The Nightmare Room – you might have nightmares too!

There’s nothing like kicking off Autumn with a trip to the theatre! Arriving at Middlesbrough Theatre just as it was starting to get dark, it was fab to see the new sign lit up and looking lovely! 😍 The newly decorated foyer looks amazing too! Head to the Theatre Facebook page to see a sneak peek – spoiler alert: it looks so nice! 

Middlesbrough Theatre nighttime

Now that we’ve fangirled all over the shiny new foyer, it’s time to talk about the main feature: The Nightmare Room! Written by John Goodrum and presented by Encaustic Theatre Productions, the tagline describes it as:

Two women. 
One locked room.
One bottle of poison…

…I was definitely looking forward to this one, and I wasn’t let down! Right from the get-go as the intro music started, it felt eerie and sinister, and I knew I was in for a good night! It won’t come as too much of a surprise that it’s based on a tale by the master of terror and mystery himself, Arthur Conan Doyle! There’s twists and turns, cheating husbands and best friends, all culminating in a massive revenge plot that will have you on the edge of your seat!  

Nightmare Room 2

The two lead actors, Sarah Wynne Kordas and Sylvia Robson, both played their roles to perfection. Sarah particularly had that sinister, teetering on the edge of madness thing down to a tee – genuinely terrifying! #wuss 😂 I loved watching the story unfold and the characters spiral their way into more and more twists and turns. My favourite thing of all was how the set, a simple white room, was used – just by standing at the very edge it looked like the actors were shrinking into corners that weren’t actually there – highly effective! #theatregeek 

Nightmare Room 4

The first act ended on a big twisty cliffhanger and I couldn’t wait to get through my ice-cream (mint choc chip in a tub since you asked, completely delicious) so that I could find out how it was all going to end…which of course I’m not going to reveal! You’ll have to go and see it for yourself to find out! Lucky for you that there’s plenty time to do just that. 

You can see The Nightmare Room at Middlesbrough Theatre tonight at 7.30pm, and tomorrow either at the afternoon matinee, 2.30pm, or the evening show at 7.30pm. Call the theatre box office to book tickets on 01642 81 51 81 or book online. In case you haven’t already figured it out, we highly recommend it! 

A big thank you to Middlesbrough Theatre for the tickets – a great night out for Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire who likes nothing better than watching scary stuff, even though she’s a total wimp! 

Behind the scenes of the Town Hall renovation

If you didn’t already know, the Love Middlesbrough Lasses are suckers for history; so when we were asked to tour Middlesbrough Town Hall whilst it’s under renovation, we donned our hard hats and high vis jackets and turned up with our cameras and smiles on our faces.

With the Health and Safety briefing over we went in – Friday afternoon wasn’t too busy luckily – and climbed right to the top of the building. This meant we were in the roof of the old courtroom.

The builders had discovered some amazing windows and have had them cleaned up and reinstalled – we’re slightly in love.

Just below this they were testing out new paint for the ceiling and walls to better match the original colour scheme, but also to look good in the modern world of colour matching. They had all the colours sat next to each other to compare. Does anyone remember the red from before the renovation?

The main hall turns out to be stunning from a height and there’s so much in the ceilings you’ve probably never looked at – the band is what you paid for though, right? We happened to find some dragon style gargoyles whilst a little higher than normal – they also happen to be holding the Middlesbrough Crest.

The cells must have been creepy back in the day with no modern lightbulbs, they’re a little creepy even with the modern strip lights installed down below. Could you imagine spending the night behind this door?

You might be impressed by the windows in the courtroom’s ceiling, but the windows in the main hall are also pretty beautiful. They must have taken ages to make and have a lot of skill behind them. We are stunned.

It’s not just the history we were interested in, the new boiler room looks like something off a Steampunk set and LM Lass Emma is super impressed. Also, would love to know how that works! Could anyone explain?

That’s all from our tour so far. Be sure to follow Middlesbrough Town Hall on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with what’s going on. We really enjoyed ourselves and would like to thank the Town Hall staff and Kier for letting us have a nosy into what’s going on in the Grade II listed building. And of course, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the funding support they’ve given to the project.

We can’t wait to get back in again and see how the work is coming along!

The Lasses take on the Summer Reading Challenge

Six books in six weeks? We can totally do that! Or can we…? Turns out it’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you add in an extra challenge that involves reading a favourite book from each of the other Lasses (just in case you’d forgotten what they were, you can remind yourself all over again by reading our Top 5 books).

So did we complete the challenge? You’ll have to keep on reading to find out! Pun totally intended…😂

Claire 🐘
It’s fair to say that the two books I had were so different you couldn’t make it up. The first was a historical book about a maid working at a big house, and the second was young adult (YA) fiction about vampires in a college town! Luckily, I’ll generally read absolutely anything so wasn’t phased and approached the challenge with total relish – who doesn’t love a challenge?! I’ve finished both books now (yay, challenge completed!) and here’s what I have to say about the books. 

The Observations by Jane Harris
Historical? Maids? Big fancy houses? Even though I stick by my above point that I’ll read absolutely anything, I definitely never pick up books of this kind. They just never seem that appealing and so I have to say I was totally surprised when I really got into this book! The maid, Bessy, was an incredibly entertaining voice and the whole premise behind the book had me so intrigued that I had to keep turning the pages to find out how it all ended! At 521 pages it was no light read either, plus of course, feeling all the fear when you borrow a book from someone and you want to return it in the same state it arrived in…however I digress. I would absolutely recommend this book, maybe even more so as it took me by surprise how good it was. Give it a try. It might just be your ideal late summer/early autumn read. 

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Vampires? ✔️
Teenagers? ✔️
Angsty teenager versus popular girls? ✔️
Angsty teenager falls for hot boy with deep rooted issues? ✔️
Other hot boy turns out to be a ghost who can’t leave the house as it’s providing protection against the vampires…ohhh-kay, now I’m interested! 

If I had to sum up Glass Houses I’d say it’s a cross between Twilight, Mean Girls (if Mean Girls were vampires who ruled the town) and a wannabe True Blood (but not full on True Blood as hello?! YA fiction alert). I’m not mocking, as I actually kind of love all of those things – no shame. I raced through this in a couple of days and because it ends on a massive cliffhanger, I’m now going to have to find the next in the series so that I know what happens next! 

My thoughts about the reading challenge? Turned out to be fun and I’d definitely be up for doing it again. Just as long as there are no classics involved… *shudders*

Emma 🍫

Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Before I start on my thoughts, I would like to remind everyone that I have a rather short attention span for books that are more based on real life that anything else, keep that in mind when reading this.

I have to say, this was a very well written book with a good plot and a lot of plot twists – imagine a country road and that’s how many plot twists you have. I also learnt a lot from this book – there was a Spanish Civil War? – and it showed parts of historical life that I never even thought of. At the same time, I wasn’t quite invested enough in the book and the plot to be able to enjoy it, it just seemed like I was reading for no real reason. I still finished the book, but I didn’t personally enjoy it – each to their own. However, for those of you into biography style books, or books based more on real life, this is perfect for you and I would reccomend you read it; it’s just not for those who are more into sci-fi/fantasy style books.

Carrie by Stephen King (warning – possible spoilers)
I am not very good with horror, so this was a leap of faith for me. Luckily it’s quite difficult to be scared when reading on a bus in broad daylight.

I have to say, Stephen King is very invested in clothing for a horror author – I guess it’s all in the detail.

It didn’t take me all that long to read Carrie, I feel like I could have done it over a weekend solidly. I think my favourite part of this book is how real it is – even with the supernatural aspect – it really tackles the problem of bullying and shows how it make the victim feel, rather than more recent books showing strong female characters in dystopian universes fighting ‘The Man’.

It was refreshing to read about a vunerable, young, and clueless girl being bullied and eventually just breaking, because that is real and relatable.

King – you did a good job with this book and writing its themes in a true and honest fashion. Recommended to those who aren’t squeamish – or those who read on the bus.

Rachel 🐱

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley (spoilers below)

Apparently this is a book for children/young adults, which unnerves me a little bit, because it really is quite scary, although I’ve definitely got less able to cope with scary things as I’ve got older. Aside from that, I definitely enjoyed reading it!

I loved how inventive it was; the stories weren’t your typical demons or zombies or whatever else people generally tend to find scary. I found they were more stories to mess with your mind and make you think ‘what if’, rather than just straight up blood and guts and gore, but they’re the kind of stories that stick with you (trying not to think about them right now tbh because chills 😳). I was particularly unsettled by the story of the boy who was chased across a mountain by a horrible, mangled figure until he fell to his grisly death…whereupon we realise that the figure was his body after death. Massive shudder. 😱😱

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Let me start by saying that this book is a pretty long way from my comfort zone; ‘laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests’ are unlikely to ever be my thing, but I wanted to give it a fair chance – especially since Claire did the same with my book, The Observations.

It’s hard to describe how I actually feel about it, mostly because I haven’t finished it yet. I must admit, I got a bit demotivated when I realised that there were a lot of books in the series, and even if I got through this one, I wouldn’t have any closure on what happened to the characters! I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, per se, but I still wanted to know what happened to the characters and how their stories played out. I guess that means that although it wouldn’t be my choice of topic, it was well written and engaging enough to make me want to carry on reading. And who knows, if I finish it, it might turn out that I liked it after all!

So there you go – 6 books in 6 weeks (kinda) for the Love Middlesbrough Lasses Summer Reading Challenge! 📚📚

We hope you enjoyed our thoughts, and now we’ve got the reading bug, we’ll be reviewing some fab Boro books in the near future (Claire has already started with The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper). Stay tuned!

Goodbye summer, hello autumn!

As we look out of the window at the leaves beginning to turn, we felt like now would be a great time to think about all the fab things we got up to over the glorious summer months! ☀️🍦🍹

Food…
We ate heaps of food – but when do we not? We devoured everything in sight at the Orange Pip Market summer special 🍊, and ate our weight in incredible desserts at Creams! 🍨

 

Since you can’t keep us from food, we also checked out Stewart Park farmers market, Mannequin Cafe, Fork in the Road, and the Green Room – all very highly recommended!

And we went back to some old faithfuls like Baker Street Kitchen, Bedford Street Coffee, Songbird Bakery and the Southfield too!

…culture…
As if anyone could forget, we finally got to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar 🐛 at Middlesbrough Theatre! If you’ve forgotten the amazing video we made, it just so happens that you can watch it here…

Sticking with Middlesbrough Theatre, Claire, our non-theatre-going Lass really enjoyed seeing Hopeless Romantics and self-confessed ‘massive theatre nerd’ Emma loved A Note to Myself. (I was a bad Love Middlesbrough Lass and went to Leeds instead to see Jane Eyre at the Grand Theatre, which was amazing!)

We ventured out to our wonderful museums to see the result of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum’s refurbishment, and the gorgeous Tokyo to the Tees exhibition at the Dorman Museum. Plus we were lucky enough to see some amazing dancers at the Cook museum, courtesy of Billingham International Folklore Festival, and have a wander around Stewart Park in the blazing sunshine. (It included ice creams, obvs. 😌)

We also went on a little road trip to Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar, to see their fantastically geeky Robots exhibition, and eat legitimately the most amazing cheesecake ever created at Sophellies!

 

Speaking of Redcar, we also went on a cheeky day out for chips, lemon tops, a climb up the Redcar Beacon, and a visit to the Lifeboat Museum.

 

…and more!
Among the other things we got up to were bouncing around in the sunshine at the ever-fabulous Mela, a visit to William Lane, Middlesbrough’s only remaining foundry, and a tour of the Town Hall renovations (more on that coming soon!)

You can’t have failed to notice that we’ve been a little obsessed with reading this summer, and as usual I’ve been posting photos at every opportunity I get. (If you love photos as much as I do, you can check out my thoughts on the top 5 most Instagrammable places in Middlesbrough, and my #worldphotographyday post.)

Phew, that’s one busy summer! We’ve already told you what’s coming soon to our blog in the next few months, and we hope you’re as excited as we are! In the meantime, this is Love Middlesbrough Lasses over and out!

#tbt: Acklam Hall Tour – Local History Month 2014

As we’re making plans for our beautiful new blog, we thought we’d throw back to some of our favourite posts from the past… ❤️

On Sunday May 4th, Acklam Hall in Middlesbrough threw open its doors to the public as part of Local History Month 2014. Modest expectations for the visitor numbers were spectacularly shattered when over 1000 people arrived to view the 17th Century building which for generations was the home of the eminent Hustler family, passing down through the generations in one of the longest periods of continuous ownership in history.

The building, which was sold to Middlesbrough Council in 1928 and has since offered its awe-inspiring surroundings for use as various schools and colleges, still retains all of its beautiful period features, including an ornately carved pine staircase. The building is Grade 1 listed – only 2.5% of all listed buildings can claim this status, and puts Acklam Hall in an enviable position alongside Westminster Abbey and York Minster.

Perhaps unusually for a tour, a large amount of time was spent looking up, rather than around, as some of the most spectacular features of the building were the beautiful ceilings.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

Another of the features which gives Acklam Hall its Grade I status (as well as the staircase), is the magnificent ceiling above the staircase.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

The ceiling bears the date 1683 and is another of the original features of the house. During the Victorian era, when another floor was added to house servants’ quarters, the entire ceiling was lifted from its original position to make way for the building work, before being installed in its new position, a floor higher, where it hangs to this day, supported by unseen hessian straps.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

At this time, the staircase was also extended to serve the new floor, and it is possible to see subtle differences between the two parts of the staircase, including that the posts (or balusters) are only a single twist in the newer part, as opposed to the higher quality double twists in the original part.

Acklam Hall Staircase (original)

With the project to restore the hall having just begun, it is reassuring to know that this jewel of Middlesbrough’s history, which bore witness not only to a family’s history, but also the growing up of Middlesbrough during the Victorian era, will be preserved for future generations to appreciate.

Acklam Hall Stairs