When you think of Teesside do you think of exotic bird watching, rowing, mountain biking, surfing and sailing. I’m guessing you don’t, yet if you dig a little deeper into what is happening in our area, you will see it is brimming with these types of activities.
For the last 6 or 7 years, I have taken myself off regularly to Saltburn, clothed myself from head to toe in 5mm neoprene and paddled out into the North Sea on my surf board. I am a surfer and I absolutely love it, I love the thrill of catching a wave, the tranquillity and beauty of being out at sea and mostly I love all the amazing people I have met. Being a surfer has opened my eyes to the richness of the outdoors and particularly the outdoors scene in Teesside. I grew up as a town girl, I never really considered that the outdoors were for me. How times have changed? Through surfing I discovered a very different Teesside and in my quest to shine a light on the area, this week I’d like to share my top 5 outdoor activities
5) Rowing on the River Tees: I was really excited to hear about Rivershack, a new company providing activities on the Tees: They’re based down at Preston Park and have beautiful hand-built rowing boats for hire every day between 10.30 & 4. That stretch of river is so beautiful, teaming with flowers, plants and wildlife, I cant think of a more relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
4) Wildlife spotting at Tees Estuary & RPBS Salthome: I was amazed to find out that our region hosts some of the most beautiful examples of rare birds. The birds and habitats found in this area are internationally, nationally and locally important. Go and explore & try and spot yourself anything from seals, Terns, Kestrels, Peregrine and even Yellow Wagtales.
3) Mountain biking at Guisborough Forrest: Situated on the edge of the North York Moors the area offers miles of scenic moorland routes, excellent forest trails and terrain to suit all types of mountain biking. With a range of graded routes catering for children and families as well as experienced mountain bike enthusiasts it is a perfect weekend activity
2) Surfing at Saltburn: Surfing is Britain’s fastest growing sport and even the North Sea doesn’t put us Teessider’s off it. Saltburn now has 2 surf schools and one surf shop to accommodate, offering all the equipment, advice & instruction anyone would need. It’s my number two activity and a highly recommend it to anyone.
1) Sailing at Tees Barrage, Stockton: There are so many activities here from white water rafting, bell boating, sailing or kayaking, you are never short of new experiences. From those water babies of us to the water shy, there is something for everything, making our international white water centre my winner and the jewel in Teesside’s outdoor crown
So there you go, 5 great outdoor things to do now what are you waiting for? Go and explore!
Much Ado About Muffins – Hambletonian Yard Stockton
A friend said to me not too long ago that the future of our high streets is the independent shops sector. I wasn’t sure, surely you need some of the big chains to get people visiting the high street. Many people think that securing a Primark would be the answer to all of Stockton’s prayers for instance. But I’ve been on a journey recently and I am beginning to wonder whether my friend was right.
You see I have begun to discover the strength of Teesside’s independent retailers and I am astounded at what I am finding. A few years ago there was a street called Baker street in Middlesbrough, it was fairly run down and many shops and buildings were empty. The wonderfully innovative Middlesbrough council decided to earmark it as a new “cool quarter” and offered incentives for new independent retailers to move in. 3 years later, Baker Street is buzzing and most definitely, the coolest place in town. With it’s vintage shops like Vintagious rags, cool foodie spots like Chilli Cake Deli and the mouth wateringly good Baker Street Café; this quarter has something for everyone and has completely regenerated that part of the Boro. Other councils have run similar schemes. Stockton council introduced its Enterprise Arcade, taking over a large high street shop and giving new retailers the opportunity to try out a business idea. Many of the business were so successful, they then relocated to their own premises, filling Stockton’s streets again with retail life. I have also just re-discovered the old yards of Stockton and they are honestly like finding a diamond in the dirt. These historic streets such as Hambletonian yard and The Ship Inn Yard are bursting with historic character and are filling up with micro-pubs, gift shops and vintage shops, making them a new favorite destination for many.
As well as aiding regeneration, there’s another reason why I am choosing to shop at independents. They are an alternative to big business. I don’t love big corporates. There are too many stories of tax avoidance, zero hour contracts, unethical supply chains and huge corporate payouts for me to feel a strong bond with our big chains. They are in my opinion too focused on profits. Many of us are concerned about non-British nationals taking employment in the retail sector too because of the low paid jobs and easy access. Eventually though, if the retail market keep asset stripping, it could soon turn to fully self operated tills, computerized shelf stackers and holographic sales people, meaning there wont be many jobs left for anyone, regardless of where we were born. It is therefore imperative that we have local businesses, businesses that will always employ local people, always have a human to give you specialist advice and always be there to greet you with a friendly smile.
So why not do your bit for Teesside and say Yes to Independents too, after all it’s probably the future of our High Streets!