Boro Books 1: The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper

There’s nothing we love more than celebrating all things Middlesbrough, so when we heard about a new book by a local author we knew we needed to get all over it quick sharpish. Lucky for us, Middlesbrough lass and now author (!) Roxie Cooper had a spare copy for us to read…

Tell us more, we hear you ask! The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper is all about barrister-to-be Amanda Bentley. A blonde bombshell from the wrong side of town, she’s forever being told that she doesn’t look the part, or that she’ll never fit in with the other posh wannabe barristers, but being a proper Boro lass, Amanda is determined to make the most of her chance and make all her dreams come true! There’s only three things standing in her way: sexy Sid Ryder, her arch-nemesis Marty Gregg and the total fear that her big, dark secret could jeopardise everything that she’s worked so hard for…intrigued? You definitely should be!

Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper

There couldn’t have been a better time to read this – the sun was shining, I actually had some free time so I took full advantage, hit the garden bench (properly protected with Factor 50 #palegirlproblems 😂) and settled in for a few hours – the luxury! First up, let’s talk Amanda. Full of sass and funny with it, it didn’t take me long before I was fully cheering her on over every page. The rest of the Attraction crew are equally loveable – even grotty Marty Gregg who’s so smarmy you can almost feel the grease…ugh! Set between Newcastle and Middlesbrough, my inner Love Middlesbrough lass got all excited every time I recognised a location, or had been there myself #booknerd And because it’s so rare to read books that are set in our fair town, it’s proper exciting when they are in print! ❤️

The Law of Attraction truly is the perfect summer read – funny, smart, with some genuine laugh out loud moments, and a total page turner too, I would highly recommend it! Read it in your garden, by the pool, take it to the beach, or just kick back on your sofa on a lazy Sunday and enjoy the ride; pair it with a bag of Maltesers and you would truly be winning at life 😎 And at only £1.99 it’s a total summer bargain too!

Read The Law of Attraction yourself: Kindle edition 

Roxie Cooper was born and bred in Middlesbrough. After studying Classics at university, she became a dancer in a nightclub for a few years before going travelling and living in Australia. When she returned she swapped dancing on a bar, to practicing at the Bar, and became a barrister for seven years. It was after being constantly told, ‘Ooh! You don’t look like a barrister!’ by absolutely everyone she met that the idea for her debut novel was born.

Roxie Cooper

Roxie’s a bit (lot) obsessed with Prince and spends far too much time watching him on YouTube. Her hobbies include watching musicals, making her hair as big (and blonde) as possible, and wishing she was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Follow Roxie on Twitter: twitter.com/toodletinkbaby

We would love to read more #borobooks! If you have any recommendations for us, shout them out in the comments below and we’ll add them to our reading pile.

Thank you to HQ Digital and Roxie Cooper for providing us with a review copy of The Law of Attraction. All opinions, love for summer reading and all things Boro are my very own.

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Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire loves libraries

If I had to put an exact age on when my love for libraries started, I’d have to double check with my mam first, but I’m pretty sure I was probably about 3. This is me when I was 3 – cheeky, freckled, the beginnings of the mad hair just starting to peek through…

The early years as we’ll call them were mainly about running into the children’s section of the library, plonking myself down on the floor in front of the book boxes and deciding which pile I was going to take home that week. There was always a pile, and it was always kept separate from our own books so that there wasn’t any mix up – that’s my mam for you (wish her tidy genes had passed on to me ☺️).

Fast forward to the teenage years and this is where the love for the library service and all it can offer was firmly cemented – I’m talking about you, Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams series. There was no way, even with all my babysitting money, that I would ever have been able to afford to buy them all myself – there was loads of them! But each week, I would go in and get myself the next pile in the series, read them all up, and then back again and so on until I finally reached the end. I kid you not, I had a bottomless pit of a rucksack and I used to average 14-15 books per week…

As my reading styles started to evolve my enthusiasm for libraries continued to increase for two reasons: firstly there was so much choice! And in every genre imaginable. Secondly: it’s free. FREE BOOKS! Tell everyone!

Books! Ceilings! Central Library is magical in every way!

And then something wondrous happened: I got a job…in a library! Yep, little old library-loving me was actually going to work every single day in a library – and a big one at that! Now seems a good time to clear a couple of things up: yes, I totally did stamp books with the date stamp – such a satisfying sound – and no, I never told anyone to ‘ssshhhhhh!’

When I moved back up north I got a job in another library (see? I told you it was love ❤️) Chances are, if you went to Teesside University between the years of 2001-2013 you’ll have seen me in the library. Probably pushing a trolley around and usually wearing some very, very bright clothing.

There’s loads of things people don’t realise about working in libraries. It’s definitely not just stamping books and telling people to be quiet, whilst wearing your hair in a bun and boring clothes. It’s basically like living inside the internet, except that all the knowledge sits inside the head of all the people who work there. And the best thing of all? They want to share everything that they know too! And if they don’t know the info, they will absolutely, 100% be able to use their skills to find it for you! Truly, library work is one of the most misunderstood occupations and I’m here to change that! Library staff, and librarians, are proper ace!

Before I became a Love Middlesbrough Lass I was working in yet another library; it won’t come as too much of a surprise that I loved it. The services that public libraries offer are amazing and often, you become a precious lifeline for your customers who rely on you for your help, information giving, and just all round company-providing if they pop in for a chat when they’re feeling lonely. I can honestly say it was the most humbling and inspiring job I have ever done…but becoming a Love Middlesbrough Lass was calling me, which is obviously massively brilliant too!

So here we are. A Love Middlesbrough Lass who loves libraries. I’m a member in two authorities – the one where I live and the one where I work. This is often dangerous, as can be testified by the giant pile of books waiting to be read by the side of my bed. But there can never be too many books…can there?

What does all this have to do with us I hear you ask? Well, this summer we’re so excited to be part of a project called #BoroReads. We’ll be sharing more on that soon, but basically we want to get as many people in Boro reading as we can, from teeny tiny babies looking at picture books to everyone else of any age!

Obviously the first thing you need to do is go and join the library! All the info you need to do that is right here > https://libraries.middlesbrough.gov.uk/web/arena/join-the-library

If you’re not sure where your closest library is you can find that out too > https://www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/leisure-events-libraries-and-hubs/community-hubs-and-libraries/find-librarycommunity-hub

And join us for #BoroReads! We’ll be doing loads of cool stuff over the summer so make sure you join in!

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Hopeless Romantics – a world premiere in Middlesbrough!

It’s not often that we get a world premiere of a play in Middlesbrough, but this week at Middlesbrough Theatre you can see just that – the world premiere of Hopeless Romantics! Written by Nick Lane and Fiona Wass and presented by Reform Theatre (in association with Harrogate Theatre and Middlesbrough Theatre) we were delighted to be invited along to see what it was all about.

I should probably start with a confession or two: the first, which will become obvious pretty quickly, is that I’m no theatre critic – I’ve never written a theatre review before in my life so look upon this more as a recommendation for a night out that just happens to take place in the theatre. The second is that I don’t really go to the theatre very much at all…but now that I have been, it’s definitely going to be something that happens more regularly!

Hopeless Romantics at Middlesbrough Theatre

Now you know all my secrets, let’s get going with the review. Hopeless Romantics – what’s it all about then? Well, there’s Alan, Zoe and a broken down car. There’s also the fact that Zoe is pretending to be Alan’s girlfriend at a big family dinner…it might not sound like much of a scenario but trust me, there’s real chemistry between the two actors, who are both totally brilliant by the way, and the first half flies by before you even know where you are! It’s funny and sweet and you can’t help but keep everything crossed that it will be a happy ending for them both.

Hopeless Romantics 3

It wouldn’t be a Love Middlesbrough Lass blog without some mention of a sweet treat, and lucky for me there’s a whole heap of them to choose from in the interval! Sweets, crisps and ice-cream are all available from the kiosk, and lots of flavour choices too. I opted for mint choc chip in a tub (so basically the BEST flavour) and Mr Love Middlesbrough Lass went for honey and ginger. Both were given a tip-top rating. There’s also a bar available upstairs if you would prefer to enjoy a fizzy tipple in the interval break.

Back to the show. More laughs, more great tunes, more touching moments. As it reached its end I was completely involved and without giving too much away, I might have done a little happy dance inside at the end result. Funny, touching and sweet, both actors truly did an excellent job and I would absolutely recommend it as a great night out!

Hopeless Romantics

There’s still plenty time for you to catch the show as it’s playing until Saturday 10th June, including an afternoon matinee. Tickets are £14.50, concessions £12.50, matinee £10.50 and can be booked by calling the theatre on 01642 81 51 81 or online www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk

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Local History Month highlights

As a Love Middlesbrough Lass I get to do and see some amazing things, and Local History Month was no exception. A month long celebration throughout May of Middlesbrough heritage, with a programme packed full of events, I  was so excited to decide where I would go first!

Middlesbrough’s Theatrical History held at Middlesbrough Theatre was presented by self-titled, local time traveller Martin Peagam and the Chair of Middlesbrough Theatre Ltd, Ray Burton. Martin started the evening with a fascinating insight into the theatres of Middlesbrough – I had no idea there had been so many or that they went back so far in history! His passion for the subject was evident right from the start and everyone in the audience was totally enthralled. Ray followed this with the history of Middlesbrough Little Theatre, as it was originally known, including how it was funded, a potted history of the group and some brilliant anecdotes from all-nighter dress rehearsals! The evening ended with a fab presentation, made by the Theatre technicians, of some of the famous names that have graced the stage over the years. The icing on the cake was when members of the audience were allowed to go on the stage and have a good look behind the scenes. All round, it was an excellent beginning to my first Local History Month!

Middlesbrough Theatre exterior 1957

Next up was the unveiling of the Tom Dresser statue in the grounds of the Dorman Museum. Strolling through Albert Park to get to the museum, I was amazed to see the size of the crowd, and it was particularly heartwarming to see lots of local school children there too ❤️ The event, held on the centenary of Tom Dresser’s winning of the Victoria Cross during the First World War in 1917, was really very moving from start to finish. The speech from Tom’s grandson particularly had me welling up and I might even have shed a tear or two… I was lucky enough to be given access to the statue close up to get some photos for Love Middlesbrough and it’s truly stunning – so much detail! The sculptor, Brian Alabaster, is a wonderful artist and I can highly recommend taking a look next time you’re at the Dorman Museum.

The following day, there was more history to come – this time a hard hat tour of the Central Lodge, Askham Bryan College, in Stewart Park. I have to admit I’m beginning to develop a bit of a fondness for wearing a hard hat – until becoming a Love Middlesbrough Lass I’d never worn one in my life, and since then, I’ve had one on loads of times!

An absolutely cracking tour, we got to see so much more than I had anticipated and there was loads of fascinating facts to go with it all from our wonderful tour guide, Francine Marshall. I don’t want to give too much away as you can request a tour for yourself (which I would highly recommend) but safe to say there are some real beauties along the way from tiles to doors to the graffiti…oh! Honestly, it was brilliant, and even Mr Love Middlesbrough Lass gave it a solid 10 out of 10.

 

My final event of the month was Putting Ladies on a Pedestal, presented once again, by our beloved time-traveller, Martin Peagam. I was introduced to some ladies of Middlesbrough that I had never heard of, and my history-loving head is intrigued and wants to find out more. As with all of Martin’s talks that I attended, it was highly entertaining and once again his passion and enthusiasm shone through. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak I absolutely insist you should go – Love Middlesbrough recommends for definite!

Local History Month 2017 was presented in partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough, and facilitated and supported by Middlesbrough Council, and coordinators Rob Nichols and Tracy Hyman from Discover Middlesbrough. I want to extend my thanks to them all – this Love Middlesbrough Lass loved every moment of it and I can’t wait for the next one!

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#UKCoffeeWeek

It’s UK Coffee Week this week (10th – 16th April) and two out of your three Love Middlesbrough Lasses enjoy a crackin’ cuppa or two, so we figured what better time to share some of our favourite places in town?! At the same time we can let you know a bit more about UK Coffee Week and how (and most importantly where!) in town you can get involved.

Great coffee, good will‘. UK Coffee Week is a nationwide fundraising campaign that takes place in thousands of coffee shops across the country.  100% of donations received from UK Coffee Week will go to Project Waterfall, an initiative dedicated to bringing clean water facilities to coffee growing communities.

One of our very favourite coffee stops in town (and an independent to boot!)  Bedford Street Coffee will be donating 5p for every cup of coffee sold to Project Waterfall. You can read the full story via the Love Middlesbrough website  and follow Bedford Street Coffee on Facebook to keep an eye on more fundraising updates and special prize draws!

Love Middlesbrough Lass: Claire ❤️

Up until a few weeks ago I had two solid contenders for the best coffee in town, and then boom – a new place opens and it turns out to be the coffee of dreams! So now I have a list of three places that I insist you visit for your caffeine fix.

1.  Off the Ground
Newly opened, Off the Ground is a coffee shop with a difference as it’s also a social enterprise, re-investing money back into the community. I love the decor, the atmosphere, the staff are lovely and yep, the coffee is delicious. It’s my new favourite place to go, both for a quick stop during the work week, and it’s ideal for a weekend afternoon, sipping your coffee and watching the world go by.

2. Bedford Street Coffee
When I think of Bedford Street Coffee I think quality – there’s something in those beans that just tastes rich and gloriously decadent! Add a brownie of the day to your order and you’re basically winning at life…

3. Espresso 10
It’s an unassuming stand in the middle of the street and yet Espresso 10 has to be in my top 3. It’s cheap, has loads of different coffees to choose from and it never disappoints.  Even Mr Love Middlesbrough Lass, who takes his coffee very seriously, assures me that the double espresso is as good as any he has had in Europe (and trust me when I say that is a whole lotta European coffee that has been consumed).

Love Middlesbrough Lass: Emma ❤️

Of course Claire and I will have some mutual favourites and I have a personal bias towards Bedford Street Coffee (being amazing coffee and selling some awesome veggie food) but I think Claire covered that place amazingly, other than the fact that the staff in there are amazing and I’ve never seen them frown. So, in no particular order, here are my top three coffee shops in Middlesbrough:

1. Cupeno
This place is morning coffee heaven. I change my entire route to get this coffee on a morning when I’m in zombie mode. It’s just the right sweetness (I’m a two sugar gal and this needs nothing) and they are so nice. It’s great to have a ‘Good morning’ with your coffee. I can’t complain about the price either, great value for money, hence why this is in my top 3 and have loads of options. They also offer breakfast and are open super early so can’t complain.

2. The Olde Young Tea House
My mum introduced me to this place right before my interview for this job (I’m adamant that it’s what landed me the job) and it was the cutest, most relaxing place I have ever been in. Funnily enough, we found out what the place was actually called from the Love Middlesbrough website… what a coincidence. This is a great place for a coffee and a chat, they apparently do good tea as well but we’re not here to talk about that. It’s one of them smooth coffees that you don’t even realise you’ve drank until you hit your forehead on the rim of the mug- or is that just me?! Either way, great coffee, and of course, cake. So much cake…

3. Esquires Coffee
This is actually a chain but really doesn’t seem like it. I discovered this place in my hometown and it was one of the few places I’d visit when I was in Middlesbrough before joining the Love Middlesbrough Lasses on a daily basis. This is such a great place with good coffee and very good service. You know to expect good quality, simple coffee when you walk in this place.

We have a few honourable mentions for independents who just didn’t make our top three: Mannequin Cafe, Goodbody’s Eaterie, TP Coffee House, and Cafe Zim, all of which do good coffee and should be tried as well.

We’ve talked mainly about the independents so far, but we have to hand it to the chains; they didn’t make it this big without doing something right after all. So, we’ve mentioned Esquires, but we also have Cafe Nero and Starbucks. We’ve also decided to give an honourable mention to our colleague Matt who said Costa Coffee was the only shop he visits.

We hope you enjoy the coffee and try some new places. Hint for students and those low on cash: Mannequin Cafe is amazing and around £1.20 to take out. Emma X

We’re always up for trying new places so if there’s somewhere you think we definitely need to try, shout out in the comments below. Anyone for a cuppa now…?

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