The Lasses get scared by The Book of Darkness and Light!

Three chilling tales. Two ghostly performers. One thrilling night.

Legend has it that many years ago a book of terrifying tales was found. Now, you are invited to discover the secrets of The Book of Darkness and Light … if you dare.

Join The Storyteller and The Musician for an evening of spine-tingling tales and haunting live music. Three ghostly stories to delight and horrify, accompanied by the beautiful sounds of the violin.

Book of Darkness and Light 1

Be thrilled, chilled and thoroughly entertained by this charming storytelling experience. But, be warned, once the pages of the book are opened … anything could happen!

Claire 

If you’re going to see something that promises chills and thrills you couldn’t get a better time than right now. You also couldn’t ask for a better venue than the beautiful Reference Library, especially when said show involves clever lighting from floor level that casts the most excellent shadows up to the highest corner in that stunning room! 

Right from the start, as the lights went down, I was completely immersed in the atmosphere. The Storyteller was all kinds of spooky, with his long black coat and fingerless gloves, the old book flopping open to exactly the right page to begin the evening’s tales…and The Musician, oh! Can we just talk about shadows again for a minute? I couldn’t take my eyes off the shadow in the high corner that danced as The Musician played – it was like something out of an old fashioned toy theatre, stuttering, stop start motion, like something from another world – utterly brilliant! 

Book of Darkness and Light 2

Each tale was more compelling than the last, and by the third and final one I had actual goosebumps and chills down my spine! So, so clever. What a truly amazing performance piece! If you’ve not already guessed, I can highly recommend finding your nearest show and booking up quick!

Rachel 

October is the month of all things spooooooky  , so of course I was very excited to see this show!

The Storyteller made me think of a slightly creepy Victorian undertaker, so straight away I was backstorying (yes, that’s a verb) how they could have acquired said Book of Darkness and Light from a dead person. It reminded me of one of the stories from Love Middlesbrough Lass Emma’s book Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror which I read as part of the Lasses’ summer reading challenge.

I enjoyed the first two stories, and although in both cases it quickly became obvious (to me anyway) how the story would end, I still enjoyed the storytelling, the music and the atmosphere. But the third one! Excuse me while I run away and hide somewhere!  

Book of Darkness and Light 4

The third was much longer and more detailed than the first two, with a fantastic build up where you were just waiting, knowing something bad was coming, but not knowing what. Obviously my inner history geek got excited when it mentioned the witch trials!  Even I didn’t manage to guess where the story was going and how it was going to end, so I was seriously impressed! (And frightened, so we went for late night ice cream to make it better! ) 

I’d definitely recommend going to see any drama or music performances you can at Central Library; it’s such an intimate but overlooked venue which has a great atmosphere. Not to mention it really lends itself to something gothic like this, especially since, intentionally or not, a weird chill crept across us part-way through the show! *shivers*

And I’d also definitely recommend seeing The Book of Darkness and Light if you fancy a bit of a roadtrip – Hexham and Harrogate are your nearest venues for the rest of their tour.

Book of Darkness and Light 3

Visit their website for more details.

We didn’t take any photos ourselves during the performance as we were so completely absorbed! We’ve borrowed the photos for this post from The Book of Darkness and Light Facebook  page – go and give them a follow, the photos are awesome! 

Finding the best autumn leaves

The 🍂 colours of the leaves 🍂 is literally the best thing about autumn; they make me so ridiculously happy, which is why our Instagram is always absolutely full of gorgeous leaves from now until the pretty lights start in mid-November.

Luckily, there’s a whole heap of places in Boro where you can go to get your fix of autumn leaves, and we just happen to have a list right here!

Alright, I’m kinda biased on this one, because the photos I took of the autumn leaves in Albert Park a few years ago are some of my favourites ever. If you go at the right time, it’s like walking through orange, crispy snow (okay so it looks more appealing than that description sounds!) and it just makes me smile so much.

Plus, it’s right next to my beloved Dorman Museum and Dressers Tea Room, so it’s a great opportunity to visit them too! 😍

Okay, so it feels super weird just wandering around a cemetery when you have no specific reason to be there, but it’s totally fine – it’s a nature reserve as well as a cemetery so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. It’s a great place to get your fix of autumn leaves.

If you’re a history geek (like me – surprise!) you’ll probably be interested to know that some of Middlesbrough’s famous historic figures are buried there, including Amos Hinton and Thomas Dormand Stewart (the councillor who bought the land which became Stewart Park and gifted it to the town).

Full disclosure here: I’ve never been to Hemlington Lake, but I wanted this post to include some places in Boro that don’t normally get as much love as others.

If you check out the photos on their Facebook page, you’ll see loads of trees around the lake, and I’m just daydreaming about how gorgeous it’ll look with all the reflections on the water.

I’m reliably informed by Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire that Fairy Dell is a great place to go if you want to walk your dog (if a little muddy) 🐶

It has looooads of trees, so there’s bound to be some leaves which have turned orange or yellow or red. There are also amazing wooden sculptures in various places around the Dell, and a pond, so great for families too.

There are gorgeous leaves everywhere, just look up when you’re walking around outside! You might even be lucky enough to have a beautiful autumnal tree right outside your house (all the jealousy).

Honourable mentions for gorgeous leaves go to Ayresome Gardens (Linthorpe Road, near Albert Park) and The Boulevard (Centre Square, outside the Crown Court – that’s where the photo below was taken).

Much autumnal love ❤️🍂📸 

Bonjour Bistrot Pierre!

This may come as a surprise, but the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love going out for dinner! We’ve been excitedly watching Bistrot Pierre’s progress over the last few months as they completely renovated a vacant shop unit which is handily close to Love Middlesbrough HQ – it’s completely unrecognisable now! As soon as we heard they were open for previews, we practically ran to the door to get in line for a meal, and we brought along our lovely friend Laura as an honourary Lass too.

The interior is as gorgeous as the food! Speaking of food, here’s what we all thought…

Claire 🐘

True story, I almost moved to France in 2009…so close to living the French dream…and yet so far… *sigh*  I love it and have enjoyed many, many wonderful holidays there, so it’s fair to say that excitement levels were pretty high for eating all of the French food. If only we hadn’t gone at lunchtime, then I could also have enjoyed all of the French wine 🍷 – next time!

There was so much choice it was hard to pin down exactly what I wanted, but I figured as it was lunchtime I would go for something light, which would then leave all of the room for dessert, but more on that very soon. I opted for the tarte flambée with mushrooms and all the garlic – so. much. yum. It was shaped like a pizza, but seemed to be made with some sort of flaky, light and dreamy pastry that melted in my mouth (I’m actually drooling just thinking about it now) – oh my, it was divine! With a choice of either salad (as if!) or ‘pommes frites’ (also known as fries) I’m pretty sure you can guess which side I opted for.

When it came to pudding there was no messing about. It was only ever going to be creme brulée – my all time favourite. I will 100% admit that I had very high hopes for this being the perfect version, and with total honesty I can reassure you that it really and truly is. First off, the perfect crack. Of course the sugar was caramelised to absolute perfection. The creme brulée itself was so creamy, so light, so so tasty. If I had been on my own and at home, and not in public with polite people, I would totally have licked the bowl clean!

I already know I’ll be back for more. Just have to decide when… 🇫🇷

Emma 🍫

We all know I love food, so it’s no surprise that I quite enjoyed (understatement of the year) lunch at Bistrot Pierre. I am always a little sceptical when trying new places as sometimes they don’t cater to my diet but boy do these guys know how to make Veggie food.

My main was a salad, but not just any salad; this was a halloumi salad. It also wasn’t the boring, lettuce, tomatoes and filling kind of salad that most places seem to do, this was an actual salad – with no tomatoes in sight thank god. I wasn’t particularly fond of the vinaigrette they used but that is personal preference and I’m fussier than Rachel when it comes to salad dressings. I also have a new found love of edamame beans – who knew?

Dessert was obviously the best part, sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. I was the first to finish, of course, and oh my god was it good. Words fail me with describing this and the waitress who recommended this dish was not wrong. Can I have another bowl please?

All in all, I have to say that I will be visiting Bistrot Pierre again and don’t be put off by the French names, the staff with translate for you if you’re not sure.

 

Rachel 🐱

I’m the certified fussy eater of the group, so I was feeling all the fear that there was going to be nothing I wanted to eat, but I needn’t have feared – my eyes found the word ‘pizza’ (well, tarte flambée) on the menu, and all was right with the world! 😍

And what a pizza it was! It was like a cross between a pizza and a quiche, and even though it had four different types of cheese on it, the dough (or pastry or whatever it was) didn’t feel heavy and I still had room for dessert. And so much cheese! I’m all about the melted cheese, in case it wasn’t obvious by now 🍕❤️

Dessert was literally the most amazing chocolate mousse, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I found out it was actually chocolate orange flavoured! Please just let me sit at that table and eat that for all of eternity! 😍

 

Laura 🐨

I couldn’t let the Love Middlesbrough lasses try the latest restaurant without me joining, so I became an honorary member for the day.

I also had the halloumi salad and loved every bit of it – just healthy enough to feel proud of yourself, but equally delicious and really filling thanks to the quinoa and the option to have fries on the side. A real strength of Bistrot Pierre is that you could go for ultimate French with dishes like boeuf bourguignon and steak-frites, or choose something lighter like the halloumi salad – even the fussiest eaters will be happy, though vegans might struggle (do they even have vegans in France?).

My dessert was what I call a posh eton mess, but it’s actual name is Méli mélo de fraises et meringue: strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries, meringue, marshmallows, crushed pistachios, strawberry coulis and Chantilly cream. Boom. I’m usually a starter-main rather than main-dessert kinda gal, but I would make an exception for this dessert every time. The crunch of the pistachios and meringue contrasted perfectly with the smooth cream and ice cream, with slight chewiness from the marshmallows and oh so much strawberry-ness.

If the meal I had is an indicator of the rest of the menu, I’ll be visiting Bistrot Pierre again and again.

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