Top 5 places for sweet treats

Everybody loved our top 5 hot chocolates post, so we decided to carry on the tradition and give you our lowdown on the top 5 places in Boro for sweet treats (in no particular order!). It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it…

1. Esquires Coffee

Sweet treats: Esquires Coffee

Cake! Rainbow sprinkles! Pink! – just three of my favourite things, and coincidentally, this cake includes them all, which makes it a winner in my book! Plus, Esquires have just been refurbished and it looks super cool and modern – very Bedford Street-esque!

2. Dressers Tea Room

Sweet treats: Dressers Tea Room

Having worked at the beautiful Dorman Museum, I can safely say I spent a loooooot of time in Dressers and tried pretty much all of their cakes! I can’t pick a favourite, but this Irish cream one was pretty darn special.

3. Off the Ground (supplied by Songbird Bakery)

Sweet treats: Off the Ground

I think this cookie actually changed my life a little bit, it was that magical! It was like a cross between a cookie and a cake, and I never wanted it to end. It’s totally okay to eat Christmas-themed food all year round, right? Please, I want more…

4. Bedford Street Coffee

Sweet treats: Bedford Street Coffee

If it was possible for me to survive on Bedford Street Coffee’s salted caramel brownie alone, I absolutely 100% would. It’s a thing of beauty. And when it comes served with fruit, you can almost pretend it’s healthy!

5.  The Southfield

Sweet treats: The Southfield

Yes, really. You can get a slab of cake the size of your face for £2.45, and if that (as a cake lover) doesn’t make you happy, nothing will. It’s less than a bus fare into town! Sign. Me. Up.!

Claire

It’s been a tough job, taking part in this research, but we (wo)manned up valiantly to the cause! Anything for cake…and my absolute favourite sweet treat will always be cake. And the only cake for me is from The Olde Young Tea House (how many times can I mention cake in one paragraph?!) Light, fluffy, ALWAYS delicious, brilliant flavour combinations and the perfect proportion of icing to cake: P E R F E C T I O N ! Every time. In fact, can I have some now please? Cake run, anyone…

Emma

How does one choose the best place for a sweet treat – it really depends on if you want cake, doughnuts, cookies, ice cream. Either way, I have to put Espresso 10 outside the Hillstreet Centre at top for me. I mean mini doughnuts and chocolate sauce is always a winner!

Rachel

My honourable mention goes to Patisserie Valerie, because I’m slightly obsessed with their chocolate gateau slice and I’d eat them every day if I could!

Top 5 hot chocolates!

Anyone who spends any time looking at our Instagram will know that we love hot chocolate. I mean, you can’t fail to be happy when you have a (good) hot chocolate in your hand! In fact, you could almost say I’m a hot chocolate connoisseur.

I’m also someone who likes lists a lot, so what better way to present my favourite hot chocolates than in a list (with photos of course, because I can never resist taking a blogger-ish photo of my food or drink).

So here I present to you, my top 5 hot chocolates:

1. Off the Ground (white chocolate)

My overall winner is Off the Ground, with their amazing white hot chocolate! It’s so good I can’t even deal with it; I would literally drink it every day if I could. It tastes like actual white chocolate, not just some chocolate-flavoured powder, but it’s not too sweet either.

Plus, Off the Ground is a social enterprise working to end homelessness in Middlesbrough, so you can feel like you’re doing good while you’re having your delicious hot chocolate too. More of this in 2018 please!

2. Baker Street Kitchen (BSK hot chocolate)

Hot chocolate! Marshmallows! Cream! And a Flake! Be still my beating heart!

As if the hot chocolate couldn’t possibly get any better, you also get a Flake or some other kind of super-melty chocolate bar to go with it, which you can put into your hot chocolate to make it even richer, or just eat it (guilty).

3. Mannequin Cafe

Mannequin Cafe is a two minute hop, skip and jump away from Love Middlesbrough HQ, so we’re forever in there for hot chocolate. Good day? Hot chocolate. Bad day? Hot chocolate. Cold day? Hot chocolate. Etc., etc.

It’s so cheap even for a large one (which obvs I get), and it’s made with milk, none of this boiling water nonsense! Proper job!

4. Brewhouse (white chocolate)

I’m reliably informed that the proper Teesside way to say this coffee shop’s name is ‘Brew’ouse’, so here’s a white chocolate hot chocolate from Brew’ouse.

There’s not a lot to say really, other than why wouldn’t you want a hot chocolate that’s made with white chocolate? It literally tastes like drinking a Milkybar! Oh, and it comes with a Flake too; you can’t get much better than that!

5. Olde Young Tea House

You can’t write about hot drinks in Middlesbrough and not write about the Olde Young Tea House.

Everything there is served with a side order of adorbs (by that I obviously mean adorableness, not some weird new food called adorbs), which makes it wonderful in my book. Their hot chocolate comes with all the usual trimmings and my only complaint is that the mug could be bigger, but then I always want more hot chocolate!

And there you have it, my top 5 hot chocolates in Boro (and not a chain coffee shop in sight)! So now you’ve got my recommendations, get out there and try them out for yourself this festive season! ☕️❤️☕️

Top 5 places to find 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 ❤️🍂📸 

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

Top 5 most Instagram-worthy places in Middlesbrough!

Centre Square
Centre Square is amazing, it’s like a 5 for the price of 1 deal, and you can’t ask for more than that! For the fans of older buildings, you have the Town Hall and Central Library, and mima’s there representing the more modern stuff. Plus you have the Bottle of Notes and the fountain, which are both amazing with a sunrise behind them.


Acklam Hall
You can’t not love the only Grade I listed building in Middlesbrough (FYI, a Grade I listing puts it in the same category of historical importance as York Minster and Tower Bridge!), but where do we begin? The outside of the building? The ceilings? The staircase (😍)? The grounds? Oh so, so many things to love about it!
(Thank you to Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire for letting me use her gorgeous photo of Acklam Hall at sunset!)

Middlesbrough Dock
This is a more recent discovery for me, but one that just keeps on giving. I love water and reflections, and while the water isn’t really still enough for a reflection, it doesn’t stop it being a great place to take photos. It works in any weather too, from sunshine to stormy clouds, but hold onto your hats, it’s windy around there! (There are some great photos of the Dock in our post about the InstaMeet we held in April if you’ve not checked it out already ☺️)


Albert Park in autumn
I love autumn trees sooooo much 🍂. I can’t lie, my photos of Albert Park in the autumn are some of my favourites I’ve ever taken, and I managed to make myself late for work because I was so distracted by taking as many as I could (oops). Because of the way the trees are planted on either side of the path, you’re just walking on a carpet of orange leaves and it’s like the most magical, autumnal thing ever!

Central Library
I’m a sucker for historic buildings (I know, I kept that one super quiet!) so the Reference Library just makes me fangirl like crazy. I spend a lot of time looking up (try it sometime – loads of shops in the town centre have lovely facades on the first floor), and the Reference Library is perfect for that. Just look at those lights! Plus, the outside of the building is pretty special too…