We love Autumn!

Oh Autumn, you absolute beaut 😍 As if the sight of all those stunning Autumn leaves is not enough 🍁 🍂 🍁 there’s also glorious blue skies that just pop against the oranges and reds from the leaves, golden hours of dreams and sunsets that can actually make you gasp out loud at the sheer magic of Mother Nature. There’s definitely just something about Autumn – it gives me all the warm fuzzies inside ❤️

You know how much we love a Top 5 post here on the blog, so here’s my Top 5 favourite things to do in Autumn. 

1. Jump into carpets of crunchy Autumn leaves
No matter how old I get, I am always and forever going to jump into carpets and piles of crunchy leaves! The trick to a successful run through crispy leaves is to kick your feet at the same time as running. Sounds tricky but it’s actually kind of easy, as you run your feet make the crunch crunch crunch sound through the leaves, and then when you’re ready to stop pick your feet up and do a massive jump! Photos of feet in leaves absolutely required or it didn’t really happen 😂  

feet crunching in leaves

Handy hint: don’t do this with the really really big piles of leaves cos you never know what might be inside them (eek!) 

2. Carve a pumpkin! 
Obviously anything Autumn related was going to include Halloween! As a happy tree hugger, I always make sure to scrape out all the inside of the pumpkin first and use it to cook up something tasty, usually soup, but also sometimes cakes….sounds weird but it’s totally delicious, trust me! Where was I? Pumpkins! Grab your pumpkin (you can get them all over the place from supermarkets to greengrocers), pick a design – you’ll find loads of inspiration online – and start carving. A sharp knife works best here, and of course we recommend that you make sure you’re extra careful with the knife! Once you’re done, pop a tealight inside, turn off all the lights and then sit back and admire your handiwork 🎃 

carved pumpkin

Handy hint: anyone with little ones who isn’t too sure about using knives, there’s loads of pumpkin carving sessions available this October half term! Check out our round up of Half Term Activities on the website.  

3. Hot chocolate season begins!
There was a time when I was never really that bothered by hot chocolate (I know! I know! What?!) but since joining the Love Middlesbrough Lasses, finding the perfect hot chocolate has become my life goal, and the season officially begins NOW! There’s nothing better than a creamy hot choc, oozing fresh cream and piled high with marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles, a big comfy chair and your favourite book. After a hard day at work it’s the perfect way to wind down the day!

Hot chocolate in off the ground middlesbrough

If you have any tips on the BEST place to get hot chocolate in Middlesbrough, hit us up in the comments. We’ll willingly come and give it a try! Until then, we’ll valiantly continue in our search, just for you…

4. Spend time outside
This could either be your idea of heaven or the worst thing ever, but I love nothing more than being outside as Autumn arrives. The mornings have that first hint of crisp chill in the air, a lunchtime stroll looking up at all the colourful leaves can be so soothing for the soul, and even an evening stroll, as golden hour begins and the sun starts to set, is quite simply magical 😍 This one is definitely easy to achieve if you have a dog (shout out to Bob, Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire’s hairy hound 🐶) as they always need walks, but even a ten minute stroll round one of our fab Middlesbrough parks is just as awesome. Trust me, outside is grand 🌳

Bob the dog

5. Bring on the comfort food!
From piping hot soup to heartwarming casseroles, Autumn is officially the season to switch up food from light summer fayre (just me then?) to Autumn cosies. It’s kind of the food equivalent of wearing your favourite scarf for the first time 💛 If you’re an eating in kind of person, grab your recipe books and start cooking and baking up a storm. If you prefer eating out, you’re definitely in luck as there are TONNES of amazing foodie places in Middlesbrough! In fact there’s so much to choose from we can’t keep up with them all! 

cheese toastie

What’s your favourite thing to do in Autumn? Do tell, I’m always willing to try out new things! 🍁 

Boro’s Top Ten Books!

News just in! The polls have been counted and we can finally reveal Middlesbrough’s Top Ten books, as voted by YOU! We’re so excited ❤️

In case you don’t know what we’re talking about, catch up with all our Boro Reads posts first:

What exactly is Boro Reads?
Boro Books part 1: The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper 
Meet our young bloggers! 
Our young bloggers tell us THEIR favourite book  
Superheroes in Boro?! 
Middlesbrough Libraries staff talk books! 
The Love Middlesbrough Lasses take on the summer reading challenge!  
The day our young bloggers met a real life author! 

So now you know how much we love books…it’s time to let you know what the Top Ten Boro books are *drum roll*

  1. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  2. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  3. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  4. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  5. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
  9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  10. Holes by Louis Sachar

The reason we’re so excited about the top 10 books being announced is that they are going to be turned into beautiful book benches that you’ll be able to visit (and sit on!) in Middlesbrough’s community hubs and libraries! 😍 

Book bench

And it gets better than that – children in Middlesbrough are being invited to take part in the creative workshops to help design and decorate the benches…wahhhhhh! Where do we sign up?! Ha! Just kidding – you don’t have to sign up at all – children of all ages are welcome and there is no need to book a place. 

The first workshop will take place at Central Library on Tuesday 10th October (3.30-4.45pm) where any children taking part will bring (are you ready? We can’t even breathe, we’re so excited!) HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE to life. HARRY POTTER! Cue complete and utter fangirling from the Love Middlesbrough Lasses. 

Harry Potter

The next workshop is at North Ormesby Community Hub on Thursday 12th October (5.15-6.45pm) where children taking part will design a bench for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

alice in wonderland

We can’t wait! See you there!! 

Our young bloggers become authors!

Today is massively exciting – our young bloggers are working with one of the Love Middlesbrough Lasses’ favourite authors: Roxie Cooper and they’re writing actual stories! We can’t wait to share them with you…but more on that soon. 

First we’re going to let you in on a secret. Seven secrets actually – the magic ingredients that you need to write your own story! Here we go:
1. Set the scene
2. Create the main character
3. What does the main character want?
4. Create your baddie/villain (our favourite bit!)
5. ACTION!
6. The lesson
7. Happy ending…? 

Of course there was cake.

caterpillar cake

And without further ado, here are our amazing young bloggers’ stories!


Emma

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

My alarm blaring in my ear, I lazily reached out for my alarm clock. Bingo! I hit snooze first time! 10- minutes later…it went off again. I decided (reluctantly) it was time to get out of bed. I sat up in my very purple bed and looked around my very minty room. My walls were mint green but my curtains, duvet set, beanbag, cushions, were all purple. I shimmied down from my top bunk, and, as usual, flopped onto the bottom bunk. It was sooo much more comfortable sleeping on the top bunk.

I was about to turn the handle and walk through the door when I suddenly had an idea. I opened the door, slipped out, and lowered myself into a back bend. I ran (if you could call it running) into my older brother Zac’s bedroom. I lifted my arm and tapped him on the shoulder. He woke up and saw me upside-down, my curly, chestnut coloured hair dangling in the air, my green eyes staring straight at him! He screamed and threw a book at me! It hurt, but I was too busy laughing to worry about the pain.

“What are you doing? You scared the hell out of me! I wish you couldn’t do that!” he yelled.

“I could shoot an arrow at something on your head next time if you want. With my feet! Get up!” As I walked down the hallway, I spotted a picture of Gran. Oh, I wished wished WISHED Gran was here. I want her back so so much.

RRRIIINNNGGG!

“Uuggghh!” I sighed, plodding over to my phone. “Jessi.” Jessi was so annoying, especially seeing as she was so pretty. She was the captain of the basketball team, which I sooooo wanted to be. I picked up my phone and the hell video started.

“Hey everyone, what’s up? Don’t forget, basketball tryouts today, so practice your BUTTS off, losers. Oh, and by the way Sofie, don’t even think about going for captain. I’M the captain, and if you try to take that from me, you will regret it. Bye, have a good day!”

LATER THAT DAY

“Good morning students, and welcome to the basketball trials for St. Helena school team. We have three contenders for captain – Jessi Ellis, Hannah Parker-Kent and Sofie Dossi. These students have shown the most progress over the year. So, let’s see them!”

“Hannah, Hannah, Hannah!” I cheered. Hannah was my BFF, and if I couldn’t be captain, I wanted her to be. I was next – I scored 4 baskets and missed 1. I had a feeling that baskets weren’t what they were looking for. Then Jessi. She scored all 5 baskets. I was doomed.

25 MINUTES LATER

“And our captain for the school team is…..

SOFIE DOSSI!”

I was speechless! I had won! Jessi whispered to me:

“You made me look bad at basketball. Watch your back. You’re going to pay for this.”

She stormed out of the room, but before she left, she threw something at me. I picked it up, and it was a book. A recipe book.

I took it home and studied it carefully with Hannah and Ellie.

“You can do it! You just need to believe in yourself!” said Ellie, beaming with pride.

“Yeah. Believe in myself.” I repeated, still engrossed in the recipe book.

Suddenly, I screamed.

“WHAT? ARE YOU OK!?” yelled Hannah and Ellie.

“Yes! I’m perfect!” I replied. “Look what I just found! Bring me back Butterscotch! I could use it to bring Gran back!”

“How? It’s butterscotch.” Ellie said.

“Maybe it’s magic!” I said. “We need to cook it.”

“But we need… Cedronean vanilla. Where will we find that?” Hannah pointed out.

“Check the attic,” I exclaimed.

CREAK! CREAK! Went the floorboards. We opened the door into the pitch black room…


Holly

Who were these horrid creatures that chased after me every night? “NOOO!” I woke up trembling in my bed, while Lily was trying to comfort me. Where was I? I knew I was in my own cozy house, but why was I in the living room? “There’s so many questions I could asked,” I said. Trying to stand up, I stumbled to go and see mum. “Mum isn’t here,” Lily told me. I felt safe in my house, it was warm and comfy and smelt like there was always someone cooking my favourite food, chocolate chip cookies.

I’m Tyler by the way. I’m a girl but when I was born my parents hoped for a boy so they called my Tyler! I’m adopted now, but I’ve never really known why. People told me that my mum couldn’t look after me, but I don’t believe that because I was an only child and my mum doesn’t have any problems or anything. I have a sister, whose not adopted and she always helps me when I have a dream about swappasites. I know it’s all fake but it’s so realistic and I really want it to stop! Every day I put my mind of it every day but somehow I still have a dream. It’s like a story book that’s in a series which never ends!

In my nightmares there’s these awful looking creatures, a full swarm of them chasing after me ready to kill me. Violently I held up my scratched, muddy fists, you could easily tell I had been pinned down a few times. They made me weak and themselves strong, which was annoyinly mean! There faces were the worst part, they look like every day is halloween! They grey, dirty teeth and there eyes were disgusting all bloodshot and red with no pupils whatsoever!

Anyway carrying on, Lily was by side with a crumpled up piece of paper. I pointed at it and said, “whats the use of that?” She looked at me in astonishment, “Tyler! This! This is a letter from mum!” I feld bad. “A mysterious one!” she whispered.

QDPCTQUFXJ
QTARgHiLTG
aofMNLOXWO
JBOAEGLTCL
SOLNENLEMu
ayBFOLRZRPX

from mum.
                xxx

“Oh,” I said

We went to bed and I started violenty fighting with my nightmare, but not any old fight a proper fist fight. They say the pen is mightier than the sword but I think the sword is mightier than the pen! Swappasites have mighty, herculean muscles and a big swarm. I’ve got little muscles and 4 friends. I dug a sword into swappasites’ chest. “NOOOO!” I screamed as they fired an arrow at me and I sat sweating in my bed with Lily who had an apple and a warm towel in her hand.

“You were sleep talking,” she said shakily.

“I think I’ve learnt not to fight so much I got killed,” I whispered. “Don’t worry,” said Lilly.

I learnt my dreams WERE real after all so I carried on with my every day life when I got what I wanted!

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! 

Top 5 books from people in the know!

‘Tell us your Top 5 books’, the Love Middlesbrough Lasses asked. How hard could it be? Very hard, as it turns out…

Ha! We do love a good challenge, so we decided to ask Middlesbrough library staff and librarians what their favourite books are as part of our brilliant #BoroReads project this summer. They’ve come back with some great titles if you’re looking for some reading inspiration. As you can imagine from people who love books, it’s a long post so grab yourself a cuppa and a sweet treat before you start … over to you, lovely library peeps! 

favourite books

Ruth
As a librarian I read an awful lot of books and choosing five favourites took me a while! Here they are in no particular order:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery
As I child I loved reading about Anne’s adventures on Prince Edward Island where she’s adopted by a brother and sister and discovers what it means to be part of a family. She gets into scrapes such as dying her hair green and selling the neighbour’s cow by mistake but charms everyone she meets with her kindness, humour and imagination. Written in 1908 it continues to enchant and I recently read it with my daughter who loved it too.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
The winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is a book I’ve been recommending to anyone who’ll listen. Set in the near future teenage girls suddenly develop an extraordinary physical ability and the balance of power between men and women shifts with devastating effect. If you think you don’t like science fiction I’d give this a go – you might just change your mind!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Composed by Shelley when she was just nineteen as part of a challenge to write the scariest ghost story, Shelley examines what it means to be human and the monstrosity of man. Scientist Victor Frankenstein sets in motion a destructive sequence of events when he ‘plays God’ and creates a man. His creation is abandoned and subjected to the worst of mankind’s behaviour. The horror doesn’t come from the creature but from the men around him. A perfect introduction to classic fiction – it’s not too long and the plot moves quickly.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Stephen King is one of my favourite authors but this time travel story broke away from his usual horror novels. High-school teacher Jake Epping travels back to 1958 and becomes embroiled in a thrilling race to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy on 1963. King’s writing always creates empathy with the characters and this is no exception. From the first page I was hooked.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This is a murder mystery novel like no other. Christopher Boone is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. The reader is drawn into Christopher’s world in this deeply moving but also very funny story. Christopher ‘s life is turned upside down as he searches for the truth about a dead dog and discovers truths about his own family. A great read for teens and adults alike.

library book shelf

Jenny
I work at Central Library and am so privileged to have access to a wide variety of books every day – it means I often have a pile to get through when I take too many home!

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
This novel is extraordinary, it centres on four characters whose lives all intersect during World War II. Moving backwards through the war, we are introduced to the complex lives of glamour girl Viv, big hearted and caught in an impossible situation; Duncan, who has a mysterious past that he is coming to terms with; Helen, always searching for true love despite a jealous nature, and Kay, who has never left the war behind and misses the comradery of the Blitz spirit. The level of historical detail and rich character portrayals make you feel as though you are living it with them and leaves you wondering what is coming next.

This must be the place by Maggie O’Farrell
This book is very funny, and O’Farrell captures perfectly and succinctly just how chaotic and weird families can be. In a criss-crossing story stretching across Ireland, L.A., and New York, to name a few, we are introduced to Claudette, an ex-film star who is prone to shooting anyone who ventures near her secluded property, and Daniel, whose love for another woman 20 years ago throws their lives into disarray. Can their unique family unit be saved? Full of warm humour and moving insight into the reality of relationships – this is a love story unlike any other.

Horrible Histories (the series) by Terry Deary
This series of books opened up a subject I had previously little interest in as a child. From the ‘Vile Victorians’ to the ‘Measly Middles Ages’, I couldn’t put them down. They are so funny and full of amusing facts, especially the cartoons that help to keep your attention and break up the text. I still love them, and recommend them to junior borrowers now, who have very often seen the TV show on CBBC.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I recently read this book out of curiosity, having spotted it on our Reading Group shelves. This tale of double standards, rich and poor, longing and love, all set in the Dorset countryside, reminds you that though time and practices change, people and relationships never do. Naïve and poverty stricken Tess is put under the spell of wicked Alec D’Urberville, leading to events that will test her ideas of morality, and possibly the love of her beloved Angel Clare. This book has stayed with me, and I was rooting for Tess throughout. Classical literature can be a daunting prospect, but once you dive into such a book, you are completely absorbed in it and eager to see how it develops.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
The central question of this novel asks what would the world be like if women had more power? What would happen if women ruled absolute, and could use electrical charges from their palms to physically shock and kill their enemies? Governments fall, rebel groups form, and women take their revenge on patriarchal society. There is Tunde, a young Nigerian journalist risking his life to understand the phenomenon; Allie who finds meaning despite her troubled childhood; Roxy, London tough girl who does what she has to in order to survive; and Margot, who is trying to make her way in the male dominated political world. This book is unique, and not always comfortable to read due to there being some graphic elements in the book, but it is a real eye opener. Fans of Margaret Atwood would love this, as she acted as a mentor to Alderman during the project. It also won the 2017 Bailey’s women’s prize for fiction. [LML Claire note: this was already on my list but with two library recommendations – I’m deffo adding this to my pile!]

favourite books

David
My top 5 books? Here goes…

Fair Stood the Wind For France by H E Bates
Contact by Carl Sagan
The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C Clarke
Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
The Whales’ Song by Dianne Sheldon, illustrated by Gary Blythe

[LML Claire: ooh there’s some authors there I’ve never heard of *hurries to library catalogue to investigate further*]

book shelves

More books related content? 

Find out what the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love to read. 

Love libraries? Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire does too! 

Vote for your favourite books with #BoroReads