Saturday 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!! The Dancing Queen is known as "Ninja Cat" by her friends, and so she carved a ninja and a cat into her pumpkin this year!!

Ive been "missing in action" this week as I have had a lovely jaunt to PARIS!!!! It was fantastic and I shall be telling you all about it next week. There were so many "best bits" I shan't know where to start!!

Thursday 22 October 2009

Scenes from my week so far

Ive been so busy this week, but with not much to show for it!! Anyway, some of the nicer bits have been:

The sunset earlier in the week - these are the true colours, it was so spectacular.

A "Preview"evening at Hackets Florists and Gift shop in the market town of Penistone, South Yorkshire - sadly she seems to have no website, but it is a lovely little shop and brimming with Christmas goodies at the moment!!
My Chocolate Cosmos - which I was assured would also smell of chocolate, but never did. They are in their final bloom now, but they have looked lovely by the back door.
Please let me know (by email) if you have problems leaving comments - and I'll see what I can do .

Sunday 18 October 2009

Fab fun in the north

Ive had a wonderful weekend. On Saturday, hubby and I went to the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield to listen to Stuart Maconie talk and promote his latest book which is part of the "Off the Shelf" Literary festival currently being held in the city. The Showroom Cinema is a fabulous place. It is independently owned and has a great cafe bar attached to it, where we treated ourselves to a lovely lunch - well we were on a "date"!! Stuart Maconie was absolutely brilliant. He is sort of a northern Stephen Fry. He is very witty and really clever. He was really charming. He is a proper Anglophile and advocate for the "North". We were highly entertained for the afternoon and I came away with a signed copy of his new book to digest.

Then it was home - quick tea, quick change and off to Sheffield Arena with hubby and the young man to see the hilarious Michael Macintyre (The dancing queen has a ticket for the Monday night show as she was working on Saturday). All of his material was brand new and we laughed away the evening. This was part of the "Grin up North" Festival currently being held in the city. (Poster by the fabulous Mr Pete Mckee)
Today, I went to see Hugh Fernley Whittingstall (control yourself Lisa!!) as part of the literary festival. The strange venue for this talk was Sheffield Cathedral. As I sat waiting for Hugh to start, I realised to my shame that this was the first time I had ever been in this great building. Why have I visited every Cathedral in every city I have ever been to - some (ie York) more than once, but never my own!! I have in the past been very guilty of not seeing what is under my nose. The Cathedral is an intriguing building and I shall return shortly for a full scale visit. Part of it took a direct hit from a bomb in the Sheffield Blitz and it is so interesting to see how they mixed the old and the new together. Anyway, back to Hugh. I really enjoyed his talk. He was witty, though provoking, and he fired up my enthusiasm for feeding my family. I didn't buy his book as the queue was very long, so I'll have to obtain this by other means - it looks and sounds really good.
All three of these events were totally sold out which I thought was great to see. Sheffield is really a great place to live, work and play.

Thursday 15 October 2009

If you love me.........

.......then you can vote for me here:

but be warned (especially Lyn!! ) that there are hundreds of delicious looking blogs on here to feed your addiction!!

I was wondering - what is your most embarrasing moment? I have far too many to choose from, but I once had to ring NHS direct when I was in a hurry getting ready to go out and brushed my teeth with Immac instead of toothpaste!!!
It sort of "electrified" my fillings on impact and I couldn't imagine what it was going to do to my gums if it melts hair!!! I was advised to drink milk and seek medical attention if I felt ill - I bet they had a right laugh in the call centre!!! Twice I have turned up at work with my top on inside out!! (this was recently so I am putting this down to age!!!) and I once went into the gents toilets in a country pub - thinking it was the only toilet in the establishment. Whilst in the "cubicle" I heard someone come in and use the urinal!!! When I eventually came out, there was a large queue of fella's waiting outside to come in. They had seen me and couldn't understand why I had been in so long!! I'm not fit to be let out!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Bin Busy

Hi All, Ive had a mega busy week so far and for once Ive been sat at the sewing machine instead of the computer!! Ive been making a few things for my Pay it forward - so I dont want to reveal what I have made until the recipients have all received their goodies. When I say "goodies" I am a bit worried that they might not be good enough. I just have a few bits and bobs to finish off before I can post them off.
Ive done well on the "Freebies" this week. Myself, the young man, the dancing queen and 3 of her friends went to see "Couples Retreat" at the cinema for free (I love Vince Vaughan - very tasty geezer!!). Ive also managed to blag the Dancing Queen and her friends Theatre tickets for a dance show on Friday evening in return for their feedback, and free tickets for hubby, the young man and a couple of his friends to see the Sheffield Sharks basketball team play!

I can't say I am enjoying the dark nights yet. I don't like getting home from work, having tea and then it being dark. I feel a bit "caged". It makes me long for the weekend even more! Ive got a great weekend planned too.

Sunday 11 October 2009


I love my Little Black Dress. It is the most versatile piece of clothing in my wardrobe. I can dress it up or down. I have worn it to several Christmas party's (and made it look different each time), weddings, funerals, christenings, fancy dress party's ( I was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's - I wish!! and also Grace Kelly in High Society - my friends fancy dress parties are always "themed" around "musicals") . It is size 14 and is made of a magic fabric that made it still fit well when I dropped to a size 12, and equally when I went up to a size 16! Its the only thing I wear that makes me feel comfortable and glamorous. I have had the dress for about 10 years now, and the real magic of it is that it only cost me £1.00 brand new from a factory seconds shop.

I really mourn the loss of manufacturing in this country. I think it is really short sighted to close down our manufacturing plants and move it all to the far east. Here in the north, on both sides of the Pennines, we used to manufacture some of the most fabulous textiles and then make them up into wonderful garments. Here is South Yorkshire, we had lots of sewing factories employing thousands of workers. These have now all gone. I really miss the "factory shop". I discovered a brilliant one in Huddersfield about 4 years ago that manufactured clothing for Laura Ashley, Next, Planet, Linea at House of Fraser etc. You can imagine my distress when they eventually closed. I still have a stash of their fabrics though.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Cucumber Pickle

I arrived home on Wednesday to find 4 Cucumbers on my back doorstep - courtesy of my Dad most likely.

So with inspiration from here and recipe from here, last night I produced several jars of very tasty Cucumber pickle......
and a very stinky kitchen!!
For those who asked, the Garden Centre in my previous post was Wentworth Garden Centre which is always well worth a visit for the gardens, coffee and cake alone!! If you visit on a Sunday, you can also pay a visit to Wingham Woolwork. Divine!!

Thursday 8 October 2009


I returned home from work today to find my giveaway prize of "Allure" perfume by Chanel had arrived all the way from Venice, courtesy of the delightful Michela. It smells wonderful, and as predicted, the dancing queen already has her eye on it!! Many thanks Michela - I am overwhelmed!!
I keep thinking that "this" will be the last bunch of sweet peas from my garden, and then I find I have enough for another!! (sorry to rub it in Rosie). They are losing their wonderful scent though. (Don't you just love the un staged photo featuring the washing line and the bin in the background!! You don't get that with Elspeth Thompson or Ros Badger!!)

After drenching myself in Chanel, I insisted that we went for a walk to catch the last few rays of the day. We ended up at the garden centre - the colours are turning from summer to autumn very quickly.

I don't know what this plant is, but I admire it every year. I'd love one in my garden.
I can report that the HUGE and very swanky looking new tea rooms are looking almost finished. I shall of course be testing this when they open - for blogging purposes only you understand!!
The "Allure " must be working because the worlds most handsome man found me a heart shaped stone for the collection.
The other day, Nina tagged me to name five things that I am obsessed with lately, so these would be:
1. (Don't hate me!!) Getting my Christmas present list finished - I think I have got everyone's now - apart from the kids and hubby. My philosophy is that come Christmas, I just want to eat, drink and be merry! and you can't do that if you have to be in the shops - plus I make a lot, and sale shop a lot through out the year so it doesn't hit my purse as hard!
2. Longley Farm Hazelnut or Rhubarb yoghurt - I am addicted
3. The Peep show with Mitchell and Web - I didn't see the first series, but I am loving the new series(but its naughty!!)
4. X Factor - and I cry every week. I cry when people's dreams are crushed, and I cry when people get to realise their dreams, and I love to hear beautiful singing voices - which I'm sorry to say that the Irish boy duo just don't have. I'm tipping them to be first off.
5. 3D Cinema. We got free tickets this week to see the latest Disney film UP . No matter how young or old you are, you must try and get to see it. It made hubby and I cry (twice) but made us laugh lots. It is a really beautiful love story. I highly recommend it.
I'm supposed to pass this on, but I hate piling the pressure on, so please feel free to pick this up if you are passing and reveal all.

Edited to include National Poetry Day - My favorite poet is a very local chap - "The Bard of Barnsley" Ian McMillan. I really admire the work he does, especially introducing school kids to poetry and making his work enjoyable to the masses. I have attached a link to his website, have a look and tell me your fave - I love the poem about Yorkshire Puddings and also the one about the internet:

Sunday 4 October 2009

Its not Hollywood but........

...we have several places on my doorstep that have been used as film locations. Our walk today took me past Tankersley Old Hall which as you can see is totally ruined and looks as if unfortunately it will never be restored. It lies on "Tankersley Moor" which is no longer an actual moor but apparently there was a battle here in 1643. The Hall is clearly visible from the M1 Motorway between Barnsley and Sheffield.

It is fenced off and you cannot get near it any more because of its derelict state, but you can clearly see some of the fireplaces still inside the building. It was built in Elizabethan times. Do you recognise the location? can you remember the film?
It was of course the building where Billy Casper found his Kestrel in "Kes" written by Barry Hines a truly brilliant film. The book was called " A Kestrel for a Knave"

I was most impressed on my first day at comprehensive school in 1971 to discover that Barry Hines was my English teacher. However he left about 3 weeks later to pursue bigger and better things. Who could blame him! A Barnsley Comprehensive school in the early 70's was not the place to be!! Sadly I hear that he is suffering from Alzheimer's now.

Friday 2 October 2009

Tis the season to get SPOOKY!!!

The Dancing Queen is also the Queen of Halloween. She has always loved Halloween and over the years, our party got better and better. Recently, we have taken to moving the Halloween spectacular into the garden, and our house is now known amongst the tick or treater's as the Spookiest house in the village - which means we tend to draw quite a crowd. I thought I would share some of the things we do with you early on, in case you want to borrow the ideas.

This is our house - only joking, but how good would this be for a Halloween party? We spotted it on holiday last year. It stands on the beach in Dinard. I found out recently that it is reputed to be the house that Hitchcock based the motel in "Phsyco" on - I can see why. I think you could make it really really spooky!

I always used to carve the pumpkins, but then the Halloween queen wanted to do them last year. Now when I did them, they had eyes and jaggedy teeth - look what happens when she is let loose on the internet and then given a sharp knife!!

If you type in "Pumpkin Stencils" on google, you get spoiled for choice. She claims that they are very easy to do!!

As well as bobbing for apples, I also create a Witches cauldron that contains the chopped up body parts of a dead pirate!! This also contains a few treats, and the braver kids can dip into this for their treats. I use my grandads old pantion, and fill it with boiled spaghetti (intestines) a small cabbage (head) 2 hard boiled eggs (eyes) and chopped up carrots (fingers) I tape a black bin bag with a hand sized slit over the top so that the "dippers" cannot see in. I usually tell a bit of a story about the witch and the pirate (which I make up as I go along, but it is always very gruesome!)

We hang a collection of large rubber bats, spiders and snakes (mostly bought in gift shops over the years on the numerous school trips the kids on when they had £2 burning a hole in their pocket!) in places where the visitors will brush against them, and the Halloween queen made a huge web last year from crochet chain stitch and cheap white acrylic wool - we place this in the gateway so that the trick or treaters have to fight their way through it to get to us.

The kids decorate the garden with "ghosts" that are made using the young mans footballs (for heads ) wrapped in my decorating dust sheets and pinned up in trees, across the fence - dangling from the trampolene etc. We light the whole garden up with flickering candles and also make hot dogs for the trick or treaters using those disgusting "smart price" tinned sausages and finger rolls - with ketchup. The kids love 'em!!

We also make a few graves for the garden using this Martha Stewart template and we have used this Martha template to cut out hundreds of mice (gives the kids something to do!!) which we blu-tak all over the place. They look really effective. I really love Martha Stewart - the old jailbird! We save our Halloween decs every year in a box in the loft now, like we do our Christmas decorations and I usually buy the tacky supermarket decorations/plates/themed glasses etc when they are heavily reduced after the event to add to the collection.
I hope I have given you a few ideas. xxx

Pay it Forward

A few weeks back I joined Lyn's "Pay it Forward". I think the way it works is that Lyn now has to send me a homemade gift. In return, I need 3 volunteers to join mine, and I send you each a homemade gift, then you post the "Pay it Forward" on your blog - and so the thud of parcels containing beautiful gifts continue to land on doorsteps across the land. I have to limit this to the first three volunteers, so hurry hurry hurry!! By the way - I must say that Lyn has the longest list of "Blogs I read" that I have ever seen - It makes me laugh everytime I see it!!!

I am really pleased to say that I have also won a truly spectacular giveaway from Michela - our little ray of Venetian sunlight. Michela's mum has a very generous, but unimaginitive boss who appears to buy her a bottle of the same perfume - albeit Chanel! - every year. Well Ive only gone and won one!! Hurray!!! Now I just have to keep it a secret from the Dancing Queen as anything decent I get mysteriously ends up in her bedroom!!. Talking of which - she's bring several of her friends home for a sleepover tonight. I thought they stopped doing things like this when they were 12?!! So I have to find somewhere for them all to sleep, and I'm planning a "Pammy's Full English" (Gavin and Stacey fans will understand!) for the morning. I am accused on a regular basis of being a cross between Gwen (I do make a cracking omlette) and Pamelarrrr. I can see what they mean!!!!!
Have a great weekend - I'm looking forward to the new series of Jane Austins "Emma" on Sunday. I do love a good BBC adaptation of a dark Sunday evening !! - and don't forget to sign up to the once in a lifetime offer that is my PIF!!
Edited to add that you have 12 months to send your homemade gift off. xxx