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.

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.

#ETW17: Middlesbrough’s museums and culture

Dorman Museum

Middlesbrough’s first museum, the Dorman Museum, tells the fascinating history of our wonderful town.Dorman Museum in the spring
As well as local history, the museum has the world’s largest public collection of Linthorpe Art Pottery (world-renowned in the Victorian era and produced just a mile away from where the museum now stands), and an internationally-significant collection of items designed by the surprisingly forward-thinking Victorian industrial designer, Dr. Christopher Dresser, who was for a time the Art Superintendent at the Linthorpe Pottery. (Sorry, geeking out a little over the Dresser collection here!)

Plus, Dressers Tea Room at the museum is adorably cute and very traditional, and does amazing cake (I should know, I’ve eaten a lot of it!)

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

Middlesbrough’s second museum is dedicated to one of the world’s greatest navigators, Captain James Cook.Pacific Predators at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

Cook was born in a cottage which once stood close to where the museum stands today – a granite urn, placed there by legendary Middlesbrough industrialist Henry Bolckow, marks the spot.

After a £500,000 government grant, the museum, which is in the heart of the beautiful Stewart Park, is being transformed, with refurbishments to the first floor and the creation of a new temporary gallery space – which means even more Cook for your buck (sorry)! After the epic Pacific Predators exhibition last year, we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings at the Cook!

Middlesbrough Town Hall

If you’ve been checking our Instagram, you’ll have seen that we recently got a sneaky behind the scenes tour of the multi-million pound renovations currently taking place at the Town Hall. Middlesbrough Town Hall sneak peekBeing a bit (okay, a lot) of a history geek, I’m super excited that they’ll be restoring some of the most historic areas of the building, like the old courtroom and police cells.
But it’s not just the heritage which will benefit; the main concert hall is also being completely refurbished, and work is taking place which will help visitors to have an even better experience when they go to massive concerts and gigs with comedy legends. (We’re talking about boring but essential things like toilets, and exciting and very essential things like the bar!) As Sarah Millican would say, champion!

Middlesbrough Theatre

Middlesbrough Theatre was opened by Sir John Gielgud in 1957 – so happy 60th birthday for this year! – and was one of the first theatres built in England after the Second World War. The theatre plays host to a packed programme of productions, from unique shows by local playwrights to crowd-pleasers like The Ladyboys of Bangkok – not bad for a theatre was originally named the ‘Little Theatre’. With over 450 seats, it’s not really that little!

Galleries

You’d be forgiven for wondering where all of Middlesbrough’s galleries are, because we have some little gems which are hidden away off the beaten track.Neon and That by Stuart Langley
The House of Blah Blah lives in what was Victorian Middlesbrough’s post office, neatly tucked away in Exchange Square right by Teesside Archives. Hosting everything from exhibitions of neon artworks to Christmas markets to warehouse parties, it’s definitely one of the town’s most unique spaces.
In contrast, the more traditional gallery spaces, Python Gallery and the Heritage Gallery at Cargo Fleet, exhibit paintings, photography, and other works from local artists. mima brings things up to the minute with modern art, discussing themes including housing, migration, inequality, and regeneration through their exhibitions.

Transporter Bridge

A blog about Middlesbrough wouldn’t be a blog about Middlesbrough without a mention of the Transporter Bridge.Transporter Bridge on a sunny day

Our beautiful blue dragonfly isn’t just a handy way to cross between Middlesbrough and Stockton, it’s also one of the country’s premier extreme sports venues (abseiling or bungee jumping, anyone?) and an attraction in its own right.  Standing over 150ft above the River Tees, the views from the top are pretty magnificent, and the new glass lift is the perfect way to get up there and see them. You can book a glass lift tour online.

Middlesbrough skyline from the Transporter Bridge

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
x

#ETW17: Parks and outdoor spaces

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.

Albert Park
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!

Stewart Park
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
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…

transporter_park7

Fairy Dell 
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 20170324_103101-effects 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!

linthorpe_cemetery19

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.

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
x

#ETW17: Orange Pip Market

Last weekend (Saturday March 25) was my first experience of the outdoor market, on Baker and Bedford Street, Orange Pip Market.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this, Orange Pip Market happens once a month (should the weather allow) and it is a foodie’s heaven. There are plenty of food stalls selling food from across the globe, such as Italian pizza, German bratwurst and traditional Armenian flatbread, as well as the good British food such as Scotch Eggs and a carvery. Not only is there food, but there’s arts and music too, doesn’t that sound good?

I’ll take you through what I ate, which was a lot.

I started off with a vegan samosa, which was really good!

Then I went on to try some hot sauce. I chickened out of the super-hot sauce and went for the mild version which was just delicious and the vendor was a really funny guy who didn’t mind the fact that I was a wimp – or me taking a photo of him so I could get his t-shirts in the background.

My next stop was hot chocolate (with a little chat). Sprinkles did and amazing hot chocolate which was super smooth and just the right sweetness, they had homemade marshmallows with a few different flavours; I had to leave out the marshmallows (which they toasted with a blow-torch – talk about hardcore) but they did mention that they were looking into vegetarian options.

I had a little wander around the market, picking my next destination when I came across an authentic crepe stall, the guy who owned it was French, and spoke French to his customers in greeting etc. For a moment I felt like I was in France with this guy, he was very polite and allowed me to video him making the crepe, which was delicious.

I sat down to eat my crepe and started talking to two men who were very polite and gave me their thoughts on the market. They both loved the idea and were enjoying themselves a lot. I took a moment to enjoy the sun, because it couldn’t be Orange Pip Market without the sun, and went on my way.

The Clucking Pig Company sold me a vegetarian scotch egg which was so good, if a bit messy. I had a nice chat (as always) with the vendor and discussed social media. They are very active online and I was more than happy to tag them in a post. They’re from Redcar but have been down to London and even in the Houses of Parliament to sell their eggs. The sold goose and free range eggs too, which made me very happy.

I found a nice cheese stall – and I love cheese – where I tried quite a few different flavours of cheese (I went back at the end of my day to buy – didn’t want it melting in my bag) and talked to the vendor about cooking with these cheeses; top tip for lazy cooks: having the seasoning already in the cheese makes for a super easy sauce.

Cheese stall

I of course bought myself an Orange Pip mug for the office – I needed a new one and it seemed appropriate.

Orange Pip mug

I was informed weeks in advance that I could not go to this market without getting my face decorated, so that was what I did. I spoke to some lovely girls who decorated my face in gold leaf (not actual gold) and glitter. It looked amazing and stayed on until the evening, I’m still wondering what they used as a glue.

Emma face paint

I bought myself a brownie from Crumble and Slice, the owner’s mother told me they had brought 17 trays and had sold nearly all of them by the time I had got there.

Now, you can’t go to Bedford Street without going to Songbird Bakery, and that’s exactly what I did. Those talented girls had Easter cupcakes out and waiting for us and I loved it. I tried a mini eggs cupcake and holy guacamole was it good, those girls must have magic of some sort.

Songbird Bakery

One of my last stops was for pizza. I shared a stone-baked pizza with my sister (who turned up later on in the day) and boy was it good. The sauce was perfect and the cheese was amazing – did I mention that I love cheese- and quite frankly I haven’t had a better pizza yet. It was quick service and they were making them right there in front of us.

The music was utterly brilliant, I manged to hear two performers and they differed greatly in musical styles but both were talented and it was obvious that there was meant to be something for everyone.

I have to say, Orange Pip Market was a brilliant experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The security at the end of the streets were on the ball, not allowing anyone to take alcohol out of the street and also making sure everyone were safe, all the vendors were lovely people who were great to talk to and didn’t mind having photos taken all over the place, and it was a gorgeous day. It would have been a perfect day out for the family and I’m surprised at how little I actually ate, considering I was in two streets full of food.

Everyone I talked to really enjoyed the market and that spans a range of people. It was obvious from the wide range of vendors and performers that there was meant to be something for everyone to enjoy and the entire event looked very well organised. Kudos to the people who organised it and well done to all of the vendors for remaining happy and upbeat all day, even though it was probably very hot in a lot of those tents and very tiring.