Junction Works, Digbeth, Birmingham

Close to where I work in Digbeth, there is a building called Junction Works. It sits on the Grand Union Canal just off Fazeley St. It looks like an old industrial building, however i’m not sure what it was ever used for.

As long as I’ve known it, it’s always been empty.  I know there used to be a boxing club there at one point. The front of the building has recently been half heartedly renovated. It’s got a brand new roof on it, and in the second room there is a beautifully renovated double glazed glass roof that lets natural light pour in.

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David M Martin (RSW, RGI) – Fine Artist

Walking through the door of David M Martin’s house is a bit like stepping through a time warp. David is a ninety year old artist living in Eaglesham, Scotland. He’s the most able ninety year old I’ve ever met and, in fact maybe the oldest person I’ve ever met. We had a cup of tea to try and get to know him before setting up for the interview. We were a little nervous, being very cautious not to disturb David’s world too much.

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Britain in a day

On July 24th 2010 thousands of people captured footage of their lives and uploaded it to the youtube life in a day channel, Ridley Scott with his team of editors and researchers scoured the footage and made it in to Life in a Day. I saw the film not so long ago and was pretty gutted that I didn’t upload any footage. At the time I had the intention of submitting footage but my day just seemed too boring to film. The only thing I did film was me brushing my teeth.

However, they are doing it again this Saturday (12th November) for Britain in a Day. So i’ll be sure to film as much as I can! I’ll be travelling from Birmingham to London and going out there, so hopefully i’ll have some good stuff to film. If your thinking about taking part no matter how boring you think your day is, you should film it and submit it anyway.

If your feeling double adventurous why not do Global Video Day which is the same principal only on 11.11.11. Check them both out below.

Highbury Studio

Last night, myself and Steve from our band were lucky enough to get a look in at Highbury Studio just round the corner from where we live in Birmingham. Our drummer first heard about it, and word of mouth seems to be the only way anyone finds out about it. Stepping through the doors of the old cricket bat factory is like stepping back to the 1980’s. The decor is something that can’t be copied or styled, it’s just matured over the time it has been there.

The studio used to be owned by UB40 producer Bob Lamb but was brought by Birmingham music scene legend John Mostyn just over a year ago. It seems they don’t have any wild aspirations to change things, which is what keeps this place so nice. Most of the equipment is original so the recordings sound warm and full of character.

I only snapped a few pics but we will most likely be going back there to rehearse and maybe record so I’ll be sure to take a wider angle lens to capture this beautiful space.

A Journey to Morocco: Part 1

I’ve been meaning to post this for nearly a year now but because it’s unfinished and I haven’t had the time to finish it in the detail that I would like, i’ve decided to post it in two parts. If you have any quesitons, feel free to post them in the comments and i’ll try my best to answer them. Here is Part 1…

Last year a group of us headed on a weeks holiday to Taghazout on the Moroccan coast. We travelled around the area that we stayed. I decided to write up my experience as a mini travel guide to help me to remember the time I spent there and to help others that are travelling there experience the wonderful things that we were able to.

Before we went we borrowed a couple of guides from the library and did some research, there is quite a lot to do but you have to be willing to travel. Some days we travelled for a couple of hours and although we didn’t do it, it is possible travel as far as Marrakech. Thanks to a new toll rd it is only around two and half hours away. Alternatively you can journey through the mountains which takes around 4 hours on winding roads.

We flew in to Agadir airport, it took us around one hour to get to Taghazout. Upon leaving the airport there was a man waiting to help us into a taxi with our bags, initially we thought he was a taxi driver but he was a baggage man and then asked us for money. This is quite common in Morocco, unless your willing to pay, you shouldn’t let anyone help you (the french phrase Com Bien is very useful). Taxi prices to and from the airport are non-negotiable, it was a standard 300dm (£26) per taxi to Taghazout.

Taghazout
We arrived in Taghazout on a Sunday evening in the last week of July. Normally this would be too hot for us, but as it is on the Atlantic coast, there is almost a micro-climate that keeps the coast cool. It was around 20-24 celcius in the mornings/evenings and 27-35 in the afternoons. We found the mornings to be quite hazy until around 11am, I believe this is caused by the hot air from the Atlas Mountains meeting the cool air from the Atlantic. Once the cloud burned off, the sun came through pretty hot.

In all honesty whilst Taghazout is very nicely located next to the sea, the town isn’t particularly well maintained. It is not uncommon to see bags of rubbish in the street and get whiffs of raw sewage. The beaches are mostly clean but I wouldn’t say they are up to the blue flag standards that are expected in the UK. That aside, the town is bustling with restaurants and little stalls selling the usual things you would expect in a sea-side town. The beaches were pleasant with Horse, Donkey and Camel rides all available. There was also Jet Ski hire available for 200dm per 20mins. Whilst there was no surfing going on when we were there, I heard that Taghazout gets very good waves during the winter months.

We eat at most of the places in Taghazout and everywhere was similarly priced, I would expect to pay around 70dm (£5) per head and all the food is priced on the menu, so no haggling required. The food at all the restaurants was fairly similar and as you would expect there are Tagines of all varieties, soups, skewered chicken/fish kebabs and a range of salads available. Bread and olives come as standard in every restaurant, I wasn’t a huge fan of olives when I left but came home loving them. Breakfast was a little different but consisted of bread, an omelette with a sprinkling of cumin, tea or fresh coffee, orange juice and jam or honey. Breakfast was priced at around 30 – 50dm (£2-£4.50) .
I would recommend La Paix for traditional Moroccan food in Taghazout. Panoramique and La Auberge have great breakfast right on the sea front. If you require a good fresh coffee in the morning I would avoid Restaurant Tenerife as their granulated ‘espresso’ is terrible.

Aurir
Aurir or Banana Village, is around a 10 minute drive from Taghazout. Its a small town that sells lots of Bananas, but as there is no bank in Taghazout, this is the place to come if you need to draw cash or change currency. There is also a nice restaurant opposite the bank that was very popular. We visited twice and thoroughly enjoyed our meals on both occasions. There is live traditional music and entertainment going on around you whilst you eat.

Agadir
We travelled to Agadir on the third day. We asked one of the waiters in a local restaurant how much we should pay for the taxi. He said around 8dm (50p) per person. Its not uncommon for a taxi driver to try and charge you more though, and this was for a shared taxi service. If you would like your own non-shared taxi agree a price before you travel and expect to pay around 100-120dm in the daytime and a bit more in the evening.

We walked to the very touristy area along the sea front. There are some nice little shops selling leather goods and ornaments on the walk there from the taxi rank. The sea front has lots of restaurants, they are a little more expensive than in Taghazout but also quite nice with good views. There is also a tourist attraction at the rear of the beach called ‘The Valley of the Birds’. We had read about this in the Rough Guide but upon visiting we found that compared to Zoo’s in first world countries, it all seemed a bit cruel. The birds were in fairly small cages and looked a little scraggy. There was a lovely patisserie on the walk back toward the taxi rank that served beautiful cakes and great fresh coffee.

We also went to the Big Souk (market) in Agadir and it was the best market that we visited whilst in Morocco, there was fresh herbs, fruit ornaments and many other things available. It’s definitely worth wondering around for an hour or two, make sure you put up a good fight when haggling for goods as the sellers will never want to loose business. I purchased a tagine spice mix from a spice seller, it was far cheaper than in other Souk’s we had visited and when cooked with some Argan Oil we were able to get that authentic Moroccan taste back here in England.

In Part 2, i’ll cover Imouzar and the rest of the trip…