Birmingham Heritage Week: The Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre

Birmingham Heritage week was a little different this year, with many of the events being online due to Covid restrictions. As someone who spends a lot of time online for work purposes, these didn’t really appeal to me, but I was able to find at least one actual event, a tour of The Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre, based in Aston, and boasting a fully working Edwardian Swimming Pool dating from 1902.

I had stumbled upon this absolute gem earlier in the year, and had photographed the outside for my Instagram, but didn’t really know anything of the building, or the fact that it contained a truly beautiful Edwardian Pool, complete with poolside changing cubicles, that had been restored to its original state and was actually open for business, being enjoyed by a new generation. A second pool also remained in the building, although this had now been covered over for use as a sports hall.

The Sports Centre is owned and controlled by Aston University, and I believe it was bought from Birmingham council for a nominal fee sometime in the 1980s, when it was in a pretty shabby state. Since then, the University has lovingly restored areas and made them into an incredible space, keeping as many period features as it was safe to do so, including some pretty impressive windows that have an art deco style to them.

Everywhere you look there are impressive period features, from the vents and the windows in the swimming area, to signs of bricked up rooms and doorways. The entrance hall and ticket office date from 1925 and still have the glorious green tiles and the dark wood doors and panels that are truly beautiful and striking.

I feel privileged to have been able to see all the features at close range, the whole centre is just beautiful, and shows what careful restoration and real love can mean to our heritage.

 

Have You Tried Bubbleology, Bullring?

I am a tea drinker. I love a strong cup of builders brew, one that’s hardly been troubled by milk, and I’m quite partial to a frozen tea (I’m thinking Starbucks Strawberry and Lime variety). But I have to admit that bubble tea was a craze that had passed me by. But not now. Yesterday I paid my first visit to Bubbleology in the Bullring and enjoyed one of their bubble teas, opting for the Strawberry and Mint Bubble Fizz.

For the uninitiated, Bubble tea is a Taiwanese recipe made by blending tea with milk, fruit and fruit juices, then adding tasty tapioca pearls and shaking vigorously. The tapioca pearls, or boba as they are usually referred as, give the tea a unique taste and also add a touch of interest to the look of your drink. Bubbleology have a wide range of boba flavours that can be added to their drinks and suggest you take a selfie before you shake the drink as the combination of fruit, green tea and boba gives the appearance a weird and wonderful vibe.

Bubbleology began in Soho in 2011 and is now a leading bubble tea brand, with multiple stores across Europe and the USA. The Bullring store is bright and beautiful, with the vibrant boba taking pride of place on the counter tops. Bubbleology Birmingham is a stand-out lifestyle brand that appeals to people of all ages, serving a variety of fruit and milk teas, create-your-own brews and skinny drinks. When I visited yesterday only a take out option was available, but bubble teas do make a great takeaway option, especially on warm days.

All the teas use freshly brewed organic tea, are 100% vegetarian, handmade to order and many are available in light versions. They are also extremely tasty, my strawberry and mint bubble fizz was refreshing and sweet, a really lovely combination that I would definitely opt for again.

Bubbleology Birmingham believes in giving something back, and supports Drop4Drop, which goes towards building fresh water wells in developing countries.

If you’re in and around Birmingham this weekend, why don’t you drop in and try something a little different.

Shopping Online For Baby Clothes

Online stores have made it incredibly easier to get whatever we need without the hassle of having to visit and make a purchase physically. It all works at the click of a button, and you can have anything you want in a day or two. Baby clothes are some of the items you can get easily, but they require some extra attention, seeing as babies as delicate and could be direly affected by the slightest things. Here’s a short guide with some of the most critical factors you should consider when going shopping for baby clothes:

STORE REPUTATION

There are more baby clothes stores online than you would ever care to check out. With the numbers come shady and unscrupulous ones that will do anything to get your money. Some are actual stores that operate, only that they sell the worst quality available or have something else equally shady going on. Others are not actual stores, only clones and fake pages set up to deceive you.

Store reputation is essential when you are looking to purchase your children’s clothes online. You will need to check out their social media, reviews and recommendations to verify that you are not only dealing with authentic merchants but also that you get the value for your money.

It would be best if you looked somewhere else besides the store’s social media and page for reviews and ratings. See how previous verified buyers talk about the products and shopping experiences. Too many negative reviews should be a red flag, and it would be wise to walk away when it is still early. Watch out for comments specifically on quality, aftersales services, shipping and customer experience – the quality might be excellent. Still, you may never know if the store’s shipping channels are just as good.

AFTERSALE SERVICES

You will want to shop at a store that gives you excellent customer experience, especially after purchase. Some only really care about the money, and as soon as they get it, you have to deal with tons of problems from poor packaging and shipping to rude or uncooperative customer support.

A store with excellent after-sale services would, for instance, offer a discount on shipping with clear and real-time tracking. You should be able to get in touch with the customer service if you need any clarification, and they should be professional and respectful. Any problems should be handled as smoothly and quickly as possible, and you should be able to be refunded if there is any problem with your purchase.

SALES AND OFFERS

Your ideal baby cloth store should also offer discounts and sales. You don’t want to be shopping at a store that keeps high prices throughout the year without the slightest deal even during holidays. Click here to check out the most amazing offers and discounts on baby clothes and maternity products.

It is, however, essential to point out that price should never be prioritized over quality. This is because in most cases, baby clothes that are sold are low prices will probably have quality issues. As mentioned earlier, be sure to have a look at reviews and hear from previous customers so you can dodge any bullets when it is still early.

DIVERSITY

You will want to go with a store that offers a variety of baby clothes to choose from. Some stores offer a limited selection of baby clothes, designs and customizations. You may find only two or three different onesie or pyjama designs. Other stores may offer hundreds if not thousands. It would be great if you had a wide variety to choose from so you can have a custom look and feel for your baby. You should also check if they have other products to support your maternal journey, such as maternity support belts.

Stores that operate in wider geographical regions are more likely to provide an assortment, seeing as they may have suppliers in different places and countries. For instance, a store that operates throughout Europe may have baby clothes collections from different parts of the continent, such as France and Spain. They will probably have hundreds of designs and colour selections to suit your taste. This is not to say that local online stores don’t have a variety – some have even better selections that larger stores. You only need to have a good look at the product catalogue to make your decision.

RETURN POLICY

Things don’t always go well with online purchases, and there needs to be a clear and detailed policy that outlines how you can go about it. 

 If there isn’t a clear return policy, you may end up frustrated with damaged or the wrong items. The clothes could arrive damaged, in the wrong size or colour, with the wrong details and even from the wrong brand. The delivery could also be delayed for weeks or even months so that they are no longer needed when they finally arrive. 

You need to be able to return these clothes and get a full refund without much difficulty. Some stores may ignore you and delete every single comment you make on their social media or website. This is why it is important to go with a reputable online store.

In conclusion, there are dozens of online stores to purchase baby clothes. If you don’t want to buy them physically, make sure that you do a fair assessment of your chosen store to make sure that it has a good reputation. Check comments and reviews by previous customers so you can spot any red flags in customer service, aftersale services and their product quality.