Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024

A big, revolving, mirrored heart has appeared in Snow Hill square accompanied by lights and seventies disco music.  Quite a combination when you think about it.  Such retro art installations catch my imagination.  “Our beating Heart” is a pop-up show sponsored by Colmore Business District and is free to view.  

I hurried along after a meeting at the MAC to see the latest art installation that Birmingham has on show.  Snow Hill was quiet, sparsely populated with commuters heading home.  In the middle of the square was the heart slowly revolving and lit up by lights.  The 11,000 mirrors reflected the light around the darkened buildings of the square.  The effect was pleasing and mesmerising as shards of coloured light gave a snowfall effect on the buildings.  The music was very much retro.  Whilst I was there taking pictures, songs from my youth were blasted out into the night.   Heart of Glass by Blondie and Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees are two examples of the disco style music.  This an open-air disco and luckily there was no rain.   

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
View from the Station end of the square.
Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
No bikes allowed!
Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
Colour popping

Just to emphasise the fun of the evening two people were dressed up in multicoloured swap-shop jackets and were ready to engage in conversation with passers-by.  The installation was Instagram friendly and I was not alone in taking photographs.  Some serious picture taking was happening and a look at the socials shows how everyone wanted to have a piece of the action.  The heart was not the easiest object to photograph, very bright lights against the dark is tricky at the best of times.  My humble offering of photographs may not be the best but they give a flavour of the atmosphere.  There is much more information on the Colmore Business District web site and the pity is that the heart is only around for a few nights.  There was a board, where you could post supplied stickers saying how the heart made you feel.   I enjoyed seeing the heart but left bemused that a disco light shaped as a heart with retro hits has captured everyone’s imagination.  But that is what good art does by making you give an opinion.  My advice go and visit as the heart is worth seeing just for the picture taking.

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
Multi-coloured swapshop jacket.

More information on the Beating heart designed by Studio Vertigo and the Colmore Business District.

Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023

The Colmore Food Festival provides a great opportunity to sample food from some of the best restaurants in Birmingham.  I was determined to visit and sample the food at the festival.  There was one drawback, the rain.  Waking up on Saturday, the forecast was not good with the prospect of a soggy day ahead.  Motivating the family to go into Birmingham on such a wet day was not easy and the train strikes compounded the problem.  Once I had convinced everyone, we set off for the city centre.  Parking turned out to be straightforward and we made our way from New Street station to St Philips Cathedral.  The area around the Cathedral is known as Pigeon Park and in the northern quarter nearest to Snow Hill station, the Colmore Food Festival was set up and in full flow.  

Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Enjoying the food on offer.
Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Queuing up for soft drinks
Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Eating whilst sheltering from the rain.
Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Lots of colours and tastes.

So was it worth the effort to get there?  The answer is Yes.  We enjoyed the festival.  There was so much to like.  The choice of food outlets was excellent and for the family we were split between Asha’s and Purnell’s.  We went for dishes from both and were not disappointed.  The food was well cooked and so tasty.  There was a chance to wash it down with a glass of Purity’s session IPA from Purecraft beer stall.  Once the main course was finished, we browsed the other stalls and kept going back to Miss Macaroons for dessert.  The brightly coloured meringue-based sandwich cookies were in many different flavours.  Our choice included the following Pistachio, Rhubarb and orange, strawberry, and caramel. There were many more there.  We all agree that the food stalls were excellent and I apologise that I cannot review more of what was on offer but there is only so much we could eat.

Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
The Festival was well attended despite the rain.

My grandson was spoilt rotten.  He received a free spiderman face paint, free drawing materials, a book, and a balloon. He was very happy which also made mum and grandparents very pleased.  This was the detail that made the food festival a success for the family.  Not only was the food good but the children were well looked after.  The music was good as well even though dancing on the wet ground was a challenge.  Everyone was in a happy mood despite the rain.  I am already looking forward to next year’s food festival and I don’t think it will be a problem motivating the family to go whatever the weather.

Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
A happy grandson with Spiderman faceprint.
Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Enjoying ourselves in the rain.
Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Singing in the rain.
Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Happy vibes.

I hope you enjoy the pictures which were all taken on my Fujifilm x100v.  The camera is weatherproofed which makes it ideal when the weather is wet.  I even had someone come up to me to ask about the camera as he liked the look of it so much. 

Colmore Food Festival, Birmingham, 2023
Making sure we all enjoyed the day.

Finally a big thanks to Colmore Row Business District for organising the food festival.  I have provided a link to CBD and the food festival so you can make a note of the event for next year. 

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Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row

By far the most popular venue for the #keyofthecitybrum was Birmingham’s newly built skyscraper, 103 Colmore row. On the 18th floor, there is a south facing viewing platform that provides amazing views of the City’s major buildings.  When the Key started, Instagram was inundated with pictures of the City of Birmingham from this platform.  Many of these pictures were excellent and circulated by the social media team at 103 Colmore Row.  I left my visit to the building till late July and wondered how I could do a different picture from the platform.

Arriving in the foyer of the building with Nicky Warwickshire, my photo companion for the day @nickywarwickshire, we were met by Touwa, one of the volunteers for the Key to the City Brum.  Touwa welcomed us to 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, England. He explained that the newly built building was a 108-metre tall 26-storey commercial office skyscraper.  We were going to the 19th Floor and above this floor is the soon to be opened restaurant on the 24th floor. We were not going to the 18th floor viewing platform but to a floor that provides a 360o view.  The floor was empty, and I was able to get pictures of buildings such as the BT tower and the Rotunda.  I even did a panorama to take in the skyscrapers.  It was also possible to capture views of the people visiting who were fascinated with the views.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Admiring the view
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Panorama of the City

My different picture?  I got down low and framed the top of the BT tower in the frame of the windows.  I was pleased as I had got a different view which still conveys the sense of height above the city. The picture was featured by BBC Midlands Today that evening.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
A different view of the BT Tower
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
My picture on BBC Midlands Today

Finally a few more pictures showing the colours of the City for the Commonwealth Games taken from the 19th floor of 103 Colmore Row.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Looking over the City and beyond. What can you see?
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Colours on the pillars.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
The view with everyone’s favourite the BT Tower.

My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.