Category: Events

The Melon Ground Sessions

As we dare to peer over the lockdown horizon into May we thought we’d offer something musical that is safe and rather special. 

We’re not encouraging singing outdoors until we know it’s absolutely safe but in the meantime we’re planning some outdoor instrumental events with some of the best players in The Midlands. All hosted by the irrepressible guitarist extraordinaire Vo Fletcher.

The music will range across all genres – we kid you not, from standards that you know and love to inspirational improvisations as our musicians get the first chance for over a year to do what they all love – playing with other people. 

We’ll settle down in the gorgeous Melon Ground with numbers limited to just 50 so that we can all be close to the performers but safely distanced from each other seated at tables. Speaking of tables there’ll be a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks with some excellent artisan pies to snack on if you’re peckish. 

Music will commence at 7pm but you’re welcome to arrive from 6pm if you’d like a stroll around our gorgeous gardens whilst you’re here. We’ll aim to finish around 9m. In the event of inclement weather we’ll set up under our stretch tent on the archery lawn where we can all stay dry whilst still being outdoors. 

Entry is £12 and pre-booking is essential click here to buy your tickets

 

Here’s the schedule of players:

May 27th Vo will be joined by Violinist Ric Sanders

June 10th Vo will be joined by Pianist Phil Bond

June 24th Vo will be joined by guitarist and oud player Sam Slater

 

 

Learn more about the musicians joining us here:

 

Vo Fletcher

In a long and varied career Vocalist/Guitarist Vo Fletcher has played, recorded and toured with: Nigel Kennedy, Fairport Convention, the Ric Sanders Group, Rik Mayall, Tuxedo Bay, Touch & Go, The Albion Morris Band, Catherine Howe and Brent Ford & The Nylons to name but a few. He used to be a presenter on Channel 5 but he’s alright now. 

           

Ric Sanders

Ric was born and brought up in Birmingham. He joined Fairport Convention in 1985. 

The violin was Ric’s first love and he took up the instrument as a youngster. His first professional engagement was in 1972, touring Europe with Stomu Yamashta’s Red Buddah Theatre. 

During the mid-1970s Ric was in demand as a jazz soloist and worked with, among others, Michael Garrick, Johnny Patrick and legendary jazz pianist Jaques Dieval. In the late 1970s, Ric pursued both his folk and jazz interests as a member of, respectively, The Albion Band and Soft Machine. He toured and recorded with both bands. With The Albion Band, Ric performed at the National Theatre.

In 1980, Ric and Soft Machine guitarist John Etheridge formed Second Vision. They recorded an album and toured extensively. Ric next teamed up with guitarist Vo Fletcher in music education projects: the duo supported a Musicians Union initiative in schools and recorded for BBC television. 

Since 1985, Ric has played full-time with Fairport Convention but has continued to take an active interest in jazz and other musical forms. He has collaborated with June Tabor, Andrew Cronshaw and Martin Simpson among others and also recorded solo albums and a violin tuitional introduced by Jools Holland. His session credits include Roy Harper, Jethro Tull, Strawbs, Pentangle, Gerry Rafferty, Loudon Wainwright III, Robert Plant, The Fureys, and Ashley Hutchings among many others. 

As well as Fairport Convention, Ric has his own trio, The Ric Sanders Trio, with Vo Fletcher and Mike Gregory. The group performs a wide repertoire of jazz and good time blues

 

Phil Bond

Phil Bond, born in Worcester playing professionally since the age of 18. Worked with Del Shannon, Henry Lowther, Fish, Dana arBras, Fairports, Dylan Project, Syrian musicians, Irish musicians and SGB. Resident musician/composer at Liverpool Children’s Theatre.

Written music for the BBC, Art exhibitions and much more. 

Has been ‘pianist for hire’. Slept on couches, worked ships, busked around Europe, played 5star hotels and played in most European capitals. Always writing and playing, based in Birmingham most of his life, lived and worked all over the planet. 

 

Sam Slater

Sam is a musician, composer and producer, playing guitars and the Arabic Oud for a number of eclectic jazz, world and roots music projects, alongside long-standing touring and writing with the critically acclaimed gypsy jazz, flamenco and contemporary classical instrumental band TG Collective, and Anglo-Polish singer songwriter Katy Carr.  He has performed worldwide, from the mountains of Bulgaria and castles of Spain, to the many festivals and concert halls of the UK, and car parks of southern Serbia!

Sam also directs the jazz-inspired Birmingham record label and artist development indie, Stoney Lane Records, and live producers/programmers Mubu Music.

He has played on live sessions from BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends to Poland’s Trójka Radio, with his music featured on television from NBC and ESPN to the BBC, ITV and CBeebies!  In 2020, he won Best Crime/Investigative Track from the American PMA Mark Awards for his co-composed string quartet, A Curious Voyage.

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Blossom Picnic Food bookings open

Yumi Grindley’s food for our English Hanami blossom picnics has been a feature of the event for a few years.

This year she is offering a greater variety of scrumptious Japanese home cooking for you to pre-order.

Each is made fresh to order for you, so although there will be some curry and other things on offer on the day, there is limited supply.

Make sure you get your order in by the Thursday before each  of our picnic weekends to ensure your sushi/Katsu sandwich or curry is there waiting for you to  enjoy .

Here is the menu .. .when you have decided, click through to the website here  to order

(PLEASE NOTE … you ALSO need to purcchase and book a ticket to the Garden – then you will be able to eat your food under the blossoms in our two heritage orchards (crossed fingers for good weather and good blossoms)

 

*Sushi should be eaten fresh on the day of purchase!!!*   All Sushi menu served  with Sushi Ginger, Wasabi, Soy Sauce & Chopsticks

PikaPika Signature Fish Sushi Maki Roll x 4 pieces

Smoked Salmon, Homemade Japanese Egg Omelette, Cucumber, Avocado & Japanese QP Mayo  £5.50
 

PikaPika Vegetarian Sushi Maki Roll x 4 pieces

Homemade Japanese Omelette, Cucumber, Avocado & Boiled Spinach ( No Mayo)      £5.50
 

PikaPika Signature Vegan Sushi Maki Roll x 4 pieces

Cucumber, Avocado, Roast Sweet Potato, Boiled Spinach & VeganMayo      £5.50
 

Pork Katsu Sandwiches –

Pork Katsu/Tonkatsu are thick pork cutlets breaded with flour, egg and bread crumbs and then deep fried.Shredded cabbage,QP Japanese Mayo and Tonkatsu sauce.                    £5.50
 

Chicken Katsu Sandwiches-

Chicken Katsu are chicken breast breaded with flour, egg and bread crumbs and then deep fried. Iceberg lettuce,QP Japanese Mayo and Tonkatsu sauce.                  £5.50
 

Japanese style Veg curry and boileled rice

  £5.50
 

Japanese style Chicken curry and boiled rice           

     £6.50

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Working together for great days out

In these troubled times the unconscious and conscious connections we make with each other and the urge to help each other out is a real and heartwarming positive.

Visits to the Gardens truly do seem to be providing people with the healing moments we all need.

Over the last few months children, whether or not they are aware of the implications of the pandemic, are also visibly relieved to be out in a space where they can express their feelings and drink in the inspiring sights and smells.

For us running the charity, this helps us remember why we are doing it.  As a charitable business we are also aware of  our interdependencies with other small businesses. Artists, performers, makers have all taken a hit and we are proud to be able to offer a space and some business for them.

Equally we are indebted to all the online organisations out there connecting us to each other. Over the last few months there are some who have been particularly helpful

Here are a few… please follow and use them too #wegrowtogether

https://www.great-days-out.co.uk/   https://www.instagram.com/greatdaysoutuk/

https://www.familyfuninbrum.co.uk/  @Familyfuninbham

https://visitbirmingham.com/   @visit_birmingham

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Fun and Frolics in the Gardens this August!

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Summer Musical Soirees – you in?

At last, like some large furry dog coming out of a lake we shake ourselves off after months of uncertainty and get to some planning. In this case particularly for evenings. 

As a lot of our musical friends are desperately missing somewhere to play, we thought it would be nice for them, and us, if we shared our space with them and you as where better to hear some lovely music than in the safety of a gorgeous outdoor space?

Now in normal times we’d organise well ahead as so many people have busy lives and full diaries but let’s face it right now not many of us have social engagements or much else come to that in our diaries. This might give us a rare chance to programme at quite short notice in order to give us all the best shot with England’s unpredictable weather right now.

So what are we thinking? 

Well, be prepared at just a week’s notice to be invited to some Summer Evening Musical Soirees across a range of musical styles, we’re thinking some Classical, Folk and Americana, Mellow Jazz, Acoustic Reggae, Light Opera and more. All to be enjoyed with safe distancing, good company and you’re most welcome to bring your own picnic or refreshments so no hanging around at a bar or such.

So signup for our newsletter or check back here under events to be sure to see what we’re up to.

Stay safe everyone and look forward to seeing you soon

<John Mostyn,  Business Development Manager (jobshare)>

 

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Staycations at the Gardens

August in the Gardens is so packed with lovely activities, performances and treats there is surely no reason to risk those queues and crowds by going any further afield.

In the ‘New Normal’ we have revamped some of the way we do things and almost all activities now will be ‘pre-booked’.

So, in addition to normal Day Entry and our popular picnic takeaway ‘Cream Tea in A Box’ we have for visitors delight;

First Songs musical sessions for babies and their grown ups and Relaxed Concerts by the renowned  B’Opera who create  beautiful music for tiny ears.

Yoga sessions with Yogi Clair  – two sessions in the outdoors follow by a cream tea.

We have so many charming spaces in the Gardens and we are really pleased to be able to use them to enhance these sessions – what a memory to be made! Baby’s first ‘move and groove’ under the heritage apple trees.

The size of the Archery Lawn of course allows us to spread out and keep safe while still enjoying live performances from great local theatre companies.

Tread the Boards based in Stratford and Heartbreak Productions based in Leamington are bouncing back from lockdown with specially adapted performances for the family audience

Tickets for Wind in the Willows and Alice in Lockdown will go on sale on this site by the end of this week.

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What to expect in the post lockdown gardens

So how does visiting the Gardens now we’re open post Covid lockdown differ from the past?

We are still taking advice from with the RHS, other visitor attractions and of course the government about best practice to keep us all safe.

We have risk assessed and made changes  please bear with us if it things are not the same, or not quite perfect. We continue to evolve.
We just hope you will enjoy being here and making friends again with our beautiful space.

Getting in

We are open for longer hours but fewer days, Wednesday to Sunday  10.30 to 4.30.
At the gates there is one lane going in and one lane coming out -please keep your distances – you know how it goes!

We will continue to limit the numbers in the Gardens at any one time, so it will not be crowded and there is plenty of space for you to socially distance
Please be aware that the opening 30 minutes on some days may mean a queue.
Tickets: In general, tickets will be for the whole day, but we may introduce timed tickets for special days etc
Pre booked tickets and members will be able to have their tickets ‘scanned’ either at the entrance gates or at the steps of the visitor centre. This means we will be almost totally ‘contactless’.
Please help yourself to a map and examples of trails is available from the table .

The Gardens and getting round

All areas of the Garden are open.
There is a one way system out into the wilder area. Go in one way, come out the other.
Narrow pathways are all open, there are reminders for you to wait at one end until the path is clear.
Currently all the benches and tables are open.
Staff will clean these from time to time during the day.
Please be considerate in your usage –  think of people or sit there before and after.

A small team of gardeners have kept the Gardens in remarkable condition over the last 10 weeks. We are exceedingly lucky to have them.
There are weeds, there is long grass.. but the summer bedding is in and the vegetable plot is looking amazing … enjoy

Mud kitchen and play outside.

Currently we have closed the mud kitchen and taken pots away.
We will review all our play areas and equipment and re-instate as much as we can when we feel it’s right. Over the weeks we will also introduce new trails for amusement and learning… In the meantime we hope the little ones will enjoy exploring the area, discovering bugs and wildlife on the ground

Café

The café in the visitor centre is closed and is likely to stay closed all summer.
From now on drinks, snacks, ice cream and our shop goods are available from the Orangery.
In coming weeks we plan to expand our takeaway food and bring back our cream tea in a box … keep a lookout in the enews.

Toilets

For the time being all the toilets are remaining open.
They are deep cleaned regularly and we keep a strict rota for cleaning during out open hours.
Please keep to one person using the building at any one time to avoid congestion.
Liquid soap, paper towels and air dryers are supplied.
Please close the toilet lids before flushing and dispose of any paper towels in the bin immediately.
There is an extra ‘sanitation station’ outside the toilets if you want to wash hands again before or after

Dogs. Picnics and rubbish.

Picnics … please do take advantage of being in the space.
Please can you take your rubbish home! Currently rubbish is not being collected from the site and generally costs us over £1,0000 per year – money we can ill afford at present.
As normal we really welcome your family dog in the Gardens. We know they will be excited to be back, please keep them on a lead though, so that everyone else can relax.
As with picnics – we’d appreciate if you could take your doggy poo bags home

The summer

We are really thrilled to have people in the Gardens again – they are made for sharing.
We aim to keep opening hours, days , activities and maybe even events regular and consistent… but none of us know how things will progress so things will change.
We will keep you up to date as quickly as we can. As member you will be the first to hear about things and we hope to bring you all kinds of socially distanced entertainments and pleasures over the next months.

Please do tell your friends

We all need a safe and beautiful place to remake our relationship with the world, our selves and with nature. Spread the word to friends who need a little healing time.

Thank you #wegrowtogether

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https://www.geocaching.com/blog/2018/03/how-to-solve-mystery-caches-also-known-as-puzzle-caches/

Geocaching – treasure hunting with a phone.

We love treasure hunts of all kinds in the Gardens..

We know too that there are lots of other seek and find activities in and around the Gardens, the historic Parkland and the village locally – Pokemon Go of course, Wizards Unite and  our own ‘Mystery Mutts’ Doggy Treasure Hunts.

But how many of you know there are also some ‘geocaches’ around and about? Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game where participants (Geocachers) use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver (a smart phone! ) or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”) anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value.

There are over 6000 caches hidden around Birmingham and the National Trust are now recognising that geocaching is great for families to get outside together… so do we.

We’ve been wanting to develop some caching trails for a while- both inside and outside the Gardens – but while we now have the time to think about it, we don’t have the experience..

So …. Calling all geocaching fans and experts. The challenge is to create a geocaching trail for the Gardens (and maybe spreading outwards too). Can you help us out?

What do you think would work? How many caches makes sense on our site? What would our swag items be? Would there be a theme to them all?  Can we make special events for families?

Obviously we cannot get into the Gardens right now, but we’d love to work with you to think about something in summer and autumn…please contact us if you can help… and share with any geocaching chums too

 

“The best thing about it is you will be taken to places of interest and beauty that are on your doorstep that you never even knew existed.”

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