“I miss seeing you on the 50 route bus”. That was a comment spotted early this year, in a fanpage of a famous Brummie electronic music duo, on Facebook. It was about Trish Keenan, the talented Broadcast’s vocalist who passed away in 2011.
Despite not being from Moseley, Trish is a portrait of creativity spread in this affluent suburb of Birmingham, chosen recently as the best place to live in The UK outside of London.
But if you’ve never been there, heading for the village – via 50 route bus, if you want – is definitely something to do. There is a sense of community in Moseley that is barely felt in other parts of the city, present in its independent shops to cultural events held in the area.
I honestly think people are the best feature of Moseley. The families, students, pensioners and creative people sharing different backgrounds, nationalities and tastes, make this bohemian part of Birmingham unique.
I had a nice chat once with the owner of Java Lounge cafe, a gem of Moseley and one of the very many successful independent shops of Birmingham. When asked why he had chosen Moseley for opening his coffee shop, he replied:
“People are not being afraid of trying something new here.”
That’s Moseley; not afraid of being different, without lose the identity of a once typical English village. Actually, it’s in history that we also find the best references about this place. Take Moseley bog, as an example.
The most exciting way to explore Moseley is definitely walking through the village itself. The area is filled with large properties that were occupied by Edwardian families, back in the gold period of industry in Birmingham. Nowadays, the place is also a popular location for students who settle down quickly in the area.
So, here is my ‘What To Do And See When In Moseley’ list.
On its main road, Alcester Road, there’s an army of venues waiting for visitors to explore. I’m talking about selective cafés, restaurants and independent shops that pretty much explain the nice and welcoming vibe there.
Prince of Wales is a traditional pub and an excellent choice to start your journey through the area. Its selective range of cask ales (“Prince of Ales” style) and a beer garden, with an inviting tropical cocktail bar, makes this place a very popular pub any season of the year. It was said Tolkien used to pay the odd visit to Prince of Wales as well! Fair enough.
Carrying on to Alcester Road south, we find Cafephilia, an independent coffee shop that keeps the culture of what’s buzzing in Moseley’s high street. Now and then, Cafephilia becomes a studio for local radio programmes and other events, but I believe their delicious cakes and quality coffee keeps its clientèle faithful.
Crossing the street, it’s one of newbies in town, One Trick Pony Club. It’s all about neon signs and American retro booth seats. I just love it. One Trick Pony club is an authentic American diner that serves burgers, hot dogs and selected beers. Actually, they also sell my favourite Belgian beer, so it’s definitely what I consider a good bar to bring friends and loved ones to.
Let’s ease the eating & drinking talk for a while to discuss music, because Alcester Road hides the gate to one of the most important music venues in Birmingham: Moseley Park. This stunning 11-acre green area, with a pool, is host to the annual Mostly Jazz & Funk Festival, Moseley Folk Festival and Moseley Festival.
Also known as a park for all communities, Moseley Park is a good place to be on a summer’s day, surrounded by green, arts and fine music. It’s just impossible to miss one of the summer festivals held there.
Back to the high street, one respectful coffee shop: Java Lounge. This establishment has 10 years of existence now and is definitely a place to learn the art of making coffee.
Another gem of Moseley is The Fighting Cocks. From fish & chips to sticky toffee pudding, it’s all about British comfy food with a modern and very fresh twist. Famous Moselians are always around, so it is indeed a pub to meet interesting people.
Are you into spirituality and care about what your mind, body and soul need? It’s better to visit Zen, which has one branch well-established in Moseley since 1998. It’s a place where you can catch up with all buzz of the village while looking for handmade crystal jewellery or any holistic massages treatment. I can’t resist Zen’s selection of incenses.
The Bull’s Head is literally a venue with soul. Its extensive programme of gigs, DJ club nights and audio-visual events spoil us for choice. From house to rock, all music scenes are featured there. Plus, its modern and stylist décor, full of urban art inspiration, makes this place the trendiest bar in the area.
The International and modern cuisine is also well represented in Moseley’s outstanding restaurants. Starting with the passionate and creative British food of Carters of Moseley, going through to Thai (Sabai Sabai), Spanish (La Plancha), Singaporean & Malaysian (Blue Ginger), Moroccan (La Fibule) and so on. If you were to continue towards the neighbouring area, King’s Heath, there are even more bars and restaurants to be explored.
Would it be awkward to finish my guide to Moseley recommending you to visit a church and its graveyard? This Grade II listed building is the oldest building in the village and part of Moseley’s history for over 600 years. St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s Church is a stunning piece of architecture impossible to not being noticed.
So, what are you waiting for? The number 50 bus it is!
Published on Apr 9, 2015 here.