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Get ready to explore the outdoors this May half term

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The sun has finally started to make an appearance and its pure bliss to feel those early summer rays against your skin. With this in mind, it’s the perfect time to get outside and explore the great outdoors in all its glory. Fresh air and some fun outdoor activity is the ultimate stress relief and soul cleanser which we should all get involved in to keep us feeling great.

Get your walking boots on and explore some serene views

Walking is a great activity to clear your head or to spend some quality time with friends whilst also doing great things for your body and health. Luckily for us, the UK is blessed with tonnes of idyllic places where you are able to get away from the stresses of the city and every-day life.

1) For a scenic walk not too far from Birmingham, visit Lickly Hills. This gorgeous country park is only 10 miles from Birmingham and is the perfect spot for a family day out. Enjoy spectacular views and the vast array of wildlife, all only a stone’s throw away from the bustling of the city centre.

2) Perhaps you prefer the idea of getting away for the weekend, and venturing further away from the city life. The Peak District National Park is the perfect place to do so. The beautiful landscape is only two hours away and easily accessible by car or train. The rolling hills and valleys are impressively scenic and a delight to explore. Finish a day’s walk in one of the countryside’s traditional English pubs for the true experience.

3) If you’re really looking to expand your horizons and you want to venture away from the good old Brum and explore some foreign turf, Wales is a fantastic destination for you. Snowdonia National Park is home to the highest mountain in Wales and second highest in the UK, Snowdon. Standing at 1,085 meters tall, the views from the top of this mountain are outstanding. Snowdon has 6 different routes up to the top, these paths vary in difficulty so make sure you take the best one to suit your abilities (and make sure you pack some thick walking socks, a light weight jacket and a rucksack full of mars bars).

Pack up your rucksack and head to the coast

Living in Birmingham, you couldn’t get further away from the coast. However this makes for a delightful change of scenery when you do decide to take a trip. An excursion like this may be best for a weekend away, or longer, due to the distance to the nicest coastal towns, so if you do head to the beach for a weekend, Make sure you fit in as much walking as you can. If you’re heading away for the weekend, this also gives you the exciting opportunity to camp. A camping trip should never go amiss in the early months of the summer, whether it’s with family or friends, it’s an activity everyone can enjoy if you have the right comfortable and practical gear.

1) Southwold is a beautiful seaside town on the Suffolk coast. Camping here is an enchanting experience due to the unspoiled coastlines, superb walks and jaw dropping panoramic sea views. With a pier, a lighthouse and striking beaches, a weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend here to explore the stunning coast. Pitch up your tent in a local campsite, get the BBQ lit, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.

2) Abersoch is another beautiful coastal seaside village surrounded by fantastic beaches and even better walks. With a multitude of campsites to choose from, each with serene views and quirky characteristics, there’s somewhere for everyone to enjoy the picturesque welsh community.

Cotswold Outdoors

Make sure you’re kitted up with all the appropriate attire and equipment to get as much enjoyment out of these trips as possible. Cotswold Outdoor has everything you could need to prepare for these trips, so you don’t need to worry as the kit is accessible to all.

Here we have prepared a list of the essentials we think you may need!

Walking Trip

• Walking Boots
• Walking Socks
• Lightweight windproof jacket
• Rucksack
• Water Bottle
• Fleece

Camping Trip

• Tent
• Sleeping Bags
• Sleeping Mat
• Small lightweight pillow
• Head Torch
• Stove / Fuel / Cooking appliances
• Camping chair
• Water bottle
• Flask
• Cool box
• Camping Kettle
• Hand Pump

So pop into Cotswold Outdoor to pick up everything you need for a weekend break or speak to a team member if you need any more advice.

Be inspired this Easter

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Easter is a breath-taking time of the year. The sun begins to shine, the days get longer, the flowers begin to bloom and it’s really something to smile about. With Easter comes the beautiful spring colours and an abundance of new styles and trends to explore. Here we have pinpointed some top Style and Home tips and must haves to help you get Easter ready.

Style

The spring has arrived and so it’s time to spruce up your finest Easter look. It’s the time of the year where we like to flourish into butterflies and leave behind our cocoons from the bleak winter. Fortunately, Piccadilly Arcade is the home to an array of wonderful stores to help you in your transformation, selling bespoke products allowing you to be a trend setter rather than following the crowd.

Shepherds

Shepherds Barber is the first stop for you gents out there. With a remarkable passion for hair styling, Shepherds offers both old fashioned wet shaves, and good modern haircuts at an exceptional standard. The textured crop and the undercut quiff are two major trends for male hair styles this spring. Not only can Shepherds master these desirable cuts, but they also have a plethora of unique grooming products to help everyone achieve the look they are aiming for.

 

 

Piccadilly Opticians

At Piccadilly Opticians, the independent eye-wear experts have a collection of profound brands from all over the world which are handmade by skilled artisans and designed to remain beautiful, unique and timeless. Whether you prefer the extraordinary and unmissable fashion items which will ensure you to stand out from the crowd or you prefer more subtle and delicate trendy frames, Piccadilly Opticians have something for everyone at the finest quality.

Top Tailor

This spring time we’re all about doing our bit for the environment so it’s out with fast fashion and in with living more sustainably, and wearing clothing that will last you a lifetime. So dust off your timeless, classic pieces from the back of your wardrobe this Easter and restore those items you love the most.

Top Tailor at Piccadilly Arcade are an experienced team providing quality services in clothing alterations, repairs and dry cleaning. Not only does this mean you can hold on to your favourite garments for decades without people seeing the wear, but you will also be doing your bit for the planet.

 

ONXY Workshop Jewellers

Accessories may be small but they are everything when it comes to style. No outfit is complete without the help from a delicate silver bracelet or an eye-catching gemstone falling on your chest. The ONYX Workshop Jewellers have a multitude of beautiful, intricate pieces from renowned jewellery makers and local designers which are crafted to the highest quality, enabling them to be staples for your new spring look.

 

Home

Everyone knows how to decorate their homes for Christmas, the tinsel, the baubles and a great big Christmas tree in the corner of your living room. When it comes to Easter, the same amount of effort is lacking and people are missing a trick. The beautiful spring colours and adorable spring animals make the perfect decorations for your home so why miss out on that opportunity and have a fun Easter revamp. Not only is it an enjoyable and therapeutic activity, but it also brightens up your home for the springtime.

Petals of Piccadilly

However you decide to decorate your home this Easter, flowers are a must. There’s no better way to liven up your home in the spring than a bunch of the most colourful, fresh and brightest flowers. Tulips are said to signify the arrival of spring and look beautiful in lilac and yellow. The scent revives your surroundings and keeps your home smelling beautiful in the most natural possible way. Petals of Piccadilly are renowned for the freshest blooms in the most beautiful colours.

 

Smithsonia

An Easter centre piece is a lovely traditional way to decorate your dining room whilst creating a beautiful focal point for your Easter roast dinner. At Smithsonia you can choose from a whole range of exquisite ceramic and glass vases which are ideal to hold an extravagant bouquet of flowers or an Easter Tree.

This beautiful vase was handmade and designed by Japanese artist Miyu Kurihara. Each vase is individually drawn with the most amazing intricate detailing.

Smithsonia also host a multitude of quirky, fun ornaments which are perfect to continue with the Easter theme. These adorable wooden ducks are hand carved from bamboo root and would look great on the mantelpiece to welcome in your visitors.

Piccadilly Arcade Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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I think we can all agree that Mothers are pretty special, their unconditional love, their ability to fix everything and their supernatural capability to juggle a million things a day to help you out.  With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to spoil those lovely ladies and make sure they know how much they mean to you.

Nestled in the heart of Birmingham, Piccadilly Arcade is the home to an array of fantastic and unique shops where you can stray away from those corny, cliché gifts which you get bombarded with on the high street. Piccadilly arcade is an idyllic spot where you can find hidden treasures which are perfect if you’re looking for something that little bit different for your mum this year.

Here are some of our favourite gift idea’s we have hand-picked for your inspiration.

Smithsonia Ceramic Vases

Smithsonia is a quirky gift shop at the centre of Piccadilly Arcade, selling all sorts of beautiful and authentic items which are far from the generic, mainstream gimmicks you find on the high street. We love these tasteful ceramic vases. They are perfect to display some lovely Mother’s Day flowers, for those who like an artistic and original style.

 

Petals of Piccadilly

Conveniently, Petals of Piccadilly is right on Smithsonia’s doorstep, selling the most luxurious flowers. The beautiful blooms come in a huge array of colours, sizes, styles and arrangements ranging from stunning bouquets, intricate, dainty flowers and gift baskets with chocolate and wine. Pair up the freshest flowers in Birmingham with stylish ceramic vases from Smithsonia, and you’ve found a gift to make your mother smile.

 

The ONYX Workshop

The ONYX workshop is a family run jeweller, dedicated to creating the most exceptional jewellery. Not only are the ornate, hand crafted, silver designs one of a kind, but if you have something special in mind, they are willing to have a look into making it for you and turning your idea into reality for a specially designed bespoke gift. If custom-made Jewellery isn’t something to smile about, then we don’t know what is!

 

Marco Benito

Treat your mum to some bonding time at Marco Benito where you can get pampered to your hearts delight. Whether you’d prefer a mani-pedi, an eyebrow wax, eyelash extensions, or all three, pamper time is the perfect opportunity to have a long and relaxing catch up, with a gorgeous finishing result. The salon is established for providing the highest quality treatments as their committed specialists are experts at natural looking manicures, specialist nail art work, gorgeous brows, lash extensions and silky smooth waxing. The beauty products used are leading edge and therefore ensure flawless results.

Piccadilly Jewellers

New Street’s oldest surviving Jewellers, Piccadilly Jewellers is a stunning Victorian shop selling a host of antique books, furniture, jewellery, clocks and china. These pieces are timeless, and make the most eye catching, memorable gifts. This amber collection caught our eye with its deep orange colourings making you feel warm and cheerful. Match up a pair of earrings with an elegant amber necklace to create a remarkable gift which will take your Mums breath away.

Sixteen Bakery

You could even take your mum out for a Mother’s Day afternoon tea and cake at Sixteen Bakery. This serene little coffee shop sells a plethora of exquisite home baked cakes and treats so you can indulge on these delicious delicacies in the comfort of this picturesque spot. There’s not a better place for a long natter at your own leisure… and there’s no cakes better to satisfy your sweet cravings.

We’ve all experienced that feeling waking up the day before Mother’s Day and thinking oops…..

Rushing around the shops and asking yourself “what on earth can I buy?”

Hopefully with our inspiration and ideas you can find the perfect gift this year and have a truly special day.

Ten ways to say ‘I Love You’

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This month, we celebrate some of the best Valentines gifts that the arcade has to offer. Here are ten ways to say ‘Je t’aime’ (without actually having to say anything).

Antique Jewellery & Watches.

Piccadilly Jewellers have been one of the arcade's longest-standing residents, taking you back to a place in time when jewellery was precious, romance was alive, and nobody said 'I love you' with an emoji.

While You Wait

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Seasoned tailor Syed Hashemi has decided to renovate a larger premises within the arcade. To celebrate this, (and the fact that now he can turn any garment around within two hours), we thought it would be a good idea to list the things you may do in the arcade while you wait.

1. Get A Manicure.

The beauty therapists at award-winning Marco Benito, are quite aware of the influence our hands can play in day-to-day interactions. They say: “Your hands are your business card. We see them as much as your face, so being comfortable with them makes you more confident.” And we agree. While you’re waiting for the alterations on your garments, get your hands looking in top shape!

2. Groom Your Face.

Shepherds, the dapper British men’s salon by David Sturgeon is bringing class back to men’s grooming. Book in, read a hardback book, browse their incredible selection of men’s grooming products and get that neat, modern haircut. Not sure how to maintain your beard? Ask David’s advice. He’s got a CV that most barbers would kill for, and plenty of experience when it comes to looking after the hair on your head (and the hair on your face).

3. Eat & Caffeinate.

What? You’ve never been to Faculty? Well you’re in for a treat. Not only is the arcade’s home of beautiful beans, funky furniture and solid service, it’s also open-planned with sixteen bakery, the arcade’s supplier of exquisite, in-house baked cakes and sandwiches. Careful though. Your garments may have a little trouble fitting you after a latte, a sandwich and a lemon tart.

4. Feel like Michael Caine (Or Jude Law).

Anyone who loves someone (or likes to score a few brownie-points here and there) will know that few things in life say ‘You’re special’ like a bunch of flowers. Not the ‘off a barrow’ type either. You need a bouquet. We’ve all seen that scene in Alfie, when the florist deftly picks out the perfect combination of flowers based on the character traits of his latest muse. At Petals of Piccadilly you can recreate that scene for yourself. I’ve done it. It’s seriously fun!

5. Give.

Science has taught us that giving to others can actually make us happier than spending that same amount of money on yourself, and Smithsonia was founded on that same principle. Gifting makes everyone happier and makes the world a better place. All the gifts at Smithsonia are individual, high-quality and packed with the love and care that you would expect from one of Birmingham’s favourite independents.

Now hurry up – Your jacket’s ready for collection!

Here it is… Merry Christmas!

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Christmas is almost upon us. The Birmingham Frankfurt Market is already surrounding Piccadilly Arcade and that means that there are only a few precious weeks left to find that perfect gift for a loved one or family member.

Nothing beats finding that perfect gift for someone and seeing their face light up on Christmas morning. This is extremely important for Mike Ferguson, owner of Smithsonia gift shop in Piccadilly Arcade. “I love the kick out of giving gifts to close family and friends. Having that moment when a loved one is opening a present you got them, and then knowing that you got it right, nothing beats that. It’s very important to me.”

Finding that perfect gift can be difficult though, especially a present where thought, care and love shines through. This is where Piccadilly Arcade stands out from the other shopping destinations in Birmingham. The arcade has a whole range of different independent stores that provide the perfect gift for anyone, whether that is a bespoke piece of jewellery from Onyx or a handmade glass sculpture from Smithsonia.

Visit Smithsonia's Website.

There is a much more personal experience when shopping independent compared to a big retailer too. Like all of the other store owners in Piccadilly Arcade, Michael Walsh, founder of Onyx jewellers, is constantly advising his customers and helping them to pick a perfect tailored gift for a loved one. The bespoke element of shopping in independent stores also adds to the experience too. Nothing says care more than a hand-made gift such as a sculpture from Smithsonia or a piece of jewellery in Onyx.

Phil Hall, a customer in Onyx jewellers also commented that, “anybody can go to a big retailer to get a piece of jewellery, but when you come into a place like Onyx, where it makes bespoke pieces of jewellery, it shows that you have put thought and care into your gift. Nothing compares to that.” Make sure you come by and visit us this December. That perfect gift for a loved one is waiting for you in Piccadilly’s historic arcade.

Visit Onyx's Website.

“We don’t follow big brands, we look for individual makers with small creative businesses. We stock products which aren’t available everywhere. You can get something really bespoke and unique for a loved one in Smithsonia."

Mike FergusonSmithsonia
Movember

Movember at Piccadilly Arcade

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The Piccadilly community

is pulling together to raise awareness

around men’s health issues this Movember.

Each and every community member in the arcade is doing all they can this month, whether that’s growing out a moustache like Sayed of Top Tailor, offering special Movember deals like Shepherds, giving away some special prizes for the Piccadilly Arcade Movember raffle, or talking to their customers and offering support around men’s health. The piccadilly community is extremely passionate about Movember, understanding the impact that speaking up can have this month on shoppers.

The Birmingham Retail BID has also been getting behind the fundraising this month. Assia Sohaib, Deputy Retail Bid manager, said, “The arcade community is so warm, welcoming and friendly, so the BID decided to develop a branded marketing campaign for Movember November in Piccadilly Arcade. The campaign includes digital advertising, social engagement, a short film and will finish with an event in Piccadilly Arcade on 29 November.”

“Shepherds is a place where people are able to talk and open up in a non-judgmental conversation. We talk to our customers whilst they are getting their hair cut or beard trimmed. They think of us as their father, their brother or their son, but without the emotional attachment. You can actually save a life by talking to people, especially this month.” – David Sturgeon, Shepherds.

Make sure you take advantage of the fantastic offers that the community is running until the end of Movember. Top Tailor is offering 10% off all alterations for men, whilst Shepherds are offering half-price on all quick beard and moustache trims, as well as a free mini beard moisturiser or mo wax with every donation. To help support the Piccadilly Arcade Movember campaign and to enter our raffle, simply visit one of our participating tenants or visit the link here to donate online. Make sure when you tweet, share or RT, you use the hashtag #MovemberBrum.

Movember Offers:

  • Piccadilly Opticians: Get £80 off any second pair of glasses for all men.
  • Faculty: Receive a free Mo cookie with every coffee purchased for men supporting Movember by growing a moustache or donating.
  • Marco Benito: Receive a free Beard Line Tidy with every Men’s Eyebrow Shape.
  • Shepherds: Get 1/2 price on all Quick Beard and Moustache Trims. Receive a free mini Beard Moisturiser or Mo Wax when you make a donation in store.
  • Piccadilly Cobbler: 10% off all shoe repairs and a free shoeshine to all men supporting Movember by growing a moustache or donating.
  • The Onyx Workshop: Get 10% off all jewellery and jewellery repairs for all men.
  • Top Tailor: Get 10% off on all alterations for all men.
  • Smithsonia: Receive free Moustache Cufflinks when you spend £50 on mens accessories. Smithsonia will also donate £5 to The Movember Foundation when a pair of moustache cufflinks is purchased.
  • Piccadilly Jewellers: Get 10% off all men accessories and jewellery.

There will also be a raffle for all shoppers who donate in store for Movember. The draw will be taking place on Thursday 29th November and prizes include the following:

  • A traditional full service including a shampoo, haircut, style and traditional wet shave at Shepherds. Worth £65.
  • Stunning sterling silver moustache pin from The Onyx Workshop.
  • Shellac manicure for two people at Marco Benito, worth £60.
  • A Faculty branded tote bag.
  • Model cast aluminium DC3 1950’s Aircraft on a stand from Smithsonia, worth £69.95.

A Life In The Year Of The Chinchillas

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Piccadilly Arcade is one of Birmingham’s most historic retail destinations, housing over a dozen of the best independent retailers England’s second city has to offer. Despite being a beloved retail destination, it’s easy to understand why many local residents and commuters decide to take the scenic route through the Arcade that connects New Street and Stephenson Street.

But when was the last time you looked up during your journey through Piccadilly Arcade?

Did you know you were being watched? No, not by any piece of modern technology, but by a series of painted ceiling murals, titled ‘A Life In The Year Of The Chinchillas’. The piece of artwork was created by artist Paul Maxfield in 1989 when Piccadilly Arcade was refurbished by Douglas Hitchman.

Over 100 years ago cinema goers would flock to the ‘The Picture House, New Street’ in order to escape their daily lives and become engrossed in a silent film and the story unfolding on the big screen. Despite the cinema closing its doors in 1925 and then transforming into Piccadilly Arcade, the famous building enriched in history still can’t help to tell a story.

On the ceiling throughout the walkway in Piccadilly Arcade are six panels, each of which illustrates part of a story told by Paul Maxfield in his artwork, ‘A Life In The Year Of The Chinchillas’. The paintings depict the four seasons of the year and are also symbolic of the life cycle.

Each mural has its own setting and series of events unfolding within the frame. One season showcases a man parachuting down from the sky, and with the painting also doubling up as an illusion, it looks as though he is about to land in Piccadilly Arcade. One of the other reasons as to why this mural doubles up as an illusion is also due to the positioning of the characters inside the painting.

Each mural features a series of characters that are looking down upon you. This illusion breaks the fourth wall, with the people inside the mural acting as though they are aware of your presence. The people inside the pictures are spread around the edge of the paintings, hugging the bronze frame, almost as though they are trying not to fall out of the painting onto Piccadilly Arcade’s walkway.

Paul Maxfield’s ceiling murals is a gem that rushing shoppers and commuters often miss. Remember, the next time you walk through Piccadilly Arcade, look up. The old cinema venue still can’t help to put on a show.

Early History

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Piccadilly Arcade was built in 1910 as ‘The Picture House, New Street’. The application for permission to build ‘Cinematograph halls and Lounge’ was submitted to the local authority in February 1910 by the architects Nicol and Nicol and is numbered 12673. The building was opened by Lady Noreen Bass on 20th October 1910.

The entrance lounge was grand and is the sort that would only have been seen in the best hotels. Leading from it were the cloak room, managers office, lavatories and staircase to the circle.

The auditorium comprised six hundred seats in the stalls and one hundred and fifty in the circle. The proscenium arch was surmounted by two sculptured cupids with the screen recessed and surrounded by black velvet. The screen was treated with a special preparation of aluminium which had the effect of making the picture show up ‘bright and clear’.

In the operating room were two projectors and music to accompany the silent films was provided by a first rate orchestra of eight musicians.

In June 1912 a new fan room was added at the far end, at high level. This was also designed by Nicol and Nicol.

Originally there was a single storey building on the left and The Theatre Royal  on the right.

In 1925 Provincial Cinematograph Theathres Ltd. opened ‘The West End’ in Suffolk Street and in the following year they closed ‘The Picture House’.

An arcade of shops was then constructed through the auditorium to link New Street to Stephenson Street. This necessitated the removal of the masonry at ground floor level on the street frontages, the upper parts of the facades remaining virtually as before.

The main facade to New Street is a very handsome one, having a central arch flanked by slightly projecting pavilions terminating in open towers with convex sides. It is faced with white faience.

The conversion to an arcade was well planned and of high quality materials. The surrounds to the shops on both frontages are of bronze with honeysuckle decoration at the corners and the shopfronts throughout were uniform in appearance and also of bronze. Most of these still survive. It is interesting to note that as both shops and arcade are within the shell of the former auditorium there are no major structural supports between the shops.

The floor of the arcade has an attractive black and white marble border and the ceiling, which is flat, is divided into panels by foliated and  moulded frames.