Stop the virtual world: we want to get off – FU Loves The Midlands #37

2020 – aka the ‘year that never ends’ has effectively pressed fast-forward on our reliance of all things digital and, whilst we have to admit that some of these digi-developments have improved our worlds, the negatives of living a virtual life have far outweighed any benefit.

TBF, our love affair with all things online was already starting to waver; you only have to look at the growth in vinyl sales pre-COVID-19 to see the trend.  Books the same.  Whilst online may bring the world to your web-browser, it’s highlighted, conversely, that we are physical and emotional beings who crave the touchy-feely intimacy of life and stuff.

I, for one, am really, really missing a good Mall mooch.  I yearn for the almost erotic feeling of carrying too, too many bags, loaded full of goodies to be unpacked at home and admired, selected, and actually worn out to an actual restaurant with actual friends in actual real life.  I want this life back so badly, that I’m willing to stick to the rules, right here and now as digital-life sucks. So, as we move from lockdown to tiers, we’re trying to do our best with the first – and hopefully last, Covid-Christmas.

One such way is the annual Christmas trolley dash that me and the other half have enjoyed over the past two decades.  We separate in a shopping centre or town centre and spend £30 in 30 minutes on stocking fillers for each other. It is exceptional fun and has led to some incredibly inventive, unusual and sometimes genuinely baffling festive choices. It is now – and will always be – part of our Christmas traditions and online shopping will never give us that same buzz of adrenalin.  So, we will be synchronising our watches once more this year, but doing the dash in our best festive face coverings.  I would really recommend you join us, have some fun and support some real shops whilst you are at it.

Holler if you see us on the High Street.

Jon, Kevin and the #FUFighters


OBLIGATORY BAD JOKE

What do you call a snowman with a sixpack?

An abdominal snowman


BID LEICESTER PENS LETTER TO CHANCELLOR FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR CITY

With restrictions remaining on the city since June and entering into Tier 3 this month, frustrations for local residents and businesses has reached boiling point. Reaching out for financial support, Simon Jenner, BID Leicester Director has penned a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for “a fair and equitable compensation for our city”.
Read the full letter here.


CHATSWORTH LIGHTS UP WITH MAGICAL FESTIVE INSTALLATION

If you are in need of some festive fun, for the first time, Chatsworth is brightening up its gardens for visitors this Christmas with a magical light installation alongside a new Christmas trail- find out more here.


SHELTER ISSUES WINTER WARNING FOR WEST MIDLANDS

After a year shaken by Coronavirus, families are living in fear of homelessness and Shelter’s emergency helpline has been flooded with calls from more than 1,400 people in the West Midlands in the last two months, with a new person calling every 30 minutes.

To ensure it can keep up with the demand for its services this winter and beyond, Shelter is urging the public to help by buying a festive lunch from M&S. A percentage of every sale from the festive lunch range goes directly towards the emergency helpline – and in the last year funded one in two of the calls answered- read more about what they do here.


MEET SANTA FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HO-HO-HOME

A trip to Santa’s grotto is one of the most magical events of the year with most of us having met the man with the kind heart, big fluffy white beard, and famous red suit at least once in our lives. Determined not to let the pandemic spoil one of the most wonderful times of the year, popular family attraction SEA LIFE has dived in to the rescue and launched an exciting new virtual Santa experience that brings the main man not just to families’ doors but right to the comfort and safety of their sofa- find out more here.


SCHOOLS SET TO THROW AWAY 6.6M LOST ITEMS

Uniform: check, Bag: check, PE Kit: check…It’s the bane of the school run and while you may send your child off to school fully equipped, sometimes said items find their way to lost property.  Research from British name label manufacturer, My Nametags, has revealed that schools throughout the East Midlands run the risk of throwing away over 6.6 million lost items during the current school year as the lost property box can no longer operate in the same way due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Children lose nine possessions per year, on average, according to the results of a study amongst parents in the region and these are the 10 most commonly lost items:

1.         School jumpers
2.         Gloves
3.         Socks
4.         School books
5.         Stationery
6.         Cardigan/jumper
7.         Hats
8.         Water bottles
9.         Lunch boxes
10.       Shoes/trainers


MAKE A WAVE IN THE RADIO SECTOR

Have you ever wanted to create your own podcast or work in the radio sector? If so, Radio2Funky have just the thing to keep you excited for the New Year.

They’re launching a brand-new 10 week course, Making Waves, which will be free for unemployed adults. This is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable work experience at Leicester’s high-quality community radio station and also have the support you need to develop your skills and confidence in a fun environment.

Making Waves will run every Thursday for 10 weeks. Times are 10am – 2pm. Interested? To sign up or find out more email: [email protected]


FLOATING COFFEE SHOP OPENS AT PORT LOOP

A floating outdoor coffee shop has opened at Port Loop, Birmingham’s new island community being delivered by joint venture partners Places for People and Urban Splash. The Floating Front Room is operating from the Port Loop canal boat, with guest baristas and bakers serving takeaway coffees and cakes- find out when it’s open here.


FOUNDATION’S APPEAL SET TO OFFER HELPING HAND  

Just a week after its launch, Heart of England Community Foundation’s winter appeal has received over £60K in donations. The funds received will be used to create two ‘Winter Wellbeing’ pots: one to help voluntary and community organisations that require additional funding to run initiatives over winter; and the other specifically to fund festive activities in communities- read more here. 


A GIFT THAT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD

This Christmas, give a gift for the whole family to enjoy in 2021 with an Annual Pass to the National Space Centre and help support the Leicester-based charity-

Find out more here.


BEAUTIFUL SKIN FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Designed to promote a health complexion, luxury beauty brand, Heaven Skincare, has unveiled its latest line of defence for anti-ageing – a range of supplements that work in tandem with its most sought-after products- discover more about the seven vitamins and minerals here.


HIGHCROSS REOPENS WITH EXTENDED HOURS

Falling behind on your Xmas shopping? Fear not, because in line with Tier 3 guidelines, Highcross has reopened and to help you fit everything in, the centre has announced it will be extending its opening hours throughout December- find out more here.


NEW CENSUS JOBS ON OFFER

A range of new Census 2021 jobs are on offer across Birmingham for the once-in-a-decade nationwide survey of housing and the population that helps decide how services are planned and funded from doctors’ surgeries to new bus routes – find out how to apply here.


NEW PLATFORM TO PROMOTE WORKPLACE WELLBEING

Pioneering a platform that assesses workplace wellbeing, West Midlands’ leading mental health charity, Living Well UK, has announced its collaboration with Birmingham-based tech developers, Lumien. The application – called Lumien – will be instrumental in keeping mental health a priority for employers and employees alike as they navigate this new way of working- discover more here.


THE ROVERS RETURN REVAMPED!

From love affairs to fisticuffs, Coronation Street’s most iconic pub, The Rovers Return, has been on our screen since the 1960s, setting the scene for countless dramatic events. To mark the 60th anniversary of the soap, David Wilson Homes have revealed how it could look with a modern interior makeover- check them out here.


LEICESTER REGENERATION SCHEME TRIUMPHS AT EAST MIDLANDS PLANNING AWARDS

A £60 million regeneration scheme in the heart of Leicester has won top prize at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) East Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence.

Great Central Square, submitted by Leicester City Council and Marrons Planning, features two hotels, office space, a pedestrian ‘super-crossing’, public open realm and the refurbishment of the former Great Central Railway Station- read more here.


LOROS HOSPICE AIMS TO LIGHT UP THEIR PATIENTS’ CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR

For most people, COVID-19 means Christmas is likely to look very different this year. At LOROS Hospice, for patients who may be facing their last Christmas, being with loved ones couldn’t be more important. That’s why donations to the LOROS Light Up a Life Christmas Appeal will be put towards supporting terminally ill patients over the festive period and ensuring that this Christmas is as special as possible – Find out how you can support the appeal here.


SHAKESPEARE MARTINEAU SCOOPS TOP SPOT

Shakespeare Martineau has won the prestigious ‘Law Firm of the Year’ award at one of the sector’s most highly regarded family law events. The Lexis Nexis Family Law Awards 2020 took place on 25th November, with the firm scooping the coveted title- read more here.


KEMP HOSPICE WELCOMES CORPORATE SUPPORT

KEMP, the Wyre Forest Hospice are delighted to have received a large donation of £1000 from Evesham based Woodlands Generators, particularly in light of the huge hit the pandemic has had on the charity’s fundraising activities- read more here.



WHAT YOUR BREW SAYS ABOUT YOU!

There’s nothing like a good cup of tea to bring people together. We bond over a cuppa, share our news and our woes – but the simple cup of tea also divides the nation with Brits having strong opinions on what makes the perfect brew. To get to the bottom of the debate, thortful have released their new Pantone tea scale to reveal what your brew says about you- find out here.


LEICESTERSHIRE NAMED ONE OF THE FASTEST AREAS FOR HOUSE SALES

With stamp duty cuts fuelling a boom in the property market, buyers are rushing to complete on homes before the end of March deadline.

Emoov research reveals that house sales in Leicestershire take, on average, 166 days until completion – meaning offers made today would complete on 10th May 2021.

Right now, the average transaction is taking a sluggish 26 weeks from offer to completion, leaving thousands of property chains in a precarious position. But which parts of the UK are suffering the most?

Taking four years of property transaction data* the research team at Emoov have uncovered the best and worst counties in the UK for a quick home sale.  The top five fast-moving counties are all in the Midlands with an average asking price of £222,311 and 116 days from offer to completion, on average.

*from TwentyCi’s Property Homemover Report between March 2016 and April 2020


REP TEAMS UP WITH UK’S PRIMARY BLACK THEATRE COMPANY

The UK’s leading Black theatre company, Talawa Theatre Company and Birmingham Repertory Theatre have announced a major new collaboration which will see the two partners developing an artistically ambitious body of work which will play in Birmingham, London, and nationwide – read more here.


UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM REDUCE ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR 2021

Every part of society has been impacted by Covid-19, but its longest lasting effects may well be on the young, with those due to sit GCSEs and A levels, or equivalent, this summer amongst those most affected. To support sixth-form students, University of Birmingham has announced that it will be introducing additional flexibility around its admissions approach this year- find out more here.


VAN GOGH ALIVE EXTENDED

Following the huge success of hosting the UK premiere of Van Gogh Alive, Birmingham Hippodrome have announced they will be extending the experience until Sunday 31 January. Surround yourself in a vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance in the multi-sensory experience- for tickets and to find out more click here.


DRESS THE ICONIC BULL

Dress up the iconic Bull with some of his most iconic Christmas outfits with this cracking card from Birmingham illustrator, Shelli Graham. Bullring & Grand Central have partnered with Shelli to raise funds for the centre’s charity partner, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity, with 10% of the sales from each card being donated to the Young Person’s Unit within the hospital- find out where you can purchase here.


SIX HOUSEPLANTS TO BOOST YOUR MOOD THIS WINTER

It’s a well-known fact that spending time in nature is good for your wellbeing, so what better way to boost your mood than to bring nature inside? Wren Kitchens have revealed the best houseplants to have in your home to help boost your mood- check them out here.


WARM UP YOUR WINTER WITH THE UK’S HOTTEST CURRY KIT

Feeling hot, hot, hot! Leicester based Spice kit brand, Spicentice.com, have developed three new curry kits which they believe could be the hottest available in the UK- perfect if you’re a spicy food fan. Find out more here.


MARKET HARBOROUGH CHARITY RECEIVE FUNDING BOOST FROM CO-OP COMMUNITY FUND 

HFT Leicestershire has received a share of £16,000 in funding from Central England Co-op Community Dividend Fund aimed at providing quick funding boosts to help those impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. The national charity for adults with learning disabilities will use the funding to buy an outdoor gazebo so groups can meet in a socially-distanced manner- find out more here.


STARS ANNOUNCED FOR 2021 PANTOMIME

It’s panto time..oh no it isn’t! De Montfort Hall’s traditional Christmas pantomime may be on hold until 2021, but they have treated us to the announcement of its stars for the postponed production of Sleeping Beauty- find out who will be starring here.


ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY ANNOUNCES NEW ADVENT WINDOW TRAIL

Comprising of twenty-four unique and surprising window displays created in partnership with local shops, community groups and independent businesses based in Stratford-upon-Avon town centre, The Royal Shakespeare Company have launched a new festive ‘Advent Trail’-discover more here.


TOUCHWOOD REOPENS JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

Just in time for shoppers to bag the perfect gifts to ‘wow’ their loved ones this Christmas, Touchwood Solihull has reopened its doors today with more than 70 retailers, spanning fashion, toys, homeware and gifts back in business and fully stocked with the latest festive goodies- find out more here.


WEST MIDLAND SAFARI PARK SET TO REOPEN GATES ONCE MORE…

Staff at West Midland Safari Park are once again getting ready to open the attraction after the second lockdown and visitors can enjoy their four-mile Safari Drive-Through for a discounted rate- find out more here.


BLOG IN FOCUS: Meat And One Veg

Birmingham restauranteurs will be shaking into their proverbial boots with the launch of food critic, Simon Carlo’s new weekly blog, MeatandOneVeg.  Focusing purely on food and drink, his reviews are skilfully penned, savage and colourful, but written from a place where excellence should come as standard at every eatery, whether fine dining or fast food.  His acerbic honesty is rare, and we’ve been big fans for years, so we wish him well.  You can find him at meatandoneveg.blog  


LEICESTERSHIRE FAMILIES TO BENEFIT FROM THE CARING FAMILY FOUNDATION CAMPAIGN

Born from the desire to play a role in alleviating the disastrous impact that the COVID 19 pandemic has had on the existing growing problem of child food poverty, The Caring Family Foundation, has launched a new campaign Food from the Heart’, with the aim to make a difference to the lives of children in the UK living in poverty- find out how Leicestershire families will benefit here.


INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

– John D Rockefeller

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