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 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.

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 busI’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 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. Sow 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

Afternoon Teas remembered

There’s not much I enjoy more than a good high tea: whiling away an afternoon with a good friend, drinking gallons of tea and eating delicious morsels. If only I was in an Agatha Christie film and could dance the day away.

It’s rarely cheap, but for a birthday treat I think an afternoon tea is perfect. Most offer glasses of champagne if you’re really feeling decadent.

Here’s my personal reviews over the last couple of years.

The Queens Hotel, Leeds

2 or 3 tiers of lovely food each. Pics from 2 of my visits to the Queens.



Variety of sandwiches sometimes open sometimes not, scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, selection of pastries, pot of tea.

Drawbacks: Feels like smokey dive as there are no windows.

Anthonys at Flannels, Leeds

Small but perfectly formed. Presented on slate, looked beautiful. Jam in tiny kilner jars. Lovely upstairs empty room, but leather seats a bit sweaty. Not enough food though! Scone was tiny. Good tea. Would go again, but have brunch earlier.

Quebecs, Leeds

The round Oak Room was great and we had it to ourselves.  Really disappointing food though- we had to send the curling dry sandwiches back- they’d obviously been sat around for a while in a hot kitchen. I had no reply to my email afterwards either.

Betty’s, Ilkley or other places in Yorkshire

Allround deliciousness.

Midland Hotel, Manchester

Delicious. Art deco room. 3 tier trolley.

Unlimited tea. Glass of madeira. Sandwiches, scone with butter/cream/jam/preserve. Cakes. Way too much to eat, but everyone took stuff home.

Only slight grumble- sultana scone, apricot/cream cheese sandwich filling.WRONG!

Radisson Leeds

Hardly anyone in there, so lovely quiet place to lounge on comfy sofas for hours and eat at leisure. (BUT the TV screen is a terrible idea- we managed to sit behind a pillar to avoid).

Medium priced cream tea, on a 3 tier stand: very fresh finger sarnies- egg mayo, mozzarella n pesto, feta n tomato, cucumber n cream cheese- veggie as requested. Then warm scones (well, not by the time we ate them) with jam n cream, tiny chocolate mousse tarts (would’ve been better without the pastry) and gallons of earl grey. Took my fruit cake home.

A special mention for the Marvellous tealadies at their newly opened tearoom in Leeds- delicious homemade cakes, gorgeous collection of  vintage teapots and cups, a quirky little slice of 50s heaven. They don’t do the whole afternoon tea stand thing- yet!

I’ve managed all these words on afternoon tea without mentioning  ‘quintessential’. Well done me.

STOP PRESS The Marvellous Tearooms do indeed offer tiered hight tea. Ill be trying it soon- looked delicious.