Dreams of escape to Lanzarote

Sunshine virtually guaranteed all year round

The latest wave of Covid-19 has put a bit of a damper on thoughts of flying abroad for that dream holiday, but the Canary Islands is almost unique in being an all-year-round destination and good weather all but guaranteed.

A favourite is Lanzarote. It  is the Canary archipelago’s south-easternmost island. Although it covers no more than 800 square kilometres, it offers strikingly diverse landscapes. The legacy of the volcanic eruptions that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries is a spectacular scene of singular form and beauty. Next to unexpected landscapes made up of volcanic caves, lakes of lava and craters, lie beaches of golden sand and transparent waters.


What is more, the spectacular natural heritage has been jealously guarded by the people of Lanzarote; and not in vain, since the island was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993. Furthermore, in 2015, it became the first destination in the world to receive Biosphere Responsible Tourismcertification.


In Lanzarote you will find everything from the liveliest tourist towns, with their top  hotel facilitiesand recreational areas, to unparalleled landscapes, spots showing no trace of human presence, and solitary islets for the enjoyment of silence.


The Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, (Timanfaya National Park), a lovely succession of volcanic landscapes, is one of the island’s greatest tourist attractions, together with the Art, Culture and Tourism Centres created by the local artist César Manrique. The original cultivation systems of the farmers of Lanzarote, who learned how to overcome the island’s sterility and encourage the lava to exuberance, are another focus of attraction to visitors.


The benign climate, with its average annual temperature of 22º C, is also worthy of mention, since it makes Lanzarote the perfect destination for the practice of all kinds of outdoor sports.

New Sutton restaurant to open doors

Thai venue Giggling Squid announces opening date in Mere Green

Sutton Coldfield’s newest restaurant will open its doors next month, the owners have confirmed.

The new Thai tapas-style restaurant, Giggling Squid, will take over from former Italian venue, Gustos, in Mulberry Walk, Mere Green.

The chain, which began in the basement of a fishmerman’s cottage in Brighton in 2002, has confirmed it will open in late July.

Founded by Pranee and Andrew Laurillard, Giggling Squid now operates 38 venues across the UK.

A spokesperson for the chain said Giggling Squid has established a strong reputation for bold Thai cuisine, complemented by a stylish and relaxed setting. The varied menu comprises a competitively priced lunch menu and a more extensive evening offer, as well as separate children and vegan menus.

She added that their outlets are a true labour of love, and taking inspiration from Thai traditions and legends, Giggling Squid’s menu features vibrant, fresh and flavoursome dishes celebrating the abundance of exciting and exotic ingredients found across Thailand, all cooked by expert Thai chefs. 

Co-founder, Andy said: “Thai mealtimes are energetic, informal, adventurous and where food is celebrated. It’s relaxed and there’s no standing on ceremony. We simply want people to have a great time over something tasty! Every Giggling Squid has its own personal touch to it, and this restaurant is no different; it’s a beautifully designed space that we hope will bring a lot of pleasure to our guests. We can’t wait to welcome everyone.”

The spokesperson added: “Catering to the community during the new normal, Giggling Squid guests will still receive the same great food, service and atmosphere the restaurant chain is known and loved for, but with even more stringent health and safety policies in place, making it the safest place possible for all guests and staff.”

Giggling Squid is expected to open Monday-Thursday 12pm – 10pm, Friday-Saturday 12pm – 10.30pm, Sunday 12pm – 9.30pm.

A wide takeaway menu will also be available for click & collect or telephone orders as well as delivery.

Store wars takes a new twist

Discount grocer Lidl has confirmed that around 40 jobs, both full and part-time, will be created at its new Sutton Coldfield store when it finally opens.

A company spokesman has confirmed that the new store in Mere Green will be open ‘within weeks’ after suffering delays and sparking anger over increased traffic and pavement access.

Workers are busy working on the inside of the store, with completion set to be completed next month.

A Lidl spokesman said: “We can confirm that construction of our new Lidl store in Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield, is well underway and is expected to open later this summer.

“Once opened, the store will create around 40 full and part time jobs for the local area and we look forward to delivering our fresh, quality and affordable produce to the local community.”

It comes as discount rival Aldi have revealed plans and images of how a new store in Sutton town centre will look.

If plans are approved, the German giant says it wants to build the £5 million new store at the eyesore Brassington Avenue site, which has remained derelict for years.

The firm has released a computer generated image (right), of how the new store will look and says it will increase staff numbers to around 45 when it takes over from the current store on The Parade in the town centre.

That’s not all in the discount stores battle. In a move which is sure to create even more anger and controversy over increased traffic, Aldi look poised to transform the former Waitrose store on Belwell Lane in Mere Green.

Caravans invade Sutton Park

Visitors shocked as travellers set up camp

Revellers looking to enjoy the early summer sunshine in Sutton Park were left puzzled when they arrived to see around a dozen traveller caravans parked near the Town Gate.

The travellers are thought to have arrived at the 2,400 acre beauty spot on Tuesday night (June 8) and appear to have gained access to the green space next to the children’s playground and rangers’ hut through a broken fence.

Rows of vehicles, thought to belong to the travellers were parked alongside the fence.

Claire McFarland, from Mere Green, was visiting with her two children. She said she was shocked to see the travellers.

Whether they broke or removed the fence is unclear.

“It’s not a pretty sight,” she said. “But the kids were fascinated by the caravans.”

Park ranger Matthew Barker posting on Facebook said: “I’ve spoken with the police and reminded them that accessing SSSI land without consent is potentially a criminal offence rather than the usual civil matter within normal parks.”

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: “The council is committed to actively protecting its land and will take steps to recover this land where illegal encampments encroach upon it.”

It is not know whether they are the same group of travellers who were recently camped on the field at Coleshill Nurseries Sports Ground.

That site is near the tip at Norris Way and near the Porsche garage

Electric MG bucks the trend

MG5 Exclusive

By Bill McCarthy

NO-ONE can accuse MG of lacking ambition. Years after the brand’s disappearance and then return to British roads, it has moved on in leaps and bounds.

After a faltering start, the line-up is still limited but imaginative. This latest model, the all-electric MG5, targets the fleet market, which bucks the current trend for SUV/crossover vehicles, instead offering a repmobile-style estate car.

It is also an affordable electric option for larger families, with its impressive range, practicality and stowage space. It’s range would not be suitable for company drivers covering hundreds of miles a day, rather the local multi-drop urban work or commuting to and from an office or to visit clients, where the range 214 miles, would be more than adequate.

This alleviates one of the big problems with electric cars – range anxiety. The question of whether you can reach your destination, and if you can’t are there charging points available? Around 200 miles seemed easily achievable while living with the car.

There’s little to show the car is an electric vehicle apart from some discrete badging, the green strip on the number plate and the lack of tailpipes.

It offers smart styling, sitting low off the ground to attain better stability, ultra-low running costs, particularly with Benefit in Kind taxation for business users, just one per cent for 2021/2022 and a hugely attractive price. It starts from £24,495 (after the Government plug-in car grant), not forgetting the seven year warranty.

The vehicle is powered by a 115kW electric motor and delivers the instant, blistering acceleration associated with electric cars. Equivalent to 156PS, it can hit 60mph in 7.7 seconds.  It is a comfortable place to be and handles pretty much as well as any petrol or diesel estate and accommodates five people with relative ease.

The 52.5kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack can be charged from zero to 80 per cent in just 50 minutes using a rapid charger. A full charge at home using Type 2 fast charging can be attained in around eight and a half hours.

There’s little to show the car is an electric vehicle apart from some discrete badging, the green strip on the number plate and the lack of tailpipes.

It has a low slung profile and while it may not be the most exciting styling, the iconic MG badge on the black grille still attracts plenty of interest. The grille badge in fact discretely conceals the charging, point, swinging open to allow the car to be plugged in.

The interior feels like a much more expensive car, with a comprehensive list of standard equipment. It also has a more modern feel, with the usual gear selector replaced with a rotary knob and the instruments laid out in a clear, concise and logical manner.

There is plenty of head and legroom, even for rear seat passengers, while the front seats, on this Exclusive model are leather-style, heated and fully adjustable

 To hammer home the point of the car’s value for money, even the ‘entry level’ Excite features electric windows all-round, air conditioning, regenerative braking, cruise control with speed limiter, an auto-hold electric parking brake, rain-sensing wipers and push-button starter.

This is together with 16-inch, alloys, remote entry with push-button start, air conditioning, four electric windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, cruise control, rear parking sensors and follow- me-home headlights. This Exclusive model adds rear camera, sat nav, silver roof rails, electrically adjustable folding heated mirrors, an automatically dimming mirror and satellite navigation.

The centrepiece on both is an eight-inch colour touchscreen and seven-inch TFT display. The touch screen controls navigation, infotainment through the six speaker system and DAB radio, and connectivity for smartphones.

In addition there are four USB ports, The TFT display gives a raft of driver information, particularly on the charging and range of the car.

The large boot area is accessed through a wide tailgate opening and offers from 464 litres of space up a spacious 1,456 litres, depending on the configuration of the folding rear seats.

It’s also packed with active and passive safety systems, with front, side and curtain airbags, electronic brake assist, ABS with EBD, twin ISOFIX points in the rear and hill start assistance.

Factfile

MG 5 Exclusive

Price: £27,540

Mechanical: 156PS,115kw electric motor driving front wheels via auto via transmission

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: Range 214 miles (WLTP)

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles

Sutton residents in cybercrime alert

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Phishing remains the most successful attack vector for cyber criminals targeting individuals and businesses

Cyber criminals love phishing and Sutton residents have been warned to be alert over online crime.

Unfortunately, this is not a harmless riverbank pursuit. When criminals go phishing, you are the fish and the bait is usually contained in a scam email or text message.

The criminal’s goal is to convince you to click on the links within their scam email or text message, or to give away sensitive information (such as bank details). These messages may look like the

real thing but are malicious. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords.

As of 30 April 2021, over 5.8 million emails were reported to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). The tool, which was launched by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the City of London Police last April, allows the public to forward suspicious emails to an automated system that scans it for malicious links. Since its launch, over 43,000 scams and 84,000 malicious websites have been removed.

What are the most common phishing scams?

The most commonly spoofed organisation reported in phishing emails was TV Licensing, with victims of these emails reporting losses totalling £5.3m. The majority of losses occurred as a result of victims following malicious links in the emails and inputting their personal information into what they thought was the legitimate

TV Licensing website. Shortly after, they would receive a call from criminals impersonating bank staff who was able to convince them that their bank accounts were compromised and persuaded them to transfer all of their money to a new ‘safe’ account. Some of the other most commonly impersonated organisations included HMRC and DVLA. We also received more than 40,000 suspicious email reports relating to COVID-19.

How you can protect yourself from phishing messages.

Fake emails and text messages can sometimes be difficult to spot and criminals are constantly getting better at finding ways to make them seem more authentic. Email address spoofing, for example, is just one of the tactics criminals will use to try and make their fake emails look real. Here are some tips you should follow to protect yourself, and others, from scam emails and text messages:

1: Be cautious of messages asking for your personal information. Official organisations, such as your bank, should never ask you for personal or financial information via email or text message. If you receive a message and you want to check that it’s legitimate, you can call the organisation directly using a known number, such as the one on a bank statement or utility bill.

2: Report suspicious emails. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, you should report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) by forwarding the email to: report@phishing.gov.uk. Your reports will help government and law enforcement agencies to remove malicious emails and websites.

3: Report suspicious text messages. If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by forwarding the message to 7726. It’s free of charge and enables your mobile network provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.

4: Report fraud. If you’ve lost money or provided personal information as a result of a phishing scam, notify your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.

For more information on how to protect yourself from fraud and cyber crime, please visit: actionfraud.police.uk/cybercrime