The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s adventures in Middlesbrough!

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love (other than food), it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar! (We’ve been really subtle about it, haven’t we?)  So when we were asked by Middlesbrough Theatre to make a video promoting the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s theatre show, we were absolutely on board!

The brief was to film the Very Hungry Caterpillar in different famous places in Middlesbrough and make a video of it, so off we went (with not one but two caterpillars!) on a trip around the town.  The video will be appearing on your screens very soon, but we thought you’d love to see some of our behind the scenes pics.

We started off at the Transporter Bridge, because there’s nowhere more iconic!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge

Meanwhile, the baby Caterpillar who’s scared of heights visited Transporter Park, and then they met the dinosaurs at Teesaurus Park.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Transporter Park The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Teesaurus Park

There was a lot of climbing around, especially on the Bottle of Notes…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Bottle of Notes

The Very Hungry Caterpillar(s) enjoying the Bottle of Notes

We also stopped for a snack break in Stewart Park, for very good ice cream!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying ice cream

It’s a hard life going on adventures, so we had to give the Caterpillar lots of time to rest.  You know what they say – never work with animals!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Stewart Park

As well as getting to explore loads of fantastic places like the top of the Transporter Bridge, the Dorman Museum, and getting fed ice cream, the Caterpillar also got into some trouble, like getting stuck down a chair at Middlesbrough Theatre…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Middlesbrough Theatre

…and climbing into the Albert Park cannon!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Albert Park

And of course, because it wouldn’t be Love Middlesbrough without cake, we took our two hungry caterpillars (and hungry Lasses) for some amazing cakes made by the fabulous Songbird Bakery!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Songbird Bakery cakes

And the Caterpillar(s) didn’t get around by themselves – there was also heaps of work done by the Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and honorary Love Middlesbrough Lass, Matt!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and Lad) Love Middlesbrough Lass (and Lad) 

In case you missed it the first time we put the link in, you can book your tickets for the Very Hungry Caterpillar show via Middlesbrough Theatre.

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Murder comes to Middlesbrough on World Book Night

We are delighted to publish a guest post from writer, blogger and all-round literary fan Amy Lord of Ten Penny Dreams.

Amy Lord is an award-winning writer and blogger, who writes about books, travel and life in Middlesbrough on her blog Ten Penny Dreams. You can also follow @tenpennydreams on Twitter and Instagram.


World Book Night came to Middlesbrough with a murderously good evening at Acklam Library, as two northern crime writers popped in to talk about their work with a crowd of enthusiastic readers.

AA Dhand and Kathleen McKay are currently touring the North of England as part of Read Regional, a scheme run by New Writing North to bring new books to readers across the region.

They shared extracts from their work and talked about their journey to publication, as well as discussing their novels in detail.

While Kathleen McKay’s novel, Hard Wired, was inspired by her sister’s work at a Newcastle bail hostel, AA Dhand writes about the Bradford community he grew up in.

Streets of Darkness is already a best-seller and is on its way to our screens, with the author currently working on the script for the BBC, alongside his day job as a pharmacist.

He spoke eloquently about his love for crime fiction and how it developed from childhood, when he used to sneak downstairs in his parents’ corner shop and watch the 18 certificate videos when they went out. It was an evening spent watching The Silence of the Lambs that so terrified him and made him want to pick up the book instead. From then on he was hooked on crime and became eager to write his own story.

But it took a decade of work to bring Streets of Darkness to readers, with an unenthusiastic agent, a competition win and a completely different novel all part of his fascinating journey.

Kathleen McKay had her own success in writing competitions, winning the Northern Crime Competition in 2015. When she submitted her entry, she hadn’t even finished writing the book. Despite having published poetry, short stories and another novel previously, this was her first foray into crime fiction.

Both authors were happy to answer questions from the audience, revealing more about their writing process and the ideas behind the books, before signing copies of their novels.

And as it was World Book Night, the audience were encouraged to bring along one of their own books to exchange for something new. It was an idea that was really well received, with the swap table full of interesting novels that had nearly all gone by the end of the night.

So not only did I get to chat to two incredibly interesting writers, I also got to add two new crime fiction novels to my to-read list.

Read Regional at Acklam Library


More events for local book lovers are coming up as part of the Crossing the Tees festival in June.

Read more about the fab Read Regional project.

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Spectacular Super Saturday Night

It was a big Saturday out in downtown Middlesbrough, Peg Powler Art Collective curated an art and art party down at the House of Blah Blah, The Spectacular Super Show.

peg-powler-blah-blahThe facebook invite billed it as a special one night only event featuring art, early doors disco, a kissing booth and a dress up box and lots more besides.

peg-blah-tallArtists, entertainers and exceptional hosts AJ Garrett and Rebecca Little founded the DIY art organisation Peg Powler back in 2010. Named after a legendary green hag that lurks in floods from the River Tees the collective has been responsible for all sorts of arts events and happenings from exhibitions to zine workshops. Rebecca and AJ were recently named in the Gazette in a list of movers and shakers for a new Teesside.

This Saturday Peg Powler were bringing a touch showbiz to that fantastic art space House of Blag Blah. I always think the former postal building is like a slice of New York or Chicago or Manchester warehouse/factory in Middlesbrough.

As soon as you entered through the big external doors there was plenty of artwork on the walls, including paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture by AJ & Rebecca as well as Peg Powler favourites Shaun Elliott, Nuala C. Murphy, Joanne Taylor, James Harris and novelist Richard Milward.

peg-blah-blahI enjoyed seeing Shaun’s large colourful and hyperactive canvases again; last viewed at his Python Gallery one man exhibition last year. There weren’t too many tears to be shed over AJ’s clowns. James Harris charming cathedrals of Europe sketches contained comments not usually found in Rough Guides but then again he will never live on a Lonely Planet with his sense of humour. A sense of humour further expanded on the walls of the arty party in full flow next door.

peg-poweler-shaunRebecca, who has her own acclaimed club night in Liverpool and back in the day used to DJ in Uncle Alberts (Can anyone remember it ? Just round the corner from Blah Blah) was spinning the discs. Cruisers Creek by The Fall was on the turntable when I entered the room. There was plenty of dancing going on to her alternative, indie-pop, C86, 60s, post-punk, new wave sounds.

peg-blah-barAJ who had been at the dress up box big style was selling kisses, for the Donkey Sanctuary charity (thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk). There were one or two people wandering around with the tell-tale red lipstick on the cheeks afterwards.

Pegpowler.com

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A Night at the Theatre – Blithe Spirit

Escape into another world with Noel Coward’s comedy classic, Blithe Spirit running this week at Middlesbrough Theatre. Enter the country house set of the early twentieth century, a world of faltering servants, clipped accents, cocktails and it is formal dress code for dinner parties. It is all frightfully correct but there are frightening things bubbling beneath the surface. This particular dinner party thrown by socialite and novelist Charles and his wife Ruth serves up far, far more than the hosts bargained for with hilarious consequences.

Charles is researching for his latest book and decides to invite the marvellously over the top medium Madame Arcati over to conduct a séance. Maybe he ought to have thought twice before the flamboyant spiritualist asked if there was anyone there. Charles’ troublesome first wife Elvira seemed only too keen to return and cause all sorts of trouble and mayhem between Charles and second wife Ruth.

We are so lucky to have Middlesbrough Theatre. The unassuming post-war theatre sits amongst the foliage of leafy Linthorpe. The theatre has so many pluses, from the ample car parking right outside to the attentive staff. There are the home comforts of proper theatre seats and the rake affords superb viewing. Yet it has that intimacy of a small theatre but with a stage big enough to allow the elaborate country house set. In fact the last time I attended a play here we were all actually seated in the round on the stage itself.

Blithe Spirit is regarded as one of Noel Coward’s masterpieces, breaking all records for a West End run with nearly 2000 performances through the 1940s, records then smashed by The Mousetrap. Yet Coward went out of fashion, his plays about upper class England were something of an anathema to the aspiring post war generations. Latterly we fell in love with Noel Coward all over again as he made notable appearances on the screen, who can forget him as the criminal godfather, Mr Bridger, in The Italian Job.

This show is co-presented with Less is More Productions. They are a local company aiming to create theatre in Tees Valley area. Less is More like to work with and nurture emerging artists from Middlesbrough and the north east. That is certainly the case with the actress fulfilling the role of the ghostly presence of Elvira. South Shields Natasha Haws still known to many as the ridiculously talented teenage singer songwriter. She is also a ridiculously talented actor on the stage.

Only Charles can see Natasha/Elvira’s ghostly presence but while the results are hilarious for us they are certainly no laughing matter for the hen pecked husband. He is suddenly trapped between his high maintenance first wife Elvira and equally domineering second spouse, Ruth. Charles doesn’t know which way to turn. Maybe he could enjoy the best of both worlds. Yet secretly and certainly not silently Elvira is plotting, plotting, plotting.

Really funny, superb acting and a great opportunity to revel in a real treasure of 20th century theatre.

You can see Blithe Spirit – Friday and Saturday evening 7.30pm

£14/ Concessions £12

Middlesbrough Theatre, The Avenue, Middlesbrough, TS5 6SA.
T. 01642 81 51 81 | Website: www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk

Blithe Spirit poster

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James Kruman – Twitch Album Launch

Tomorrow night (Saturday 10th December) is a proud night for Teesside troubadour, James Kruman, it marks the launch of his debut album, Twitch at The Westgarth Social Club. If ever there was an album launch worthy of your support then this is it. An outstanding singer songwriter on the local scene and beyond over the last few years James has released one of the albums of the year in Twitch.

james-krumanThey say to never judge a book by its cover he cover of the album but from its enigmatic scientific diagram drawn on a black surround it is quite clear that Twitch is no ordinary affair. This is a debut full of dark mystery and rare beauty. It demands your full attention. There are shades and layers of meaning here contained within songs that almost entice you in and trap you with deadly venus fly trap barbs. Either the songs devour you whole or you are caught up in their spell. I haven’t put the thing down since it arrived through the post a couple of weeks back.

I was so intrigued that I contacted James to ask him a few questions regarding the album, his music and what we might expect from this weekend’s launch. He is always a compelling performer, with his distinct look, and a voice that harks back to 60s folk and psychedelia and yet is very much of the here and now.

Backed up by the irresistible Broken Broadcast and Hartlepool’s Bob Dylan, Danny Devon this should be an amazing show to end the year.

You  can a preview of the album here on James bandcamp account.

So, here are a few questions and some amazingly insightful answers from James.

Q: You go for a very big start with Barrel Bomb – did you want to take us into the deep end straight away?

JK: I identified Barrel Bomb as being the biggest indicator of how my music has evolved over the last few years, and it seemed important to let the audience know this from the start. I think the mood in Barrel bomb encapsulates the overall mood of the album and I too think that this was important to let the audience know.

Q: I hear hints of Dylan, Donovan and maybe Syd Barrett and psychedelia in your work – are you drawn to great and maybe off the wall song writers?

JK: Bob Dylan was probably the catalyst in my need and obsession to first write music. I have always been drawn to the abstract images portrayed by those artists.

Q: There is a dark beauty to the album Twitch – even the cover – do you feel drawn to a darkside?

JK: I have always been drawn more to the macabre, depressive elements of the human existence. I feel I write more fluently about the dark existence that one can feel.

Q: Your songs draw the listener into great ideas, words and stories. Do you enjoy storytelling in your work?

JK: It’s great that I have been asked this again, because I feel like my songs are far too abstract and narratively warped to tell a story. I genuinely love the way that people take a story from them as it breads another dimension in the song that even I did not realise..

Q: You are hard to pigeon hole but I would say that you like to take an oblique, unusual angle on things, maybe from a long way above the ground. Is that fair?

JK: I think that is fair indeed. I have always felt like an outsider, and I wish to stay an outsider! I do indeed prefer to create the more unusual angle on themes. If I think a particular lyric is too straight and literal I try my best to distort it. I guess it’s like throwing a tin of paint over a blue print.

Q: This is a departure at times from your acoustic live persona did you enjoy working with different instruments and production?

JK: I indeed enjoyed the departure from my conventional set up, but more so, this departure was overtly necessary to create the soundscapes and propel the intended moods to the level that fit the content of each song.

Q: What was the process like of writing, recording etc?

JK: I knew it was time to make the album, I had been toying with ideas of sounds and lyrics for a while and these are the bulk of Twitch. The whole album was recorded in my damp spare bedroom. It used to get so cold in there you could see my breath bouncing off the microphone. I hope this can be imagined in many of the songs, its certainly a winter album! I discovered a new approach to writing music for this album in that in some of the songs on Twitch the music came first and they were left baron and without lyrics for a great while. I have never previously considered myself a musician before as I felt my lyrics were the real fundamental of the song, and the music came second.

Q: There are diagrams and gadgetry on the cover and in the songs, are batteries included in this package?

JK: The Diagrams were re-designed from an old book I found in my parents attic. It was called something like ‘The Young Engineer’, and it was presented to my father in the 1950’s for an achievement at school. I was fascinated by the beauty of the line drawings and how archaic the language was.

Q: Please say anything you want about the album and your recorded work in general, I think you should be very proud of such a great piece of work. Tell us a bit about your album launch and what we might expect from you and the other artists?

JK: The ‘Twitch’ album if nothing else is a mirror image of where I am now in my creative life. I am truly excited for the album launch, it has been a work in progress for the last 9 months, and it is the cause of a worsening insomnia that I have developed recently! I feel privileged to have the Broken Broadcast on the same bill. The Broken Broadcast have a sound and atmosphere that I have not heard elsewhere, they are my favourite band in Teesside, after Journey South. Danny Devon is opening the show, and I have become close with Danny over the last couple of years. His raw live energy coupled with his real life poignant folk songs will be the perfect start to the evening.

James Kruman releases his debut Album called Twitch on Saturday (10th December) at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough.
Ably supporting James are
The Broken Broadcast and Danny Devon

Tickets £5.50/5.00

Buy Tickets seetickets

twitch

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