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! 🍁 

Harry Potter! History! Magic! And fangirling!

So we have some pretty exciting news (understatement of the year)! If you’re a Harry Potter fan then your day (possibly even life) is about to be made!

Delve into Divination!
Ponder the peculiarities of Potions!
Discover magical creatures!
Harry Potter: A History of Magic is coming to Middlesbrough!!!! 😍 
There are not enough heart eye emojis and exclamation marks in the world for that last statement. HARRY! POTTER! 

What exactly is this Harry Potter: A History of Magic we hear you ask? Luckily we’re here to tell you 😀 In partnership with the British Library (woah!), Middlesbrough Library will be capturing the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories – there’ll be magical treasures, tales and secrets deep from the archives…wahhhhhhh! We are beyond excited!!! 

To show you exactly how much we obsess fangirl over the Potter, here are just some (cos if we told you all the reasons we’d need a 1000 page book) of the reasons why we, the Lasses, love Harry Potter so much. 

Claire 🐘

It’s already been established that I’m the older Lass of the group so I was at university when I first encountered Harry Potter. I remember a whole group of us sharing one battered copy of The Philosopher’s Stone that is probably still making the rounds somewhere to this day. My own copy of it is equally as battered now as I’ve read the series all the way through about fifty million times (artistic licence is the same as exaggeration, right?)

Speaking of my series: the books are a combination of bought brand new, bought second hand, and partially eaten by my dog when he was just a wee puppy (bad dog!) Some are paperback, some are really big hardbacks (I’m looking at you Order of the Phoenix that is nearly as big as my head), all are battered, the covers are completely bleached of colour by being put on a shelf too close to a window, and extremely well loved 💓

I don’t have a favourite book or even a favourite character – I just love it all. It’s completely and utterly magical and I think it’s definitely time I started on round fifty million and one of re-reading from start to finish 😂

I’m SO EXCITED for the exhibition! And if I don’t get JK Rowling to like and retweet at least one of my tweets about it I’ll be hanging up my social media hat and heading to the cupboard under the stairs, never to come back out again. 

Emma 🍫

Harry Potter is coming to Middlesbrough and you don’t know how excited I am. The Philosopher’s Stone came out the year before I was born but 13 year old Emma was dragged into fandomness (I’m such a nerd now, Harry Potter made me who I am I think) by ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number 4 Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much’. As much as the Harry Potter books are the best, I’m going to look at the world as a whole – and the history of magic – so prepare for my fangirling.

So, my favourite character from the entire universe is Newt Scamander, the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’m totally going to ignore the book for this post because let’s be real, I could go on for forever, but the character of Newt Scamander is just another one of JK Rowling’s genius brainchildren. He seems like the sidekick character: small, weedy, nervous,and weak but he is the main character of the film because he is the embodiment of caring – the point of the film. This is what I love about Newt, not only does he have the line ‘Mummy’s here’ directed towards baby magical creatures (be still my beating heart), but he also cares about people. I think this is a refreshing change for Hollywood given that the heroes of many blockbuster films now are strong physically and mentally, but Newt Scamander is the exact opposite of this and shows that anyone, no matter how weak or seemingly unimportant, can make a difference in the world – whether magical or not.

It’s very difficult for me to express my love for Mr Scamander and the movie as a whole in one blog post as I could literally spend hours talking about this delightful man. Can we just appreciate casting for a moment? Eddie Redmayne is quintessentially British and this is enhanced by the setting of America.

Also, if you haven’t seen the A Very Potter Musical trilogy then I suggest you do because it’s hilarious and oh so very American. I see a binge coming on.

Rachel 🐱

I love lists, so what better time to appreciate my favourite moments from Harry Potter (books and films) than in this post? I started out with my top 5, and that quickly became top 10. Ooops! 😳 (p.s. it’s very timely that I just got a Deathly Hallows tattoo this week…how jealous is everyone?! 😎)

Piertotum locomotor (DH)
Professor McGonagall brings the school’s statues and suits of armour to life (‘Hogwarts is threatened!’ shouted Professor McGonagall. ‘Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!’), which is seriously kick-ass, and as if that wasn’t enough, she then follows it up with ‘I’ve always wanted to use that spell!’ The adorbs! 😍

Hermione punching Malfoy (PoA)
Let’s face it, who didn’t want to punch Malfoy at some point in the series? Hermione just did what we were all thinking. Yaaaas!

The grandmother Snape boggart (PoA)
Snape dressed as Neville’s grandmother, complete with an ugly, vulture-topped hat. I don’t think there’s anything you could want more in life, right?

Butterflies (CS)
As someone who is extremely scared of spiders, Ron’s quote of ‘Why spiders? Why couldn’t be follow the butterflies?’ pretty much sums up how I feel about having to see or read about giant spiders in Harry Potter.

Dudley’s goodbye (DH)
The scene where Harry and Dudley say goodbye really got me. To see how much Dudley’s attitude had changed, that he believed there was a real threat, even if he didn’t completely understand it, and that he’d be safest with the weird magic people, really shows a change in his character. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s being (for him) seriously nice, telling Harry that he doesn’t think he’s a waste of space. So many feels! 😭

Pudding (OotP)
Luna saying ‘I hope there’s pudding’ is just me, all the time. 🍩🍪🍨

Molly Weasley duelling (DH)
Is there a more iconic line than ‘Not my daughter, you bitch!’? The correct answer is no. Molly Weasley is a marvel! #slay

Roonil Wazlib (HBP)
Ron’s name misspelled. I don’t know why it makes me howl with laughter every time, but it does 😂

Teaspoon (OotP)
‘Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.’
Hermione giving it all the sass – I aspire to be this sassy, or at least to be in a situation where I can use that quote!

Light (PoA)
‘Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’
Dumbledore ❤️

You can see Harry Potter: A History of Magic from 20 October – 28 February at Middlesbrough Central Library, during library opening hours. The exhibition launches on Friday 20 October at 4pm with a special magic show from the library’s very own Hogwarts Wizard at 4.30pm. Obviously we’ll see you there…we’ll be the ones at the front of the queue 😝 

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!! 

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!

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