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!
Meanwhile, the baby Caterpillar who’s scared of heights visited Transporter Park, and then they met the dinosaurs at Teesaurus Park.
There was a lot of climbing around, especially on the Bottle of Notes…
We also stopped for a snack break in Stewart Park, for very good 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!
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…
…and climbing into the Albert Park cannon!
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!
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!)
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.
Spring is firmly on its way and it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and embrace the blue skies, milder weather and all the glorious Spring blooms bursting into life! English Tourism Week couldn’t have happened at a better time! With seven prestigious Green Flag seal of approvals for the parks and green spaces in Middlesbrough, we’re not exaggerating when we say they’re quite simply, the best!
We’re not ones for choosing favourites – because how could we?! – so in no particular order, here’s our list of parks and outdoor spaces you have to visit in Middlesbrough.
It makes sense to start with Albert Park. Situated right in the town itself, the park covers an area of 30 hectares and includes a visitor centre, roller skating rink, swan and boat hire on the lake, tennis courts, bowling greens, play areas, a fabulous bandstand and so much more! At this time of year the trees are just starting to see their first bursts of beautiful blossom, and all around the grounds are bright flashes of yellow, white, pink and purple as Spring bulbs pop out of the ground to say hello…and it just keeps on getting better as the seasons progress. The park is currently open from 7.30am to dusk .
Love Middlesbrough Top Tip ❤️ To take in all the sights of the park we recommend entering via the Park Road North entrance, turn right and follow the circular path round the entire perimeter of the park. Along the way you’ll be able to enjoy all the trees and seasonal blooms, see a sneak peek of our much-loved Dorman Museum, stroll past the lake with the ducks and the swan boats, and back around to where you started from…where you can pick another path and start exploring all over again!
Ahhh Stewart Park, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Nature! Heritage! Captain Cook Birthplace Museum! Stewart Park Farmers’ Market! 120 acres of mature woodland and wide open park space! So pretty, so spacious, so tranquil, it’s hard to believe that outside the gates of the park is the normal hustle and bustle of life. There’s a huge children’s play area, a trim trail for when you’re feeling super fit (or trying to be!), outdoor table tennis and mini golf! There’s also two lakes for all the water fowl so you can feed the ducks too! Make sure to get the right food for ducks though, they’re not as keen on bread as everyone imagines…Stroll up an appetite and head to the cafe to enjoy a very tasty scone – just one of the many tasty delights – which you can enjoy outside or inside, depending on the weather. We could wax lyrical for so much longer, but space is limited. The park is currently open from 7.30am to dusk.
Love Middlesbrough Top Tip ❤️ Head to the park on the last Sunday of the month for the Stewart Park Farmers’ Market. Make sure to get there bright and early (it opens at 9am), wander round all the stalls with some of the best tasty and local food we have ever eaten, try not to drool (it’s so unladylike!), grab a coffee to go, pick a path and wander where your feet take you, before taking your food belly home for some well-earned sofa time!
Transporter Park is right next to our iconic Transporter Bridge, which is an absolute must-see/must-visit/must-ride! The area has recently seen a real change and is looking tip-top – it’s even been a venue for music celebrations!. The recent addition of the oh-so-cool, multi-coloured Pioneer housing sets it firmly as a place on the up. As with all the other parks in town, the Spring blooms are bursting out of the ground and we can’t wait for the wildflowers to be back in Summer – so pretty. If you like taking photographs, it’s a brilliant place to start as you’re close to some of our most loved and iconic sights and there’s a photo op at almost every angle. There’s plenty of parking (including the two hours free offer available throughout the majority of town centre car parks) and you only have to do a hop, skip, and a jump back to the train station and onwards into town if you fancy finishing off your visit with some food. Doesn’t everyone do that? Just us then…
Love Middlesbrough Top Tip ❤️ We only have one for Transporter Park: if you’ve not been yet, go now and explore! Trust us…
Fairy Dell is a woodland beck and park and it sits on the borders of Marton and Coulby Newham. I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s beautiful! Truly, it’s a gem in Middlesbrough and well worth a visit if you’ve never been. Step through the main gates into a vast expanse of green park and then basically pick a path and start strolling (if you’re not sure which way to go there’s a handy map just as you walk through the main gates). Along the way you’ll see woodland, pretty waterfalls and streams, wooden sculptures and seating, and right now, as Spring is springing, bursts of yellow daffodils everywhere you look! The great thing about it is, there’s something for everyone. The outer pathways are accessible and buggy friendly, and if you want to go exploring you can do that too – just remember to pack your wellies! There’s even a ‘Trim Trail’ all the way around if you want to get your health and fitness on at the same time as taking in the lovely sights. There’s free parking available right outside of the main gates too which is always an added bonus!
Love Middlesbrough Top Tip ❤️ Head through the main gates and take the first pathway to your right and then just keep on following that pathway all the way around. You get to see most things on this trail including the giant snake, acorn and stork wooden sculptures, as well as enjoying the peace, quiet and the tranquil sound of the bubbling stream and birds singing – truly delightful! We already can’t wait to go back…
Linthorpe Cemetery and Nature Reserve
This is a recent discovery for us and we are absolutely loving it! A highly important burial ground, it’s steeped in history as well as being a genuinely lovely place to walk around. You’ve probably figured out by now that we’re massive fans of Spring blooms and there are heaps of them here *heart eyes emoji* If trees are more your thing there are parts of the cemetery that are almost completely covered by canopies of trees, many of which were planted in the 19th Century. And finally, for all you bird lovers out there, it’s a bird paradise! We’ve even heard that there are tawny owls – wow!
The beautiful thing about all these parks and green spaces is that they’re just a mere glimpse into all the amazing places that you can head to in Middlesbrough when you feel the need for some great outdoors. You can find out more about Council facilities via their website and more from us at Love Middlesbrough too.
One talented young woman from Middlesbrough is making waves with the release of her superb single, Circles. Leddie MC is no stranger to acclaim having achieved significant success in the hip hop duo, Leddie and Smoggy. Now Leddie is flying solo and judging by Circles she is really reaching the heights.
Produced by collaborator Alex Bailey, ‘Circles’ is the third single taken from Leddie MC’s debut EP Home in my Head.
Circles is a reflection on the friends and indeed former friends of Leddie MCs. Beautiful, poetic vocabulary enriches this track from the off. The subject matter could be dark as Leddie is forced to cut out the weak links and dramatically reduce her circle of close friends.
We feel the growing pains of Leddie but finally digest a message of hope as she squares the circle with close friends that really care and are there for her.
Leddie MC has never sounded so personal and yet so grounded. It is a track we can all relate to and through the power of her word play and the spiralling melody of Alex Bailey’s guitar it is so uplifting and memorable. Just to underline the uplifting tone the song ends with a sample from inspirational speaker Trent Shelton.
Ben Hoy-Taylor has produced a really bright, summery video as we spin in circles through Middlesbrough’s Albert Park.
Leddie and Smoggy have built up a big following over the years as the outstanding North East Hip Hop duo. They have made such a big splash beyond the region and live gigs have included notable support slots with Devlin, Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac, Skinnyman, Chester P and Lowkey.
Leddie is now following the single and EP release by working on a debut album, to be produced by Burnley MC and Producer, Seek The Northerner. We will really look forward to hearing that.
I am delighted to say that Leddie MC kindly answered a few questions I flung her way. I as keen to know more about this release and her thoughts on her rising career so far. Also I wondered about her views on whether growing up in Middlesbrough is really damaging for girls.
I love the lyrics and the language you use. Have you always been interested in words and did you enjoy poetry at school? Circles is very poetic to me. How did you come to get into hip hop?
I used to be obsessed with football before I ever made music, and I think as I grew older, I became more reclusive. I think it was a sign of the times really, just because the internet was flourishing, the likes of msn, bebo etc and I think I started to write lyrics to pass the time. My dad used to play the likes of Eminem and Warren G and I used to hate it, until I listened properly. It intrigued me a lot and the more I got into it, the more I studied how Eminem put words and rhyme schemes together and I enjoyed doing it myself. I think of it as a puzzle, using multi-syllabic rhymes that not only rhyme but also create a picture, or tell a story. I think my mind became stagnant and I wanted something more for myself. I started to sacrifice spending time with my friends to learn more, and I picked up on learning new words which I tried to introduce into rhymes I was writing and it all kind of grew from there.
Who were your influences?
The first Hip Hop influence I had was Eminem, The intricate schemes and his lyrical ability astounded me and its something I admired a lot. I also listened to the likes of Warren G, and grew to listening other MCs such as Immortal Technique, G Unit, C Rayz Walz etc. When I reached 16, I went to college and a friend I met there introduced me to UK Hip Hop – Yungun, Mystro, Lowkey, Poisonous Poets, Skinnyman, Taskforce, Foreign Beggars, Out Da Ville etc and I fell in love with the UK side of things. It felt more authentic to me, because I could relate so much more, and it felt so close to home. The beats resonated and I loved how the different accents shone through within the music.
What was it like making the leap from writing and recording to performing live?
It actually happened completely by accident and never really happened intentionally. I met Smoggy in college, along with D, Kitch and Vinny. I was the only female in the two years of the course I took and after the introductory assembly I kinda followed them out as they had similar style clothing… The baggy hoody and trackies, and looked how a Hip Hop head would. They asked what music I liked, and asked if I had ever written rhymes since I liked Rap. I told them I had and they were talking about all catching up on the weekend round the corner from me at Smog’s flat. We wrote a few tunes, recorded them and ended up with a gig a few months later. I didn’t really have an option to say No, they laughed it off and basically told me I was doing it regardless.
At the time, I was shy, filled with nerves and crippling anxiety and I had low self esteem and I wished the ground would have swallowed me up.
Are there are stand out gigs for you as a performer?
We did a gig in Brixton after I released a few solo tracks on Myspace years ago with a group called “The Peoples Army” and the atmosphere, the entire vibe and the acts just blew my mind. The North East was alienated, I was given the opportunity to open the show as a solo act and invited Smoggy, and that’s how we started as “Leddie and Smoggy”. Acts like Lowkey, Logic, Chester P, Wordplay, Mic Righteous and Frantic Frank were all there, and it was a huge gig. We ended up getting a lift to Chiswick by Wordplay and Lowkey and ended up getting stopped and searched by police.
We’ve done so many, most of which we have enjoyed at Hip Hop nights, but Indie nights were always best in the Boro.
Was it daunting at all going solo after Leddie and Smoggy? After the incredible success and critical acclaim?
I’m still performing with Smoggy, were working on a second album… BUT, we both had things we wanted to achieve as solo artists too. I worked with a producer called Alex Bailey so I didn’t exactly feel like I was completely on my own. I’m currently working with a lad from Burnley called Seek the Northerner and he has nursed many a breakdown in regards to success and acclaim.
As a female, you’re either celebrated because you’re a female that can rap, or you’re hated because you’re a female that can rap, in a male dominated culture. I think some men somehow feel like their masculinity is taken away by supporting a female MC, when in reality, it’s the opposite.
I’ve been writing new music, and sending it to Seek the Northerner whom has been critiquing it from an “outside the NE” point of view, and trying to make me more accessible.
How do you set about writing? Is it quick or slow process? What inspires you?
It depends. I usually start with a concept or the end bar of my verse and work backwards to work up to the build of the last punch.
I’m quite a slow writer, I used to be a lot slower as I over think and agonise so much over rhyme schemes and I’d delete it all and start again. Now it’s much more fluent because I don’t tend to overthink them anymore. I let it flow out and I write it down, then I edit bits to either become more complicated, or switch certain parts of bars around to work more fluently.
Travelling and actually living are what is inspiring me the most at the moment. In between working and making music, I love to just live, and put music to the back of my mind, just to refresh my brain… then when I go to write, I feel reenergised and ready to get back into it.
Circles has messages within it that many will be able to relate to. Do you like to explore subjects that are personal but can strike a chord with the listener?
Definitely. But then at the same time I feel like I need to write about things which may not appeal to so many people. Circles was inspired by a song by Joe Budden, named Castles. I wrote the verses whilst listening to that track. I felt so betrayed and so let down by old friends that I felt had given me the freedom to be myself and loved me for it, but were never actually there when I needed them.
Over the last few years I’ve cut ties with people I thought I never would and its all been part of my own journey. I was obese and miserable and I thought I was going to end up dead. When I started to better myself they were nowhere to be seen and it pretty much became a solo mission, and it became more about survival.
More and more of my music is becoming more emotional because I’m open to feeling certain things now. Before, it was something I cut out, and focused more on the likes of the government etc. But if I’m going to be entirely honest, writing about everything happening around the globe so much was mentally draining and it actually added to my depression.
I’m not saying I’m never writing about these things, but sometimes you need to take a step back and also care for your mental wellbeing.
What are your hopes for this new release?
At the moment, my hopes are just to spread my name around whilst working on new stuff. I feel like the L&S album was so strong that as solo MCs we need to both establish ourselves, and create our own sounds before revisiting the second L&S album.
Have you got any gigs lined up?
Not as of yet… We are interested in performing our new set though. Finally Middlesbrough was described in a recent report as the worst place in the country to be a girl? You have already achieved so much from being so young here in Mbro. Would you say it is possible for other girls to achieve their goals being brought up here in Mbro?
Absolutely. I don’t believe that we are limited because we are Female, we are limited due to the segregation from other parts of the country, and the divide between the North and the South. We have so many young people (not only females) that are perfecting a craft, but can’t get the push they need because there is no funding to help them. Regardless of this, they are working hard behind the scenes, as we have done for many years, and they are determined to achieve something. If you see a friend asking for you to support what they do, whether it is to vote on a poll for them to win a 10 minute show slot at their local night, to share their music video, a photo of their art piece they have been working on for months, their short films etc then please share, like, vote etc and help them to achieve their dreams. Once we support and help each other, the rest will fall in line. We have built the world, now we just have to go out and conquer it.
There are traditional seasonal good tidings from Middlesbrough’s new ‘Victorian Quarter.’ The stretch of shops on Linthorpe Road, between Clive Road and Ayresome Street opposite Albert Park, have united to unveil a communal seasonal display this week.
The owners of the businesses decided to come together to maximise the effect of any decorations and subsequently gained grants of £500 from Park ward Community Council.
A further £300 was donated by the businesses to purchase Christmas trees, lights, decorations and wreaths for each of the 17 doors.
Sophie Rowney from Concept was one of those who secured the grants along with Lisa McCabe from Daisy’s florists.
Sophie said: “We are all small independent shops and have a great community spirit among our businesses so it’s great to come together in this way for something that gives a little cheer to the public.”
Lisa added: “We want to say thank you to the Park ward Community Council for the grants – we will be able to make use of the lights, decorations and wreaths for years to come.”
Many of the businesses have produced their own Christmas window displays giving the stretch a seasonal glow.
They would also like for the area to be known as the Victorian Quarter in order to highlight its unique offering.
Park ward Community Council’s Chair Zafar Uddin said it was a pleasure to be supporting the initiative.
“Everybody was happy to support the idea,” said Mr Uddin. “We always want to see the area looking as nice as possible, especially at Christmas time.
“It’s good to give something back and that is what the Community Council and the businesses want to do.
“This is a great area that we all care about and we want to show to show that to visitors.”
I chatted with Sophie Rowney about her big idea to give this section of Linthorpe Road its own identity.
“It is the beginnings of something better. I imagine that throughout the rest of the year things will keep being added, different things for different seasons possibly. We will maybe do something in summer. Do something in autumn and carry this on and do something bigger and better next year for Christmas.
Q: So, all the shop keepers have come together here?
S: Yes. Some of them have been here for over 20 or 30 years and it just means our stretch is being put on the map. In the last week we have had 100 to 200 new people who didn’t know these independents existed. That is one of the key things. It allows people to go into the centre of town and pop in to see us on the way back. It’s really exciting.
Q: So this line of independent shops and restaurants now have a bit of identity between Clive Road and Kensington Road?
S: Yes definitely, we’re hoping that as we are just a group of 10 or 20 people who have come together to enhance what all of our shops have on offer, this will create a domino effect so that other businesses can do the same and hopefully it can follow on up and down Linthorpe, creating a road which is a pleasure to walk down from start to finish.
Moving from here towards the town there are lots of different cultures opening great businesses so it would be lovely if they came together and did something too. Also I think that Linthorpe village has some fantastic businesses that again could do something similar.
In terms of our section, we could become something really different because we have a fantastic museum, Restaurants, Cenotaph, Albert Park and green spaces, all a stones throw away. I love this area.”
This is somewhere that people can do a bit of a shop and it is a bit more of a relaxing experience rather than getting pushed and shoved in the big shops.
We have had people who say they have had a bit of a tear in their eye as they come past, because it has been such a unexpected breathtaking view. It might not be much but nothing like this has happened before.
Everyone has come together and it is simply wonderful.
So next time you are travelling along Linthorpe Road, pause to look at the Christmas trees and window displays and maybe take time to browse the independent shops and restaurants of Middlesbrough’s Victorian Quarter.
The recent Riverside Run was such a success. Whether running 5k or 2k the chance for mere mortals such as ourselves to finish a race with an Olympic style finish lapping the Riverside Stadium was a truly joyful experience. Next up is the Sabic Tees Pride 10k on Sunday 8th September when it seems half of Teesside and beyond turns out to run, jog, walk or crawl around south Middlesbrough. Yeah but how to stay race ready between these runs? Or how to get in some kind of shape to take on the Tees Pride 10k? Why not do what hundreds of other Teesside folk do and parkrun on a Saturday morning? A weekly free timed 5km run.
First things first the new runmiddlesbrough website www.runmiddlesbrough.com has lots of handy tips and loads of training runs that you can take part in. You can enter the Tees Pride 10k online on the website.
Why not also run a free timed 5km run every Saturday morning? It is in a park and away from traffic and you will be with lots of friends. This can make it a safer experience for you as well as benefiting from the support of others.
At 9am on a Saturday morning thousands of people of all ages, either gender and all levels of fitness are poised for a starting signal in parks up and down the country. Actually across in Europe and in Australia as well. What started as a fitness run for a bunch of friends in London has developed into an international weekly event. In Middlesbrough Albert parkrun has recently celebrated its fifth birthday. Just across the river, Tees Barrage was one year old last week and Stewart Park has a first birthday in another week’s time.
Parkruns are free to enter. Everyone and everything is completely voluntary. It is also a great community event and you will find you get loads of support from fellow runners all the way round the park circuit. Afterwards you can stagger into a cafe and put all the calories back on with a coffee and big cake. But the great thing is you make friends and everyone is in it together.
Parkrun is a totally fun, 5 km run, not race, around a park near you every Saturday at 9am. All you need to do is register on the site. www.parkrun.org.uk and you will be given a barcode. Print that barcode off take it with you to the park tomorrow morning and then enjoy your run. At the finish line you will be given a numbered tag and this will be scanned together with your barcode to give you a time. Simple as that but that time can be compared by age to anyone running in the country and can be a target to match or beat next week for yourself.
We can rightly be proud that in Teesside we have one of the highest concentrations of parkruns in the country, in fact Middlesbrough was the first town nationally to get two runs. Albert Park is the grandaddy of all our local parkruns, five years old and regularly attracting near 200 runners a week. They had 356 one week! But don’t worry the runners include slow joggers, stop, starters and even walkers. Everyone can lap the park at their own pace and in good company. Parking is at the Clairville Common end meet at the lakeside cafe where you can leave bags etc. www.parkrun.org.uk/albert
The newly refurbished Stewart Park is a lovely setting for a Saturday parkrun, with a few extra features in the dramatic new Captain Cook sculptures to look out for along the route between the lakes and wooded glades and over the map of the world. There were nearly 250 runners a couple of weeks ago as popularity grows and grows as the Marton run fast approaches its first birthday.
The start is outside Captain Cook Museum looking down on the park and we finish in the quadrangle by Henry’s Cafe (where you can leave bags and coats etc beforehand) and you’d be foolish to turn down the chance of a cuppa afterwards. If you grab bats for a free game of table tennis afterwards then you haven’t run fast enough I would have to say. Park in the main Ladgate Lane car park.
If you live outside of Middlesbrough there is a parkrun at Tees Barrage, or round Locke Park, Redcar and slightly further afield around the beautifully rejuvenated lake in Hardwick Park at Sedgfield and at South Park, Darlington. You will find free parking at each event and a welcoming cafe at the end of the route.
Go to the www.parkrun.org.uk site register, print off your barcode. Go to the Events page and look up the details of your nearest parkrun and I’ll maybe see you at the start line tomorrow morning. Remember the start in every park is at 9am sharp. Although put a loud-hailer to their mouths and a couple of these starters like to gas a bit so you might get lucky if you are late, and you might be waiting for starters orders a couple of minutes after nine. That is what I always rely on in any case. I’ll see you tomorrow at Stewart Park, unless I am too late then I’ll see you at Albert Park.