Dating 6.

Hurrah, I’ve deleted my profiles and it’s such a relief. I’ll never find out what the men at New Scientist do to homeopaths, which can only be a good thing. Had a last date at the Peoples History Museum in Manchester which was very interesting, but oh so depressing. All those fantastic achievements like setting up the Welfare State and NHS … and now we’re seeing them being sold off. Anyway great place to go, it’s free, but possibly not on a first date. It probably beats the one I had at a PTSD exhibition. If you want to read more about middle aged women trying to date @GreyStellaGrey in the Saturday Guardian is doing it all  from the beginning – very similar experiences. I’m far too busy enjoying my 50 things to spend any more time worrying about being single.

50 things part 5

  1. Red Ladder Theatre show. red ladder we're not going back  This year it was ‘We’re not going back‘ at City Varieties in Leeds. You can google this fantastic old venue and Red Ladder, who are trying to raise money to carry on after losing all their funding in one fell swoop. Why, we don’t know. Maybe the funders don’t like radical lefty singalongs, or perhaps Red Ladder didn’t jump through the required hoops, being rebellious types :) I think they’re absolutely brilliant. Great stories, songs and politics all in one. Crossed fingers they’ll still be around to entertain me next year.Anyway, this one was about wives during the miners’ strike. I much prefer my history at a personal level, where I can understand how people were affected day to day.
  1. Meanwood Trail to Goldenacre ParkI haven’t walked this route for years and we certainly picked our time. We set off from the Ridge in a blizzard but by the time we reached the ring road the sun was out on a gorgeous spring afternoon. We got lost in Adel, as always (why doesn’t someone sort out the signage? This has been going on for over 20 years, it’s not just me). For each step forward the mud forced half a step back, so by the time we got to Goldenacre my legs were barely working. Never have I been so glad to see the X84 bus

    I’m going to do this again when the mud is gone and am determined to walk back, arthritic knee or not.

  1. Yorkshire Wildlife Park
    Our designated driver honestly thought we were going for a gentle Yorkshire walk, maybe taking in some squirrels and the odd primrose. It was hilarious when we got to the YWP near Donny to be greeted by roars of a lion (unbelievably loud). I won’t list all the animals there, as I recommend you go yourself. They seem to have enough space to be happy and most are endangered in the wild. My favourites were the painted dogs and the two lemur gangs who’d fallen out: the ringtails vs the brown. With a special mention for Viktor the polar bear. YWP painted dogsWe also paid a visit to Rothwell (Leventhorpe) vineyard on the way back to buy some Leeds bubbly. Who woulda thought?
  1. Budapest

My friend J, who used to live next door to me in Zambia when I was one, was working on a tv series in Budapest, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to visit with my sister. This was the first, and possibly only, time I was picked up by a man with my name on a sign at the airport. It was a pretty short visit, but we managed to walk for miles, back and forward on bridges across the Danube, up to the castle district in Buda (St Matyas church is beautiful inside); take refreshment in the Chocolate cafe, the very posh but touristy New York cafe in Dobolos Hotel, tea n cake at Angelika’s under St Anne’s church (style over substance); cheese n wine in a gorgeous wine bar near the Opera House. I won’t go on. One day I’ll write a vegetarian food guide to the world, when I find someone to pay me.

We also went to a classical concert in St Stephen’s Basilica which is not something I’d normally do but Mozart’s requiem sounded amazing in there and the woman singing Ave maria had the most incredible voice. I could literally feel it ballooning towards me like a blast from a firebreather.

The things we fancy on our next visit include the Pinball museum, a sap and possibly firing an AK47 at a firing range- why the hell not?

13. Get a gardener

After 20+ years of battling Japanese knotweed (successfully) and bindweed in my ‘wild’ garden I finally paid someone to come and help me. Fantastic! I much prefer gardening with someone else, it feels companionable, whereas going out on my own feels like work. I felt inspired to do a bit more several times afterwards- small and often. I am so glad I’ve done it.

50 Things part 4

  1. ‘Making’ by Thomas Heatherwick

I treated myself to a beautiful book by the man that designed the Rolling Bridge at Paddington Basin. It’s so simple, effective and beautiful. Free to visit if you have a bit of spare time in London. You can walk across it, watch it roll up and marvel at the geometry.

Making book

Making book

The Rolling Bridge.


  1. Krakow visit.

What a lovely place. Poles seem very proud of their country, which makes a pleasant change from English cynicism, my own included.

I can’t recommend Travelzoo enough- really cheap offers in decent hotels. We also got a trip round Auschwitz which I’ve been meaning to get around to. There’s nowt I can say to express the impact and my sheer inability to believe what humans can do.

Anyway, on our tourist itinerary were the salt mine- very impressive; many churches and Nowa Huta, the Brutalist social realism dream.

Detail from St Francis church

Detail from St Francis church

My favourite church was Church of St. Francis of Assisi which is covered with Art Nouveau wallpapers. I thought one of the stained glass windows featured a man with a huge afro, but on reflection I think that was a shadow inside his halo. I’ve no idea- there’s no guessing what Polish words mean. The Lord’s Ark is pretty special too, built by volunteers, with it’s bit of moon rutile, shrapnel and a stone from the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican.

I won’t bore you with meals we had, but there’s plenty of very good veggie food in Krakow, particularly at Pod Norenami and Czerwone Korale.

  1. Sowing seeds seedlingsI mean to do this every year, but April comes around and I’ve not flexed my green fingers. So this year I’ve sowed some sweet peas courtesy of Katie JH and some poached egg plants and they’ve germinated! It’s like magic. I am the proud nurturer of some baby seedlings. I sincerely hope I don’t kill them.
  1. 1965 is a fine vintagetree 1965I treated myself and a few fine friends who are 50 this year to necklaces made from 1965 pennies.

    My friend Stuart has been making jewellery from old coins for many years and selling them at festivals, but he’s finally got a shop in Hebden Bridge- shameless plug for ‘Not a Full Shilling ‘.

    All handmade by a lovely man.

50 Things part 3

3. My friend Katie gave me a ‘Garland lampshade‘ from Habitat, I’m not sure if they make them any more. garland

I love it, it makes me happy every time I see it, which is many times a day as I spend much of winter in my bedroom, the warmest room in the house. Garland is basically a sheet of metal carved into leaves and flowers in a twisty turny garland which you drape around a light garland 2bulb. I can’t see me ever getting it untangled now it’s up. There’s something alive about it- the way tendrils seem to be escaping in all directions. And it’s so dainty. Not my usual thing at all.

Habitat reminds me of childhood in my parents’ weird flat roofed house which looked like a shoe box. We had loads of Habitat furniture, which I think has made me love straight lines, blocks of colour, simple things that do what you need. I’ve got 3 sets of Habitat cubes around my house, one of which I’ve been carting around since I left home in the early 80s. Hmm, maybe I should write an ode to Habitat to play on my ukulele.


My bank just cancelled a VISA payment due to ‘unusual patterns of spending’, as in I’ve actually been buying things this year. I usually go to Spain twice a year to stay with mates and buy food, books n booze. That’s about it, so no wonder they were suspicious. It’s been fun so far, but I don’t know how people keep up with fashion, it seems like a stupid waste of time and money to me.

4. What better to do on a cold hungover winter weekend than watch the final series of Breaking Bad?

bb 5

50 Things part 2

Mr Tom B has requested the full list because he ‘can’t be bothered to look every week’. I think such honesty should be rewarded so ‘ere you go Tom. There’s some blanks for unexpected events and the list may be subject to change..

1. Buy a magnum

2. Meal at Prashad

3. Habitat Garland

4. Buy a car

5. Watch Breaking Bad series 5

6. Krakow

7. Visit Katie+ quilt museum

8. Red Ladder theatre show

9. Budapest

10. Ragdale or Champneys with old schoolmates

11. Kneehigh theatre Rebecca

12. Womens Holiday Centre Horton

13. Luxembourg to visit cousins

14. Bonfire in garden

15. Butterfly house when they’re hatching

16. Sew some seeds

17. Forbidden Corner

18. Get a gardener

19. Orgiva

20. Walk to Goldenacre Park along Meanwood trail, at rhodedendron time

21. Tea at Sketch in London

22. Cream tea in London with family

23. Party

24. Beatherder

25. Isle of Lewes- lots of stone circles

26. Picnic at Armscliff Crags

27. Day in garden hammock

28 Castlerigg stone circle

29. Ambiente for tapas

30. Barcelona

31. Xmas with dad and Paddy

32. Fantasia at Kirkstall Abbey

33. Body mudpack + shower in Rita’s lovely bathroom

34. Go up a Fjord

35. Cheerful Chilli

36. Dough

37. Curry with Calderdaleites

38. Visit Rich

39. Aura photo

40. Visit Nik in Chesterfield

41. Reflexology

42. Yorks Wildlife Park

43 See some puffins

44. Massage

45. Visit seaside

46-50. tbc

50 Things, because I’m worth it.

2015 is the year I’m going to treat myself to 50 things I’ve always wanted to do, or just will really enjoy. I’m 50 in June and making this list to look forward to has definitely softened the blow.

Every other dating profile says ‘I don’t look or feel my age’ but it’s true, most of us don’t. So I can’t say these things will be sensible or grown up, but I’m going to enjoy this year until my bank is bled dry. And it should keep me so busy I won’t need to worry about dating. In fact, if I’m still single at the end of the year I’m going to get a dog and call it Proxy BF.

So, here goes:

1. Buy a magnum.magnum

Really? What am I thinking? I have no idea but I love champagne and this feels suitably decadent. I’ve not drunk it yet, but that wasn’t the point. Can’t imagine it’ll still be in my larder in 2016.

2. Prashad.

The delicious vegetarian restaurant that won Gordon Ramsay’s Indian of the year a while ago.

My mate Dusti took me to their tiny corner cafe oprashad2n a Bradford housing estate many years ago. The food was amazing and incredibly cheap. My mouth still waters when I remember my first bite of a savoury cake flavoured with mustard seeds called dhokra. So I went this year to their new Drighlington place with some very good mates and it’s still delicious but not so cheap. Sign of the times (and fame).

Conversation on a train with an old friend (OF) who I rarely see.

Me: Shall we update each other on our dating exploits?

OF: Yeh, what have you been up to?

Me: Well after the nearly vicar I met someone on another bench- by the river in York.

OF. Really? I had a date with a man from York. In the Adelphi recently.

Me (with dread) Really? It wasn’t a couple of weeks ago was it? On a Sunday night?

OF. Er, yes.

Me. He’s 6 foot seven?

OF (laughs) yeh, do you know him?

Me. Er yes, he came round to mine afterwards and stayed the night. He said he was meeting a band in the Adelphi about possibly joining them.

OF. No way! I texted him after to see if he got home ok. He texted back saying I was a sexy kisser.

Me. He was at mine then. I can’t quite believe this.

OF. He said he was tired because he’d been at a band rehearsal on Friday which turned into a wine drinking session and late night.

Me. Yep, that’ll be when we had a date and I stayed over. Bloody hell, I really liked him.

OF. Yep, so did I.

Me. Shall we text the lying cunt?

So, what have I learnt from this sorry episode?

  1. My gut instinct isn’t infallible (though if I’d known he was a salesman I probably wouldn’t have met up with him).
  2. Leeds is smaller than you might think.
  3. To check in with my dating mates so we can swap man details and not overlap.
  4. Even when I am my usual ‘brutally honest’ self, I can’t expect it of others.
  5. Being lied to makes me feel sick.
  6. Tho odd blog is quite cathartic.

We all know that people might be dating several others at the beginning, but this was both rude and deceitful. I’m now questioning everything he told me. I’m guessing ‘early retirement’ means ‘old git on the dole’. And ‘I really want to keep you in my life’ means ‘you’re a mug, ker-ching’.

It’s hard not to get bitter and suspicious, but I refuse to ruin myself for some bloody psychopath. Perhaps I should go for the cynical curmudgeons, I think they might be more honest.