Saturday 27 February 2010

Freebie Nights out

You know that I love a freebie night out - and I have managed to blag 2 recently. 1 brilliant and very thought provoking, the other not so.

On Tuesday, I booked hubby, the dancing queen and I on a lecture by our local "Business Link" which was billed as an "Inspirational talk" by Martyn Ware co founder of the Human League and Heaven 17 - 2 very iconic Sheffield bands of the early 1980's. His talk was based around how he found himself in the fortunate position of making a living out of his hobby. These days, as well as still playing with Heaven 17, he owns a company with Vince Clarke (of Yhazoo fame) that creates 3D music and sound installations. He talked about the future of music and sound in our lives and the media (which is why I took the dancing queen as its the industry she wants to get into). It was fascinating and very exciting stuff. The talk was held in a fabulous space at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield which was huge and one wall was entirely made of glass. It was snowing gently outside and it made Sheffield look as if it had been ensconced in a huge snow globe. Business Link kindly provided a fabulous buffet afterwards so all in all it was 9/10 freebie (would have been a 10 if they had provided a glass of wine!).

The lesser inspiring night out came in the form of 2 tickets I won to the Crucible Theatre to see Germaine Greer. I was looking forward to this as I thought she would be sparkling, witty, clever and thought provoking. She was none of these. She looked tired and weary - every sentence seemed a huge effort. She came across as bitter and twisted and not a great advert for feminism at all. Some of her comments I thought were just plain stupid. For example - She objected strongly to the conservative party talking about giving tax breaks to families because families "don't need any extra money as they have 2 incomes anyway". My own opinion on this is that I don't expect to get a tax break because I chose and am fortunate enough to live as a "family" (and by that I presume she means Mum, Dad, and kid/s). When hubby and I decided to have children, I was mature enough to realise that my social life/bank balance/half decent wardrobe/nice holidays/career prospects etc were never going to be the same again - and it has worked out exactly as I thought. Most double income couples embarking on having children will loose either one income, or half an income or keep a full salary only to pay the majority out in childcare - for a very long time. Its the way it is. You find yourself needing more space to live, so at a time when you have less income, you often have to have a bigger mortgage, and you find that once they start school, your holidays will cost 3 times more than holidays which can be taken outside of school holidays - and when they get to 12 years old, you have to pay adult prices for holidays too. I am horrified at how much it will cost to educate my two to University standard (a low estimate for this is £30, 000 per child!!!) but I am prepared for it - as it was my choice to have them. However, I feel that Ms Greer should feel a little in the debt of anyone who gives birth and raises the children that empty her bins, serve her in the supermarket, pilots the aeroplane that she travels to Australia on 3 times a year, treat her in hospital etc etc because without those prepared to make the sacrifice, the human race would grind to a halt! She also stated that women who tried fertility treatment were stupid and ought to spend their money on other things. Other elements of the evening made my blood boil too - but I'll climb off my soap box now.

Her poor views of family life seemed to stem from being brought up in a bad family environment which sounds as if it has scarred her for life. Hubby, who didn't enjoy the evening either said that she just needed the love of a good man - only he didn't use those words!!! I give this freebie night out just 1/10 as I got to see the new look Crucible Theatre which has just been refurbished.

Saturday 20 February 2010

A Charming Man

Hubby and I recently went to see Ian Mcmillan, The "Bard of Barnsley" at the newly refurbished Barnsley Civic Theatre. It was a brilliant evening. Ian is a truly charming gentleman, a great peoples poet, and the most wonderful story teller. He still lives in the pit village where he was born, and his observations of the people of Barnsley are spot on but relayed with the greatest of respect.

He told intricately woven stories of where he was when JF Kennedy was shot - this was hilarious as it involved 2 shopkeepers who were ex marines, cross dressers and lived together as man and wife - not so shocking these days, but can you imagine that in a pit village in Barnsley in the 60's!! I loved his story about when his mum dragged him into town to buy his Grammar School uniform on World Cup final day 1966 - as town would be quiet! And I would have loved to have seen him being driven off to University in 1973 in his dads "Cortina". The audience loved him and were literally crying with laughter. He is doing a few tours, so if you can catch him I highly recommend it. If you need a translator for his dulcet "Barnsley" tones, you know where I am!!!

I was also out on Tuesday evening (look at me, I'm never in!!). A friend and I went to the Lyceum to see Pasion de Beuno Vista .

The colours of the dancers costumes, the rhythms of the songs, and the heat of Cuba was just the thing to warm our cockles on a cold Yorkshire evening. Exceptionally enjoyable.

Hodsock Snowdrops

Hodsock Priory lies about 15miles away from us and is situated on the South Yorkshire/North Nottinghamshire border. It opens its gardens to the public in February as it is famous for its displays of Snowdrops. It's wonderful to be able to visit a garden at this time of year as not many are open, but Hodsock has the most amazing late winter/early spring plants and it is an utter delight to wander around.

I make no apologies for the profusion of photographs featuring colourful spring plants - I for one am glad to see them poking their pretty little heads out.

Edited - to explain that these seemed to be a miniature daffodil and in a very sheltered spot. My daffs are still no where to be seen in my garden!!

All the lakes and culverts were frozen over. They have a great selection of unusual plants and shrubs.

Its great to see colour coming back into the garden.

I love the Aconites, and these fabulous miniature lily type plants. Anybody any idea what they are? They were a gorgeous shade of blue, and had tiger markings on the inside.

I think that this is a Clematis - it was really pretty and caught my eye.

As you enter the woodland walk, the carpet of Snowdrops actually look like real snow.

One of the highlights of the walk, is the fire that they always have in the woods. This year, you could get a cuppa and a bacon sandwich here too!!

The young man - who claimed that he was "dragged" along got maximum "Wildlife" points for spotting a pine tree that had clusters of Ladybirds at the end of each branch. I wonder why they do this? Where is Bill Oddie when you need him!!

Its a fabulous place, and they have extended their opening until 5th March this year as the season was a bit late getting started. Pop along if you get chance.

Monday 15 February 2010

Bill Oddies Love Child

Whilst wandering around outside at YSP on Saturday (I forgot to say, if you ever go, go in walking boots or wellies as you often need then, and the indoor spaces are geared up for "muddy" booted customers) we happened upon this gnarled and weathered old tree that I thought was as beautiful as any sculpture.

I pointed out to the young man that there was lots of evidence of "owl" in this tree. If you enlarge the picture below, you can clearly see the "whitewash" which is the owls poo, and to the right of this are the pellets that they regurgitate all the fur and bones of the tiny creatures that make up their diet.

We have owls sit on our TV ariel at work, and I love to bring home the pellets to see what's in them - I find them fascinating!! The kids are not so enthusiastic - I put it down to the lack of decent nature tables in infant and junior schools these days. (I was a very avid provider for my class nature table back in the 60's!!).

Hope you weren't eating!!!

Sunday 14 February 2010

West Bretton Old Church

In the grounds of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, lies the old West Bretton Church. Ive been visiting the grounds at YSP for many years now, and this is the first time I have ever seen the church! I must walk round with my eyes closed!!! What caught my eye on this visit was the lovely heart shapes on the gates.

The iron work railings are very special too.

The church is no longer used as they have built a new one in the centre of the village. This one was built by the owners of the house which also stands in the grounds - Bretton Hall.

It wasn't open to look around, but it looked intriguing - I'll have to find out when they open it. More heart shapes caught my eye!

The graveyard was a riot of snowdrops.

How have I missed this in the past?

Saturday 13 February 2010

Bright Red

Red roses on my fabulous "Paris" bag - bought for me by my friend who thought I should look chic on my 50th birthday!

Hearts - for Valentines day

My cosy new slippers - making me feel like Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ

Red ribbons on birthday packages for a friend.

and my new red scarfe (and other scrumptious goodies) - courtesy of the very lovely Lisa .

Rob Ryan at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I was very giddy when I discovered that there was an exhibition at the YSP featuring the work of Rob Ryan. So on a Saturday afternoon, with hubby working, the young man and I took ourselves off for a look around. I love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park - there really is something for everyone. Its a great day out, and its totally free to get in (However you will be very tempted by the sumptuous waft from the fabulous cafe - one of my very favourite places to have lunch - or cake - or both!!). And the gift shop is a seriously dangerous place for your bank balance too!

The Rob Ryan displays did not disappoint. They are absolutely stunning - so intricate.

They even have larger ones displayed on the walk ways.

And outside, Mother Nature was trying hard to compete with all the silhouetting going on!

A perfectly brilliant way to spend Saturday afternoon. The exhibition is on until the 20th February if you want to catch it.

A room in which to "promenade"

My friend and I have been brushing up our french at evening classes here. Northern College in Barnsley, is no ordinary college. It is housed in the magnificent Wentworth Castle at Stainborough - once home to the Earls of Strafford. The library is magnificent and is situated in the long gallery on the top floor of the front of the house. I think that this is the room where the gentry would take their walks when it was inclement weather. Its certainly big enough!

We could have all done with a room like this over the winter! Any way, it certainly makes for a very impressive library.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Its amazing what you see.....

....when you are out taking photos specifically for your blog. It was a very dull weekend, really not good for photography, and I had to go shopping too - which is not really my idea of fun. However, I took the camera - just in case. We get off the tram in Sheffield, just outside the Cathedral - across the road from the Cutlers Hall. The huge steel doors of the hall are magnificent, and I have admired these from afar as I have walked passed before.

But I had never noticed the fabulous Elephant Head handles before.
Apparently, Elephants were used as a symbol for cutlers as it was an important animal to them as they often used the ivory for handles. Sadly, although Sheffield is still know throughout the world as the place that makes cutlery, I don't think that there are many cutlers left - just the odd one or two small companies keeping the tradition alive.
I don't know about you, but I'm itching to get out into my garden again. The other day, when I was having a tidy up and a mini pruning session, I brought in some Forsythia twigs. I have had them in a sunny spot, and I keep topping them up with warm water. They have just started to bring some of their sunshiney loveliness into my home - whilst the tree that they are from - just outside the window - is still very bare.

Monday 8 February 2010

Buy one in every colour!!

A pattern is emerging in my teenage daughters bedroom. She see's something she like, then buys it in every colour!!!
Whether it is daft specs,


or hats and checked shirts,

You can't have too much colour in your life.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Media Project

A combination of problem internet, working extra hours, attending French lessons, a theatre trip, a daughter who won't let me on the PC and a nasty hospital procedure (nothing wrong, just a "screening" ), has kept me away from blogland this week. However, I hope to be back in full flow next week. Meanwhile, I thought I would show you the dancing queens music video that she has produced for her media project at college. She had less than a month to put this together, and she had the weather against her too as she wanted to film it outside. She needs to gather feedback as part of her project, so if you have time, could you leave her a comment on the "you tube" comment page, or in here if you like. Many thanks, see you later. xxxx

Direct link to you tube -