Monday, November 25, 2019

Strictly Cum Dancing al la Jane

Hello my lovely readers,

I know there is more than one of you out there, and whilst you are unknown to me I do feel the connection. So, here is an update of the past seven days in the life of 'moi'.

And in reverse order:

Yesterday, Sunday, we were at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool - strictly cum dancing al la Jane and David -  with photos to prove it - 

Oh dear, bad arm position loses points.

See how it should be done?

Strictly cum Dancing flounce and sparkle.

And the wonderful Maggie who served our afternoon tea with a smile.

The Famous Worlitzer Organ
I can thoroughly recommend an afternoon of ballroom dancing to loosen up those limbs. The ballroom is very grand, and the organ music was loud and rhythmical. We waltzed our way around the floor, joined in with the barn dance (an old favourite), and watched on as the more professional dancers showed off their skills. 

Served afternoon tea by, the always happy and smiling, Maggie, we enjoyed tea, sandwiches, scones and cakes. And I have to say the tea-pot was the first I've been served tea in with a non-drip spout - the perfect pot - no dribbles on the table.

We had hired a car for the weekend so that we could travel over to Blackpool to meet up with my sister and family. It's a year since we got together, so the day was very special.
Alas No Lights on the Tower 

My Talented Nephew, Ben Who is a Professional Musician

Professional Musician, Ben.

Ben plays with the famous Jukebox Band  Check them out.

We got home late last night and the car went back this morning. It was a bit of a cinderella moment, you know, when the carriage reverts to a pumpkin, but at least we whooped it up for a couple of days.
How Big?
And we made good use of the car on Saturday, too. First we went to the supermarket -  it was such a treat not to have to carry all the shopping on the bus -  and then we drove over to Hoyland in the evening to see another performance of our friend's comedy hour. It was held at the Knave and Kestral, a new one on us, and a little pub we hope to return to. If you ever get the chance to go to Lee Pollard's one hour, one man show, go! He's brilliant!

So, still working backwards, Friday night was Shed Night - it's becoming a habit - and David had made sure it was warm and twinkling with fairy lights by the time I got back from work. And the cider went down like liquid gold. He'd peeled the veggies too, so while they were roasting we set the world to rights in our little shed at the bottom of the garden.

The Art House Micro Bar

Thursday was a lovely uplifting day, one of those bright, windless days when to stay inside would have been a sin. Out came the boots and off we set into the countryside. Our route took us up Pilley Hill - the first challenge - then on towards Tankersley and back over the motorway into Birdwell. It was a short, sharp hike to prove we could still move our legs. No real problem there. We completed the round in 45 minutes. Then Dave worked in the garden, and I did a bit of painting in the Art House.

Over the Motorway

Over the M1 towards Pilley

Change Down a Gear Here

Add caption

Past the Stream

Too Cold for These Two

Well Coated 

Plenty of Fodder

Just a Bit Faster by Bike

 We were almost home when we reached the monument - a strange obelisk to have in Birdwell, but it was erected as part of the Wentworth Castle estate.
Birdwell Obelisk

 And finally back to Birdwell Post Office and a short stride away from our front door. 
Back to Birdwell

Barnsley's New Library

View From The Library

Look! Just Touch!
That brings me to the beginning of the week, Monday, and a trip to Barnsley's new, all singing, all dancing library. Last week I promised to let you know how it worked. Well, I can now tell you that it I know how it works, and I can inform you that it works splendidly. There may not appear to be many books on the ground floor, but the two floors above are crammed packed with a plethora of titles, reference books, novels, history, maps, big print, etc. And, there are computer terminals for all to use, free photocopying, plenty of comfy chairs and tables, all in bright, warm and airy surroundings, with views over the town and beyond. Not only that, but on the top floor there are conference spaces, and a splendid outside viewing area. So, no more being negative about our new library - it's great!

That was the week that was folks! A bit busier than normal, and a bit more expensive, but what the hell, we like eating beans.

I'll be back next week with more news from the strictly cum dancing pensioners from Barnsley. And now for tea and an hour of War of the Worlds on catchup TV. Anything but politics, which is all getting a bit silly, with all parties trying to offer a never ending spend of things we all want but know we're not going to get. And the Prince Andrew saga rolls on - the Queen has told him off for keeping bad company, and hurt his pocket, but I doubt he'll stop eating caviar.

'What's that, David?'
'Get the beans on.'

Right! Must go then. I'll talk to you all next week. From a dark and drizzly Birdwell, bye bye for now. 

Lots of love and hugs,
Jane x

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!

Tears From The Sun - The Story