Category Archives: Lifestyle

Monster Halloween event for Sutton

Farmers Market special with 50 stalls set to line the Parade.

And there will be plenty of spooky fun at the market on Sunday, October 30th – with characters Jack Skellington and Sally Finkelstein, from The Nightmare Before Christmas, towering above shoppers on stilts.

Even the stallholders will be getting into the Halloween spirit, with prizes on offer to the best fancy dressed trader and the best spooky stall at the market, which is being organised by Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID).

Michelle Baker, Sutton Coldfield BID Manager, said “We were absolutely blown away by the fantastic response to our first Farmers Market in September, and the next one is already going to be much bigger – with a third more stalls.

“We asked local residents to come along and support the first event and thousands turned out. We had brilliant feedback on the quality of the stalls, the atmosphere, and the way the market brought the feelgood factor to the town centre.

“As a Business Improvement District, we are exploring lots of ways to boost footfall in the town centre and introducing these quality speciality markets, selling local produce and artisan gifts, is already providing a reason to visit Sutton Coldfield.

“Now the market on October 30 should be even more fun, with all kinds of spooky Halloween fun, including free music and face painting and even more stalls.

“I would urge residents to come along and check out the brilliant stalls and support an event that is breathing life into the town centre.”

The speciality market is just one of the BID’s ideas to raise the profile of the town ­– following the launch of a vibrant new ‘Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield’ brand – with special events, competitions and improvements designed to make it a destination to spend time, eat, drink, shop and relax.

The market was launched as a three month trial which, if supported by the local community, will become a year-round event, 12 months of the year.

For Christmas, the BID has also announced six weekends of free town centre attractions, including a giant snow globe, Breakfast with Santa events and festive characters including the Grinch.

If you are interested in trading at the new Farmers & Craft Market please contact Michelle Baker email bidmanager@suttoncoldfieldtowncentre.co.uk

Some of the traders confirmed for October 30th

On The Breadline

Mangia Mangia Italian Cuisine

Bak4Lov Vegan Cakes

Beaudesert Park Farm

Brummie Honey

Brook Farm

The Cheese Cavern

Nick The Fish

Brockleby’s Pies

Military Chef Chocolate

Lumberjaxe Food

Cheshire Pie Company

Franks Sauces

Nick The Fish

Cake A Daisy

Yvette’s Cakes

Blackridge Coffee

Bramble Berry Fairies

JustinTime Coffee

Mermazing Bath Bombs

Paul Meadows Photography

Karen Handmade Memories

Meal’s Bead Cove

Bespoke Wreaths

1945 Wines

Sutton Coldfield six weeks of festive fun

Grinch in town as town centre transformed

Sutton Coldfield town centre will be spreading the festive fun this season, with events every weekend over the Christmas period – including a visit from the Grinch.

Instead of a one-day Christmas lights switch on event, organisers at Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID) will be spreading the Christmas magic over six consecutive weekends, so that more visitors and families can enjoy the festive activities in Sutton Coldfield town centre.

Starting on November 19 and running up to and including Christmas Eve, the BID is funding six weekends of Christmas fun and entertainment for festive shoppers in the town centre.

The extended Christmas activities are part of the new Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield programme of year-round events which aims to encourage more people to choose the town centre as a destination to spend time, eat, drink, shop and relax.

Christmas activities will include an amazing life-size snow globe in the town centre over a three-day period, which shoppers can step inside for a free Christmas photograph.

And Christmas characters will be roaming among shoppers, including giant Christmas Penguins, life-size Gingerbread Men, Father Christmas and The Grinch.

The town’s Christmas lights switch on event has historically been funded jointly by Gracechurch Shopping Centre and Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID) but the event did not go ahead for the last two years due to the Covid pandemic.

This year Sutton Coldfield BID would be the sole funder and has taken the decision to do things differently and spread the Christmas magic over six weekends instead of focusing one evening of entertainment.

It is hoped this change will benefit local businesses and boost footfall each weekend in the run up to Christmas.

Bid Manager Michelle Baker said: “We’re aiming to make Sutton Coldfield town centre a big attraction, with regular events to bring people in.

“So, we thought for Christmas this year instead of putting all of our efforts into one lights switch on evening, we would do something different and make the fun last throughout the festive season, with something every weekend.

“Residents will love the visitors and attractions we have lined up for Christmas – we just hope the Grinch doesn’t spoil everything!”

Guten tag to German kebab restaurant

German Doner Kebab has opened in the former Cynergy Bank building at the corner of the Parade and Holland Street in Sutton Coldfield
The new German kebab shop has opened in Sutton Coldfield

Chain opens new outlet in Sutton Coldfield

A very different style of fast-food restaurant has opened in a former Sutton Coldfield  bank building.

The German Doner Kebab opened in the old Cynergy Bank premises at the corner of Holland Street and the Parade in Sutton Coldfield, on July 5

The German Diner Kebab is part of chain which opened its first store in Berlin in 1989

Meats are imported from Germany ‘to maintain quality and consistency’, while the brand uses locally produced vegetables which are prepared daily along with its ‘special doner kebab bread’. It says it offers a ‘delicious gourmet food experience’.

The new Sutton restaurant has an extensive dine -n area with booths and other areas with stalls. There is takeaway and click and collect, and the now ubiquitous delivery section with a side window in Holland Street.

 A spokesperson for the chain said: “German Doner Kebab has opened its doors in Sutton Coldfield, bringing a new fast-casual dining experience to the West Midlands town. It is revolutionising the kebab in the UK, bringing a fresh, high-quality taste sensation that has made it the number one spot to enjoy a kebab.

German Doner Kebab has opened its latest outlet in Sutton Coldfield

What’s on the German Doner Kebab menu

“Freshly prepared in front of customers, the game-changing kebabs are made using premium, lean, succulent meats and fresh local vegetables, served in handmade toasted breads with unique signature sauces. The new restaurant in Sutton Coldfield is the brand’s 106th site in the UK as it continues to bring the GDK experience to more locations throughout the country. It is creating in the region of 40 jobs.”

The rapid expansion of German Doner Kebab will see 79 new restaurants open in the UK in 2022, after 39 opened last year. The chain also has outlets in Bull Street in Birmingham city centre, Coventry, Walsall, West Bromwich, Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, with outlets ‘opening soon’ in Merry Hill and Wolverhampton.

Musical magic at Sutton Town Hall

Tribute to rock legends

Two of the biggest act in music are being celebrated at tribute shows at Sutton Town Hall in September.

Go Your Own Way is on stage on September 10 and is a spellbinding show featuring the music from the legendary multiple Grammy Award Winning Fleetwood Mac.

Their rock n roll legacy is beautifully performed by a highly talented and acclaimed ensemble of musicians who will take audiences on a powerful journey through their incredible song book.

Meanwhile, on Thursday 15 September, BILLY JOEL – The Piano Man is the ultimate celebration concert to one of the most iconic and best-selling artists of all time, Billy Joel.

In this brand-new touring theatre show Robert Schmuck (Billy The Kid) and his amazing 7 piece band perform breath-taking musical arrangements of multi-million selling songs such as ‘My Life’, ‘Uptown Girl’, ‘River Of Dreams’, ‘Tell Her About It ‘, ‘Still Rock n Roll To Me’, ‘An Innocent Man’, ‘Movin Out’, ‘Just The Way You Are’, ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’, ‘Piano Man’, ‘The Longest Time’ and many, many more, it’s a non-stop hits show!

The Fleetwood Mac show features hits including “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop”, “Everywhere”, “Rhiannon”, “Gold Dust Woman”, “Little Lies”, “Big Love” and many more.

Paying tribute to their “Rumours” line up of Stevie, Mick, John, Christine & Lindsey, which remains their most commercially successful to date, this show perfectly recreates the live energy and passion of Fleetwood Mac.

Tickets for both shows are now on sale – just click the ticket link box for online ticket sales, or call the box office on: 0121 296 9543, Monday to Friday, 10am – 2pm. 

Rising Sutton star gets SportsAid support

Sutton Coldfield rising sports star Eryk Neumann has secured support from Aldi as part of the supermarket’s new partnership with SportsAid. 

Eryk has been chosen alongside 19 other young athletes who are performing at the top of their field as they work towards becoming Olympic or Paralympic athletes.   

The partnership will see Aldi provide financial support to Eryk through SportsAid, alongside quarterly training programmes to nurture their abilities beyond sport. This includes top tips on healthy eating, performance nutrition and managing mental wellbeing, as well as social media and media training.  

In addition, Eryk will be involved with the promotion of the supermarket’s ‘Get Set to Eat Fresh’ programme which aims to educate children on the importance of a healthy diet. 

SportsAid’s extensive alumni stretches across the generations, including Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Baroness Grey-Thompson, Dame Sarah Storey, Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Katherine Grainger, Denise Lewis OBE – and more recently, Dame Laura Kenny, Tom Daley OBE, Ellie Simmonds OBE, Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty OBE. 

The SportsAid partnership builds on Aldi’s existing work with Team GB and ParalympicsGB, where they support Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes.  

Adam Zavalis, Marketing Director at Aldi UK, said: “Since 2015, we’ve been the Official Supermarket of Team GB, supporting them with helpful initiatives and keeping them fuelled, and are proud to have also recently become the official partner of ParalympicsGB. We’re pleased to be growing our support for British athletes like Eryk by getting the next generation of promising young sportspeople on board and look forward to supporting them on their journey.” 

Eryk Neumann said: “My partnership with Aldi means I can pursue my ambitions knowing I got their full support.”

Magic of a summer city walk

Above and below walkers during the Enchanted Solsstice Walk (sorry no names) including the sunset over Lichfield

Change in weather makes Enchanted Solstice Walk a real night to remember for St Giles Hospice

A magical last-minute change in the weather turned the St Giles Hospice Enchanted Solstice Walk into a special night to remember for hundreds of fairies, elves and wizards on Saturday (18 June).

After a day of continuous heavy downpours, the charity’s dedicated fundraisers assembled in Lichfield for the popular annual event, bracing themselves for a thorough soaking.

But just as the moment arrived to set off on the walk the rain stopped and the clouds parted to reveal a stunning double rainbow which faded from view as the last participants crossed the finish line.

The walkers were also treated to a striking brilliant sunset which bathed the historic city in a golden glow as they passed through the streets on their 10k stroll.

More than 600 fundraisers flocked to join the event, which returned to the city for the first time since 2019 with a new enchanted theme, a new venue and a new route, after being unable to take place over the past two years due to COVID-19.

Chloe Hope, Head of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said: “We’ve called this year’s Solstice Walk an ‘enchanted’ event and that’s exactly what it became.

“With all of the fun and entertainment we had planned, we didn’t want the rain to put a dampener on our evening but we couldn’t believe our luck when it suddenly stopped just before the walk started. First we got a rare double rainbow and then the Lichfield sky was lit up an incredible orange colour – it really was something special!”

The Enchanted Solstice Walk began with a welcome party at the event’s new venue, at Lichfield Rugby Club, Cooke Fields, on Tamworth Road.

Entertainments for all the family included face painting, hair styling and stilt walkers, along with live music, food and drink, before everyone joined together for a moment of reflection which saw the sky filled with bubbles to remember loved ones.

Supporters then lined the streets of Lichfield to cheer on wave after wave of walkers, who set off along the new route at 8pm, adorned with lights, glitter, wands and fairy wings.

The fundraisers returned to the rugby club to receive a rousing welcome, a commemorative medal and enjoy the special sunset celebration event, with live music until late.

Organisers have thanked everyone in the community who supported the event, particularly those who gave up their time to volunteer on the night.

Chloe added: “It was wonderful to be able to finally bring back our midsummer fundraising spectacular and offer a warm welcome to so many familiar faces among our solstice supporters – we’ve really missed you over the last couple of years!

“We also want to say a huge thank you to all our participants and volunteers, as well as Lichfield Rugby Club, Doocey Traffic Management, Pure Hair and our two live bands, Kodachrome and The Grateful Dads,who helped to make our Enchanted Solstice Walk such an unforgettable night of magic, mystery and memories.

“We really couldn’t stage this fantastic event each year without the incredible support we receive from you all and it was great to see so many people lining the streets to cheer on the walkers and add to the magical party atmosphere.”

Chloe added that St Giles Hospice needs to raise £850,000 each month to provide the care and support we offer to our patients and their loved ones.

“The Solstice Walk is one of our biggest fundraising events of the year so we are incredibly grateful to everyone who gets involved with volunteering and fundraising,” she said. “Every step walked and every penny raised really does help us to make a difference to local people and their families when they need us the most.”

If you’d like to take part in next year’s Safari Solstice Walk please visit www.stgileshospice.com/solsticewalk for further details.

If you’d like to volunteer at any of our future fundraising events, email volunteer@stgileshospice.com

Get your brains in gear as quiz returns to Sutton Coldfield

Amnesty International Quiz returns after two years

Amnesty International quiz back in town after a two-year pandemic absence.

A popular quiz is returning to Sutton Coldfield after a two year absence caused the the Covid pandemic. The royal town’s Amnesty International group is inviting you to pit your wits some of finest quiz brains when its annual quiz returns to Sutton Coldfield Football Club.

The group has held online events for the past two years due to Covid but is looking forward to being back in person for its blockbuster quiz.
Sutton Coldfield Amnesty International chair Andrew Hindle, who is also quizmaster, said: “We are so glad go be back with an in-person quiz and we’re hoping local people will come out in their droves
to support us.
“We aim for the quiz to cover as many subjects as possible from sport, music and television to current affairs, history and geography. It’s a fun event which also raises money for a great cause.”
Taking place on Friday 24 June from 7.30pm, entry is £5 per person which is paid on the door.Teams are a maximum of six people and there is also the chance to buy raffle tickets for a range of prizes.
Drinks and bar snacks are available at the bar of the Coles Lane football club.
All money raised goes to Amnesty International’s essential work supporting human rights across the world.
The Sutton Coldfield Amnesty International group meets at 8pm on the second Tuesday of every month (except August) in the Conference Centre, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 69 Lichfield Road,
Sutton Coldfield, B74 2NU and new members are always welcome.

For more information see https://www.amnesty.org.uk/groups/sutton-coldfield/about-0

Cheers as Four Oaks opens after facelift

The Four Oaks in Sutton Coldfield has reopened after a huge facelift

Upmarket features and outdoor dining featured in multi-million pound refit

A second pub in Sutton Coldfield has opened after undergoing a multi-million pound facelift, offering an upmarket feel and an extra bonus for electric car drivers.

Following the reopening of the former Blake Barn, the Four Oaks pub in is now open, with a remodelled and striking interior, beautiful outdoor spaces and an exceptional food offering that celebrates the very best of British produce.

Not only that, the pub also offers much-needed multiple electric car charging points on the car park for the convencience of the local community.

Sitting in a prime location next to Sutton Park and the historic four oak trees giving rise to its name, The Four Oaks pub has been radically transformed, both inside and out, to showcase an outstanding venue that provides the perfect setting for all social occasions all year round. The extensive restoration has also created 54 new jobs locally.

From its beautifully elevated main entrance to its stunning interiors, The Four Oaks pub has been extensively re-designed and every detail carefully re-imagined to create a hand-crafted feel to inspire and welcome its guests.

Internal features include a new walnut bar, blackened steel bar fonts and limestone flooring, offset with elegant velvet upholstery in earthy tones, and real oak. The impressive crittall wine room, raised private dining room and Scandi inspired spaces, with warming fires throughout, beautifully blend tradition with innovation to offer a relaxed and cosy environment.

Guests looking for an al-fresco spot to socialise with family and friends can choose to enjoy the terraced patio at the side of the pub or scandi-style garden at the rear of the pub, featuring fire pits and a fully-stocked outdoor bar.

Liam Smith, general manager at The Four Oaks, said: “We have created a beautiful and inviting space to welcome guests at any time of day – whether they’re joining us for brunch or for Sunday lunch after a family or dog walk in Sutton Park, or for an evening with friends. 

“With increased dining capacity for 180 guests inside and 100 outside, the food and drink offering at The Four Oaks showcases the best of British farms and vineyards and the new menu focused on outstanding food, from exceptional Sunday roasts to small plates and stix, perfect for shared grazing. There is an extensive selection of drinks, including special craft ales and lagers, classic and crafted cocktails, plus an array of non-alcoholic drinks. 

“We can’t wait to share our impressive new space with our surrounding community and look forward to welcoming our guests – both old and new – to The Four Oaks.”

For more information, please visit www.thefouroaks-royalsuttoncoldfield.co.uk.

4,000 trees planted at Sutton beauty spot

New trees to replace woodland felled in a controversial move last year have been planted by children at a Sutton Coldfield beauty spot. Trustees from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust have started the next phase of their plan to replant English deciduous broadleaved trees at Manorial Woods.

The move comes after a decision to fell and replace previous trees sparked anger among local residents last year but the trust says the move came after it sought specialist forestry advice over the past two to three years, which revealed that the previous crop of Corsican pine had reached its potential and would have gone into decline.

Tina Swani, Chief Executive of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, Keith Dudley and Jane Mosson joined the planting of more than 4,000 trees at the site, assisted by children from Little Sutton Primary School, following the recently harvested Corsican Pine.

The entire site is due to be restocked with 4,500 trees of both UK-grown hardwoods and an intimate mix of conifers to aid the establishment of the crop. The next phase of planting will take place in May, ahead of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, where a central feature Yew Tree will be planted.

The trust will enlist the help of local schools again later in the year to help with a further phase of planting in the autumn. This aims to engage the local community in a project that will benefit Sutton Coldfield for generations to come.

Tina Swani said: “It’s hugely rewarding to see our long-held plans come to fruition at Manorial Wood, which will support a greater mix of woodland plants and wildlife. The previous Corsican Pine trees were in dire need of harvesting and replanting, due to the stock reaching its potential, lack of undergrowth and ongoing fire risk.”

“We are delighted that Little Sutton Primary School is involved, the woods are big part of the environment of Sutton and what a way to get the next generation involved in helping to improve the future of the town.”

Rachel Davis, headteacher at Little Sutton Primary School, said: “We are very excited about being part of a project to plant 4,500 trees that will create a broad-leaved, biodiverse woodland to benefit generations to come. 

“At Little Sutton we feel it is really important to prepare our pupils to be good citizens, so we work hard to instil positive values and opportunities for them to make an impact in our community. Our pupils are passionate about playing their part in making the world a better place, and this fantastic project will enable them to do this by looking after the local environment.”

An environmentally sustainable approach is being taken at Manorial Wood that includes biodegradable tree protectors being used, instead of plastic, to prevent damage from small animals as the trees become established.

To find out more information about Manorial Woods or Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, please visit: https://www.suttoncoldfieldcharitabletrust.com/news/manorial-woods/17.htm 

Range anxiety puts damper on holiday break

 A thought-provoking journey in an electric car

They call it range anxiety, but at times it can feel like range despair. Range anxiety is the fear that there will not be enough power in the battery of our electric vehicle to get to your destination. Something that happened on a trip to the Lake District, writes Bill McCarthy.

Range anxiety has been around since modern electric cars first hit the road in the shape of the Nissan Leaf.

I drove one of those around 11 years ago, to a football match dur- ing the cold and rain and left again in the dark.

It was not fully topped up, but the range was showing 64 miles, to cover a round trip of 24, but with the lights, wipers and heater drawing the power, just one mile was showing on the range when we got home. That’s range anxiety.

More than 10 years on battery life has improved immeasurably, with some models boasting a range of around 350 miles, enough for most journeys.

And the costs benefits are obvi- ous, particularly with spiralling fuel charges.

They are still not cheap to buy, even with the Government EV grant. But if you do decide to go electric, everything is cheaper with zero road tax and the lowest Benefit in Kind ratings if you are a compa- ny car driver. There are of course costs to your electric bill but these are outweighed by savings on petrol and diesel.

But there’s still range anxiety.

This is despite the increase in the number of charging points at service stations and their fast-charging facilities which will deliver an 80 per cent charge in around 20 minutes.

Which is great if you are not in the queue to use one which, as it turned out, was quite often in a journey from hell to the Lake Dis- trict.

It was a bit of a dilemma, should we take a relatively untried model with a claimed range of 195 miles on a proposed round trip of 450 miles? What better way to test it I thought. Well it was a test all right,

Some careful planning was needed. Yes, there were several charging points at motorway services right up to Lakeland itself.

So a quick top up to 80 per cent range on one of the latest fast chargers at an M6 service station around half way should do the trick, before completing the 190-odd mile journey to our destination.

We were also aware that once inside Britain’s biggest and arguably most beautiful national park,

Finding a charging point can sometimes prove to be a headache and charging points would be far less frequent. So a few were pinpointed, just in case.

Well you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

The minute we hit the motorway the heavens opened. At this point the range was showing 140 miles, but once the wipers, lights and demister came on, and travelling at above 60mph, the power meter headed south in a big way and guess what? Range anxiety set in.

Two M6 services stop offs were needed. The 100kW fast chargers are easy to use. Just plug it in, show your credit/debit card and within 20 to 30 minutes you will have at least an 80 per cent charge.

The second stop was nearer our destination as the range was again plunging alarmingly, but there were problems with charging. One station was out of action and the other would not charge until the car next to me had finished.

All this added to journey time and a growing sense of frustration and trepidation.

By the time we got off the motorway, it was getting dark and still raining heavily with about 60 miles to our destination and the predicted range dropping relentlessly.

Ninety buttock-clenching minutes later we arrived, with a range of just under 40 miles showing. So what next?

The Lake District EV infrastructure is patchy to say the least. So we had to spend our second, and only full day, planning how to charge up. We found one place at a hotel that was free, but out of action. Again range anxiety.

Helped out by a friendly campsite owner

However, it was a beautiful day and where we were staying had spectacular views across the western lakes and fells. So we pretty much stayed put and approached a friendly campsite owner who agreed to let us use our three-pin trickle charger overnight.

That can give a full charge, but takes up to 15 hours from flat. However, ready to journey back the next morning, we had a full charge.

The return journey pretty much mirrored the first. Driving rain, multiple charging stops and problems finding unoccupied charging points and, yes, arriving with about 40 miles range left. One thing this trip has shown is that just like petrol or diesel motors, fuel figures take a battering when cold, electrical components and speed come into play.

With combustion engines, however, filling stations – even in the Lake District – are plentiful. Not so with charging points and the same applies to most rural areas. Electric cars are seeing rapidly growing sales and are widely perceived as the future of emissions-free motoring, with combustion engines are due to be phased out by 2030 and hybrids by 2035.

Hopefully, by then, range anxiety and infrastructure problems will be a distant memory.

Even with the current energy crisis, EVs remain cheaper to run than combustion engines. I have driven many electric cars and no matter what the predicted range is, you cannot stop yourself keeping an eye on the range.

It is the first time I have driven one this far, in such awful conditions, and it will be a rare occurrence for most. But for those using it for work and travelling the country, it needs careful consideration before taking the plunge.