No Sleep ‘Til Birmingham

My new city showing some pride

 It’s become a bit of a cliche/increasingly trite opening (delete according to your disposition) for me to start off any post with an apology for not keeping my blog up-to-date. You’ll be pleased to know I’m not going to go down that route today. Instead, I’ll like to tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to over the past couple of months.

Those of you who know me in real life or from Twitter are probably aware that back in May I undertook a pretty major life change and moved with my girlfriend from glorious South East London to England’s second city, otherwise known as Birmingham.

The Tipping Point

Sadly the South Circular did not offer any such reassurance

We decided to make the switch for a few different reasons but probably the biggest one was quality of life. For the past couple of years it has seemed as though every weekend has involved travelling the length of the country to visit friends and family who lived outside of London. After a particularly nerve-shredding trip back along the South Circular after a friend’s wedding in Stockton something inside us clicked. Wouldn’t we be better off finding a way of living (and working) that didn’t so closely resemble planes, trains and automobiles?

It was at this point that we started to seriously consider the possibility of moving out of London. To galvanise ourselves we made a pact; whoever landed a job first would determine where we ended up and the other would hand in their notice. Seeing as I was working freelance at the time I’m not sure it was the fairest of deals. Still, who am I to quibble when it give us the push to start believing we really could get our act together?

By some miracle, in next to no time I saw (well, technically it was Sarah ) a role going at Groundwork, the community charity with the green heart. Located in Birmingham and with the suitably on-trend words Innovation and Collaboration in the job title, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’m pleased to say I was called for an interview and, on the day, managed to woo the panel with my experience of social innovation and my fondness for all things Web 2.0 (I’m afraid to say I may even have bandied about this term ). All of a sudden, our dream of starting a new life outside of London was actually happening.

Keep It Moving

Moving day in Forest Hill. Note the Sainsbury’s elephant bag.

 In the interests of brevity and out of respect for you the reader it’s probably best that I gloss over the shenanigans of our move. Sufficed to say, I’m very grateful to my big sister, who also lives in Birmingham, for letting us stay with her while we looked for a flat. I’m even more grateful to Sarah for the amazing work she did researching and viewing flats.

Since I Left You

London 2012 fever hits Birmingham

 So what’s been happening since I bid farewell to SE23? Mainly, I’ve been focused on settling into my new role at Groundwork. I’m still settling in  but overall I love working for an organisation which has such a positive impact on local communities. If you’re not a regular Gardener’s World viewer (and if not, why not?), I highly recommend you check out the award-winning work superstar horticulturist Chris Beardshaw  has been doing with Groundwork, as part of our Urban Oasis campaign.

Cliff working the crowd at the Olympic torch relay in Edgbaston

Other than work, I’ve been settling into life in Birmingham and taking advantage of the fact that both my sisters live in the city to enjoy more family time. So far, I’m finding Birmingham agrees with me. I can walk to work in the morning rather than squeeze onto the Overground And after work, I’m but a stone’s throw a way from any number of lovely bars and restaurants. And while I’m not going to suggest Birmingham can match London for cultural happenings, I’ve already been able to get along to see some great live music, attended a design expo and an abstract photography course, saw Cliff light the Olympic torch and,  just last night, an amazing British Reggae evening featuring the likes of Dennis Bovell and Steel Pulse. Not bad for Birmingham, eh?

Part of the Art In The Dancehall exhibition at The Drum in Aston, where I also saw Steel Pulse, Dennis Bovell and Tippa Irie

Looking ahead, I’m hopeful Sarah and I will settle into life in Birmingham and will be able to enjoy a good quality of life while still doing rewarding work. Now that I’m feeling more settled in Birmingham I hope to blog more frequently about the work I’m involved with at Groundwork and life in England’s second city.