Pickles & Co – Exquisite Hairdressers Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Pickles & Co – Exquisite Hairdressers Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Moving to a new city has its challenges: meeting new people; settling into a new routine; adjusting to the bizarre new geography… But most of all, finding a suitable hairdresser.

Those of you who know me will be acutely aware that I have hair on my head. This hair does not behave according to the regular, predictable laws of physics. It needs shearing far more often than I’d like. Consequently, my second haircut in this city stampeded my way with frightening alacrity.

Being a terribly busy man about town, I do not have much free time throughout the week or indeed on the weekends. I needed somewhere which would not make me go too much out of my way. Especially given I am without a bike now, since being crushed to death by a fast moving taxi. Pickles and Co is perfectly situated in the middle of the Jewellery Quarter.

At first I was a little concerned at the price. Alarm bells rang as soon as I was offered a coffee. That is usually a bad sign for your bank manager. Then I looked around me and understood where the few extra pounds were to go.

The place is absolutely gorgeous. The downstairs area is even more aesthetically pleasing. The coffee, by the way, is superb. Of course it is difficult to go on at length about a hair cut. Other than to say a hair cut is a hair enhanced, one can can seldom expand on his follicle foibles.

Suffice to say, the service was outstanding. Tom sheared me with passion, assisted by his glamorous apprentice, Soloman. I was impressed by the care with which he cut my hair. It took around an hour, which made me feel as though I was getting value for money – a prized boon.

Call them on 0121 389 8498 to book an appointment. And tell Tom I say hello.

The Bike Foundry – The Bice are Nice, Stirchley

The Bike Foundry – The Bice are Nice, Stirchley

Recently, I’ve come into contact with an abnormal amount of wrath. My bike was stolen from New Street Station some days ago. I deliberately parked it under 3 cameras in a crowded area (the Drop & Go!).

To cite Homer,

[My] rage is black and murderous.

Perhaps the thieves in question were not Greek, but I should still like to “pitch [their] souls… into Hades’ dark, and [leave] their bodies to rot as feasts for dogs and birds”.

Moving on from my fully justified disgust of criminals, I found myself in need of a new bike. After a brief search and numerous phone calls, I alighted on the Bike Foundry.

We offer cycle maintenance training to individuals, schools and organisations. We also run a tool club where you can come along and use our workshop.

Founded in 2010; The Birmingham Bike Foundry refurbishes donated bikes and resells them. In my experience, their service is swift and cost effective. I got myself a Boardman hybrid bike with thin road tyres. It is pictured below. I must say, having ridden this, I’m almost glad the last bike was stolen. This bike is so very fast. It took me 18 minutes to cover 4.6 miles. I could do it in 15 without the damn traffic. I must admit to feeling immense joy sailing past all the cars on my way to the city centre each morning. The weather has been particularly kind to me in the last days. I do hope this continues.

The Bike Foundry are efficient and professional. The standard of their ware is beyond question. I am delighted to recommend them to you, on this fine Wednesday.

While on an excruciating walk to university, I snapped this picture of St Philip’s Cathedral. This bears no relevance, aside from it being a direct result of the theft of my bike. But, I am a skilled and conceited photographer and feel the need to impose this picture upon you.

Vidrierias Gordiola – A Glass Half Full

Vidrierias Gordiola – A Glass Half Full

When Claudia and I were planning our trip to Palma, this glassware shop, humble though it was, topped our list of things to see.

The Gordiola family have been creating glassware masterpieces since 1719. Their expertise was evident from the moment we walked into the famed shop on Carrer de l’Almudaina. The shop displays works made in the factory/ museum (Carretera Palma-Manacor, KM 19,6, 07210 Algaida, Islas Baleares, Spain) in a nearby town. My one piece of advice for anyone going to Palma would be to hire a car. The city of Palma is smaller than you think and can be appreciated fully in three days.

If you’re feeling feline, the shop has a wide variety of exquisite glass animals. I bought the cat on the end and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

Moving on from my deeply impressive skills; talent and ingenuity, I took a look around the shop.

The artisans in the factory must have had a lightbulb moment in conceiving the following…

Once you’ve recovered from my pun; I hope you’ll be able to appreciate this €1500 chandelier. A testament to the mastery of the craftsmen in Algaida. The shop is truly impressive and offers a wide range of goods available. I was and continue to be impressed by the skills manifested before me. I’ll include a few more pictures to give you a more complete idea of the depth of capacity present here.

On a final note, I want you all to meet one of my favourite things from this shop. He is a character with whom I became deeply enamoured. Upon seeing his beady eyes (pause for pun appreciation) , I knew I had no choice but to bring him home. It is my great pleasure and privilege to introduce my best friend: Jeffrey

Jeffrey and I now share a desk, at which I sit on a daily basis writing blog posts and not revising. By the time this post arrives on the blog, I may well have fallen into a chasm of despair; flailing wildly on the way to oblivion.

Until then, if you have the time; do visit the Vidrierias Gordiola shop and factory in Mallorca. You won’t regret it.



Mon S. XX – Vintage Galore Palma

Mon S. XX – Vintage Galore Palma

Wandering though the streets of Palma, as one does, my Claudia and I happened upon a what we thought was a small alleyway. In fact this was none other than Mon S. XX, a vintage shop. I’m always on the lookout for new fountain pens so I just had to look inside.

Alas my quest for calligraphic success came to an abrupt end. No, I did not get attacked or confused – the shopkeeper intimated that he did not have any fountain pens in his possession. Crestfallen, I meandered a little while longer to assess the extend of his wares.

Above is pictured one of three rooms filled to the brim with exciting items. I found a perfect ebony statue which would have gone splendidly with the rest of my growing collection. Once again I was disappointing to found it had been sold. I hope whomever bought it will appreciate it as much as I would have.

You can just about see the ebony statue I have just described in the back to the left of the above picture. Note the light in the shape of a bow and arrow. How inventive!

If you’re in Palma, or planning to go there, please take some time to visit this exceptional hidden gem. Perhaps you’ll even find your own ebony statuette!

Ed’s Coffee House – Prepare for Liftoff

Ed’s Coffee House – Prepare for Liftoff

Until recently, I was not coffee’s biggest fan. Even in Italy I refused to sample this unknown delicacy. Too sour for me, I like sweet things. Alas, my youth faded much too quickly and I now relish more savoury dishes.

I found myself in Genius Coffee, Carlisle one morning for work. Driving an average of 1000  miles a month had me exhausted so I stopped for coffee. I was at once mesmerised at how flavoursome and awakening this beverage is. From then I was hooked.

Stepping closer to coffee perfection was incremental for me. I received my first Bialetti from my dear friend Edoardo when I went to Rome in February. I soon realised I needed something with a greater capacity. Mother and I traded Bialettis. Now in possession of the six-cup beast, I was able to fully explore coffee varieties.

While on one of my vegetable runs in Coventry Market, Ed’s Coffee House caught my eye. A wall and table stuffed to the gunnels with stacks of coffee. Kilner jars as far as the eye could see. I was in coffee Nirvan.

Chris, manning the desk, knows everything there is to know about each of the many kinds of roast coffee beans he sells. I have thus far tried the Indian Monsoon Malabar; Olympic Blend; Cuban Serrano and Q blend. Each of which have a unique effect. The Olympic blend, as Chris will be able to relate to you in much greater detail, comes from the North East Africa, where the soil has an usually high nitrogen content. This translates into a cup of Joe which makes you feel as though you’ve been hit by a bus.

Each coffee is unique. Chris knows I use a Bialetti. He grinds my coffee beans in front of me, into the finest powdered coffee for my machine. But my grandmother  has a peculator so the grind was different. Ed’s Coffee House caters for everyone’s coffee needs. They even sell their own coffee for £1 a cup.

They have changed my life. I know they will change yours too. I can say with confidence that my days are powered by Ed’s powdered coffee beans.

And the best part of it all is that they deliver. So when I leave the Warwickshire region for good, I know Ed’s Coffee House will never be far from my Bialetti.

Vinyl Destination – Coventry’s Finest Record Shop

Vinyl Destination – Coventry’s Finest Record Shop

Vinyl Destination is situated in the heart of Coventry Market (Stall 93). I was so impressed by the pun in it’s nomenclature that I knew I had to buy something from them. Ian runs the joint. What he doesn’t know about music isn’t worth knowing.

Over the last few months, I have visited his shop numerous times. Ian does not only sell vinyl; he also runs a secret underground business of cleaning vinyls. I brought him two copies of my Album of the Year. Both skipped at the same place: Side two, track two Aqua. He cleaned my record with a special machine to remove any specs of dust then looked at it with a microscope. All Free of charge. Ian is as kind as he is knowledgeable.

They played beautifully from then on. I came back and bought every record by the Eurythmics that Ian had. I came back again for The Tourists’ debut album (pre Eurythmics Annie Lenox & co). Each one was wonderful and saw me using my dancing shoes.

Ian doesn’t just sell vinyl; cds. He sells joy. He is competitively priced and centrally located.

There are hundreds of vinyls to chose from. I’m not sure how many record shops the reader frequents, but allow me to tell you they are not normally as well arranged and indicated as Vinyl Destination.

I recommend it as the place to go to get that record you have been after but don’t want to pay the amazon premium price for. He stocks all kinds of music from all time periods. Equally, to avoid the worry of the neanderthals at Royal Mail mishandling your vinyl and crushing it in transit, Ian’s seemingly novel “Instant Delivery” system, available in all high street shops if one could be bothered to leave one’s homes and get out into the real world, is available for all.

Make Vinyl Destination your primal destination in Coventry Market. Ian will take care of all your vinyl needs.

Find out about their opening hours here.