Monday, November 18, 2019

Home Alone in Barnsley

Hello lovely blog-friend,

Here we are again, another week gone by, another tock on the clock of life, another swing of the universal pendulum. And still in the momentum of that swing we head into another sparkling week. So, what bits of minutiae of life have I accumulated over the past seven days to deposit in the old memory bank?

Well, for starters, David popped off to see our daughter, Jo, so I was left in a peony blossom of peacefulness, with not one person to fuss over, but myself for the whole week. Yes, it was quiet, and I did find myself talking to the shadow of a person sitting on the settee, but in all honesty, I enjoyed the solitude. I found an abundance of time for reading, and I managed to finish the novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. I made a start on Stephen Fry's Mythos, too (and it's not about a Greek beer). As there will be no middle of the night reading now hubby is back, that may take longer to read, but hey, I'm not complaining.

After watching Junior Bake Off, I thought, well, if a kid can do it, so can I, so I set about baking a batch of biscuits, which turned out surprisingly well. I made so many that I had to freeze a batch and I still had a tin full. Having home made biscuits in the tin didn't do much for my diet, but I can report that I rationed myself each day, and there were still plenty left for when David came home.

The weather was slightly inclement - in truth it wellied it down -  but I did manage to get out and about. After a couple of trips to Aldi's -  ten minutes walk up the road (not exactly a marathon) -  I braved the bus to town, or should I say 'tarn' as they call it in Barnsley, I even trotted up the stairs and sat on the top deck. I got off the bus outside the new doctors' surgeries, and made my way through the tunnel that goes under the main road, and towards the back entrance of the Alambra shopping centre. There is a second tunnel where nine out of ten times one of Barnsley's homeless people is usually found squatting in the cold and the damp, hoping for a bit of loose change. On Thursday, this person was crouched with a snuggly, brown duvet cum sleeping bag wrapped around him. He wasn't spaced out or anything, and he said hello as I passed. I stopped. We chatted. Apparently he had nowhere to live. He said he kept going to the Civic but with no result, but he assured me that he didn't sleep in doorways when it was raining, and that he could find a bed when it was really cold. It upsets me all this homelessness. I dropped a couple of pounds in his tin and said goodbye. Why would anyone sit in a puddly tunnel? If it's mental health issues then he should be helped. Who is responsible? I'll try to find out.

I went into the library, the new all singing library that has just been built and recently opened on the high street. It's airy, light, warm, has excellent toilet facilities, but I'm not sure how it works - the library that is, not the toilet. Am I supposed to sit in one of the booths, go online and order a book, or what? There are hardly any shelves with books on them. An old lady (yes older than me) came up to me and asked where all the books were, I had to say I didn't know, and not wanting a book that day because I had my Eleanor Oliphant with me, I couldn't be arsed to find an assistant and ask. But I will go back this week and find out exactly how the library works.

The main reason I had taken myself off to Barnsley was the grotesque grinding noise that was coming from my next door neighbour's house. He's renovating and having all the old plaster stammer-gunned from his walls. It was unbearable, and I had to vacate and debunk to the library. By the time I got home all was calm again, until I got Valentino out and started to practise my scales. (Is it practise or practice? I'll look it up). I only did an hour. I'm on to Christmas Carols now, maybe I'll treat you to my music for Christmas, if you're good that is.

Well, that was Thursday. On Friday I was out again to my little volunteer job, and on Saturday, the minute the hammering and banging started again, I was up and off to Barnsley. I had toyed with the idea of going to Meadowhall, but the thought of all those bodies coughing and sneezing, and the heat and dry air of the shopping centre, put me off. So I donned my new winter coat, (the first year I've not bought one from the charity shop), and all snuggly, I set off -  after lunch, so I wouldn't be tempted to buy cake. I caught the 12.58p.m. 66 bus into tarn and spent the whole afternoon looking around the shops. I bought a bottle of bleach for £1 and then took myself off into the Falco Lounge for a glass of mulled wine. It was delicious! There was a happiness in the place reminiscent of busy Greek restaurants, but the staff were so busy they never got round to clearing my table of the last family's empty glasses, and a pile of children's play bricks. I was tempted to build a little house, but I didn't.

I called at the Post Office in Birdwell when I got off the bus, and bought a bottle of lemonade and four cans of cider -  there's two left. The lemonade was for if my grandchildren ever come to see me, but as one is in Tokyo, and the other a 17 year old with better things to do, the bottle remains unopened. It was nice to at least say 'Hello' to the people who own the Post Office, they always have a smile.

David came home late Saturday evening, so my single life has come to a close for the time being. I'm not talking to shadows anymore, and I don't need the extra duvet to keep me warm in bed. Yeah! And now the biscuit tin is almost empty, I can think about baking more goodies, which is always a challenge.

Yesterday, after the Andrew Marr show - because we always watch the Andrew Marr show - we tripped off to the Craft Fair at Elsecar. I bought a couple of Christmas presents, and I came home with a new dress from a little boutique inside the Heritage Centre. Another Yeah! After a pitstop at the Maison de Bierre (where I drank a sensible tonic water), we made our way home.

Today, Monday, the weekly washing is done, and it is coming up to midday, time for Daily Politics on BBC 2. With the election coming up there is always heated debate. All sides seem to be promising all things - we'll see. The other main topic of the day is Prince Andrew and an interview he gave on the TV about his position as regards the Epstein sex offender case. Personally, I don't think he should have given the interview, but now he has, are we getting a ten courser of it. I think I prefer Brexit talk, and that's saying something.

Anyway, I'll say ta ta, for now, and wish you a fun filled week. Sometimes it's the little things that can make life so exciting - like sneaking that last biscuit. Live in the moment, and enjoy every second.

Love and hugs,

 The Man is Home! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crazy Choc Cookies

Mulled wine in the Falcon Lounge, Barnsley

Just a quickie in the Maison de Bierre, Elsicar

Sunday, November 10, 2019

And The Rain Came Down

What an exciting week! David and I had a mini-break in Chesterfield, but we only just made it home on Wednesday afternoon when the river Don burst its banks and caused no end of misery. We were on the last bus out of Chesterfield before all the buses were stopped, and if it hadn't been for a very good bus driver I doubt we would have got through. So, well done, the X17 bus driver who announced, "I'm going for it," and took his double decker bus slowly through the flood waters. (Pics down below).

And what did we do in Chesterfield? Well, apart from getting wet, we went to the church with the wonky spire, we took in the museum (worth a visit for the 'windlass' a huge wheel contraption that was used to winch up timbers during the construction of the spire - a bit like a giant guinea pig's treadmill), and we had a lot of fun. We stayed at the Portland Hotel, a Weatherspoon's establishment which was most comfortable, and, of course quite reasonably priced.

When we arrived on Wednesday, it was lunchtime, so we made for the oldest pub in Chesterfield, The amazing Royal Oak in the Shambles which was established in 1772 and has the most amazing timber ceiling. And what a little find it was! Mine host, Paul made sure we learned a little of the history of the place, while chef Craig  prepared our lunch - home made mash with spicy pumpkin and lentil stew. It was hearty and wholesome, and we swilled it down with ale and cider (I'm a cider person). I have to say there were so many good things on the menu, all under a tenner, it was difficult to choose, lots of vegetarian options too. If we'd been celebrating we could have had a bottle of Segura Brut Cava Reserva for £17.95, but we have had our share of celebrations this side of Christmas, so we stuck to the cheaper stuff. Still, it's good to have the option. Thank you Paul and Craig for an excellent start to our Chesterfield trip.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the nooks and crannies, the shops, and the library, where we partook of chocolate cake and coffee - ooh, naughty!

Then the rain started, but it didn't stop us venturing forth into the drizzle for an evening of fun. First we had pre-open mic nibbles at a place called Einsteins, then hot footed it to the Coffee St, coffee lounge to meet up with fellow poets. The event was Spire Writes with guest poet our very good friend Jeff Platts. He was great, as usual, I love his stuff, it's gritty, honest, and entertaining. The other open mic poets were good too, (thanks for letting me join in) it was lovely to meet the Chesterfield poets.

So, job done, we braved the heavy rain on Thursday morning and attempted to look around the open air flea market. It wasn't too successful so we grabbed a Greggs sandwich and headed for the bus station. We caught the 1.30 p.m. X17 and arrived home just after 4 p.m. It was a long bus ride, but as I said earlier, we were very grateful to reach Birdwell in time for tea.

My little Friday volunteer job was cancelled due to the rain, so I had a lovely day off, just right for cooking all the apples that came from our son's apple tree. 

Now it's cello time, and the start of Christmas music. Great! Will I be good enough for a bit of busking this year - we'll see.

Enjoy my photos:

Floodwater at Meadowhall

Floodwater en route to Sheffield from Chesterfield

Scene from the X17

And the water came into the bus

Spire Writer Bob

Craig the Rapper

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Jeff Platts

Wacky Lady

The Book Tower
Our room at the Portland Hotel

Inside St Mary's Church

to the right of the main altar

Ancient tombs

Fantastic stained glass windows

The main altar

Such beautiful glass

The Wobbly Wonky Spire

St Mary's Church

Paul at the Royal Oak

David tucking in


Well restored

There's always a bar!

They don't make em like this now (the building I mean)

So, that was our week, it was quite eventful. And now I'm back on my diet. No more cider for a while, and back to one oatibix for breakfast. I have a couple of pounds to shift or I'll not get into my jeans, and that would be catastrophic; the last thing I need is the expense of new clothes.

I bought a new book this week, Mythos by Stephen Fry, so that is what I am about to do, immerse myself in Greek Gods, I've been taking the vitamin B12 so the old grey matter is already fizzing - just right for a dose of Zeus and Ares. 

I'll be back next week with an update of my news, meanwhile I do hope you have not been caught up in the flood waters. Keep safe dear reader, and have a good week.

Love and hugs,
Jane x

P.S.  If you haven't ordered your copy of either Higgs Bottom (the novel) or Scary Woman (poems) you can do that here - Christmas is coming!

Not too scary really!
Spoiler Alert! Higgs Bottom is a Place, not a Bottom!

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Spoken Word

Hello everybody, yes, the hills have certainly been alive with the sound of spoken voice this week. In preparation for last night's Barnsley Spoken Voices, Our North, CD launch, David and I took to the countryside and strode out while the weather was so good. Of course there was a bit of a rehearsal while we slogged up the hill to Pilley, if you can breathe whilst hot footing it up Pilley Hill, then there's not a lot wrong with you.

My week was spent in a panic of poems, with a little bit of cello practice thrown in. There was a very pleasant interlude on Thursday, Halloween, when a gruesomeness of grommet sized ghosts and ghouls came knocking at our door offering 'Trick or Treat.' Well, I didn't want a trick so I had my bowl of sweeties at the ready and a bit of change to throw into their buckets. Bless!

On Friday morning David and I went into town to do a bit of shopping, it was really busy. I think people were celebrating the Not Brexit day. It was good to see the town so swift. I went off to do my little volunteer bit for the afternoon, and David took the shopping home. When I got back the shed was all lit up with fairy lights, the electric fire warming the space, and the bottle of wine opened. We had a lovely 'shed date' complete with music. I love our shed.

Of course we watched the rugby world cup final on Saturday morning. What a shame our lads couldn't work their magic just one more time, but South Africa played so well, they did deserve to win.

And that brings me to yesterday, and a lovely Sunday. A family Sunday lunch with our son and his partner set us in a great mood for the evening's entertainment. It was the launch of the 'Our North' CD, at the Rockingham Centre in Hoyland. It's a venue we've never been to before, and we were pleasantly surprised when we found a bar (always a good start).

I was excited to be filmed by the Civic team for a little YouTube video (watch this space next month) and after that I could relax a bit and enjoy the event. There is such talent out there. The evening was organised by Jeff Platts, and Lee Pollard was on form, as was Billy Bywater, Neil Roystone, Stan Duncan, Jo Brooks, Tedge, Gladys Wainwright, Mick Hawkins, Nigel Downing, and Mark Jackson, (if I've missed anybody I am sorry).

And the evening was made all the better by a vegan buffet of Barnsley portions - the best curry I've had in a long time. Thank you Mick and your lovely lady, Laura, for providing such wonderful nosh.

So it's back to the diet today, sort of.

Here's a few pics of last night:

Jeff and Jane
The Crowd Gathers

Get the beer in Billy!

The CD is selling well

And guess who's books are on show.

Preparing the Order of Service

Stan Duncan and Co

Wayne and Jason the Civic Organizers

Another photo opportunity

poet Nigel Downing

Poet Gladys and Dave

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 They're not the best pics, but it gives you a flavour of the evening.

This week is shaping up and looking quite exciting, so check me out next week to find out what I've been up to.

Have a great week folks, lots of love and hugs,
Jane x

Monday, October 28, 2019

Whacky Words and Scary Woman in Barnsley

Well, we had lots of fun on Sunday at the Tap and Brew in Hoyland. Higgs Bottom was well and truly launched, Scary Woman in Barnsley got it's first airing, we downed lots of beer and bubbly (not in the same glass) and got to know a few more Barnsley poets.

A big Thank You to all who came to listen, and all who came to join in the open mic session.

Onwards and upwards! Our next wordy do is on Sunday, at the Rockingham Centre in Hoyland at 6.00 p.m. when the new CD Our North will be launched. See you there all being well.

Pics of yesterday in Hoyland.

Whacky Lady at the launch of Higgs Bottom

It's all good practice

Guest Poet Pat Dale

A bit of Erotic poetry to set the mood.

So, that weekend came and went, after weeks of preparation, (not to mention preparing nibbles for the audience), and all went extremely well. We had an excellent open mic session, and now I'm looking forward to the next poet meet, which is next Sunday.

It was so good to see our North Yorkshire friends and be able to spend some time with them. We had a silly Saturday night in our shed, complete with fairy lights, electric heater and a bottle of Champagne. I actually cooked a chicken curry which was not half bad, according to those who ate it. I had a mushroom only version. Sunday lunch was down the Cock in Birdwell, which was excellent as it always is, and thereafter we hit the Tap and Brew, Hoyland.

I'm afraid the official photographer didn't take his job too seriously, so, sorry if you were there and didn't get a shot. 

I must catch up on a bit of reading now that the book launch is over, I'm in the middle of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and then I'll dive into the poetry again, I have so much unread stuff to catch up on. Then it will be back to the shed to get creative.

We had a few wet days last week, but yesterday and today have been what I call, a good drying day, a bit of wind and sunshine, and blue skies. Hopefully tomorrow should be more of the same so I think the walking boots may be coming out.

This morning David and I went down to the local doctor's surgery where we had our flu jab, and also a pneumonia jab, so it may or may not affect us, let's hope not, but we have a week to get over it.

Now is the time to start losing a few pounds in readiness for the Christmas binge, so it's no cider and no chocolate. I don't like the sound of that, but it's necessary if I want to wear the clothes I've got. I don't want to have to buy new ones because I'm trying to help the planet. My footprint is very good at the moment, no car, no flights, and no meat, so I'm doing my bit.

That's it then, it's 9 o'clock and time to watch Dublin Murders, so I'll say ta ta for now.

I'll be back next week with an account of our little do at the Rockingham Centre, Hoyland.

Love and Hugs,
Jane x

Tears From The Sun - The Story