When the lovely Amy from Ten Penny Dreams got in touch asking if she could share her North East Story I was thrilled. Amy's blog is beautiful and an absolute dream to read. Sharing her love of writing, reading and travelling it's easy to get lost for hours exploring! Amy lives in Middlesbrough, an area of the North East I'm really not familiar with but her passion for her home town has made me want to jump on a train immediately!
1. What is your North East story?
I was born and raised in Middlesbrough and have always been proud to be a ‘Smoggie’.
Our town doesn’t have the best reputation in the national media, who only ever photograph the
industrial landscape and rundown areas. They don’t bother with the beautiful parks and the
landmarks or the public art. We have some fantastic places to visit in Middlesbrough, like mima, our
contemporary art gallery, or The Dorman Museum.
I studied at both Teesside and Newcastle Universities, and as a writer, try to get involved in some of
the cultural aspects of the area. We have one of the best writing agencies in the country in New
Writing North, and Teesside has a huge growing digital industry that’s full of local start-ups.
I write about the area regularly on my blog, as there so many things worth sharing.
2. Why do you love living in the North East?
I wrote a more in-depth post about this a few months ago, but the North East is a fantastic place to
live because it’s so varied and the people are so friendly and proud of the area. We have cities like
Newcastle and Durham that provide nightlife, shopping and culture, as well as stunning countryside
on our doorstep.
It’s also quite an unknown place, which those from outside the area wouldn’t necessarily think to
visit. That makes it all the more special to the people who live here, because we’re in on the secret!
3. Where’s your favourite place in the North East to relax?
Heading out into the countryside is always really relaxing, but I also love wandering around with
camera, taking photos and trying to explore a place with fresh eyes. There are some really fun and
quirky places to do that locally, like Teesaurus Park in Middlesbrough, which is full of dinosaur
If you’re more into pampering, there are some gorgeous country house hotels with spas in the area.
My favourite is Rockliffe Hall, just outside Darlington.
4. Recommend some yummy food places
Danni, beat me to this one with her North East Story, but my favourite place to eat out is The
Bay Horse in the village of Great Broughton, which is just outside Middlesbrough. They do the most
amazing lasagne: proper, chunky meat, tons of cheese, with hand cut chips. They also do a great
version of Middlesbrough’s very own dish, the parmo. If you’ve never had one, it’s chicken breast,
smothered in breadcrumbs, Bechamel sauce and cheese. Heaven!
I also love Lord Stones Café and The Blackwell Ox, which are both in Carlton-in-Cleveland. The
Blackwell Ox has a really tasty Thai menu and Lord Stones serves a great range of cakes and
sandwiches, plus it has a lovely farm shop. It’s actually a walker’s café, built into the hillside just
along the Cleveland Way, and has camping pods in the grounds.
There are also some great restaurants in Middlesbrough itself and in the nearby market town of
Yarm. We eat often at Starters and The Purple Pig.
5. Describe your perfect day in the North East
It would probably start with a long lie-in, before heading over to Carlton for a walk along the
Cleveland Way, stopping at Lord Stones for a drink and a snack.
Then we might head across to Redcar to wander along the beach at South Gare. It’s not the ‘nicest’
beach, but I love how rugged and industrial the landscape is. It’s a great place to take photographs
and I always feel inspired after I’ve been there. It’s also the same stretch of beach where the Dunkirk
scene in Atonement was filmed.
In the afternoon, we would call in at Teesside Park to explore the shops or catch a film at the
cinema. Then it would be across to Yarm for a meal and cocktails at The Purple Pig, before heading
into Middlesbrough for a drink at Mink Bar or to an event at mima, who sometimes run fantastic live
music evenings or garden parties to tie in with the launch of a new exhibition.
Make sure you check out Ten Penny Dreams! All of the slots for My North East Story have now been taken ... it may well return next year so watch this space!