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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#ETW17: Family-friendly Middlesbrough

The hardest thing of all when we started writing about family-friendly Middlesbrough was narrowing it down to a manageable list, so to help us out we asked a selection of Love Middlesbrough buddies to share their top picks and reasons why they are so family friendly. We’ve kindly included some direct quotes which you’ll see scattered throughout in italics, because we all know that there’s nothing better than word of mouth, from people in the know.

Middlesbrough Sports Village and Playworld
A popular choice, our family-friendly fans couldn’t recommend this highly enough! The soft play area has four floors and includes rope bridges, tunnels and so much more; there’s also a ‘toddle zone’ area suitable for little ones who are not yet brave enough to climb!funvillage-2_1

The soft play area is great, particularly for toddlers. They have a host of bikes available too which means all the family can get involved as they even have the bike trailer things for tiny kids.

It’s reasonably priced, well looked after, has lots to do and very clean. We often take all the kids there when we have visitors from London because they all really like it too. 

Playworld is open from 9.30am – 6pm, Monday to Sunday. Entry price is £5, for children up to 12 months old entry is £1. There are also term-time offers and children’s party facilities! There’s heaps of parking and easy access to all areas. Find out more at Middlesbrough Sports Village.

Stewart Park
Ooof – it’s really hard to choose just one thing to talk about for Stewart Park as there are so many brilliant things you can do! Take a stroll, feed the ducks, count the totem poles, visit the Farmers’ Market (the last Sunday of every month) and eat loads of tasty local food, swing and bounce in the playground, enjoy some cake in the cafe…the list well and truly could go on. It’s a fantastic park that has something for all ages, and best of all, it’s mostly free!

stewart-park-family-fun-2012-3…great for all ages, the park is great and it also has a swing suitable for children who use a wheelchair. The café is great, very friendly and really reasonably priced.

A brilliant all-rounder, it’s an ideal place to meet up with friends – they bring their kids, I bring my dog, we go for a stroll taking in all the delights of the playground and work up an appetite before we head to the cafe for a proper catch-up over some cake! 

…loads of space for picnics and games on the open grass, hide and seek in the woods and a play area suitable for a wide range of children. It’s pushchair and wheelchair accessible too. 

There’s loads of free parking available, including buggy-friendly and disabled spaces. Find out more about Stewart Park, including the opening times, but the best way is just to go and see it for yourself. It will only take one visit to convince you…

Teesaurus Park
Did you know we have dinosaurs in Middlesbrough? Well, we do, and we LOVE them! It’s one of those places that either you know about and go all the time, or you’ve never heard of it before and are amazed when you find out it exists.teesaurus-park Our top pick recommendation came from the former and they are frequent visitors.

Teesaurus Park is the best – we start getting excited as soon as we pull in to the car park (and that’s just the adults!) 

You can find the dinosaurs on Riverside Park Road, and there’s plenty of free parking available. In the spirit of total honesty, there’s not a lot else around there so we would recommend toilet visits before you head out, and take your own drinks and snacks if you want refreshments!

Dorman Museum/Dressers Tea Room
It’s free entry to the beautiful Dorman Museum (some temporary exhibitions charge a small fee) and there’s loads of stuff to do from family-friendly trails to heading straight upstairs to play with the amazing fish floor! There’s plenty of space for diving around and hiding in tunnels and just generally having an absolutely brilliant time! At the end of your visit you can pop in to Dressers Tea Room for an afternoon treat for all the family.

There’s loads of kid-friendly options [in Dressers Tea Room] even for the fussy ones…  

For some extra family friendly fun, there’s also the fabulous Little Lion sessions that run on Thursdays from 1pm – 2.30pm. The sessions are £1.50 per child and include a drink and a biscuit.

The Dorman Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pm (last entry is at 4pm). Find out more and read some Trip Advisor reviews at the same time via the Museum website. While you’re so close, you should definitely include some time to call in to Albert Park which is right next door!

Cineworld Movies for Juniors
What do you do if it’s pouring down with rain and it’s the weekend and you’re desperate to take the kids somewhere? Cineworld in Middlesbrough have the answer: Movies for Juniors! From just £2 (£3.50 for 3D movies!) there’s animated and live-action films to choose from, available on Saturday mornings at 10am (times subject to change). Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult. You can also book in advance to avoid any queues.

Creams Cafe: ice-cream, crepes and more!
Creams was added as a last-minute top tip after a recent visit this past weekend. With a massive menu choice and a cool, kid-friendly interior, it’s a brilliant place for a weekend treat (for teens and adults too!). There’s ice-cream, crepes, waffles and loads of other tasty treats that will make you go all heart eyes emoji and wonder if you need one waffle or two…highly recommended! Visit the website for opening times and more info. There’s also an online menu…just saying…

As with all of our English Tourism Week posts we can only share small snippets or we’d be here all day and you would be too! You’re bound to have a list of all your own favourite places – feel free to share them in the comments below and let other families know about your special places. Sharing is caring 😃

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
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#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
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Stewart’s Swift Tees Defibrillator Appeal

Stewart Park should soon have a defibrillator for the use of all park users courtesy of fund raising from Swift-tees community runners. An appeal launched at the start of December has achieved over two thirds of the target £1600 in just a couple of weeks thanks to the amazing generosity of park runners and the swift tees community.

The appeal will continue until the target is achieved and then a defibrillator will be permanently installed in the park. It will be a safety valve for the multitude of people using the park, its cafe, visitor centre and museum and the weekly Saturday park run. Add to that all the events from farmer’s markets to walks, talks and occasional open air performances and there are vast numbers of people who could potentially have need for the life saving service of a defibrillator. Hopefully it is never used but it is great that the park will soon be a safer places for all ages.

parkrun 1The Saturday morning parkrun has become a big part of peoples lives now. Up and down the country, nationally and now internationally too, a 9am on a Saturday morning throngs of people of all ages and abilities set off on a 5km run around the local park. It is a run not a race so therefore open to anyone at all to get involved and with plenty of valued volunteering tasks as well, quite essential for the gatherings to go ahead every week. Middlesbrough has two weekly events lapping Albert and Stewart Parks. They are great social meetings, engendering a real community spirit as well as being very advantageous to health. With the defibrillator appeal this is in effect, the runners putting giving something back in for all Stewart Park users.

Swift-tees community running club is based at Hemlington, the group lap the lake on a Wednesday evening, running, jogging, walking all are free to join. When I say free, if you pay 50p then you can grab a cuppa often accompanied by home made cake in the all important social held at the end of sessions in the Habinteg Centre.

Swift-tees draw a lot of their inspiration from husband and wife team Craig and Rosanne Lightfoot. The couple were recent finalists in the Gazette Community Champions awards. Craig is a very popular and patient coach, Rosanne a fundraiser and an ideas person. They are the kind of people that really make things happen, as the hundreds that take part in the weekly community activities will gladly tell you.

Swift-tees run other daytime sessions, some for beginners, intermediates and those fast people, they have maybe a dozen qualified coaches. Club chair, Mike McCann organises a weekly History run on a Thursday morning. Again there is always the carrot of the cafe at the end of an enlightening and educational run through historic Middlesbrough.

Anyway, back to the defibrillator appeal and a couple of Saturday’s ago Swift-tees instigated a Stewart Parkrun takeover where members filled all the volunteer roles from timer to pacers and then afterwards raised nearly £500 to start the appeal in the style.

Last Saturday night at the Swift-tees Christmas party a further £635 was raised including a whopping £231 from a raffled Middlesbrough FC shirt kindly donated by keen parkrunner and Boro Scouting guru Gary Gill. That makes a “running total” (see what I did there?) of £1234. So, almost in the home straight, just the last bend to go now.

swift tees group

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On the Trail of Young James Cook

Discover Middlesbrough kicked off last Friday with a walkabout and tucker in James Cook’s birthplace, Marton. What made this event that bit more special was the presence amongst the walkers of a couple visiting from Melbourne, Australia.

marton-philSenior Museums Curator Phil Philo and Education Officer Jenny Phillips let the antipodean visitors down gently by explaining that the Melbourne Captain Cook Cottage had actually been the Great Ayton home of James Cook senior. We were on the trail of the birthplace and early haunts of his son, the navigator and explorer who would go on to chart the eastern seaboard of Australia and put it on our global maps.

This Marton walkabout took in two Marton’s, for we first explored the lost village of East Marton and looked for clues to the equally lost birthplace of James Cook, which took place some 278 years ago on Thursday. Or at least it is the birthday by the Gregorian calendar; for the calendar changed at a cost of 13 days during Cook’s lifetime. A fact that Phil and Jenny brought to our attention.

marton-birthplace-urnDuring this fascinating walk we discovered former roads, house sites and features that would have been familiar to James Cook junior. Many of them were very close to the Birthplace Museum and inside Stewart Park. Immediately outside the park there are still many houses in the old village that date to Cook’s century. Jenny read to us a list of the trades carried out by living near to the village green.

marton-greenOn Marton Green we stopped to look at another tangible link to Australia. A piece of Australia in fact, gifted to Cook’s birthplace village. Then it was over to St Cuthbert’s Church and a fascinating tour by incumbent, Reverend Andrew Grant of this historic building. This is a building that James Cook would have known very well indeed and there are some notable features recording the association with Marton’s most famous son.

marton-churchAfter all that walking and talking we were ready for the tucker in Nana Tom’s, the museum café. I always think it is like a tree house café as you look out between the trunks and branches of trees that might have been planted by Bartholomew Rudd or Henry Bolckow, two owners of the estate with perhaps contrasting views on James Cook’s cottage.

On this fascinating walk you will learn exactly why the birthplace cottage has disappeared. How Marton lost its iconic painting of James Cook. And where parkrunners can look out for the main street of East Marton as they scuttle past on a Saturday morning.

It is a real privilege to be guided by two absolute founts of knowledge regarding the life and times of James Cook. As a Marton boy myself I find it enthralling to glean more insights about the village before it was swallowed hole as a suburb of Middlesbrough.

Don’t worry if you missed the walk because the very good news is that the fascinating tour will be repeated this Friday (28th October) at 2pm. Only costing £5 and you get your tucker, tea and cake included in the price. Don’t miss this gentle stroll, very short on distance but extremely high on historical interest.

Places can be booked at the Museum shop 01642 311211

marton-walkabout

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