Dogtowns of the North East

Skateboarders look at the world around them differently. By using their skateboards, they interact with the urban environment in a more expressive way than the rest of us. Since the 1970s, they've been reimagining the possibilities of town centres, city streets, barren spaces and rundown neighbourhoods — the 'Dogtowns' of the world. The original inventiveness, brotherhood and fearlessness of these skateboarders crafted a new way of life. This unique skating culture spread out across the world and I recently ventured out to catch a glimpse of it here in the North East.

The Golden Smog: The Best in Real Ale & Smoggie Hospitality

Stockon’s first micropub, The Golden Smog, is the realisation of John Christie’s dream to offer fellow smoggies the best British and foreign beer around. Tucked away in a side alley, it does much more than uphold the original tenets of the pub. By offering the realest ‘real ale’, an open, warm atmosphere in which friendships are born and a sense of community is strengthened, it also represents the very best of Teesside and the hospitality of its people.

Durham Pride 2017 Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Violet. June sets off another burst of rainbow-tinted Pride festivals. On the 29th of May, I volunteered to help out at Durham Pride 2017. As one of the smaller Pride events in the UK it still has all of the flamboyance and colour characteristic of these celebrations. And at its heart it exudes values that reach far beyond the LGBT community. Inclusivity. Acceptance. Love. Timeless values that we can all embrace.

Velvoir: The Machine

The creations draw us to the humans, but to go on making the creations the humans need to fit into the Machine and to fit into the Machine they need to make certain sacrifices. This is the third and last piece on Velvoir, which deals with what it means to sacrifice everything to fulfil your dreams.

Hairstyling in the Heart of Sunderland with Jonathan Pickup

With several British Hair Award nominations and a commendable career working for the hairstyling super-brand Toni&Guy, Jonathan Pickup continues delivering elegantly tailored styles in his own salon for new and long-standing clients in the heart of Sunderland. Classic aesthetics, the brutal lifestyle of premier hairstylists in London and the need to settle down — we chatted about this and more during an afternoon of hairstyling madness.

Velvoir: Creations

Overt sexuality, gender ambiguity and a hypnotic range of sound textures: these are some of the ingredients that come to mind when one thinks of Velvoir. As one of the most forward-thinking bands in the North East (and possibly in the country), what they embody goes much deeper than a desire to shock. This is the first of three pieces in which I aim to explore the power of their music.

Cellar Door: Backstage Pizzazz at KU Bar

Are gig nights really as thrilling from the band's perspective as they may seem? Having written about the production of Cellar Door’s music and the members themselves, I joined them at several gigs to experience it from their side.This piece will focus on two of their gigs at KU Bar: one as part of the highly successful return of XFEST and another as a supporting band for The Hummingbirds.

Edinburgh: A Visit to the Athens of the North

Before the festive season started, I took a short break in Edinburgh: a Scottish world criss-crossed with mythological intrigue, Greek splendour, cosmopolitan diversity and natural beauty. You do not need much prior planning to discover its secrets. You simply need to walk and take it all in. Here is a possible travel plan: simple, spontaneous and filled with visual tasters.

An Afternoon Inside The Copper House — A Boutique Hair Salon in Middlesbrough

The moment I stepped into The Copper House on Baker Street I thought I had stepped into a late 19th century seafarer and antique collector’s house. They describe themselves as a boutique hair salon with a difference. It was this coupled with the online profiles of the stylists that made me choose this salon above other hairdressing salons when I first arrived in Teesside. I knew that I was looking for something out of the ordinary. A personal touch. An original artistic vision. A respect for the science of hairstyling ...

Cellar Door: Life and Times

Cellar Door make the necessary sacrifices to create and maintain a professional image as a band not so much with widespread success as the ultimate goal but for the sake of doing something worthwhile, tangible and enjoyable as a group of friends. No wonder they describe themselves as simply “five lads from Teesside making alternative indie music”. Nothing more, nothing less. But there is more to these five lads than meets the eye as I discovered while exploring the lives and times of Cellar Door.

Lost State of Dance and Enjoyment

A last look at the story of Lost State of Dance — the band known for bringing back the 80s to the North East. — capturing two live performances of their music in two locations: Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees. These performances represent the fusion of four different people and their outlooks on life in a space of time that is meant to be enjoyed and remembered by many people.