By Ryan Gaur


For the last four years, Birmingham city centre has been the cushion I fell onto after gruelling days at Aston University. All the things that I have missed over lockdown have been my places of refuge from upcoming deadlines and misfiring lab equipment, places that were not there to ease the monotony of writing my dissertation in my bedroom. Once free from both uni and lockdown, you will undoubtedly find me soaking in the joy of my favourite corners of Birmingham.

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Cineworld Broad Street

This place is everything a cinema should be – huge. The grandeur that comes with entering a building plastered with bright colours and movie posters will never be replicated by watching films at home. To make a movie is to spend years pouring yourself into an idea, so I try to make every movie I watch into an event. 

I would finish my lectures at uni and plan my trip to Broad Street footstep by footstep. Where will I pick up snacks? What album do I listen to on the way there that will match the tone of the movie? Broad Street also finds itself at the perfect distance from New Street. After having somebody’s art beamed directly into your eyes from the biggest screen imaginable, the walk back to the station is an age-defying ritual. Whether it was processing the shell-shock of Infinity War or contemplating the complex messaging of Parasite, those walks from Broad Street to New Street have been a huge part of my favourite movie-going memories.


HMV Vault

HMV Vault Now, if you thought that made me sound like a massive nerd, wait until you hear about my love for HMV Vault. Just a couple minutes from Aston, this shop housed a practice sacred to music geeks – crate digging. Despite only opening in October 2019, HMV Vault became my favourite place to flick through vinyl records, pick out the obscure albums I never thought I would come across in person, then deciding that I could barely afford them. Simply being around so much music that I love was a joy I cannot wait to return to.

While fulfilling my love for music, HMV Vault also allowed me to indulge in my comic book obsession. On the opposite side of the store are shelves stacked with an overwhelming amount of graphic novels. The addition of such an extensive library of comic book titles to the already huge catalogue of vinyl makes this place a must-visit as soon as possible.

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Sundaes Gelato

So, my friend Josh loves waffles. From the very start of our university life, he had marked Sundaes Gelato as somewhere we had to visit as soon as we got the chance. That chance came in unfortunate circumstances where we had come out of an exam which we were convinced we had failed. So what better way to drown out the disappointment than through waffles?

Sundaes Gelato became part of a post-exam tradition for our little friend group. It was one of those little things that lifted the pressure of intense daily 9-5 lectures and tests that our entire degrees seemed to ride on, and for that I am eternally thankful for its existence. It wasn’t too often that I got to just hang out with my friends without an essay getting in the way, so those times where we ate waffles and talked about nonsense were a necessary breath of fresh air. It has been months since all my friends were in the same place together, and I cannot think of a better place to reconvene.

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So much of what I love about Birmingham centres around my uni experience. With that now over with, I’m excited to attach new memories to these places and to discover new pockets of the city that I can convert into safe havens. Just like us, Birmingham after lockdown will look and feel different, something which will undoubtedly change the way we experience it and will facilitate a deeper love for our home.

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