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…


Searching For New Authors

Middlesbrough has a bit of a literary tradition from Ernest Hornung author of gentleman thief Raffles to Mel Small and (Sherlock) Holmes as a Boro lad. You could be the next in line on the ever growing Tees library shelf thanks to a brand new initiative being launched by Writers’ Block North East.

The Middlesbrough based creative hub that is Writers’ Block has forged a partnership with literary agents from ‘Watson, Little’ and ‘Hardman and Swainson’, is searching for new and emerging writers in the North East.

Sixteen writers will be selected to take part in Block 1: a nine-month writer development programme consisting of workshops, one-to-one mentoring and advice from industry professionals, culminating in a networking and showcasing event which will be attended by literary agents and other industry gatekeepers.

“We’re looking for anybody who wants to produce a brand new long-form narrative prose work, and wants the opportunity to present that work to a selection of agents in 2017-18,” said Laura Degnan, Writers’ Block director and mentor. “We want to support aspiring writers from the grassroots up.”

When Block 1 is complete Writers’ Block and the literary agents will then work together to select the eight writers whose projects are closest to completion to become part of Block 2: an additional, accelerated, 3-month completion programme, after which the eight participants will re-submit their work to the agents for final feedback.

All workshops will take place at The Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) in Middlesbrough town centre and mima will be a key partner in the programme delivery, offering professional support and further development opportunities to writers. Participating writers will become mima writers in residence, producing written creative responses to their collection and working with the wider mima team to explore and expand their practice as writers.

Writers’ Block will provide ongoing one-to-one mentoring and a series of four intensive story development days for the chosen writers, as they develop an idea from scratch into a completed manuscript, including workshops delivered in partnership with Northern Film and Media and New Writing North.

The aim will be for the 16 writers to have produced a draft long-form manuscript at the end of Block 1, which they will then be able to pitch to agents.

Block 2 will include two further development days and mentoring from Writers’ Block and a literary agent.

“We’ve had a good record with introducing regional talent to national agents,” said James Harris, WB mentor and workshop leader. “People like Cathryn Summerhayes (William Morris) and Camilla Wray (Darley Anderson) have been very impressed with the standard of writers at our events, and all have said they’re keen to come back. Following our 2016 Meet the Agent event, two writers are represented by agents and a further three writers are in ongoing talks regarding representation.”

“If you’re a writer, or you think you’d like to be one, we’d love to hear from you,” said Degnan.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 17th March 2017. For further information please contact Laura Degnan on or visit


A Weekend in Middlesbrough at Christmas

Geoff Vickers visited Middlesbrough just before Christmas and sent us this blog about the happy experience. Formerly Secretary of Middlesbrough Supporters South and working in financial services in the City, Geoff is a Boro season ticket holder travelling up for matches from the Home Counties. In December he decided to make a weekend of the trip to see Boro v Swansea with his partner Liz in December.

It is a rare chance to spend some time back in Middlesbrough. I have spent most of my Boro supporting life travelling from my home just North of London – almost always driving or taking the train up and back in one day.

orange pip aug 1A month or so ago I read an intriguing blog from a group of Bournemouth supporters who had spent an overnight stay on Teesside back in October before and after our game with them and indeed their glowing report on the town centre especially around Baker and Bedford Streets in the town centre.  I also read that Baker Street had been named as a “Rising Star” in The Great British High Street competition.

So it was the Swansea game just before Xmas that provided us with the perfect opportunity to spend a couple of days sampling for ourselves what the Cherries’ supporters had so enjoyed and have a night on the town in Middlesbrough. It turned out to be a very good weekend.

We booked into a town centre hotel – the Express at Holiday Inn opposite the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), which, as it turned out, was perfectly located for a weekend stay. The room overlooked a fine seasonal display of lights sparkling from the trees in front of MIMA. Perfect to place us in the Christmas mood.

We had lunch on the Friday at another establishment that has been enjoying media accolades. Chadwicks Inn in Maltby owned by Gary Gill, his wife Helen, manager Lee Tolley and head chef Jon Appleby. A super relaxing way to kick off the weekend and shake off the 220 mile drive North.

I am told properties in Baker and Bedford Street were taken over by the Local Authority over the last two years and have undertaken a funding programme of regeneration and refurbishment. The area has been completely rejuvenated and what a job they have done. Baker Street was first to receive its make-over in 2014 and neighbouring Bedford Street followed over the following months.

Rob (Nichols) offered to host us on the Friday night and an initial walk down the two streets was a real eye opener. There is a continental European feel about the area with an array of independent shops, bars and restaurants with every establishment  seemingly full with season revellers.  We met in Sherlocks on Baker Street,  a small intimate bar with couches and a small corner bar with an array of beers I hadn’t really seen in a pub in Middlesbrough outside of the Wetherspoons in town.  There was a good buzzing atmosphere coupled with some new beers locally brewed.  Immediately along the road is The Twisted Lip and across the road The Slaters Pick –more fantastic editions to the small beer pub scene. To give the street a Bohemian feel both sides are full of independent shops that are so crucial in retaining character to the locality, including  a vintage clothes shop,  a deli and a furniture retailer amongst them.

And so to the next street along and Bedford Street which has become a go to place to both eat and drink with an array of recommended eateries and the Chairman pub the latest beer pub introduction. And the town centre rejuvenation doesn’t stop at those two streets.  Dimi Konstantopoulos has just opened his modern greek eaterie “Great” on Linthorpe Road and Al Forno  and Oven around the corner are, amongst many other strong offerings. According to TripAdvisor Middlesbrough has 80 places to eat with 4 or more review stars.

Match day morning we enjoyed a really good breakfast over at MIMAs new bistro the Smeltery and sister restaurant to the Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe.  The weekend was rounded off by a fine 3-0 win against the Swans.

I wanted to recount our experience, as Middlesbrough is no doubt becoming a serious weekend break destination that will only serve the town and local economy well. It is fantastic to see. I will come again before the season’s end and hope to try new places  Final mention of the hotel which is a fine ambassador for the town. The friendly welcome on reception and the hotel comfort was just top class. And as somebody who works in London fantastic value for money.

The Love Middlesbrough campaign is definitely working for me.

Blog originally printed in Fly Me To The Moon fanzine Issue 572 Boro v Leicester City 2/1/2017

Geoff Vickers


Sunday at the Smeltery

There is a cool and arty place to eat your Sunday lunch in town now but most importantly of all the food is just the Sunday best.

smeltery-actionThe Smeltery is the name for the former mima café that has been given a major makeover as well as takeover from the nice people of the Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe.

From the outside the red neon glow of the Smeltery letters beckon you across the wide open spaces of Centre Square to the snug and cosy art gallery restaurant, where the furniture and furnishings have been designed in community workshops making thismeltery-soups truly a community café.

Unlike the Waiting Room the menu is not exclusively vegetarian so as well as the sumptuous sounding green options I could also tuck into a Sunday roast when I managed to get myself on the list of the first Sunday serving last weekend. The meat is organic and free range. Like the fish it is carefully sourced. My lamb was farmed in Upper Teesdale.

The service was very good. I was greeted at the entrance and was well looked after throughout as was everyone. The staff were friendly, courteous and very helpful.

The menu options all looked so good. I was facing away from most of the diners so wasn’t swayed by the sight and indeed smells of anyone else’s orders. I started with a beautiful roast squash, tomato and thyme soup with some tasty wholemeal bread. “Lashings” of Fentimans Lemonade was the perfect accompaniment.

smeltery1Next time I must try North Sea Fish pancake with thermidor sauce. It was a hard choice. The soup would set you back £4.50.

Then it was the lamb, pink, tender and so succulent. A crisp Yorkshire pud, potatoes and the vegetables. Well, there were plenty and they were cooked so the tastes oozed out into the thick gravy. No hint of over cooking. I think it was around £12 or so that was the kind of mark for main meals.

You can watch the hive of activity in front of you in the kitchen if you park yourself in that direction. Or else look out of the window over towards the town hall and dancing fountains.

What else could I have sampled? Top of the main meals list was Waiting Room field mushroom and smoked cheddar cashew plait with red wine sauce and horse radish creamed turnip. The boss Luke was particularly proud of his home made horse radish I was told.

smeltery-kitchen-againAfter allowing myself the luxury of a few minutes recuperation time I was prepared to tackle a pudding. Apple, plum and ginger poached pears crumble. Wow what isn’t to like about that? Especially, when I selected the ice cream. Wait for this. Honey and heather! Now, come on, how good can it get?

smeltery-kitchenThey are opening now for dinners on Thursdays as well as being open all daytimes, except Monday when mima is closed.

smeltery-lukeDon’t forget you are inside mima here so as a final treat why not walk off any feeling of excess by taking to the galleries of art. The current exhibitions include works by an artist collected by the late great David Bowie, namely, Winifred Nicholson. Liberation of Colour is an exhibition, of the great British colourist, that explores work from throughout Winifred’s long and distinguished artistic career.

So, there you are Sunday dinners and art. Oh and exercise for the body and mind. In Middlesbrough. There is a car park outside, free for 2 hours. But best of all as I said earlier the food is exceptional. Get out and explore this Sunday.

Ring 01642 245679 and look out for a Smeltery facebook page with menu that might just pop up this weekend.





Nightfall Over Middlesbrough

Discover Middlesbrough kicked off on Friday as Middlesbrough people came out to embrace the dark nights and star gaze. Even if the clouds weren’t quite playing ball with the telescopes trained from the roof of mima from Sunderland Astonomical Society there was plenty of magic and wonderment to be had from wandering amongst the starry imagery and sound sprinkled across Centre Square below.

Nightfall was curated by Stellar Projects working with local artists to create a visual and audio journey through the heavens on earth.

It almost goes without saying that the experience was lapped up by local children. So much family fun to be had by investigating and even creating your own starry starry night.

nightfall-starsTwilight tours offered the opportunity to pour over Teesside’s archives and building plans and blueprints by candlelight. Or be guided around the elegance of The Empire by an Edwardian ghost keen to recreate tales of the heyday of the theatre. Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Houdini all appeared on the stage that continues to be a vibrant, beating heart for young Middlesbrough. Historian and part time time traveller Martin Peagam was our twinkle eyed twilight guide.

nightfall-telecopesPerhaps the most sensational view of all was for those lucky enough to have booked tickets for the Transporter Bridge lift. Sponsored by SABIC it was a free elevator into the night sky. A chance to view the twinkling lights of industry, townscapes, ships on the river and cars motoring by. A wonderful experience. There are few places that offer such a unique panorama. Just ask the two Watford football fans that had travelled up for the Boro match on Sunday and filled their Friday evening by heading up the Transporter.

Time to shout about our town and invite all to Discover Middlesbrough.

Discover Middlesbrough events run for the next two weeks until the end of the month there are walks, talks, open days, musical and poetry events. In short all sorts of opportunities you might well not have known existed here in your town.

nightfall-tranny-biggerFor more information on all the events please take a look at our facebook page

Don’t worry if you are not on facebook then all the events can be found online below