50 Things because I’m worth it

2015 was the year I treated myself to 50 things I’ve always wanted to do, or just thought I’d enjoy. I was 50 in June and making this list to look forward to definitely softened the blow. What a year- I loved it.


Yay, last instalment of 50 Things

44 Windmill

I’ve wanted to live in a turret for years, possibly since I read the Bone People. This was the next best thing-  a BnB in the last windmill left in Scarborough. Howling winds, pouring rain, snug in bed. Bliss.44 windmill

We ventured out for a very posh fish dinner, which involved goat cheese rarebit on some hake. Reader please don’t try this at home, it was disgusting. We also passed ‘George Michael’s Restaurant’. Is this the George or a George, google won’t tell me?

45 Ambiente

Spanish food done very well in Leeds. I’ve been several times this year and enjoyed every morsel. There’s a great veggie menu and churros! Next time I’m definitely having the sherry taster.

46. Afternoon tea in London

My dad has spent years researching the best cream teas and this was in his top 3. A swanky 5 star in Kensington called the Milestone Hotel. It was so posh that there was none of that snootiness you get in lesser places. Just very comfortable sofas, delicious and copious food on proper 3 tier tea thingies and staff that were there to help, not judge. Amazing. I doubt I’ll be going again as it was so expensive, but I enjoyed every morsel.

47. Art Performance

This was an unexpected find while I was in London. We managed to catch the last day of a video installation by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartantsson ‘The Visitors’. It was in an old multistorey car park in Soho, which made it more of an adventure.

We stumbled out of the lift into a dark room full of video screens with people milling around and we weren’t sure what to do. It turned out to be a sort of virtual recital, with each screen showing one person playing an instrument and singing along with everyone else via headphones. It was filmed in an old mansion so they all started off in separate rooms, then gradually wandered into each others’ spaces then eventually all wandered off over the fields. It’s hard to describe how wonderful this was. Made me really think about how separate we all are in our virtual worlds, yet also can connect with each other. The music was repetitive and beautiful, kind of spiritual and made me cry at one point. From everywhere in the room you could hear all the musicians, even when you couldn’t see them.

I’d be interested in other stuff the Vinyl Factory are involved with.

48. Port at Gordon’s wine bar.

Possibly the oldest wine bar in London, certainly the oldest one I’ve been to. They serve port from barrels with delicious cheese/meat platters, and there’s a cavelike room to gather round candlelit tables, or you can sit outside next to a tiny park by the Embankment.

These pics are from their website:

49. Mudpack

My mate R brought me back a ‘mud mask’ from Jordan 5 years ago, along with scabies which she kept to herself. Nasty business getting rid, I wouldn’t recommend them. She also had a luxurious new bathroom installed last year with a huge walk in shower, so I decided to combine the two on a relaxing winter afternoon. 49. mudpackI’ve now got shower envy- no clammy shower curtain clinging to my back (even though I do have a rather nice periodic table one, also courtesy of R), no black mould and no worrying about falling over whilst washing my feet as it has a very sensible ledge to sit on.

50. Xmas at my dad’s

What a lovely end to my best year yet- a quiet family xmas. Dad’s wife P is such a generous host. 50 Xmas at dad's

Finally, I’ve booked my Fjord visit. Cruising up to Norway with my sister at Easter, can’t wait. Fleetway Travel have such good offers.

I’ve now got a long list of other things I really want to do, but I think one a month is enough and I won’t miss having to write about them. I prefer to write when/if the mood takes me, which seems to be once or twice a year.

Setting myself up to do 50 Things in a year has meant that every week I’ve been thinking about several things I really want to do, then doing at least one of them! A good way to live life I think.

50 Things Part 10

50 Things Part 10

35. Bonfire

I love burning things, but somehow rarely manage to get out in the garden. This list is really helping me do the things I want to do, my new mantra is ‘just do it’.35. Bonfire

So, I spent a day burning a huge pile of mountain of hedge cuttings from the last couple of years, which was a massive undertaking, as it was all so wet I had to put it on branch by branch. At the end I was covered in scratches and insect bites, full of splinters, and I’d bruised my lungs by sitting on an old chair which collapsed and threw me against a tree. But I felt very satisfied and have since had a couple of proper bonfires with dry unsmoking wood. It’s so relaxing sitting and watching flames.

36 Thai Aroi Dee

Great little Thai cafe in Leeds, People say it’s authentic, but I’ve no idea if that’s true. Just very tasty cheap and BYO (for free!). Have been here with work, friends, friends of friends and bf and it’s always a pleasure.

37. LED wall clock

No more ticking.

I’ve included my gorgeous Polish papercut in the pic too.

38 LED watch

I was looking for birthday presents at Bradford IMAX as museum shops often have interesting stuff. What did I see but a plain black rubber watch, which shows the time in LEDs if you press a button. I couldn’t resist. Apparently it ‘looks like a tag’ but I reckon they were just jealous. Reminds me slightly of the Tomorrow People, but I doubt that LEDS were around then.

39 Rug

I’ve had my living room insulated, plus a new painted floor which needs rugs. There’s a whole world out there full of psychedelic designs, it’s amazing. I restrained myself somewhat to this swirly one, cheap because it’s acrylic, but cleanability (think I made that up) is a priority these days. I won’t be changing it before I die, so my green conscience is relatively clear.

39 rug

40 Sagrada Familia BCN

On my third annual trip to Barcelona with 2 mates, we decided to finally go inside La Sagrada Familia. It was incredible! Nothing like the outside, it’s Gaudi at his most restrained. Soaring columns like huge redwoods, fonts made of giant clams. I won’t say any more, as I think you should go and see it yourself. It had the most intense colours from stained glass I’ve ever seen. I could’ve stayed in there for hours. Book tickets online to cut down on queueing.My pics don’t do it any justice, but I’m sure google will help.

41. New bag- Clas Ohlson

41 new bag

Woohoo, huge cheap bag from my current favourite shop. Cross between Ikea & Wilkos, but so much better.

42. Visit York, KT & the Quilt Museum

Lovely weekend in York, visiting an old friend. We saw some amazing modern quilts plus one I loved made out of old clothing labels : Bri-lon and the like. The displays are regularly changed so I’ll be going again, though I was a bit miffed we weren’t allowed to take photos.. We also had a delicious meal at Walmgate Alehouse (I’ve tried to recreate the pea pancakes at home, not very successfully) and went to the Gallery to see hundreds of ceramics, including these beauties by Kerry Jameson.

I even walked some of the famous walls on my way back to the station.

43. Cheese cafe

This pop up in Leeds didn’t exist when I made my list, but luckily I had a few numbers spare. What a great idea. Plates of cheesy favourites like macaroni cheese and aubergine parmigiana, done really well. The rarebit was the best I’ve ever had, made with a layer of melted black cheese in the middle. It looked like molten plastic, but tasted amazing. Apparently it was made in remembrance of the miners’ strike, is called Char Coal, and actually contains cola. Delicious! I’m not sure how long the cafe will be there, so get down to Homage2Fromage soon. You can pop in for a cheesy bite in the bar or go upstairs for a proper dining experience.

melted cheese

I’ve been 3 times already !

I’m a bit behind on writing up, but have 2 to go, so should be on target to finish at the end of the year.

50 Things part 9

30 Cheerful chilli 30 CheerfulChilli_Logo

Walk on Otley Chevin then eat delicious veggie food is my kind of day. Though the servings were so big I should’ve saved the walk till after. The ‘experimental’ gig in a Bradford cellar was not the best followup to a vaguely romantic meal. I had to leave C there after 10 minutes of earsplitting noise, er, music. I destroy my hearing for no man, even if it was our first gig together.

31. Fewston Reservoir

Sunny walk around Fewston reminded me of my free festival days. I used to come wild camping here with a bottle of whisky, a manboy and a sleeping bag. What else would we need? We also came to a tiny festival here once, where I was nearly driven off the side of the road by an irate local, who objected to lots of dirty crusties having fun. 3 bolts of lightning hit each other a few feet away from my tent. Exciting times.31 fewston

32. Castlerigg

My favourite stone circle by far, just outside Keswick. The views all around are so amazing I don’t attempt to capture them on film. 360 degrees of mountains and sky, usually with all weathers featuring somewhere. The Bald Hiker has some beautiful pics, including this one.

Castlerigg by The Bald Hiker

Castlerigg by The Bald Hiker

I was a bit surprised to see an ice cream van up here. I’ve come for several solstices over the years and more recently the rangers have been very keen to get rid of us as soon as the sun’s up. Maybe paying customers are different.

33. Solfest glamping

Solfest is a nice little festival in the NW which has a great healing area I sometimes work in with the Travelling Homeopaths Collective. THC logoI decided to treat myself to a squrt (tiny yurt) with bed and bedding supplied. It saved a lot of faffing, but cost a LOT and sadly couldn’t dampen the earthshaking qualities of the allnight dubstep bass. My earplugs didn’t either.

34. Reflexology

34.  reflexologyOne of highlight of Solfest was a session with Edie ‘In Safe Hands’. It was wonderful lying back in the sun having my feet massaged. We then had an hour or so chat which was more like therapy. I was surprised to find myself telling her about my (dead) mum, an old betrayal and many other things. She said she could feel I was holding on to something and later that night I decided to just stop and go with whatever came along. I then spent an idyllic weekend feeling in lurve with C, which is NOT like me at all. Was great fun, but not sure I can keep it up. My critical parent is never far away, which reminds me of ‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne. Great book.

50 Things part 8

26. Butterfly House

Hot and humid day in Leeds, why not go to Tropical World? Well, the clue’s in the name, it was almost unbearably hot. Butterflies everywhere, chasing each other around. Beautiful.

Flowers outside Tropical World, Leeds.

Flowers outside Tropical World, Leeds.

I love the meerkats but can’t help feeling sorry for them. They’re so hardwired to be on the lookout that they must be living on adrenaline stuck in a glass box surrounded by constant ‘danger’. They seem to do the sentry thing halfheartedly and there’s nowt else for them to do. Poor things, just for our entertainment.

27. Lakes

Being chauffered around beautiful mountains, lakes, scary passes (especially Hardknott). Throw in a 4 star hotel offer (Low Wood Bay) and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. Bliss. We also looked for several neolithic stone sites mentioned in Julian Cope’s Gazetteer, but forgot to bring the OS map so managed not to find any of them. windermere

We did find the Blackwell arts n crafts house, which was beautiful. Am now musing on how to incorporate some into my own. First step DECLUTTER.

28. Massage

A birthday present from a friend. Home visit, massage, job done. Thanks Rita.

29. Isle of Lewis

I’ve wanted to visit Callanish stone circle for years. Maybe having my birthday on the summer solstice has given me my interest in standing stones. They’re also usually in beautiful places and I remember leaning against one at Stonehenge thinking it was amazingly big when I was 10. Such a shame what they’ve done to it now. Little did I know that Callanish has 3 circles within walking distance of each other, plus on Lewis they seem to be everywhere. As were golden eagles, beautiful beaches, rainbows, Harris tweed, art galleries, fields of buttercups, stone age buildings. Not sure why there is so much pampas grass blowing in the wind (let’s not go down the Comic Strip presents route).

Pampas blowing in the wind on Lewis.

Pampas blowing in the wind on Lewis.

We visited an amazing bothy built on a cliff edge, attended an art opening, sewed some more of Jasia’s wedding quilt (ongoing for 4 years now) and did a lot of laughing. Thanks to Helen for the marathon drive, and for taking us to the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. Perfect pit stop.

This year has involved catching up with so many old friends and reminiscing, but I’ve decided that that needs to be balanced by looking forwards, making plans and new memories. There are still 31 things on my list to fit in this year, which is becoming more of a challenge than I expected. A good one though 🙂

Dating epilogue

The following contains cliches for which I can only apologise and assure you that every word is true.

So, I deleted all my online dating profiles in May this year having decided I wasn’t enjoying it and that I really don’t need a man to make me happy. Life has been wonderful recently, in part because the 50 Things list is giving me something to look forward to every week.

3 weeks later I was doing some cava training before my big birthday (which was a great success- I managed to drink and dance till 6am without serious repercussions) and I ended up at the pub. You can probably guess what happened next. Yes, in the age old tradition I dragged a man home whilst blind drunk. I’ve known him vaguely for years, but we’ve never spoken more than a sentence to each other that I can recall. And yet, in the midst of the drunken blur I saw something I liked (may have been his dimples).cava_

Anyway, turns out we share a love of fiction, hammocks and making dice decisions amongst other things. I won’t bore you with all the details, except to say that I’ve never dated a grownup before. He can drive, make tea and even offers to pay his own way. What a revelation. He’s not only accompanied me on some of my 50 Things, he IS one of them.

Being brought up in a family of humanoid computers I don’t naturally touch people or express much emotion. We were happy and secure with no need to talk about it. And yet here I am publicly saying I like another human being. Eek! Must be my hormones, or some chance mix of pheromones.

We both passed our monthly review and I guess we’re now in a honeymoon period. Long may it last.

50 Things part 7

20 Car I knew if I waited long enough a friend would provide. So I now have a shiny blue micra. The dents are like cute dimples, the kangarooing stopped after a few days. I’ve got a ticket to drive and I’m gonna use it.20 car

21 Afternoon in hammock. First sunny June day with an enormous hangover, I lay in my hammock being rocked by the wind. Nowt more to say. 21 hammock

22 Nowt to see here. Ahem.

23 Cream Tea 1: Sunshine Bakery. 23. Cream tea 1 Sunshine Bakery

Biggest tastiest sarnies I’ve ever had as part of a cream tea. Followed by quiche, scones, cupcakes n brownies. Thank goddess they let us take loads home. Gorgeous little place in Chapel A in Leeds. Get yerself down there.

24 Party

My last big blowout I believe, though the gathering of the clans reminded me I’ve been saying that since I was 30 (when I spent a week raving in Ireland with the mighty Smokescreen). I had such a fantastic weekend with old and new mates, fuelled by cava and nostalgia, laughing and dancing to Lula and the Bebops and Lords of Poundland aka Leeds 6 Allstars.

The one and only Harry Bowie

The one and only Harry Bowie

David Bowie sent a gravelly voiced clone and everyone sang ‘You’ve got a friend’ with me, which made my eyes leak. Sometimes the hangover is well worth it.

  1. Puffins

    Post party road trip to find some puffins in my new car with my newly discovered toyboy. Could life get any better? We decided to be spontaneous, ie not prebook on the internet, hence had an hour or so in Seahouses thinking we might be sleeping in the aforesaid car. But no, chance intervened and we ended up in ‘Farne Island BnB’ with the lovely Michael who was incredibly friendly and regaled us with tales of submarine living plus the essential local gossip. We were so lucky.

    The boat trip to see puffins was great, a bit like swaying around in the hammock, but surrounded by men of a certain age carrying HUGE camera lenses. I’ve never seen anything like it. Yep, top birding season explained the lack of local rooms. It turns out puffins are cartoon characters, popping up out of their burrows, walking like little automatons, or doing a panto version of pimp rolling. It was rather upsetting watching them being mugged by 3 or 4 gulls to steal the sand eels straight their mouths. I can’t understand why they stay there under those conditions. We also saw bizarre looking razorbills and several other types of bird, including the legendary arctic terns divebombing people’s heads. I could’ve stayed there for hours.

    We finished the trip by driving for miles through the beautiful Northumbria National Park eyeing up the sheep and dreaming of Sightseers, to catch the 32 second performance by the Silver Swan automaton at Bowes Museum.

Birthday poem by Ruthless.

‘In her Monsoon frocks Jane really rocks
Except fer when she’s wearing sandals with socks
And it’s her 51st year and she’s 50 and and still groovy
With her cream teas and homeopathy
And her courgette and strawberry cake
Which was a real beauty and not a fake
Just like our Jane who is nothing but ace
And even tho she’s not into drum and bass
She loves her David Bowie and Poldark
And reading Germaine Green after dark
Oh Janie Jane we love you, menopause n’all
Let’s raise out glasses and drink to her y’all’

NB. I don’t mind a bit of Drum n Bass. Particularly ‘Woman that rolls’ by Aphrodite.