE website or email campaigns@birminghamfoe.org.uk.

Robert Pass, a representative from Birmingham Friends of the Earth with Councillor Yvonne Mosquito and John Gordon, chair of Digbeth Residents Association.

Digbeth Dining Club is two!

When: Friday 22nd August, 17:30 onwards
Where: Spot*light, Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, B9 4AG
Tickets: £1 entry fee

With numerous accolades and a British Street Food Award under its belt, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Digbeth Dining Club was older than a toothing toddler, but this Friday sees DDC close down Lower Trinity Street and celebrate turning (a terrible?) two in style!

Utilising Lower Trinity Street and Spot*light to accommodate a dozen of the nation’s best street food traders, live bands and DJs, along with an afterparty at Next▢Door courtesy of Blackdot (free entry before midnight), the DDC birthday bash promises to be the best way to start the bank holiday weekend!

And we’re not the only ones excited about the event; the Birmingham Mail have whetted the appetites of the region with their article entitled Food Heaven, with photos of what to expect from the confirmed traders:

  • Original Patty Men
  • Deli at Edgbaston
  • Vegan Grindhouse
  • Esmie’s
  • Bournville Waffle Company
  • Savanna Grill
  • Canoodle
  • Low ‘N’ Slow
  • Big Daddies Diner
  • Pietanic
  • Buddha Belly
  • The Bean Stall

For more information, visit the DDC website or Facebook event page. We’ll see you there!

PCC Elections 2014

Digbeth residents meet with the PCC candidate. L-R: Pamela Pinski, John Gordon, Robert Brooks, David Charles Jamieson, Joe Holyoak, Yvonne Mosquito.

When: Thursday 21st August

This is a reminder that the elections for the West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner will take place this Thursday 21st August. All residents should have by now received a hard copy booklet in the post with information about all candidates standing for election. For information, the candidates are:

  • David Charles Jamieson (Labour Party Candidate)
  • Keith Alexander Rowe (UK Independence Party Candidate)
  • Les Jones (The Conservative Party Candidate)
  • Ayoub Khan (Liberal Democrats Party Candidate)

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are elected to hold the police to account, with the aim of cutting crime and ensuring our police force is effective.

PCCs are required to swear an oath of impartiality when they are elected to office. This reflects the commitment police officers make to serve every member of the public impartially and makes clear that they are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate.

Last week, DRA met with PCC candidate David Jamieson and Acting PCC Yvonne Mosquito, over tea and cakes in the Old Crown. David listened to residents’ concerns and learned more about issues affecting Digbeth and its neighbouring areas.

For further information about PCCs and about the elections please see www.choosemypcc.org.uk.

Social Enterprise Quarter Walking Tour

When: Wednesday 27th August, 09:30-13:00
Where: iSE, Avoca Court, 23 Moseley Road, Digbeth, B12 0HJ
Tickets: £10 + VAT

Following the launch of the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter, iSE have devised a walk to showcase the talents and opportunities available in this growing sector.

Join them for a tour of selected social enterprises in Digbeth next Wednesday. For more information, see the flyer below or visit the iSE website.

Odd Bite: Alfie Bird’s Gourmet Eats and Beats in Digbeth

Image: Birmingham Mail

Where: Alfie Bird’s, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, B9 4AA

The Birmingham Mail’s Graham Young recently visited Alfie Bird’s in the Custard Factory, and had nothing but praise for the recently reopened venue:

Once known as Digbeth’s Medicine Bar, the four-storey building with different themed floors overlooks the Custard Factory’s inner quadrangle.

It is a multi-purpose destination, and one of the potentially most exciting eating, drinking and rocking venues that Birmingham has seen for years. The indoor music venue has a capacity of 350, but there’s the potential to develop a 2,500 capacity warehouse rock venue too.

Luckily, the gas-fired wood-burning pizza oven was well ablaze when we visited, and soon, we were tucking into four pizzas shared between five of us – veritable bargains. All of the pizzas were mighty tasty, along with a side portion of top quality fries, complete with skins.

On a warm, summer’s evening this was the perfect family place to be. Somewhere different, somewhere good, somewhere cool.

And yes, they’re working on custard cocktails.

Great stuff and two thumbs up for the team at Alfie Bird’s! We understand that the guys are regularly working on developing their menu further and have recently added home-made garlic and chilli oils to complement their pizzas. For more information or to have a gander at the menu, visit the Alfie Bird’s website here.

Rico Libre

Where: Rico Libre, Barn Street, Digbeth, B5 5QD
When: breakfast is served Monday to Friday from 08:00; tapas is served from noon Monday to Friday, and on Friday and Saturday evenings from 17:00.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard news on the grapevine that the Barn Street Diner had changed owners and was now serving tapas.

Calamari, mussels and meatballs

Now, in Digbeth we have a variety of cuisine available, there are the stalwart greasy spoons and takeaways, the now very popular Karczma Polish restaurant on Bordesley Street, and of course, the award-winning Digbeth Dining Club. Tapas, however, is a novelty so of course I had to go check it out.

Before making my way over to Barn Street, I spoke to Karen, who is overseeing Rico Libre Breakfast and Tapas along with Chef H, and she had this to say:

Halloumi, patatas bravas and garlic mushrooms

We like a good breakfast as much as the next person, but tapas is where our heart really lies. We love, love, love tapas; making it, messing around with new dishes, eating it, sharing it with friends… yup tapas is where it’s at for us!

So we’ve taken the standard breakfast menu and jazzed it up a little and added a few new dishes (Mexican Egg Breakfast, an Eggs Benedict and a Big Godfather Breakfast) alongside all the usual suspects.

Lunchtime sees us offering a cold deli sandwich and salad menu alongside a few simple hot lunches (Homemade fish bites, meatballs, juicy cheeseburger with crispy bacon).

For those looking for something different then we also also run our tapas menu from noon Monday to Friday, and on Friday and Saturday evenings from 17:00.

With this in mind, I got together a group of local Digbeth residents – all foodies in their own right – to taste what Rico Libre has to offer. Safe to say, we weren’t disappointed!

We tried everything on the menu, and it was all delicious. Every single little bit was tasty, from the garlic mushrooms to the generous portion of mussels, from the bread to the potatoes. It was so good, that even when we were full, we wouldn’t allow the food to beat us and finished every single scrummy morsel on the table.

Chef H discovered a passion for tapas (and honed his craft) while living in the Balearics for a few years. You can tell that he loves tapas from the care placed in preparing each dish, and his cheerful demeanour in the kitchen.

Chef H and friendly server Gemma

The team at Rico Libre have been sensible (in my opinion) by only offering evening tapas dining on Fridays and Saturdays initially. However, we hope that they will go from strength to strength and thereby increase their opening hours. Yes, Barn Street is a little bit out of the way, but going off the beaten track is where you find little gems like Rico Libre.

With three tapas dishes for just £10 and a ‘bring your own’ policy on alcohol, we’ll certainly be back. I just hope that we’ll be able to find a table and it doesn’t get too popular! For more information and to see the full menu, visit the Rico Libre website here.

Long live Rico Libre!

Glug Birmingham: Midland Masters

When: Thursday 21st August, 18:00-late
Where: Fazeley Studios, 191 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, B5 5SE
Tickets: £7.50 (available online) discounts available

Glug Birmingham: Midland Masters is coming to Fazeley Studios next week. A series of talks from local designers, illustrators and studios, Glug events take place around the country and are designed to inspire creativity.

This will be the first edition of Glug Birmingham, featuring live art, creative talks (including Digbeth’s very own Matt Nation of PROVIDE), a pop-up art and a BBQ, followed by an after-party at SPOT*LIGHT.

Tickets are £7.50, with discounted entry for Fazeley Studios and Custard Factory residents. For the full line-up of speakers, and more information about the event, please see the flyer or visit the Created in Birmingham website.

Urban Village is Closing Down

When: from Saturday 16th until Saturday 30th of August
Where: Urban Village, Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Digbeth, B9 4AA

Last week, we heard some news that shook our world: Urban Village is closing down.

Yes, it’s slightly unbelievable, and yes, it is certainly the end of an era. Urban Village’s owner, Frankie Johns, has grown the shop into a bastion of vintage shopping glory, winning numerous fans, awards and respect in the process. The fact that Urban Village has stood in Digbeth for over 15 years is testament of his hard work and passion.

To celebrate the life of the store, they will be having a huge closing down sale from this Saturday until the 30th August, when the doors of Urban Village will close for good.

To explain why, let’s hear from Frankie in his own words:

It comes with great regret that I must inform all my loyal Urban Village customers that we will be closing our doors for the very last time on August 30th.

This announcement comes with a heavy heart, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. After putting my heart and soul into Urban Village over many years and leading the business through recession, I have decided it is time for new ventures that will enable me to spend more time with my family.

To say goodbye, we are having a massive closing down sale – so come down and pick up a piece of Urban Village history.

Watch out for new adventures ahead as we will be taking Urban Village on the road, bringing the finest 50s, 60s and 70s vintage clothes and memorabilia to a fair near you!

A new website is in the pipeline, but for more information in the meantime, visit the Facebook event page.

From Digbeth Residents Association, we will be sorry to see Urban Village go. However, we’d like to wish Frankie and his team all the best with their future endeavours, in the hope that this is only goodbye and not farewell.