Testing times

The Northern Echo: Testing times

10:17am Thursday 17th April 2014

WHEN someone asked me what we were doing for the Easter holidays, I was taken aback. It seemed such a quaint, old-fashioned term.

The Headline Challenge 2014

9:40am Thursday 17th April 2014

The Headline Challenge is played out every week day between The Northern Echo and BBC Tees. You can play along by following @echopeterbarron and @alibrownlee on Twitter.

Introducing Fidgety Bridget Wrigglesworth

10:15am Wednesday 16th April 2014

Stocks of my latest children's book, Fidgety Bridget Wrigglesworth, have arrived today so I'm wriggling with excitement.

The voice that cannot be heard

9:33am Wednesday 16th April 2014

A STRIKING example of the value put on free speech, the much-vaunted cornerstone of our “mother of democracies”, by those most ready to proclaim it – ie the Government – has just arisen.


The Northern Echo: Having vision: Coun Rob Yorke at the Eleven Arches site in Bishop Auckland which is set to be redeveloped

9:47am Tuesday 15th April 2014

Long perceived as an economic ugly sister, Bishop Auckland is leaping from the ashes

Working class unites in Ukip

9:24am Tuesday 15th April 2014

THERE’S an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, we are living in interesting times, and the times are going to get even more interesting over the next 12 months.

Time for Tony the Fridge to chill

The Northern Echo: Time for Tony the Fridge to chill

6:38pm Monday 14th April 2014

WHEN it comes to raising money for worthy causes, the North-East is blessed with countless people who are willing to go the extra mile. This is a region with a big heart.

The mum who fought the law

The Northern Echo: WELL DONE MUM: Pat Gibson gets a kiss from her son David in 1995 after she was named Darlington’s first Citizen of the Year

11:20am Monday 14th April 2014

MICHAEL Gibson just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In April 1992, he and his younger brother, David, were walking along High Row, in Darlington town centre, when they were approached by three youths.

Oh, the nostalgia of grow-your-own

The Northern Echo: Go grow: a scene from the Big Allotment Challenge

12:38pm Friday 11th April 2014

WILL the Big Allotment Challenge – the newest TV reality show – get us rushing to get mud on our boots and grow our own cabbages or mange tout?

The restful royal way to travel

The Northern Echo: Relaxed: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in New Zealand with Prince George

12:35pm Friday 11th April 2014

ALL the way to New Zealand with an eight-month-old baby and the Duchess of Cambridge emerges super smart, bandbox fresh and with the baby dressed in immaculate white, raring to go.

Intruding on private grief

The Northern Echo: Peaches Geldof: young mother

12:34pm Friday 11th April 2014

LOOK, we don’t know how Peaches Geldof died. No one knows yet. So stop making things up.

Backchat: Amazed by his armpits

The Northern Echo: Brooklyn Beckham as he appears in the spring/summer edition of Man About Town magazine

12:33pm Friday 11th April 2014

SPEAKING as a fellow mother of sons, I have never seen a teenage armpit as pristine as that of Brooklyn Beckham.

How Draco cleaned up the streets

10:52am Friday 11th April 2014

TWO Labour councillors, a Conservative and a journalist fell into earnest late night conversation this week in one of Darlington’s bars.

Finding the mum who changed the law

7:01pm Thursday 10th April 2014

Twitter is an amazing thing....

Perfect match

The Northern Echo: Perfect match

11:27am Thursday 10th April 2014

IT’S never easy thinking of presents for my wife – but I really think I excelled myself this time. Forget the usual last-minute bunch of garage flowers and a quick lunchtime dash to Thornton’s for a box of chocolates, I masterminded a much better surprise for Mother’s Day.

Mrs Miller’s tale and the real world

10:19am Thursday 10th April 2014

I WATCHED two worlds collide at Westminster, as Maria Miller, to public fury, tried to wriggle off the hook of her eyepopping expenses claims.

Out of step - and out of Government

7:38pm Wednesday 9th April 2014

It is not a surprise that Maria Miller has resigned as Culture Secretary - just that it was so long coming given that the controversy surrounding her expenses claim had become what is known in political circles as "toxic".

A mother who fought to scrap an absurd law

7:09pm Wednesday 9th April 2014

It is 20 years this week since one of The Northern Echo's most important campaigns took shape.

The curse of the sea’s plastic soup

9:43am Wednesday 9th April 2014

ALL of us will hope that the signals detected in the Indian Ocean prove to be from the black box of the Malaysian airliner missing with its 239 passengers and crew. If the discovery leads to the solving of the plane’s disappearance it will be a triumph for the international investigation into the mystery.

On course for a starring role

7:11pm Tuesday 8th April 2014

THE spectacular development of Rockliffe Hall, near Darlington, has been a huge boost to the southern end of our region in recent years and The Northern Echo is delighted to again be the media partner for the English senior Open in the summer.

Up and downs for our feathered friends

The Northern Echo: ON THE LOOKOUT: Birdwatchers at South Gare, Teesside

12:46pm Tuesday 8th April 2014

As migrating birds return to their spring and summer feeding grounds in the region, Chris Brayshay reports on some of the winners and losers as recorded by Teesmouth Bird Club over the years

Is the PC calendar a good idea?

12:11pm Tuesday 8th April 2014

I WENT into three shops trying to buy an Easter card. I’m fond of flowers, I love eggs and I’ve no desire to perpetrate a hate crime against bunnies. But I was looking for something with a cross on, or an Easter garden, the sepulchral stone being rolled away.

How the udder half live

5:36pm Monday 7th April 2014

There are probably people out there who think that being a press photographer is a glamorous job. Well, think again.

A spot of sun after the storm

The Northern Echo: RISING SUN: Before and after

9:52am Monday 7th April 2014

A FEW rays of sunshine make all the difference, don’t they? With winter behind us, spring in the air, the crocuses joyously exploding, and the inevitable pictures of gambolling lambs flocking to our newsdesk, it’s my favourite time of year.

No pills, but as much booze as you like

The Northern Echo: Brooklyn Beckham as he appears in the spring/summer edition of Man About Town magazine

11:36am Friday 4th April 2014

SO there I was in Sainsbury’s trying to buy two small tubs of low-dosage aspirin. You’d think I was trying to smuggle Class A drugs into kindergarten.

I spy a female multi-tasker

The Northern Echo: Judi Dench as M, with Daniel Craig as Bond

11:35am Friday 4th April 2014

SO M is quite likely to be Judi Dench after all. Mothers make the best spies, says one of their number working for the Secret Intelligence Service interviewed in The Times.

Give Brooklyn a break

The Northern Echo: Give Brooklyn a break

11:34am Friday 4th April 2014

THE 15-year-old son of David and Victoria Beckham has just done his first fashion shoot on the cover of a magazine that’s aimed at “high-end, business-engaged, culturally orientated male urbanites”.

S is for saving

11:33am Friday 4th April 2014

AN American student has saved his government a potential $400m a year by suggesting they use a smaller, neater font for all their mountains of official literature, saving a fortune in printer ink, possibly the most expensive liquid on the planet. If only our government would do the same.

Flexibility in the workplace

11:32am Friday 4th April 2014

MORE dads are staying at home to look after the children – 229,000, double the number 20 years ago. Many of them have made a virtue out of necessity – wife earns more, decent childcare is expensive – and grown to love it.

Backchat: The wisdom of youth

11:32am Friday 4th April 2014

YOUR delightful tribute to your mother reminded me of the Mark Twain quote: “When I was a boy of 14, I thought my father was so ignorant I couldn’t bear to have the old man around.

A bad attitude towards establishing the uncomfortable truth

6:56pm Thursday 3rd April 2014

WHEN the MPs' expenses scandal unfolded, it was more than just the financial skullduggery which angered people all over the country. It was the holier than thou attitude of some MPs towards the issue which heightened public outrage.

Brotherly love

The Northern Echo: Brotherly love

10:08am Thursday 3rd April 2014

I GOT the usual breakfast in bed, home-made cards and promises to unload the dishwasher and clean the car on Mothering Sunday: “All I need now is for one of you to do something that gives me a good story for this week’s Mum at Large column,” I joked.

Learning a lesson from tuition fees

9:48am Thursday 3rd April 2014

THREE-AND-A-HALF years after student protestors smashed up Conservative HQ, the policy they were fighting that day is also falling apart.

Holding up a mirror to inspiration

11:41am Wednesday 2nd April 2014

A LARGE gilt-framed mirror claimed to have been the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is up for sale – for £1m. Well actually, the price includes the house, in Cheltenham, Gloucester, where the mirror has hung since Carroll’s day – but the mirror is the undoubted star.

The sweet smell of educational success

6:24pm Tuesday 1st April 2014

WHEN Education Secretary Michael Gove said last year that he could "smell defeatism" in North-East schools, The Northern Echo took him to task.

No way to defend democracy

10:12am Tuesday 1st April 2014

HOW’S this for joined-up thinking?

Turning the tide

10:13am Tuesday 1st April 2014

It is fair to say there has been a strong reaction to our new syndicated weather panel.

A load of Jorrocks

The Northern Echo: RAUCOUS NOVELS: Jorrocks out hunting, a creation of RS Surtees, left

9:53am Tuesday 1st April 2014

FELLOW feeling, today’s column was to have majored on a meeting of the Grumpy Old Men’s Breakfast club which gathers – doubtless querulously – around Norton-on-Tees each Wednesday. The only problem is that, having extended the invitation – “We are treated with his regard, wherever we decide to grace with our presence” – they failed totally to acknowledge its eager acceptance.

Tragedy behind the headlines

The Northern Echo: ROAD BLOCK: Police close the A66 near Middlesbrough following the horrific attack on a man found wandering along the road

12:54pm Monday 31st March 2014

AS March comes to an end, I want to reflect on the story which attracted more interest than any other news item published by The Northern Echo during the month.

My mother’s loving legacy

The Northern Echo: Sharon with her mother, Betty, and first-born Adam, back in 1981

10:28am Friday 28th March 2014

AS a teenager – in the days when I still knew everything – I swore that if I ever had children I would never, ever, be like my mother...

The pain of uncoupling

The Northern Echo: Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin have split up after nearly 11 years

10:24am Friday 28th March 2014

THEY’VE tried for a year, with commendable privacy, to sort things out but now after ten years of marriage, Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin, have decided to “consciously uncouple and co-parent”.

When the heat is off

10:23am Friday 28th March 2014

Time Travel 1: A broken boiler means we’re relying on a real fire for heat. Wonderful if you’re sitting in front of it – but then there’s that dreaded scuttle into the rest of the house and the shock of the cold kitchen. Not as bad as having to get out of a nice warm bed in the morning and into the icy chill. Still, at least we haven’t got the mottled legs from sitting too close to the fire. Yet.

The kindness of strangers

10:15am Friday 28th March 2014

IN an experiment for a TV programme, more than 600 people walked past an apparently lost child. Only a grandmother was concerned enough to stop and ask if she was all right.

Backchat: No time for ‘real’ history

10:15am Friday 28th March 2014

YOUR article about your visit to Hadrian’s Wall took me back nearly 40 years. I too took a party of children there. What a great learning experience they had.

Stone the crows! No skylarking

9:33am Friday 28th March 2014

LAST week in this space, I was singing the praises of the skylark, both as a harbinger of spring and as a tasty morsel.

Countdown to Yorkshire history

5:52pm Thursday 27th March 2014

The Tour De France, the greatest cycle race on the planet, is coming to Yorkshire. We know it's happening but it has felt like a fantasy.

Mr Grumpy

The Northern Echo: Mr Grumpy

10:26am Thursday 27th March 2014

HAVING my clothes stolen by my children is something I’ve had to get used to – but I draw the line at my Mr Men Socks...

Ssh! Don’t mention the c-word

10:01am Thursday 27th March 2014

WITH the GeneralElection just a year away, the campaign is shaping up to be the same phony war as the last one – with the awful pain ahead hidden from the voters.

How to tackle a football manager who bans the press

8:54pm Wednesday 26th March 2014

Regular readers will know that my blood boils when petty-minded, power-mad football club bosses resort to banning journalists from doing their jobs during disagreements. But beware the local paper scorned...

How to stop Russian aggression?

12:25pm Wednesday 26th March 2014

A LATE former colleague of mine liked to tell of a leading article that he claimed appeared in the weekly newspaper on which he started his career. It was the Keighley News, which, according to my old workmate, during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which brought the world to the brink of war through a Russian plan to base nuclear missiles on the doorstep of the US, addressed itself directly to the Russian President.

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