February Round-Up

Here we are in March so I thought I’d better catch up with February before I forget it all.  It was quite a busy month events-wise with a couple of volunteer shifts and a fair few social shindigs.

I decided in January that having had a bit of time off, it was time to get back into some City of Culture volunteering.  So, on Saturday 3rd, I did an afternoon shift at the Brynmor Jones Library on the University of Hull campus at an exhibition called Painting Power – The Art of Terence Cuneo.  I intend posting more about that on my Hull2017 blog but here is some information about the artist.  I thoroughly enjoyed my shift with another lovely volunteer whose name I can’t recall and we spent most of the time searching for the little mice that the artist used to hide in his paintings.  He is most famous though for his painting of trains.

Whereas I am most famous for taking wonky photos!  So, to remedy that and the fact that I feel I am outgrowing my phone camera, I decided to go into Jessops the next day to look into buying a reasonable compact camera.  I wanted one that would do the Auto thing but also that had enough manual controls so that I could learn to take better photos.  After some advice, I ended up buying a Panasonic Lumix TZ60 and have enrolled on a course for beginners digital photography at Hull College which starts in April.  I actually enrolled on one starting 20th February but it was cancelled due to low numbers.  Hopefully the April one won’t suffer the same fate as I am really looking forward to learning how to use the camera before we go on our Scottish Highlands holiday in May.

The next weekend we were at the wedding of Patrick’s nephew Andrew and his fiancee Julie.  I took a few family snaps but was a bit too self conscious to go around snapping everyone. 

Before that, on the Wednesday night, I went to Hull City Hall to see Erasure with my work colleague and good friend of 28 years, Debbie.  Debbie has been a fan of the band since the 1980s and has seen them too many times to count over the years.  It was my first time and although I enjoyed it, I’m not enough of a fan to be too fussed about seeing them again.  I’m pleased I’ve seen them though and they were excellent.

The next Wednesday, Patrick and I were at Hull Truck to see The Culture – A Farce in Two Acts.  I’m afraid this was a bit of a let-down for me.  I am aware of what a farce is but this was just too much door slamming, talking too fast and unbelievable mistaken identities to be funny, it was just silly and irritating.  The second half improved thankfully and we ended up rather enjoying it.

My next volunteer shift was The Feren’s on Sunday 18th, again more about it over the page but it was basically invigilating the Open Exhibition, which is an annual event showing the work of amateur and professional artists of all kinds.

Next up at Hull Truck (told you it was a busy month), was Turn and Face The Strange, a show about our very own Mick Ronson.  Former Spider from Mars (along with fellow Hullensian Trevor Bolder and Driffield lad Woody Woodmansey), Mick went on to work with many other musicians over his career.  The show originally ran at the Freedom Centre last year as part of Hull2017.  I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to see it again, truly one of the most enjoyable shows I have seen.  Part live band, part film archive all wrapped up with anecdotes from friends and family it is a feast of entertainment and I think all those present learned a lot about the vastly under-rated Mick Ronson.  This review from Yorkshire Post about covers it.

Finally to close off a very active February, my sister and two sister-in-laws and I went out for our monthly meal date.  My sister Ann and I started it off last year, meeting up sporadically as a means of keeping in touch with one another’s lives as since mum died, we don’t really see each other or even speak to each other very often.  Lynne and Chris joined us in November last year but then our arrangements were in danger of falling by the wayside again until Ann text me to suggest meeting on 26th February.  We went to Dukes on Princes Avenue, so named after the streets opposite which are all named after Dukeries, Welbeck, Thoresby, Clumber, Belvoir and Blenheim.  We had a good old natter, catching up with one another’s family news and some lovely food.  Between us we had the fish and chips, the baked haddock and a veggie burger.  All were really lovely and the chips were real, proper chips.  Highly recommended all round.

Phew!  Bit of a mammoth post there and I promise I’ll try to keep up with March with more regular posts.

Huddersfield for Christmas

Ok, not actually in Huddersfield for Christmas but this trip was a Christmas present to Patrick from me so technically it was Huddersfield for Christmas.  Two nights in a Travelodge I know how to treat a man eh!

So, the plan was to visit Magic Rock Tap on Friday night, spend the Saturday mooching and shopping in Huddersfield town centre and then a Saturday night pub crawl around some of the fine ale lovers hostelries followed by a kebab at the legendary (to us anyhow) Kebabish.  Sounds good right?

The drive down the motorway was horrible, filthy weather and there had been an accident so bit of a delay too.  In that situation though you just have to thank your lucky stars that you are sitting in the traffic queue and not the alternative scenario.  We had stopped off at the Glasshoughton Outlet and unusually both managed to find something we liked.  I bought a lovely knee length padded coat in purple from Tog24 as well as a couple of pairs of ankle boots and Patrick some very nice brogues from Clarks.  We usually a bit rubbish at shopping so it was nice to go back to the car with shopping bags.  A scone and a hot choccie in the Thornton’s cafe finished off that little excursion nicely.

After settling into the hotel room, off we set for Magic Rock Tap armed with the trusty (!!) Google maps navigation.  Just as we left, it started to bucket down so I was really pleased I had decided to wear my new waterproof coat.  We bumped into a former customer of our beer shop, Jez and his girlfriend, also on their way to Magic Rock.  We do seem to bump into Jez often at beery type events and places.  He mentioned that there was a tap takeover by Danish brewers Dry and Bitter which we hadn’t known about.  Jez and Helena rushed off as the weather was truly awful by now and we lost sight of them.  The aforementioned Google maps being what it is, got us lost and we had to ask directions but we finally made it.  At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the experience, it was hot, noisy and crowded and there appeared to be nowhere to sit.  However, we got our first drink, found a seat fairly quickly and were set for the night.  Me drinking thirds and Patrick on halves, we managed to sample a fair few beers between us.  The fish and chips from the visiting Hip Hop Chip Shop weren’t the best ever but they served a purpose.

On Saturday morning, again using trusty Google maps to get us lost, we managed to make our way to a Wetherspoons for some breakfast.  The pavements were very icy and I’m sure our resemblance to Torvill and Dean must have been noticed!  Huddersfield is surprisingly well served by shopping centres although there’s not a lot in the way of ‘big name’ shops.  The outdoor market is a bit disappointing in that it’s more a car boot sale than a market but the indoor market at Queensgate was vast and I’m sure you could have got almost anything you wanted in there.  It was in House of Fraser though that Patrick managed to get everything he wanted.  He’s been looking for a nice overcoat since the beginning of the year, we’ve found plenty but getting one that fits properly has been challenging to say the least.  Finally, on Saturday the mission was accomplished.  Skopes overcoat, waistcoat and trousers, all in the sale…bargains!

Bored of the shops, we popped into the Art Gallery and enjoyed an exhibition of paintings by Maxwell Doig.  The detail in them was amazing, at first we thought they were photographs.  I really did like his style and methods and would certainly go to another exhibition of his works should I stumble across one.

Bit of a random and surreal moment at a zebra crossing, three guys dressed as penguins doing a Beatles Abbey Road impression.  The leaflet someone shoved in my hand showed it to be a Greenpeace campaign Protect the Antarctic  If you want to support their campaign to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary you can click the link and sign their petition or text PROTECT and your name to 60777 which will also sign the petition.

There is some lovely architecture in Huddersfield but I only managed to snap a couple of examples and I don’t even think these were the best I spotted.  Patrick and Harold Wilson are looking pretty good in St George’s Square at the station though.

On to Saturday night which was a bit of a car crash of a night out in a logistical sense!  The original plan was that I had selected 5 or 6 pubs based on CAMRA’s WhatPub website.  We were to get a taxi to the furthest one from the town centre and pub crawl our way back finishing with a kebab at the aforementioned legendary Kebabish.  However, in the Art Gallery, we spotted a leaflet for the Huddersfield Real Ale Trail and as the pubs were all central and the weather was foul, we decided to follow that instead.  First up was The Sportsman, fantastic pub which we have visited before.  Great range of real ales and craft keg beers, we really should have stayed here all night!

The Sportsman bar

Next was The Kings Head which is at one end of the beautiful Victorian Rail station and in one of the former ticket offices which still has the original tiled floor.  Plenty of beers on the bar to choose from but I chose badly and left most of mine.  Get a look at that stunning floor though!

King’s Head floor

The next three pubs, whose names now escape me were unfortunately closed down, the next one, Rhubarb had hardly anyone in it but those that were looked like they were extras from the set of TV show Shameless.  We didn’t stay for a drink! 

So on to The Grove, or so we planned but in true Patrick and Jill style, we took a wrong turning and ended up at The Rat and Rachet instead.  This is an Ossett brewery pub and not being huge fans of their beers, we hadn’t planned a stop here.  We were so cold and fed up though that we were tempted in.  The beer was enjoyable enough and I liked the place itself so it wasn’t a bad move. 

Finally, after asking directions and still taking a wrong turn, we found ourselves in The Grove.  The place itself is a bit grotty to be honest but it really is a beer lover’s mecca. Something like 19 beers on handpull and 15 Craft kegs, it wasn’t easy to choose.  The deco of the place was a bit disturbing, featuring an array of stuffed animals, a beer-loving taxidermist’s delight I’m sure.  I’d certainly visit again for the choice of beers though.

The Grove beer board
Patrick and Moose!

The walk back to the town centre was straightforward…unless you are called Patrick or Jill that is!  After a bit of confusion at one of the rather large and confusing road junctions which seem to be a characteristic of Huddersfield, we found ourselves on the long road back and on our way to Kebabish.  After all the hype and looking forward to this, I have to say that the kebab was a little disappointing in the end.  It hit the spot though!

Of course, the story doesn’t end there.  We managed to get lost on the way back to the hotel again! 

All in all,  we had a really enjoyable weekend but next time, we wouldn’t go in January, it’s a much more pleasant experience getting lost in June or July!

A Massive Big Catch Up

Oh My Word, I have been so neglectful of this blog and I’m quite disappointed in myself because I do this primarily for myself because I enjoy looking back through it from time to time.  It’s surprising how you forget how you felt until you read your own words back.  So, I think I’d better try and bring things up to date as much as possible.  So much has happened that I’ll have blog in installments to bring myself up to date.

First up, back in May we went to a fantastic food and beer festival in Ludlow, Shropshire.  It was held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and rather than me trying to remember and describe it all, I’ll just point you in the direction of this fabulous blog post by Patrick.  He does a great job of telling the tale and below are some photos that I took on the day.

Next event up was our annual summer holiday.  Instead of the usual cottage stay, we had opted for a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads and off we went in mid-June.  The weather had been horrendous in the weeks leading up to our holiday, rainy, windy and just plain horrible but actually, during the week we were away we were pretty lucky and it only rained briefly one afternoon, it rained every night but we were tucked up and cosy on the boat then so it didn’t matter. 

I have to say that my feelings now, four months on are still  “Least said, soonest mended”!  Let’s just say that I didn’t take to it and was very nervous driving the boat all week.  On the way down, we stopped off in Kings Lynn at Beers of Europe for supplies of our favourite Belgian Ales to take onboard.  The place really is a beer lover’s paradise and we spent rather a lot of time (and money) in there!  We stayed in Norwich overnight and visited some of the lovely pubs there before driving to Stalham the next day to pick up our boat.  After a (very) short drive / sail (not sure what to call it) out of the boatyard and a quick tutorial on how to moor up, we were on our way.  I can’t say I really enjoyed the week on the boat, although I wouldn’t say I hated it either.  For me, it was just a stressful experience and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

Still, we got lots of photos of ducks, geese and swans 🙂

And Patrick did get to relax some of the time.

 That’s this post done and dusted.  I’ll try to post again before the week is out to get us a bit more up to date.

Beer Festival

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I volunteered to help at the Hull & East Yorkshire CAMRA beer festival this year and I have to say, I had great fun.  It was being held inside the Holy Trinity Church in Hull’s market place which is apparently the largest parish church in the UK.

I arrived on the Thursday at around 5:30 ready to start my shift on the handpulled beers bar at 6pm not knowing what to expect really.  Luckily I already knew either to talk to or by sight a lot of the other volunteers and of course I know the Committee.  Having signed in and been given my festival staff tee shirt (a bright orange number) featuring the name of one of the sponsors Great Newsome Brewery I toddled down to the bar – a very, very long bar.  It was nice and quiet for a while so I could familiarise myself with the layout, all beers being alphabetically by brewery, it was easy enough to negotiate.  Once people started arriving, it was all about keeping an eye on who might be waving a glass in the air for a refill and not keeping people waiting too long.   I soon got into the swing of it.  The church setting was stunning as was remarked upon by a large number of the festival-goers and with the added advantage of keeping the beers nice and cool and the disadvantage of us volunteers being absolutely freezing!!

Patrick arrived at around 8pm and had a good mooch around whilst waiting for my shift to end at 9pm when I could join him for a couple of beers.  I had enjoyed a half of something that I can’t remember for the life of me now whilst working and as soon as I was able to get away, I made straight for the Gravity Bar area where the stronger beers are dispensed straight from the cask.  I was aiming right for Brass Castle Brewery’s Bad Kitty, a chocolate/vanilla porter that I have been hearing great things about.  I wasn’t disappointed, it was wonderful. I didn’t have anymore to drink after that, up for work on Friday and all that!

I also worked the 6pm to 9pm shift on Friday evening, this time on the tokens and glasses desk.  This was very hard work and I never stopped once in three hours.  I think three hours is too long for that task personally, having now experienced it.  There is a constant queue of people coming in, needing to buy tokens to exchange for beer and pay a deposit for a glass as well as the people who are bringing back tokens to cash in and wanting their deposit back on the glass they have returned.  Lots of people didn’t know the drill so having to explain the system and work out how many tokens they wanted/could have and giving change because almost everyone had notes rather than pound coins was all a bit mind boggling and I really felt exhausted at 9pm.  We had started to run out of the more popular beers too so a few people, having paid to come in and then bought tokens were a bit miffed and were coming straight back to cash in their tokens in disgust.  This is a problem every year really, a successful festival obviously wants to have sold all the beers by the time it finishes but customers want to be able to come in and have a choice of all the beers in the programme.  You simply cannot have both of those things and I really don’t know the solution, or even if there is one. 

Patrick’s friend Paul had come along so after my shift I went to find the pair of them.  I had a few beers, chatted to a few people and generally relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the Friday evening session.  The beers I had wanted to try had all sold out but I enjoyed the ones I had instead.  By Saturday morning there was only 9 casks left out of 85 and those sold out before 1.30pm.  That is a successful festival and thanks must go to the hardworking Committee and volunteers, most of whom did much, much more than my palty two shifts.  And of course the church itself because there is no doubt at all that the surroundings made the festival much more accessible and interesting to the general public.  There were a lot of people who had never been to one of our CAMRA festivals before and if we’ve managed to convince a few of them that cask beer is good stuff, we’ll have done our duty!

I’ll leave you with a few photos from inside the church and I think you’ll agree, it’s beautiful, even if the photos were only taken with my phone.  (I do hope there is no one there who shouldn’t be!!)

Behind the Bar
Behind the Bar
Window
Part of the ceiling

Time Flies

How time flies!  I really did intend on making sure I had a new post out each week so I can’t believe that two weeks have gone by since my last post. 

Firstly the brilliant news for this post is that my work colleague took her triplets home from the hospital last Friday.  Here are the little teensy matinee sets that I had knitted, I was chuffed to bits to discover that she had used them for the babies’ coming home outfits and they had been much admired.  I made two sets with pink buttons and pink pompoms for the hats and one set with blue.  The pattern was one from a Sirdar book for newborns and premature babies, called Sirdar 280, Early Arrivals Booklet if anyone is interested.  I was going to put a link to the article in our local newspaper about their homecoming but it appears to have been taken down already! 

Baby Roots cardigan

In other knitting activity, I’ve also knitted a baby jacket for another work colleague’s new grandson and also a hat for his big brother so he didn’t feel left out.  The jacket was a free one on Ravelry, Baby Roots Cardigan  (Rav Link) and I really enjoyed knitting it.  It was knitted top-down in one piece which is my favourite construction for cardigans.  I used some stash yarn which was Rico Aran Duo in a cream mix colour and it turned out really well. 

Bubbles

The hat was Bubbles by Woolly Wormhead and I knitted the flat top version which I think is so cute.  I usually love Woolly’s patterns and this was as well written and clear as ever but it had far too much purling in the round for my liking and I don’t think it’s one I’ll knit again in a hurry.  It turned out lovely though and I’m looking forward to seeing Ethan wearing it.  The yarn was some stash yarn that has long since lost it’s ball band but I seem to remember it being Stylecraft Aran with Wool.

I’ve also started Tappan Zee for myself.  I’ve liked this pattern ever since I first saw it in Knitty’s Spring/Summer 2010 edition, but as usual it got lost in the queue.  However, after knitting my Meret in the lovely Soffia Plus, the rest of it in my stash started shouting Tappan Zee, Tappan Zee everytime I walked past the shelves where I keep my yarn stash so I had to cave in and cast it on.  It’s another top-down seamless jobby so I’m a happy bunny knitting along.  I’m pleased with the look of it so far, I just hope I have enough yarn…I’d hate to hate to frog my Meret to finish it!

Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Manchester to the National Winter Ales Festival.  We set off in the chucking rain, the M62 is most unpleasant to drive down in that kind of weather I must say.  We arrived in the chucking rain and it was still chucking with rain when we left the Premier Inn on Saturday morning.  However, we didn’t go to sunbathe, we went to drink lots of lovely dark winter ales.  Mission was accomplished most satisfactorily.  As usual we met some nice people and had a giggle with them.  One group of lads had brought along their lager drinking friend to try and convert him and he wasn’t much impressed.  However as an ex-lager drinker myself I understand that it does take a while for your palette to adjust to drinking alcohol that actually tastes of something rather than just being wet and fizzy.  On reflection though, dark and flavourful winter ales probably are not the best introduction to a real ale drinking career!  He would be better at a summer ales festival I’m sure but I doubt he’ll give it another chance.  He did make a very valid point though and one which I have often made myself.  Where the hell do some of these people hide when they are not stalking around beer festivals?  Seriously there are some people who at best could be described as “characters” but really are just a little bit weird.  There are the usual anorak, back-pack carrying oddities but also some very strange looking people, like the little guy with the leather trousers, leather waistcoat, leather cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses…indoors…in Manchester.  He would look ok cruising Route 66 on his chopper maybe.  I really wanted to try to take some surreptitious photos of some of the “characters” but it would have been too obvious.  Although lager boy did grab Mr Leather & Sunglasses and insist on having a photo taken with him, I should have taken one too.