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 🙂


50 Things part 6

14. Spa Finally made it to a Champneys spa, which was lovely but my heart remains at Ragdale Hall. There’s sommat about being told to dress for dinner that gets my back up. I spent 2 nights with my remaining friends from school. We all lead very different lives from each other, but an underlying friendship remains. Yoga, meditation, steam room, massage, I feel incredibly relaxed. Mmmmmm

15. Kneehigh Theatre show I love Kneehigh and they didn’t let me down. Lovely afternoon shopping in Manchester then wandering Salford Quays. Rebecca had the usual ingredients of fantastic musicians and high drama mixed in with essential laughs. Beautiful. If you ever get the chance to see anything by them go! One day I’ll see them at home down in Cornwall (maybe on my 60 list).

The Wild Bride by Kneehigh Theatre (my fave)

The Wild Bride by Kneehigh Theatre (my fave)

16 Tharavadu with Calderdaleites Old vegan mates from over the hills, there’s only one place to take them in Leeds for coconutty goodness- Tharavadu. 16 TharavaduTotally delicious. Conversation ranged from gnomes via fracking to the death of an old friend. Getting old is not all good. Our mutual friend the male whore was MIA, which meant we missed out on his usual outrageous stories. The lunch offer here is amazing value at £5. Yes, £5! 17. WHC I’ve been staying at the Women Holiday Centre in Horton-in-Ribblesdale since the 80s, when I was an idealistic young feminist hippy. I’ve not changed much TBH. The holiday centre was set up in 1980 as a charitable co-operative, to provide affordable holidays in an old Rectory, with a sliding scale for payments according to income. The lowest charge for one night, including food, is kept at the daily rate of benefit entitlement. For my ’50’ visit we booked the whole house for a group of friends and chilled, cooked and shared meals, laughed hysterically, shared X rated stories, gave each other ‘advice’, did the silliest Pilates session I’ve ever seen and even managed some countryside walks, some up Pen Y Ghent.. There’s something magical about women only space and I don’t get enough of it these days. I’m not going to post any pics because what happens there most definitely stays there.

18 Luxembourg

Lovely pic of downtown Luxembourg by my sis

Lovely pic of downtown Luxembourg by my sis

Trip with my sister to visit cousins, Aunt and Uncle, who live in and around Luxembourg.It’s hard to keep up with family when they live so far away. What a lovely place- clean, green, spacious and comfortably wealthy. Hal the workforce come over the borders every morning. In one afternoon we went to France and Germany, then mosied up the Moselle to Trier, an amazing place full of history and UNESCO sites.

19 Germaine Greer

The lovely Germaine

The lovely Germaine

At last I saw her in the flesh speaking at Otley Courthouse. I love her outspokenness, her public changing of her mind when she feels like it, her thoughtful musing on the lot of women. She’s definitely mellowed, which is allowed at 76 I think. Perhaps matured is a better word. I dunno, she might hate that. She was talking about women disappearing worldwide, where are all they all? Aborted, killed as babies, even worse? Or is there something causing more males babies to develop than females? Is anyone looking?

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.