Tag Archives: jessie jacobs blog

Things to do in Teesside – Go Outdoors

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.
saltburn surf
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!

Discovering Teessides Cultural Scene

Teesside has creativity and culture coming out of its ears. But it seems only a few people know about it. Just like many other great things happening in the region, it is hidden, underground and away from the main-stream. This is probably one of its greatest strengths but also its biggest weakness. The sector has this gritty grassroots edginess, a non-commercialised character and a group of passionate people connected to it, giving their all and usually living off less than a minimum wage just for the love of it. But these people are also often on their own, unknown, undiscovered, disconnected and disillusioned. Our artists live down dark alleys, in empty office blocks, in the back of old pubs or the corner of some quirky coffee shop.

Our artists live down dark alleys, in empty office blocks, in the back of old pubs or the corner of some quirky coffee shop.

Yes some of them make it to the what’s on guide of the Georgian Theatre or walls of Arc but for the most part they are hidden.

When I started my Teesside regeneration journey, I went first to the churches and then I went to the artists. I remember walking into a conversation in The Georgian Theatre organised by some cultural activists from Leeds. I was pleasantly surprised to find around 60 artists and cultural practitioners there, all passionate about our region, about culture and about creativity. For years they had been finding ways to exist and create and perform amongst the backdrop of recession, austerity and apathy.

I was excited about this underground world I had discovered and wanted to find a way to shine a light on it and to show them that Stockton loved them. I started a blog and social media movement called www.ilovestockton.me. Using on-line platforms, the idea was to celebrate the richness of our cultural and creative activities and get people talking about and engaging with it a little more. It began to take off; people started following us and liking and hashtagging us and a buzz began about our town. But in all honesty, there was too much to write about.

Currently there are so many activities happening that I could do with some help. Last month I discovered Keren & Bobbie, two Teesside Uni graduates students putting on art shows in unusual spaces. They’ve now opened up their own Gallery, ‘House of Blah Blah’ in Middlesbrough which launched its new exhibition last night. This month I met Laura from ‘Writers Block’ who supports writers to improve their craft and reconnected with Stephen Irving who is discovering new and emerging urban artists from around the region.


I know if the whole of Teesside gets behind our creatives, maybe we could really put these people and this place on the map. I’d like people to come with me on this journey of cultural discovery. Go visit an art gallery, book to see a play, buy some local art, take part in a poetry workshop. Use your facebook and twitter and instagram to big it up and maybe together we can make Teesside’s cultural light shine brighter.

Be the Change You Wish to See in Teesside

For the past few months I have been getting out and about and meeting local people. I am working on an idea that Teesside and the surrounding areas can change for the better if people come together to be the change they wish to see. Many of us complain about what is wrong with Teesside but few of us do much about changing things. I want to change that and wondered if I could share with you a story about one of the groups I am working with in the hope that they might inspire you. They are the “Friends of Trinity Green”.

I met a lady called Fiona a few months back; she told me how her local area was being plagued by alcoholics and how their local green space, Trinity Green in Stockton Town Centre, had become a no-go area because of this. She wanted someone to do something about it. I asked her whether she had thought about doing something herself. She hadn’t but was very keen to. I suggested holding a meeting for others who may be interested in changing things. Fiona loved the idea and went off and leafleted her street, inviting people to a meeting to discuss Trinity Green. On March 31st about 10 ladies turned up. Initially the group had a lot of negative things to share, they needed time to air how hard things had been, why they were angry and what was going on; eventually though they began to talk about what could be done. Ideas like speaking to the police about better patrols of the area, developing community gardening projects, organising community fun days, maybe even seeing Trinity church used for arts and cultural activities throughout the year and not just at SIRF.

Now four months on, this small gathering of local residents are on their way to becoming a constituted community group. A wonderful lady called Dot has been put forward to be the chair and working together with the local council, things are beginning to change. Drinking in the green has significantly reduced and people are feeling safe again. The next step is to see community and cultural activities happening, so on this Sunday, the 17th August at 12.30pm, the group is going to have a picnic in the Green with their families. They are hoping others will turn up and use this beautiful green space too, either on this day or on other days and are now talking to the council about other cultural ideas for the space. All of this has been achieved in just four months. Isn’t that amazing? I wonder what issues you might be facing in your community, why not organise a meeting with people from your street and talk about what you might do together to change things? If you want some help or to just have a chat, why not drop me an email jessie@ilovestockton.me or even contact your local council or residents group who are always happy to help and advise.

Remember if you want things to change, maybe you can be the change!