Our friends in the north

Last weekend we ventured north of Watford Gap on the M1, north of Nottingham, north of of Leeds, and yes,  even north of Manchester!  Our destination – a northern powerhouse of manufacturing and shipbuilding …Middlesbrough – not Middlesborough as I had always imagined it to be called.  To be honest it doesn’t strike you as the kind of place you might visit for a weekend away, and if it were not for the fact that our friends live here we might have missed it altogether.  What a shame that would have been.

Yes, it’s cold –  but the warm welcome we received from Middlebrough folk more than made up for this.  We had a meet and greet during the Town Meal which is held in the imposing Town Hall slap in the centre of Middlesbrough.  It was bustling and busy and packed with  groups, organisations and local people all dedicated to the environmental cause….a rollicking good venue for Celestial Cakes…which I felt like renaming Northern Lights for the weekend due to the aurora of celestial light emanating from Middlebrough over the weekend!!!

The council are taking healthy living seriously – even the back to back houses have been given makeovers by gating off the walk ways at the back of the terraces to make way for community themed gardens, seating areas and  even a bar!  One local said she had not spoken to her neighbour for 30 years until the gated community was introduced – now they have tea together every morning in their pastoral walkway – how’s that for community living?

The beauty of many of these healthy living schemes is that they are relatively cheap to introduce – and they do make a difference.  I think we southerners can learn something from our friends in the north…the art of how to be a caring neighbour – how to have more by spending less, and how to be happy with less…because ultimately less is more.


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