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    Birmingham

    Walking along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

    One of my favourite discoveries since moving is the discovery of how close I am to the Birmingham & Worcester Canal.  It feels like this marvel in the city; cutting right through the heart of it, as it largely follows the cross-city train line, at least from Bournville to town, but yet it feels impossibly serene, even as the trains go chortling past.

    zig-zag_canal

    I must have walked it a dozen times now, it takes me right into the centre of town, to the Mailbox with it’s bustling canal-side cafes.  But mainly I like the feeling of peace that comes with the five or so mile walk.  The space is used by people walking their dogs, joggers and those cycling, so it’s prudent not to wear headphones as to avoid a collision. 

    And it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve repeated the walk, something about the tranquility hidden amongst the city buzz makes it feel like an adventure, simultaneously exciting and soothing.

    boat_on_the_canal

    People talk about mindfulness and its benefits, the idea of focusing awareness on the present moment, learning how to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.  It’s something I struggle with; my brain is seduced by ideas, curiosity, and learning and I’m not good at doing nothing.  But walking along the canal feels like having a purpose, doing something, but also time to notice all the little things, like the smell of the chocolate as I pass the Cadbury factory, the ducks and geese, the canal boats sailing past, even the litter.

    It is, for me, the perfect balance.

    My favourite bit of the walk is an aqueduct near the university and Selly Oak.  From South Birmingham into the city centre there are plenty of little bridges that loop over the canal, those old Victorian ones with brick arches that make me think of the Railway Children.  But this is a modern bridge where the canal flows over the Selly Oak bypass. It is, I’m sure, even if you understand science and engineering more than me, an impressive feat of engineering, but every time I walk on it, it reminds me that science is real-life magic.

    lady_under_the_canal_bridge

    The Edgbaston tunnel is another highlight; a long, narrow tunnel which reminds me of the entrance to a pirate ride at an amusement park we used to go to when I was younger.  For ages the lights on the tunnel didn’t work, and someone had helpfully laminated a sign with the contact details of the local councillor who we should report it to.  Whether or not the sign was successful, the lights seem to have been fixed, although it’s still not something I’d want to walk through in the dark.

    city_and_countryside

    All of these photos were taken when the seasons where transforming from winter to spring. I wonder what it’ll look like in autumn/winter?

    Films/Movies

    2015 film round up

    Ever since the 2013 film challenge I seem to have decreased the number of films I’ve seen and 2015 carried this on; although with 34 films at the cinema-ish is still pretty good.

    The year started off typically with a lot of the films that I thought would be Oscar nominated, and I was right.  Personally of the films I saw that were Oscar nominated, Whiplash was by far my favourite for how much it kept me holding my breath and engrossed in the film.  There were also lots of big blockbuster movies; Mad Max, Jurassic World and Ant Man, as well as rom-coms like Pitch Perfect 2, Trainwreck and The Duff and a couple of documentaries like Internet’s Own Boy and Amy.  Actually, looking back it was a more rounded list than I’d realised.

    Anyway, should you be interested, here’s the full list is below (or clickable here).

    Screen shot 2016-03-26 at 13.58.54

    Home life, Live LAGOM

    Living LAGOM

    Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 23.32.57Six months ago when I finally moved into my own flat I had high hopes of rolling all my New Year’s Resolutions into one and being a better person.  I started off pretty well; I made sure it was near a pretty regular bus route, then dutifully filled it with mainly pre-owned furniture and started bothering anyone who was involved about the lack of recycling.  I told myself eventually I was going to get back into cooking, after a year and a half of not really doing so, partly due to a previously tiny unworkable kitchen and partly due to running an award-winning blog that centres on dining out.

    Live LAGOM

    And then, an email dropped into my inbox inviting me to take part in IKEA’s ‘Live LAGOM’ project to make changes to lead a more sustainable life.  Coming from the Swedish phrase “Lagom är bäst” which seems to translate roughly as ‘the right amount is best’, IKEA were offering to help improve my sustainability with a bunch of products – and advice.

    And so as read through all the stuff they sent over about the project and chatted about ideas with my IKEA Live LAGOM project leader Kevin, I remembered telling myself that once I’d settled into the flat I’d start cooking again.  That was six months ago, and if anything I’d gotten worse.  With no housemates to guilt my into going to bed at a reasonable hour I stayed up late and breakfast became a rushed take-out coffee and pastry eaten at my desk at work, lunch was a meal deal from the supermarket and food was whatever I picked up on the way home.  It was neither particularly sustainable for my overall health, bank balance and, when I totted up the amount of packaging I was throwing away, the environment either.

    My Resolution

    img_5124.jpegSo when IKEA asked us to create a New Year’s Resolution relating to the Live LAGOM project, I figured I’d do two.  The first was I a challenge to cook more, thereby being responsible for, and reducing, my food and packaging waste.  The second was to continue to make sure my flat was comfy and cosy, but that I wasn’t using energy unnecessarily.

    I wanted to make sure that the resolutions would be improvements to my life, but also ones that would last beyond the usual January “New Year New Me” period.  So I decided that Monday through to Friday I had to eat ten home-prepared meals, which would not only force my to cook but also to make sure I used the stores of spices I had. I’d also use a blanket if I was a bit cold and break my nighttime dependance on my electric blanket with a thicker quilt.

    What Next?

    Well. this is hopefully the start of a fun few months settling into the challenge. I’m aiming to do a few updates here, as well as the occasional recipe over on my food blog Full to the Brum.  Fingers crossed it’ll go well!

    Blogging

    West Midlands Blogger Meet

    westmidlandsbloggermeet

    A few weeks ago I went to a West Midlands Bloggers Meet, organised by Adele and Kirsty of Pretty Lovely Bloggers, held at the Rainbow in Digbeth.

    Over the years I’ve been to a few bloggers meet ups and it’s always interesting to see the variations in them – some are like workshops, others are just a catch up and some are blogging conferences.  Having been focusing on Full to the Brum, and food blogging developing a bit of a scene in Birmingham, most of the other bloggers I’ve met recently have been either food, or food and lifestyle bloggers.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but what surprised me about this was I knew very few of the bloggers in attendance – which made me a little nervous, but I chatted to some lovely people.

    The afternoon started off with us all generally mingling about, photographing and chatting to some of the reps from various products – I spoke to Sarah from Earlybird, which is a subscription box a little like Graze but combines music, food and art under the motto ‘Eat well. Play more’.  There were also plenty of samples to try and after grabbing a drink, we all sat down to listen to Elizabeth from Rosalillium to tell us more about getting the best out of Pinterest and another blogger (who’s name I’ve forgotten – sorry!) who talked about how to interact with brands.

    During the session Adele and Kirsty were selling raffle tickets to raise money for Mind.  I rarely win anything at raffles but Mind is a great charity so I bought a couple of tickets – and only went and won a Degustabox box!  Actually two of my tickets got pulled out but one prize was enough for me…although there were some great prizes on offer.  After that it was time to pick up our ridiculously generous goodie bags and struggle off home (I caved and got a taxi).  Due to a general back-log of blogging stuff I haven’t sorted through all the goodie bag, but I’ll post about it when I do.

    They’re organising another blogger meet in Birmingham in November, which #PLBSantasGrotto and sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun!

    Birmingham, Internet and social media

    Moseley and Kings Heath councillor hustings – April 2015

    Tonight, Kings Health Residents Forum and Moseley Forum organised hustings for the local councillor election which takes place in May.

    Tonight’s event, which took place in the hall at Kings Heath Primary School, was well attended, with a surprisingly few empty chairs.  With six of the seven candidates in attendance (no sign of UKIP’s Rashpal Mondair), it was clear that there was an appetite for community involvement and after a brief three minute introduction by each of the candidates, the rest of the time was given over to questions.

    Candidates in attendance

    • Mike FRIEL – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
    • Luke HOLLAND – Independent (on Twitter as @lukeeholland)
    • Martin MULLANEY – Liberal Democrats (on Twitter as @mullaney3)
    • Elly STANTON – Green Party
    • Martin STRAKER-WELDS – Labour
    • Owen WILLIAMS – Conservative (on Twitter as @vwozone)

    Questions ranged from issues with cuts to the Library of Birmingham, problems with traffic on Kings Heath High St, green waste bins and council tax rises – oh and I even got in one about the much promised local train station.

    Rather than write up an account of the hustings, I live-tweeted the whole thing instead.  Here’s a link to a Storify, where I’ve pulled together and sorted the tweets to give you a better flavour of the evening: https://storify.com/lauracreaven/moseley-and-kings-heath-hustings-april-2015

    Photo by Community Spaces Fund, used under creative commons.

    Stationery

    National Stationery Week

    NSWbloglogo2It’s pretty common knowledge that I’m partial to a bit of stationery, so I’m really excited to be part of National Stationery Week, or #NatStatWeek as it’s known on Twitter.

    National Stationery Week runs from 27 April to 3 May 2015 and aims to celebrate the written word – and, of course, all things stationery.  From pens to paper, stamps to rulers, stickers, note-lets, erasers and everything in between.  It’s pretty much my idea of heaven.

    Expect lots of stationery related blogposts shortly!

     

    http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/

     

    Birmingham, Books

    UKYA Extravaganza

    What do you get if you put 35 authors in the top floor of a book shop on a Saturday afternoon and a while pile of people who really like books? Chaos.

    I went along to the inaugural UKYA Extravaganza at Waterstones Birmingham New St, which was organised by authors Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass. The idea had been to pull together authors and fans and celebrate the genre that was Young Adult. This was purely a labour of love and with £3 a ticket no one was there for the money and the sheer enthusiasm was palpable.

    Sure it was chaotic; it was sometimes a choice between quietly chatting with authors at the back of the room and listening to the panels. But ultimately it was a lovely event, full of enthusiasm and good will – and two groaning tables of cake!

    As a fan of YA it was lovely tto hear from authors, some of who I knew and have read their books and others who enticed me into buying their novels whilst I was there – I went home with another five books, much to my groaning ‘to read’ pile’s displeasure! The range of authors, and genres, was fantastic and Emma and Kerry have plans to do some more events, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the hashtag #ukyaextravaganza if you want to go along.

    So many authors, I couldn’t fit them all into one photo!