In this three-minute read, we look at fears the UK is heading for an animal welfare crisis this winter.

Demand for puppies skyrocketed during lockdown, but with furlough ending later this month and the economy struggling, is the reality of pet ownership about to bite? 

Earlier this year, demand for puppies skyrocketed, with Google searches for “Puppies near me” increasing more than six times (by 650%) between January and July.

As a result, the price of popular breeds such Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs and Chow Chows shot up.

The asking price for a Dachshund, for example, increased from £973 in March to £1,838 in June (figures from The Dogs Trust).

But what happens when the novelty of owning a puppy wears off? The RSPCAThe Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club have all raised concerns about the number of people who bought four-legged friends on a whim during the lockdown. 

They fear a surge in the number of dogs dumped or abandoned as people struggle to pay for pet food and vet bills or exercise their pooch every day.

The Kennel Club’s Head of Health and Welfare Bill Lambert says: “We have concerns about those puppies which may have been bought on impulse, without owners doing their homework on how or where to get a dog responsibly, or fully realising a puppy is a new family member for life, not a short-term commodity.

These hasty decisions not only play into the hands of the opportunistic scammers and puppy farmers operating during the pandemic – but can also sadly result in puppies being rehomed if owners haven’t carefully considered how their dog will fit their ‘normal’ life.”

Due to this growing concern, the RSPCA has renamed October “Adoptober” (see what they did there?). The campaign urges people who are determined to get a dog to adopt, instead of buy.

By adopting a rescue dog, you will be giving an animal in need a loving home. You will also be able to rest easy in the knowledge that you haven’t fuelled the activities of overseas puppy farmers, who illegally smuggle dogs into the UK and sell them on the internet.

These dogs often have serious health and emotional problems as they are often kept in unhygienic conditions, are in poor health and are removed from their mothers too soon.

Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines says: “The message here is simple: do lots of research to help find the right pet for your family and don’t impulse buy.”

And if adoption isn’t for you, there are, of course, other ways you can do your bit for the canine community. Many animal charities are looking for people to foster dogs, providing pooches with a temporary residence until they find their “forever home”. 

Or you could consider volunteering your services as a dog walker to various charities around the country. Check out the work of the Cinnamon Trust and The Underdog.

We’d love to see your dog, whether it’s a rescue, fostered, owned, or adopted, so feel free to share photos of your four-legged companion with us here at Barrows & Forrester.

Birmingham got back to business as more than 50 prominent business leaders from a multitude of sectors came together at the Cielo restaurant in Brindleyplace, to celebrate the return of the Phoenix Business Club and its first event since February of last year. 

The Phoenix Business Club has been running for over 27 years and is one of Birmingham’s largest and most successful business networking events, providing local business owners with the opportunity to meet, network and collaborate with like-minded individuals.

With COVID restrictions continuing to impact local businesses, the first event in a post-pandemic landscape provided plenty to talk about, albeit while adhering to the necessary rules and regulations. 

However, there was a clear message from those in attendance that Birmingham’s struggling businesses were no longer prepared to suffer at the hands of the government’s restrictive and unnecessary Covid protocols. 

The event itself sold out within 24 hours demonstrating that Birmingham is keen to get moving again, with local estate and lettings agent, Barrows and Forrester, sponsoring this first step towards normality. 

Managing Director of Barrows & Forrester, James Forrester, commented:

“Our message to the government is clear, local businesses will no longer standby and watch as our livelihoods are put at risk and we’ll now be taking things into our own hands to support the local area, local jobs and the economy. 

“Birmingham is an outstanding city and it’s time we started to rebuild from the damage done by COVID. An overly cautious approach is threatening the very DNA of what makes Birmingham great and that’s the people and the independent enterprises. We can’t continue along this road for much longer and this latest event is proof that we don’t intend to either.”

Jimi Shabir, MD for Bootcamp Media and Chair for the Phoenix Business Club also commented:

“It’s great to be back and see that there is such a huge appetite for face to face interaction amongst Birmingham’s business community. We’ve quite literally risen like a Phoenix from the ashes of COVID uncertainty and it was also great to do our part in helping out a hospitality industry that has struggled greatly during the pandemic. 

“We look forward to this being the first of many events as we start to rebuild Birmingham’s business sector one brick at a time."

This article discovers there are levels to lockdown boredom and shares with you the World's most boring museum, film, town, and date. A surprisingly interesting 3-minute read.

At Barrows & Forrester we're an optimistic bunch and see the lockdown across Birmingham & Lichfield as being safe at home rather than stuck indoors.

Yes, it can be boring at times, especially when the weather is bad. But nowadays we have plenty of digital distractions at our fingerprints.

And we've made use of some of our own spare time to compile a list of the World's most boring film, date, city, and museum.

Don't say we didn't warn you.

Film Flop

In 2017 a survey by Samsung saw the film 50 Shades of Grey live up to its dull title. It was voted by 34 per cent of those surveyed as the most boring film they've seen. One reviewer said: "There is little more critical than to say a third of the film had people laughing at dialogue, and the other two-thirds wiggling in their seats, not from discomfort or innervation, but boredom."

Fancy a Day Out?

Once lockdown is over, and life returns to normal here's a day trip to France, you might want to avoid. If the idea of watching paint dry leaves you understandably underwhelmed, then a visit to the Musee Du Paper in Rixheim probably won't scrub up too well either. It's a museum promising a 'complete panorama of the history of wallpaper.'

A Date to Forget

Does April 11, 1954, ring a bell? It didn't for us either. And according to a Cambridge based computer programmer, it is the most boring date of the past 120 years.

William Tunstall-Pedoe said April 11, 1954, was the least exciting day for a long time. "This particular day was extremely notable for having almost nothing happen. It's not that nothing happened. It's just that it was spectacularly un-notable in terms of the events that happened that day." Which is quite a boring explanation in itself.

Boring, Boring, Boring

There's a town in Oregon, USA, called Boring.

But it seems as though the fine folk of the town have a sense of humour at the very least as they are twinned with the Scottish village of Dull.

Added to that, Boring's tourist board has come up with the tag line: "Boring -The most exciting place to live."

Its name comes from the town's founder, a certain Mr Boring, who we thought only existed in Mr Men books.

If you're looking for something interesting to do right now, why not hop onto our website and see some of the excellent properties we currently have available.

And spare a thought for the lady who had a summer temp job where all she did was staple up to 500 reports every day.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Barrows & Forrester 2021

A 60-second speed read on the games people are playing in lockdown.

One of the few positives of the lockdowns has been that families living in the same home have spent more quality time together.

This ‘together time’ has seen a surge in the number of board games sold.

Amazon has just released the top ten games that families across Birmingham & Lichfield and the UK have been buying in the battle to banish boredom.

1. Monopoly

The property classic. Number of players 2 to 6, £14.99.

2. Match and Spell Game and Shopping List Extras

Educational learning for ages, 4+, £12.

3. EXIT - The Game

Escape rooms for the home, numerous players, ages 10+, £14.

4. Animal Families

Develops matching and memory skills, 2-4 players and for kids aged 4+, £4.99.

5. Bananagrams Big Letter

Fun word game. 1-8 players, ages 7+, £16.99.

6. Monopoly Deal

Property card game 2-5 players, £5.88.

7. Articulate

Fast-talking description party game, numerous players, £20.

8. First Times Tables

Multiplication learning for kids aged 5-8, 2-4 players, £8.30.

9. Ticket to Ride United Kingdom

Travel fun. Ages 8+, 2-5 players, £34.90.

10. 5 Second Rule

A fast-paced, talking game, 3 or more players, £12.73.

One of our favourite board games is driving around Birmingham & Lichfield and seeing our sold and let signs.

What games are you playing to stave off lockdown boredom and to bring your family together?

In this two-minute read, we share tales of triumph and generosity from around the UK.

Postcards of Kindness

The pandemic has been tough on us all, but particularly so for care home residents.

To ease the sense of isolation that many people in care homes feel, an army of postcard writers has sprung up across the UK.

Each week, thousands of people write to people they have never met as part of the Postcards of Kindness scheme.

Some senders even draw or paint the images on the postcards themselves (flowers, animals, and landscapes are popular subject matters).

While the cheerful messages on the postcards delight the recipients, the images help to evoke memories and start conversations.

To give you an idea of how many postcards are sent, the Postcards of Kindness Facebook group has 45,000 members, some of whom send 20 to 30 cards a week.

Shout-out to Keith

Our hero of the week is Keith, an intensive care nurse at Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge. 

Keith stepped in to play hairstylist for a patient on his ward who was preparing to propose to his girlfriend.

Jordan Simon, a heart transplant recipient, was hospitalised on 22 December due to kidney problems.

After spending Christmas alone, doctors allowed Jordan a special visit from his girlfriend, Beth Dodge.

Jordan decided to use the opportunity to pop the question to Beth and called on Keith to help him look sharp for his big moment.

“He [Keith] was more nervous than me to be honest,” laughed Jordan as he explained to the BBC that Beth had tearfully accepted his proposal.

Karate King

We didn’t know it was possible to compete in a karate competition remotely but, as we learned this week from the story of Hampshire schoolboy Tom Klemz, it is 

Instead of spending lockdown playing computer games or watching YouTube, 12-year-old Tom has been focusing on his international karate career – from the safety of his back garden.

Tom has a fighting studio at his home (his dad and uncles built it for him), from where he trains and competes. 

So far, he has high-kicked his way through 20 online karate competitions and is now ranked second in the world in the Under-13 kata division (kata means choreographed routine, which is something else we learned this week).

We bet that when Tom’s school reopens, no one will mess with him in the playground 

From all of us here at Barrows & Forrester, have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay hopeful.

COPYRIGHT Barrows & Forrester 2021

In this 60-second speed read, we share ten tunes to put a spring in your step despite what’s going on in the world.

What do you get when you cross a fashion magazine with a scientist? And no this isn’t a joke from an open mic Zoom night at your local comedy club.

Vogue Magazine reported back in the first lockdown that a neuroscientist, Dr Jacob Jolij, claims to have discovered the perfect feelgood song formula. And here’s his top ten.

1 – Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

2 – Dancing Queen – Abba

3 – Good Vibration – The Beach Boys

4 – Uptown Girl – Billy Joel

5 – Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

6 – I’m a Believer – The Monkees

7 – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

8 – Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

9 – I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

10 – Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

We’ve all got one song or playlist which makes us feel better about things. What’s yours?

Thanks for reading and stay safe, stay hopeful and stay tuned for regular updates on the Birmingham & Lichfield property market.

Copyright 2021 Barrows & Forrester

In this two-minute read, we share three short stories to make you smile.

We may be in the middle of a winter lockdown, but there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

Here are a few upbeat stories from around the world to lift your mood.

Animal adoptions on track

A campaign to promote animal adoptions has been a hit with Moscow commuters. 

Thirteen of the city's animal shelters joined forces to turn a standard Metro train into the Tails and Paws train.

The Tails and Paws' interior is plastered with photographs of cats and dogs living in animal shelters in the city. Next to each image is a QR code that people can scan to read a profile of the animal and decide if they want to adopt it.

In just one week, 22 animals featured in the Tails and Paws train found forever homes. Pawsome.

Kind gift for Max

The incredible story of Max Woosey, the Devon lad who has been camping in his garden since March, got even better this week.

During the first lockdown, Max vowed to sleep in his tent until the Covid-19 crisis was over.

The 11-year-old has stuck to his word and nine months later is still sleeping outdoors – a feat that has so far raised £128,000 for North Devon Hospice.

This week we learned Max is braving the elements with the help of a specialist sleeping bag, donated to him by the mother of a fallen soldier.

Lisa Snow of Cheshire was so moved by Max's efforts that she gave him her late son's sleeping bag. 

Joseph Berry, a former Scout who was mad about camping, died aged 21 while serving in Afghanistan.

Max told the North Devon Gazette: "I feel so happy that I remind Lisa of Joe. I am so proud to say that I will be using a soldier's sleeping bag because I'm just a boy sleeping in a tent while he was brave and served his country." 

Wildlife discoveries

2020 was tough on the health and economic fronts, but it proved to be a boon for bio-scientists who discovered hundreds of new animal species.

Among the newly identified creatures was a beaked whale, spotted in Mexican waters, and a cute little primate called a Popa Langur that looks like it's wearing white eyeliner.

Meanwhile, in northern India, a new species of emerald green viper has been named Trimeresurus Salazar.

Harry Potter fans might recognise that this is a reference to Salazar Slytherin, the cunning founder of the House of Slytherin. Slytherin's mascot is a snake, and its house colour is green.

That's all from all of us here at Barrows & Forrester thanks for reading. Be nice, be kind, and stay safe.

COPYRIGHT Barrows & Forrester 2021

In this 90 second read, we share 10 of the best feelgood movies to make staying at home that little bit more bearable.

At Barrows & Forrester we love a good film, and we think the ones that have made it to this list are bound to leave you with a spring in your step and smile on your face.

In no order.

1)     E.T. - Steven Spielberg’s extra-terrestrial is an all-time classic that is warming the hearts of children and adults nearly 40 years after its release.

2)     UP – This Pixar piece of perfection features one of the most moving love stories told in minutes. The rest of the film is as uplifting as it is entertaining.

3)     CHEF – This road movie features excellent food, music, and a story of overcoming the odds and the importance of families and friends.

4)     FORREST GUMP – The world certainly needs a lot more of Forrest’s childlike optimism and simple wisdom right now.

5)     LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Another road movie and another brilliantly warm story about being proud of being different and loving yourself.

6)     CINEMA PARADISO – An Italian masterpiece about film lovers, friendship and finding your life’s purpose.

7)     THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION – Consistently rated as one of the world’s favourite films the ending is pretty much guaranteed to leave you smiling.

8)     PADDINGTON 1 & 2 – Ok so this would make it 11 films on the list but these movies featuring the loveable bear from Peru are feelgood features at their best.

9)     GROUNDHOG DAY – Bill Murray is masterful in this classic that teaches us to find the magic in everyday life.

10)  LA LA LAND – This easy-going musical will get you smiling and your feet tapping at the same time.

Others worth mentioning include Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Goonies, Toy Story and the School of Rock.

What movies would you recommend to help your neighbours in Birmingham & Lichfield feelgood during this winter?

In this two-minute read, we share three stories to bring a smile to the faces of people in Birmingham & Lichfield.

With high Covid-19 rates reported in the UK, more lockdowns being announced across the globe and America in chaos you'd be forgiven for wanting to pull the duvet over your head and stay in bed.

But because we're eternal optimists at Barrows & Forrester we know better times are coming for Birmingham & Lichfield, and we've rounded up three feelgood stories to give us all a little hit of hope.

Walking Down Memory Lane

A website is offering a lifeline to the millions of elderly and vulnerable people across the UK who may feel isolated by the latest lockdown measures.

The Living Memories Online portal, a not-for-profit organisation, has more than 2,000 archive films and newsreels spanning the 1930s to the 1970s.

As well as recording memorable world events, the clippings show everyday life from bygone eras.

The idea is the films will help spark memories and encourage older people, including those with dementia, to reminisce with their loved ones, families, and carers.

2020 A Great Year for Some

It wasn't all doom and lockdown gloom last year.

One of the biggest success stories was the pandemic's positive impact on the planet's environmental health and future.

In April, the UK broke records for powering households without the need for coal-fired energy for the most prolonged period since the Industrial Revolution began.

Other good news for the environment included Denmark, the EU's largest oil producer promising to stop drilling.

Greenpeace hailed the decision as a "watershed moment." In December, the Danish Government announced it would cancel all future permits for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea and phase out existing production by 2050.

It's a Very Fair Cop

Take a bow Matt Lima. The American police officer made headlines across the world recently when his act of kindness went viral.

He was called to a store in Somerset (Massachusetts) after a report that two women with children had not scanned all their shopping at the checkout.

Lima questioned the pair and learned they had fallen on hard times due to Covid-19 and couldn't afford to pay for the food to feed their children, including a Christmas dinner. Rather than arrest them, the top cop bought a store card worth $250 (£180) to cover the food bill's cost.

According to the BBC, Officer Lima said: "I just did what I felt was right. It's not about me. I just tried to put myself in that family's shoes and show a little bit of empathy."

And that sentiment is a pretty darn good one to end this week's Feelgood Friday.

Thanks for reading and stay safe, be kind and keep hopeful.

From all at Barrows & Forrester

Copyright 2021 Barrows & Forrester

In this two-minute read, we look at five Christmassy things to do with the kids that won’t break the bank.

Covid-19 has put the kibosh on big family gatherings and trips to the panto this Christmas, but there are still plenty of ways you can get into the festive spirit with your little ones. 

Here are five low-cost activities that will bring comfort and joy to your children during the holiday season.

1. Go on a Christmas lights walk/drive

Kids love a bit of razzle-dazzle so take them on a night-time tour – either by foot or car – of the most bling light displays in your area. Make an event out of it by taking along a flask of hot chocolate, and a few Christmas treats to nibble on as you marvel at the inflatable Santas, luminous reindeers, and flashing penguins on show.

2. Get crafty

Turn pine cones into mini Christmas trees with this easy-peasy craft project. The first step is to source your pine cones (from either the floor of your local woods or a craft shop). Give each pine cone a coat of green paint. Let them dry and then paint the edge of each pine cone scale white to represent snow. Add splodges of red and gold paint for lights, and glue on pom poms for baubles.

3. Make a festive video

If your children are more tech-savvy than you, let them take the lead on this project. They’ll relish the chance to show you how clever they are. For your video, you could dress in Santa hats and mime to a popular Christmas tune, or write your own mini script. Most mobile phones come with an app (such as iMovie or FilmoraGo) that will allow you to create a professional number in no time. Share your video with grandparents and family friends and then bask in the rave reviews.

4. Create a grotto at home

If you can’t go to Santa’s grotto this year, bring it to you by turning a spare room, loft, shed or cubby house into a cosy Christmas cave. Block out any light by pulling the curtains or taping black cardboard to the windows. Drape red, green, and gold fabric and hang fairy lights, paper chains, snowflakes, and candy canes. Go OTT; the kids will love it.

5. Bake

Christmas tree meringues make great festive sweet treats. Mix up a standard meringue mix and add green food colouring and a dash of peppermint extract. Then pipe (you’ll need a piping bag, star-shaped piping nozzle, and a steady hand) the mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper. Start with a circle about 8cm in diameter and continue upwards in ever-decreasing circles. Add sprinkles as baubles and then bake in the oven. Delicious.

Here at Barrows & Forrester, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Copyright 2020 AGENCY NAME