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 ❤️🍂📸 

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!! 

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.

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!