Tuesday 22 February 2011

February does bring the rain

Had lunch with my siblings at Nappa Bar on Sunday.  Still fighting over the chips!  Janet always seems to be driving home in heavy rain and today was no exception.

Had my hair done on Monday with my daughter's words "Mum, you're not a teacher any more" ringing in my ears.  However, no great changes to my appearance this month! 

On Tuesday took the bus to town.  Free fares are a real bonus.  Schmied around but only bought a birthday card but I did get a decent sized spray sample of new perfume by Balenciaga.  Anyone wondering about birthday presents need look no further.

On Wednesday. Val and I took a picnic, which we bought in Marks and Spencers, to Harlow Carr Gardens where we dined in style, joined at our table by a very tame robin; the difference in what could be seen growing and flowering from last week was astonishing. 

Not wanting to pay the extortionate prices for coffee in Betty's, we drove on to Knaresborough before remembering that we were attending a meeting at Leeds Civic Hall that evening:  Leeds. City of Sanctuary.  As both sets of my grandparents came to Leeds to escape the pogroms in eastern Europe and other family members fled nazi Germany, I was interested to hear more. 
An excellent and informative speaker, Duncan Wells, gave us the facts (and fibs) about refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, followed by Hasan, a refugee who gave us an insight by telling his story.  Some of the details surprised me, as I am sure they would you.  There were representatives from the churches, synagogues and schools but, surprisingly none from the chinese or islam communities.

Bought raised beds from Aldi's to solve the problem of poor soil at caravan garden.  Couldn't have been more excited if I'd bought a designer handbag!
Raised Border
Also bought two spirally things.  Thought we would try to get the kids growing green beans this year.  The sunflowers were good fun but we had to wait ages for something interesting to appear.

Found a new store:  The Range which does indeed have a range of houseware and garden products at reasonable prices as well as a cafe.

Ellie made Challah at school and a beautiful challah cloth to grace our table on Friday.

Woke up to snow on Saturday.  Thought that was behind us.  Ate at Raja's to celebrate Val's birthday; Good food and convivial company. http://www.rajasleeds.co.uk/ voted one of the 10 best Indian restaurants in the UK.

Went to hear Joy talk on being a Yorkshire Blue Badge guide.  The event was organised by the HSFA (Holocaust Survivors' Friendship Association). 

There is a new version of South Riding and I identified (and checked on the internet) filming locations at Bridlington prom and beach and the 'Shacks' at Skipsea, which have had to be moved back from the edge of the cliffs due to coastal erosion.  After a bad storm, filming had to be moved to Acaster Malbis, near York.  The 'shanty town', as we named it is reached by a pleasant walk from our favourite ice cream parlour Mr Moos. 

 Too late - they've gobbled up the icecreams before I got my camera out

The phrase "best laid plans" springs to mind when reviewing our outing on Monday with the kids.  We had planned to go by bus to the museum and play with the interactive exhibits.  It was too cold to stand around at bus stops so drove to the town centre and parked nearby only to find that the museum is closed on Mondays, even in school holidays.  Oh well, we saw the skaters in Millennium Square and went for a coffee and muffin in Casa Mia.

Trying out rice recipes this week and made stuffed peppers; not bad for a first attempt.

Just to add,  my current reading matter is One Day by David Nicholls.  Although an enjoyable read, I am making slow progress.

Friday 11 February 2011

February brings the rain says the poem but, in this case, the wind

One happy granddaughter with her new pink bedroom.

Went shopping in Harrogate on Wednesday and spent my earnings from the day before on a cardigan which doesn't have the long, pointy bits at the front which can be seen out of my coat.

My next exciting purchase was this:

A new garlic press which is really easy to wash as it is made of plastic and the steel grid is removable (Culinare MagiPress).

Snowdrops are beginning to come into flower now.  Quite late; I have known them to be out in mid-January.
However, with the frost and snow we experienced, I am amazed to see them at all.

The wind has been gale force and I am surprised no more serious damage has occured.  One casualty was my plastic greenhouse, leaving my pelargoniums exposed to the elements.

Collected Szusza at the coach station.  She is staying in Leeds for the rest of the month. 

Went out with friends from the Bolbie Club on Monday night.  Tasty meal, good company. 

Bought a shelving unit in Ikea for Ronnie to try out new electric screwdriver, but the unit could only be erected with an Allen Key.

Went to Harlow Carr while the sun was shining.  Seeing the new shoots and blooms, makes the heart sing.  No evidence of gale damage here, unless the debris has been removed.

Love the quirky things you stumble across:
and we felt like royalty:

or the Mad Hatter's Tea Party!  Which reminds me, we must take a flask or picnic next time as there are a multitude of sites to stop and take a break - and it's a lot cheaper than Betty's Cafe, which have places both within the grounds and next to the carpark.

My garden is coming along too:

and we have put up a bird nesting box. 

Following the situation in Egypt as it unfolds.   

Was proud to hear my friend Joy on the local radio.   We go way back to our days in the Junior Red Cross, High School and FE College.  She was speaking about her travels, experiences as a Blue Guide for Yorkshire and translating for an Italian football team when they played Leeds United.  She gave an amazing performance; interesting and articulate.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

As January comes to an end ...

Terrible cold has kept me uncharacteristically out of action for a few days.  Determined to recover before Freya arrives.

Ben, Emma and Freya arrived on Friday.  I can see a big change in Freya and she feels heavier too.  She is happy to join in playing schools and tea parties with Ellie but, naturally, they both want to push the dolly's buggy.

We prepare for the afternoon tea.  We are expecting 16+ family members and Ben has prepared a film of Freya's first year, much of which was filmed in hospital which we hadn't been able to see.  It's miraculous and long live the NHS.

Emma's cakes, carrot and chocolate, and biscuits with almond paste went down a treat.   No-one even enquired whether I had made them!  Naomi prepared and presented the savoury stuff beautifully.  I was free to enjoy the afternoon.

 The chocolate cake

 fish balls, fallafel, hummus and garnish

 the party girl or girls!

A fantastic weekend; hope to see them again soon.

After collecting Ellie from Nursery, we spotted a flock of unusual birds feeding on the berries left on the wild roses.  With the help of the binoculars, the bird book and the internet, we identified them to be Waxwings.  That is just typical.  The day before I had participated in the Big Birdwatch and in an hour, in our garden which faithfully feeds the birds and attracts a range of species, all we could log were two female blackbirds, one male and one bluetit.  Pathetic.

“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...