Bishop Auckland College Performing Arts


Last month I attended the Bishop Auckland College Performing Arts department’s ‘One Night Only’ end of year variety showcase.

As a local resident you often don’t appreciate what is right on your own doorstep, I know I didn’t, but Bishop Auckland College is the gateway to so many choices, options and most of all opportunities.

And with it, they are having such a positive impact on so many students within their college, as both their Performing Arts students demonstrated on this night, as equally as much, as the Art and Photography students have proved during their Art Exhibition within the town centre.

The ‘One Night Only’ showcase was organised and arranged by the Performing Arts department and their students, and collectively they only decided to present and perform their show 2 weeks prior to their show night.

All 11 performing students can be immensely proud of their performances on the evening.

The students performed an array of scenes, each one performed with passion, character and confidence, covering scenes from well-known shows ‘Cats’ and the ‘Lion King’ alongside pitch perfect vocals to a wide range of songs, including ‘Les Miserables’.

The audience who were filled with many family and friends as well as local residents, couldn’t help but be impressed with the students teamwork and individual abilities, especially once we had heard they had pulled together the full show in just a couple of weeks.

Bishop Auckland can be extremely proud of their next generation, as the talented students put on a fantastic showcase of choreographed dancing, singing and acting, expressing pure emotion with every piece that they performed.

The action packed showcase was well worth more than its token entry fee of £1.00 per person.

In summary for me, I attended the variety performance as I felt as a local resident that it was important to go, important to go and support the local students who learn their crafts within our own community.

What I wasn’t expecting was to be wowed with the standard of the performances, as I sat, watched, and was mesmerised by.

Well done to all Bishop Auckland College Performing Arts students and tutors, for putting on a hugely impressive show.

Bishop Auckland College is literally just up the road from where I live, no more than a 5 minute walk, but it offers so much more than just further education, apprenticeships, and a wide range of full and part time courses.

The college also caters for college students, staff and the general public with facilities that include a children’s nursery and hair and beauty salons.

To learn more about Bishop Auckland College and the courses they can provide please visit their website:

Their next Open Evening will take place on Tuesday 17th October 2017.

For more information or to read more of my articles please visit:


‘On The Map’ by Gillian Arnold


You may have heard about the ‘On The Map’ project in the last few weeks, that is being delivered by local designers Gillian Arnold, based at 2B, Fore Bondgate, in Bishop Auckland.

But what is it all about?

‘On The Map’ is a community project bringing together collective works from a diverse range of people from Bishop Auckland.

Building a large collaborative map, this will be printed, and delivered to every Bishop Auckland household, with the original on display in a pop-up gallery shop in town.

The map’s project core objective is to highlight the beauty of the town including Bishop Auckland’s rich historical past, it’s very exciting present and even looking forward to a bright future.

Gillian really wanted to find a way to make sure as many residents in Bishop Auckland as possible have access to the map and this project.


On The Map is focused around the Bishop Auckland area, with hand drawn locations and landmarks that represent the area and the town.

The scale of the map however, is huge.

The overall banner will be hung on fabric stretching around 3 metres x 3 metres.

Gillian Arnold are looking for people to draw their favourite shop, landmark, or house.

By picking up a pen, pencil, crayon, charcoal, paintbrush or anything else, and hand draw for their chance to see their work become part of this large 3 metre square map in a new pop-up gallery shop in the town, and printed and distributed to every house in Bishop Auckland.

Gillian has been leading workshops involving people from all parts of the community and many schools, creating individual drawings of buildings, cultural landmarks, people, items and objects to bring Bishop Auckland to life in a new and artistic way.

The greatest part about the map, is the people who are making it, this is a map for the community and town that has been made by hundreds of people living with its borders.

Nearly all the individual drawings have been based on Gillian’s own photography, after spending several days photographing every building and cultural landmark in the town.



Taking all the hand drawn elements and comprising them into a map to represent the entire town is a huge task.

Gillian and her team have been working around the clock scanning, scaling, sizing and loving the hundreds of drawings that have been made so far.

They have also had no shortage of people willing to donate their time to help them along, which has been fantastic to see.

The map will be published in The Bishop Press on their 15th of July edition with an editorial on the project and will be hanging in the Gillian Arnold Boutique throughout the summer when Kynren is on.

Prints will be available of the map after the project is completed and all profits from the sale of art prints will be given to newly setup Pineapple Castle C.I.C. by Gillian Arnold to help fund future community orientated projects and disadvantaged people in Bishop Auckland.

Gillian Arnold are asking people to send scans of their work by no later than Saturday 8th July to them as either a message on Facebook, or emailed to: or bring the picture to the Gillian Arnold shop at 2B Fore Bondgate.


Gillian said about the map:

“At first the map was largely about tackling aspects of negativity in the public’ opinion about all of the changes that have happened in Bishop Auckland.

Now that the project is underway, after working with so many amazing people and seeing how many people have reached out to be involved, I can see this map is more about reinforcing the positivity, because there really is so much of it out there”.

For more information for the ‘On The Map’ project please click on their Facebook link, or alternatively for more information on Gillian Arnold, please click on the link for their website.

For more information or to read more of my blog articles please visit:


Park Head Hotel


Welcome to the Park Head Hotel, where a warm and friendly welcome awaits you.

That’s certainly what I experienced a couple of weeks ago.

The Park Head Hotel is situated at New Coundon, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, a great location which offers good access to roads onto the A688 and A689 onwards onto the A1.

As you can see the hotel is situated surrounded by beautiful scenery, and is only a 5 minute car journey away from the popular attractions Kynren and Auckland Castle located in Bishop Auckland.

And once you arrive, you will be made to feel very welcome and right at home.

The hotel is a family run business, and they share in great family values, putting their guests right at ease from the very first moment.

The hotel comprises of 32 spacious en-suite rooms, accommodating flat screen televisions with a range of Freeview channels, free Wi-Fi available in all areas for guests, along with free secure parking for all, and a 24 hour front desk.

As a local resident of Bishop Auckland, you can sometimes forget how big the Park Head Hotel actually is, I know I did, and the valuable service it provides for their guests and our community.

Alongside overnight stays, the Park Head Hotel can cater for all your needs and every occasion.

From functions and events, or weddings to seminars, they will have a package to suit all.

One thing that has always stood out for me in regards to the Park Head Hotel is their food, and I’m yet to be disappointed by any dish chosen from their extensive menu so far.

Alongside a pub classic lunch menu available from Friday to Saturday 12pm until 5pm the hotel also caters for Afternoon Tea Parties that are available from Friday to Saturday 12pm until 4pm.

Evening bar meals are available from their new restaurant opened last year in April named the Bishop’s Grill, open from Monday to Sunday from 5pm until 10pm.

Sunday’s brings the traditional Sunday lunch or in the Park Head Hotel’s case, ‘The Carvery’, a delicious, traditional four roast carvery with homemade Yorkshire puddings, goose fat roasties and a great choice of vegetables for £9.75 per adult and under 10’s for £6.45 each, which includes a free dessert.

Something that shouldn’t be missed, although booking is advisable in order not to miss out.

The Park Head Hotel are a local business that look to use local fresh produce with a range of locally sourced meat, game and fish within their menu, and cheeses, chutneys and artisan breads to offer an alternative to their wide range of sweet treats.


Lastly, in all the years I’ve lived in Bishop Auckland, I was totally unaware that the Park Head Hotel has a large beer garden, and children’s play area located within it’s grounds, that attracts the sun no end on a warm day.

A great place in which to enjoy drinks with family and friends, whilst the children can have as much fun and enjoyment as the adults do.

For more information or to book a room please visit the Park Head Hotel’s Website and Facebook page:

For more information or to read more of my articles please visit:

Autumn Leaves Landscaping


Following on from recent posts regarding businesses within Bishop Auckland, I don’t just want to talk about the businesses in the town either.

There are some fantastic businesses within the Bishop Auckland perimeter, that are providing great services, and an exceptional high standard of workmanship too.

A perfect example of this comes from Autumn Leaves Landscaping.


Autumn Leaves Landscaping come high on recommendation, and by looking at the photos attached, it comes as no real surprise as to why.

Having formed back in 2012, the business is going from strength to strength.

Autumn Leaves Landscaping led by owner Michael Tonge, has transformed many a garden and outdoor space, within the region of County Durham, and the surrounding areas.

Providing an array of services that include but are not limited too;

Artificial Turf

Bespoke Design 

Block Paving






Water Features

Michael and his team at Autumn Leaves Landscaping live by their ethos, of providing each and every customer with a high-quality, bespoke service at a fair, competitive price.

Working alongside each customer from design stage, to create the garden of their dreams.

And the envy of their family, friends and neighbours.


Capable of undertaking projects big and small, from schools to domestic houses, Autumn Leaves Landscaping is the company of choice.

Their team have also just recently attended the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, picking up new ideas from the industry’s best.


If you require a landscape gardener to transform your outdoor space this summer, please visit their Facebook page:

Or visit their website: to discuss your requirements and schedule in a free consultation or design.

As the above photographs show quite a transformation.

For more information or to read more of my articles please visit:


What’s Next?


Following on from my recent blog articles, mainly promoting Bishop Auckland, a question has lead to what’s next?

The very simple answer is many things, there are so many different articles to write about in the up and coming days and weeks ahead.

The insights of views and visitors to each blog article posted in recent days is testimont that readers, not only locally, but UK and International wide too, are interested to see and hear more of what Bishop Auckland has to offer.

And Bishop Auckland has lots to tell and share, from the many businesses, and many selfless charities, to the people who go above and beyond to help their community.

Bishop Auckland is a fantastic place to live, and I’m keen to write to highlight and show off our town, to showcase what we have got to attract new visitors in, whilst reminding the community of what is here.

I recently wrote an article called;


I reached out to our community and asked if any businesses or charities would like a ‘free blog article’ written, to help promote their business or charity, to help raise more exposure or attract more visitors into the town.

And further to recent articles with Bishop Auckland Market and Smokehouse, I’ll be following up with articles with these interested parties too;

Rio Bar Cafe

Autumn Leaves Landscaping

Caps Off

Park Head Hotel

Willow Burn Hospice

Smile 4 Claire

Butterwick Hospice

Bishop Auckland and Coundon in Bloom

Alongside many others too.

I want to write and talk about our town and the many delightful walks that are on our doorstep, some that you may not have even realised were there, and others that you may have simply forgot about.

And help and promote any events that are on within Bishop Auckland too.

What’s in it for me, some people will or may ask?

As you can see nothing, I’m passionate about my town, just like you are, I want to see it stabilise, I want to see it grow, I want to see it thrive.

I want to see it progress, I want that buzz to return, I want everyone talking about it.

And the only way we can do that is to continue to promote it, ourselves, and together.

Following on from the blog I wrote about my experience as a volunteer at Kynren.

I once took a blank piece of paper and inside 12 months was a beaten finalist in a National award in London last month.

I know first hand with hard work and belief that anything can be achievable, all the while doing this whilst battling back against depression.

For me, I’ve discovered a passion through writing, it’s a focus for me, and it’s an important part of my life.

And through each article it’s showcasing any future employer exactly what I’m capable of achieving not only for myself but for their business too.

I see this as a win, win scenario, helping to support and promote Bishop Auckland, the town I live in, the town I’m passionate about, whilst continuing to rebuild my life in the process too.

For more information or to get in touch please visit my Facebook page:

Miss England 2017


Alongside each of these blogs I want to write about a variety of different topics, talking about my passions and interests, to supporting and helping to promote my hometown of Bishop Auckland and the businesses there.

But I also want to recognise local people with it too.

So let me introduce you all to Francesca, who lives and runs her own business in Darlington.

For me, she’s a good friend too, forever supportive, loyal and caring, and I’m lucky to know her.

So how did Miss England come about?

Francesca was spotted on a recent holiday and was asked to apply, and since then, she has gone on to become a quarter-finalist within this year’s competition.

Miss England is a fantastic opportunity to become that all important role model to today’s younger generation and society, and isn’t just associated as a stereotypical beauty pageant any longer, as it promotes strength of character, independence and inner beauty.

And Francesca is no different as she sees this as a fantastic opportunity to make that all important difference to use the competition as a platform to address key matters close to her heart, such as poverty.

Through her successful business QSR Cleaning Specialists in Darlington which she formed in 2015, she has actively recognised this and employs local people above minimum wage.

In regards to Miss England, Francesca has said she had no idea how she got here but knows she has a lot to give, “the competition isn’t just about a pretty face, it’s about substance, and I know with my experiences and confidence I have the ability to make a difference.”

She followed up by saying “I have never done anything like this before, but I’m proud of getting this far.”

Before QSR Cleaning Specialists, Francesca gained a degree from her studies for a law at Liverpool University.

All the while giving back to society by volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau helping less fortunate and homeless people gain the help and information they duly needed.

She also spent a period of time working in Spain for the European Commission.

She aims to record and submit a video surrounding personal growth and business strategy, and how this can be used to strengthen society and local communities.

As her friend I’m immensely proud of her, as we all are, here she is representing the local area, putting in her case Darlington, but once again the North East back on the map.

And it’s time to rally around and help a local enterprising woman get into the final stages of the competition that will be judged in June.

To hear more about Francesca’s bid to qualify for the Miss England final, she will be appearing on Bishop FM tomorrow morning from 11.00am to talk live about the competition and what she hopes to achieve.


To hear Francesca’s on air interview with Bishop FM yesterday please click on the attached link.

Voting closes on Wednesday 17th May, and Francesca needs your support, to vote please text MISS SEMI04 to 63333, costs 50 pence per text, each text registers one vote.

For more information or to follow Francesca’s progress please visit:

Smokehouse, Bishop Auckland


The ‘Smokehouse’ is one of the newest businesses to open in Bishop Auckland, and for those people who have had the opportunity to try their menu, they can’t fail to not be disappointed.

The Smokehouse has an air of mystery to it, hidden down the side street of Railway Street, and is more or less opposite the Hippodrome Bingo Hall, but on their growing reputation, it will be the Smokehouse on where people describe where Railway Street is in the future.

With a rustic feel to the venue, with upcycled school tables and stools to sit and eat it simply adds to its charm.

Located in one corner is an upcycled bar with hand pulled local produced beer from a beer and food festival that they had last month, and are keen to replicate something similar again in the future.

But wait until I tell you about the food?

Beautiful is the only word I’d describe it.

For the town of Bishop Auckland it offers something different, and talking to their owners, the Smokehouse is only the start of their ambitious plans.


The menu consists currently of varying tasty treats such as;

Pulled Pork with the most delightful twice cooked chips, apple sauce, homemade coleslaw and the spicy kicked accompaniment of barbecue sauce, and a drink coming in at great value of £5.00 as a meal deal.


Alongside this the brisket is extremely tasty, equally are the chicken wings, chicken legs or a spicy sausage, with new additions constantly being introduced and added to their menu.

Including the outstanding belly busting of a meal with the giant smoked beef ribs as below.

Smokehouse is fast becoming a popular place to visit, and from not only the photos and videos but the glowing reviews, you can really start to see why.

Open from around 11.30am each day why not give it a try for your lunch when your next in town, you’ll not be disappointed.

For more information please visit their Facebook page: