Category Archives: Photography

Library of Birmingham – Preview Tour

Next week the new £189m Library of Birmingham opens its doors to the public after the closure of it predecessor back in June.

Wednesday I was lucky enough to be given access to the building at a preview tour.

There were still workmen on site completing the finishing touches, but from what I saw I can tell you that the residents of Birmingham are in for a treat.

Library of Birmingham Preview Visit. 28th August 2013

This is what a library of the 21st century should be.

9 floors of books and technology, interactive – touch screen displays, gallery space, conference facilities and terrace gardens. Gone are the traditional rows. upon rows of bookshelves replaced by something light, airy, spacious and fun.

The children’s library on the lower ground floor is decorated with images from the books the shelves hold, with an area for games, activities and storytelling. The music library wraps itself around a windowed amphitheater which full opens out into an indoor/outdoor performance space. The knowledge department that covers floor 3, 4 and 5 has echos of the traditional reading rooms with grand balconies and books as far as the eye can see. The discovery zone has plenty of workspaces for you to roll up and plug your laptop in.

Library of Birmingham Preview Visit. 28th August 2013

There is a roof terrace with outdoor seating, an optional bar, wonderful scented edible flower beds and a view down onto Centenary Square  and on the 9th floor just outside of the golden turret is a wall of windows offering a wonderful panoramic view across the city, and an touch screen “toposcope” allowing you to find more detail about what your looking at  AND in the golden turret on top is a the wonderful Shakespeare Collection housed in it original setting transferred sympathetically from old building.

Library of Birmingham Preview Visit. 28th August 2013

But that’s not even half of it – Each and every floor has the most wonderful array of seating, and nooks and holes inviting you to grab a book take a seat and loose yourself for and hour. There as 2 cafes, blue sky views from the ground floor ( no really), a host of activities for all ages and free wifi throughout.

Library of Birmingham Preview Visit. 28th August 2013

If it sounds like I’m gushing it’s because I am!

I really did think it was a library suitable for the Birmingham of today, that people of all ages could use appriciate and take some joy in.

Below are some more photos of my trip there. You can find more photos of the details of the building by searching the web, but I haven’t shared those  because I think you really need to go there and see it for  yourself!



Just call me Mrs Clarke

Steph and James Wedding group shot

So three weeks ago today I got married. To James, of course, my best friend and partner of over 7 years. It was wonderful day, made all the more magical because of the people that shared it with us. We felt happy and loved, and the day was exactly how it should have been, stress free and fun.

So now I am a Clarke – I have to keep writing that down to remind myself, three times since the big day I’ve signed into events/venues with my maiden name and I keep coming across things that I need to add to my “change contact details” list. You don’t get a manual of these things from the church on the day – it’s up to you to remember the HMRC, the DVLA, Passport office, bank, home & car insurance, doctors, dentist, kid’s school, utilities all need your new details.  I’m not even a third of the way through getting them changed – in fact while typing that list I realised that I’d forgotten the water board!!

But I digress, The wedding – The wedding was amazing and below is a taster of our big day from our awesome photography team Mark & Vicky Wood of F8media / Wedding Deja Vous and Sarah of Sarah Giles Photography (yes we had a whole paparazzi following us around on the day).

2661 days ago..

Our Orders of service – hand made by us to continue the them from the hand made luggage tag invitations

The music of love

The amazing Dan Whitehouse  (no seriously he is amazing check him out on Spotify) played for us while we signed the register. He played one of his own songs which we both love, and he then played a cover of Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe – James and I are both PJ fans and Dan went out of his way to learn this in the 3 weeks prior to the wedding, Thank you Dan, it was appreciated!

99, sir?

My unique transport – I arrived at the church with the chimes going, and then after the service dished up ice creams to my husband and some of the guests (yes I know there was no strawberry sauce – I managed to get ice cream all down me do you really think I was going to risk something bright red in a white dress??)

Steph & James

We asked guests to walk with us between the church and the reception venue – it wasn’t far and a jolly group we made with all the balloons laughter and smiles.

Steph & James

We finished the day dancing into the evening  – we had the reception in a room myself, my bridesmaids and my Mom had decorated that morning with red and white decorations, balloons, fairy lights and paper chains. Our first dance was to Elbow’s “One Day Like This” and despite only really deciding we we going to dance the day before the wedding it was  perfect choice – and the local constabulary, who dropped in to bring us a celebratory card mid dance, thought we’d choreographed it – which isn’t bad for a couple who between them have four left feet!

We kept everything as local as possible for us and the guests and even used local suppliers where we could.

Music was supplied by the amazing Four on the Floor a wedding band from Wednesbuy, I can not highly recommend these boys enough. They hit just the right mix of old party tunes and indie sing-a-longs, keeping everyone happy and the dance floor full most of the night , They even, once they’d heard the speeches and THAT Pearl Jam /Eddie Vedder story, in the break between their sets went outside and learned Pearl Jam’s Alive to play especially for James – you can’t ask for better than that!

Food was a Hog Roast by Hammonds Catering  in Telford and a small buffet supplied by my good friend Sam of the Oasis Community Cafe in Pendeford, Wolverhampton.

The whole day was perfect and the smiles say it all…..

Steph James & Jordan

Abbey Road meets Steph & James Wedding Day

Steph & James

Some tracks from the day can been listened to on our play list below.

Brighter Than Sunshine was what I walked down the aisle too. Somebody loves you and Just Breathe are what Dan played while we signed te register. You Are The Best Thing is what we left the church to, and One Day Like This was our first dance. Everything else was either played in the church as our guests were arrived, or covered by Dan while we were having our afternoon tea in the church and garden. We know there are some missing we just cant remember them all…



4amProject 25.11.12

Another trip out at 4am, this time to Lichfield  – Getting there was an adventure in itself as we nearly ended up in the middle of one flooded road but thankfully Dave’s driving skills (and brand new car) got us out of there only to be diverted by another -flood  we gave one more route one last go and got there.

This time we were to be joined by a few more people from the Walsall Photography Collective – all of whom were new to the 4am experience, and all who, despite, or maybe in spite of the relentless rain enjoyed the walk.

Previous trips out include:
Wolverhampton (and how it all started)  4th April 2010
Wednesfield 17th October 2010
Walsall 15th April 2012
You can see there’s a gap in 2011 because the date was the end of March and I was on a plane somewhere over the Middle East en-route to New Zealand – I tweeted a pic to partake from Dubai airport but there we no photowalk for me that year.


4amProject 15.04.12

Another 4am project photowalk – this time in Walsall. Just me and Dave again but another fun one!

Previous trips out include:
Wolverhampton (and how it all started)  4th April 2010
Wednesfield 17th October 2010

You can see there’s a gap in 2011 because the date was the end of March and I was on a plane somewhere over the Middle East en-route to New Zealand – I tweeted a pic to partake from Dubai airport but there we no photowalk for me that year.