Visiting Britain:— Jeff Randall argues in favour of stay-at-home British tourism. Just don’t forget to pack your ultra-lightweight waterproofs and an umbrella // Cider-making courses at The Shropshire Apple Trust. Also their annual Apple Day on 11th Oct 08 // A new direct train to the seaside. Stoke-on-Trent + Wolverhampton + Birmingham all have a new direct (no-changes) inter-city train service to Weston-super-Mare. The train (just the one) seems to run only on Saturdays, and is likely to be summertime-only. Times:- 11:06am from Stoke, pulling out of Birmingham at 12:06 — pulling into the seaside at 2 o’clock // The AA Book of the Seaside. Every mile of the British coastline mapped and described for landlubbers, as if in a road atlas. A little old now, but the coastline’s (mostly) still there // Literary Landscapes of the British Isles: A Narrative Atlas (2nd Edition, 1981) — although it seems the author had never heard of Tolkien, Auden, Kilvert, or Mary Webb. And you won’t find more than a one-line mention of Arnold Bennett and the Potteries // The encyclopaedic Guide to Staffordshire and the Black Country, The Potteries and the Peak (2004) // A technical manual for walking in London, a free wiki version of a 280+ page book by Simon Pope // Old men’s bicycles // 12 Go To The Hills: a weekend break to the Clent Hills “for artists working in live art from the West Midlands conurbation. A chance to play in the great outdoors, and to explore how our city-based practices fare when set free in an “open space” without walls”. 9th – 10th August 08. Deadline: 21st July 08.

West Midlands:— I hear that Culture West Midlands is to be scrapped within the next 12 months, and their remit is to be absorbed into Arts Council England: West Midlands and partners // The East Midlands and West Midlands offices of Arts & Business have been merged // Wolverhampton’s Light House has a new FLIP Animation Festival blog. FLIP is calling for proposals for participation in the 2nd ‘Drawing in the Digital’ one day-symposium // Birmingham’s Hunt Emerson brings Edward Lear’s famous nonsense poem “The Owl & The Pussycat” to The Beano in comic-strip form // Couldn’t get a ticket for WordCamp UK? You might just be able to lig the pubmeet social-event // BIAD is currently validating a fab new M.A. degree in Queer Studies in Arts and Culture, although it seems it’ll be taught wholly within Fine Art at Margaret St. // Walsall Council is listening // Back when I was reading weekly Judge Dredd strips in 2000AD I never imagined that Mega-City One was located in a near-future West Midlands // The geo-located M6-motorway comedy sketches from “230 Miles of Love” are being made available shortly for the iPhone2.0, through iphonetours.com // Quel surprise! The Jewellery Quarter is not on the list of new UNESCO World Heritage Sites // The 2nd West Midlands Meadow Gallery, of landscape/outdoors art, will be staged at Attingham Park in Shropshire, in September 08 // “The best day out I ever had in Birmingham city centre” (video) // The 2nd Open University Creative Writing Workshop in Birmingham, for advanced creative writers. “Going Further, with Tim Reeves” is at the Central Library, 26th July 08, from 10am to 3pm. It seems to be free, but your ticket is dependent on submitting some quality scribblings beforehand // The Midlands Textiles Forum biennial exhibition “Common Threads” is now accepting submissions. Deadline: 31st July 08 // I finally found Birmingham’s “Play Me, I’m Yours” website // Flatpack unpacks £70k of development funding // I’m told that Walsall New Art Gallery will open seven days a week during August. No more turning up on a Monday only to find the place shut and bemused tourists knocking politely on the doors. Although the Walsall-Wolverhampton train service that would get me there is to be axed // British Design Innovation: West Midlands // I saw the Juginder Lamba retrospective exhibition a few days ago. He’s giving a free carving demonstration in Birmingham on 7th August 08 // New fears for The Public’s ongoing funding // No.17 Temple St., Birmingham city centre // Imaginary cultural cross-pollinations No.1: it could be interesting if Brummie Hair + Brummie Bonsai = Bonsai Hair? // Five new arts venues in the Midlands (sadly, not in our half), at a cost of £90-million // A sci-fi fan visits Birmingham for the first time. “It’s as though you know that there’s a proper city under there somewhere, you just can’t quite see it any more.” // Birmingham(Leamington?) photographer Ben Sutton: 26 Found People set, 50 Women in Their Cars set, and 37 Games Developers set // Very ‘serious games’ at the The Flight & Train Simulator Show, at Birmingham’s Millennium Point, 8th Nov 08. You can knock me down with a feather if there’s more than three women there who are not booth-babes //

Knowing Cities:— The Arts Council has cancelled all the Architecture Week events across the UK — but London has still managed to put on a very vibrant-looking Festival of Architecture. It’s on now // GeoPress, a geo-tagging plugin for WordPress weblog postings. Now working on D’log, and working well — see a few test-use postings below. To be reserved for postings about less obvious places, or specific “hard to find” venues // Not Yet There, a blog by Emma Cocker, a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. She’s the author of, among others, the new review article on mapping and walking-based art practices in the UK, “Wandering: straying from the habitual path// The first lengthy report on Manchester’s recent festival of psychogeography // Shrinking cities. The UK has 27 such cities, it seems. Although some of the ‘loss’ is probably because an illiterate underclass is binning the census forms // There’s to be a special themed issue of the Journal of Location Based Services, on neogeography (PDF link) // A comprehensive noise-map of all outdoor places in Paris // “Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture” (2008) (PDF link). “It is clear that modernity, reason, and the notion of progress itself have come under intense attack from those disdainful of the humanist aspiration to transform the world.” // GeoTourGuide has a beta automated GPS audio-tour generator // Interesting use of Microsoft Virtual Earth to enhance a crime report from West Bromwich //

Publications:— Enemy of The People (PDF link), by Maurice Saatchi, wittily sets out a range of charges against New Labour // art.signal, a tasty free PDF art magazine from Spain. Five issues are available, with articles in Spanish and English. The latest issue is especially strong and promises great things // Colophon 2009 // Seen in W.H.Smith, the U.S. Extreme Weather magazine. I’m looking forward to the British version, Extreme Drizzle // Handmade blank leather books // RIP Michael de Larrabeiti, author of the Borribles trilogy //

Foto:— Old 35mm colour slides of early 1950s America, scanned by one person and placed on Flickr // The 3D renderings of Natalie Shau // The Saudek-influenced Russian photographer Sergey Belov // “Glass Photography for Dummies” is one of the many workshops and talks that are part of the British Glass Biennale in the Black Country. 23rd and 24th August 08, £35 // Big Mosaic unveiling event, 23rd Aug 08. Millennium Point, Birmingham // Wolverhampton photographer wins mountain photography gong // A new British GPS chip, AirWave1, should be in new digital camera s from spring 2009. It’ll auto-tag every photo with location information //