New Thing 20 : Shears Yard Sunday Lunch

TLDR : more a dinner place than a lazy lunch, but very tasty.

This was a last minute Father’s Day booking after our plans to go hiking were ruined by the rain.

I’d normally pick a cosy pub to visit with my Dad so this exposed brick, converted warehouse wasn’t my first choice. I personally thought it was more suited to an evening meal than a chilled out lunch, however the food was excellent.

We both had the Sunday roast with beer and some bread to nibble on. It was a sun-dried tomato and parsnip bread with a marmite butter so although it was tasty I feel like you don’t need to mess with bread so a little unnecessary for the sake of being fancy.

The roast itself was delicious, the meat comes from Sykes House Farm who are a local butcher that also stock Michelin star restaurants. Nice big Yorkshire pudding and all the good stuff.

For dessert I had a chocolate brownie with an iced miso sorbet type thing. I love miso and any kind of salty chocolate mix so this was good for me.

Rating this a 9 out of 10, with one point unfairly knocked off because I fancied somewhere more chilled out for Sunday lunch.

New Thing 19 : Henry Moore Institute

TLDR : maybe it is crap, maybe I am not cultured enough for modern art.

I appreciate I didn’t give The Tetley a good review so I maybe should have learned my lesson and given up on modern art. However it was Father’s Day and raining so options were limited.

The Henry Moore Institute is apparently “one of the most important galleries in the country” according to Leeds List, who lie, and presumably don’t leave Leeds. Henry Moore himself is a sculpture artist who has made some interesting work, unfortunately Henry Moore’s work never ended up at the Henry Moore Institute.

No thanks grain tanks

As you can see at the top image some grain tanks ended up there, representing over farming. Except they didn’t really do anything with them, they were just grain tanks, which was pretty underwhelming.

Ek The idea of the current exhibits is that they are moveable – and the grain tanks are technically moveable. However they require an HGV and heavy machinery to move so they don’t exactly fit the brief and I didn’t quite understand why they were there.

Actual moveable art

Inside they had a piece of wood, the story behind it was that the artist left her family behind in Europe in the 1930s to move to America. Whilst living in New York she wasn’t able to see them so she carved wood to remind herself of them. So it fits the brief of people moving and is also an object that can be moved.

But still, it is very much just wood, that looks a lot like wood (and presumably not remotely like her family) so it was a bit of a stretch for my imagination.

Keeping it real

The artist behind this piece was saying something about how children’s toys are garish and take over your life. And whilst I have never sympathised with a piece of artwork more, I also feel there could maybe be a little more meaning to the work?

It just seems strange to me that someone could think, ah fuck these toys are annoying me, then sew some massive sheets of fabric together and blow some air in it and get it into a “very important gallery”.

And yet a trendy looking twenty year old definitely stared at it thoughtfully for a good ten minutes, so what do I know.

Art with actual meaning

There were a few pieces of work which were all suitcases with tiny sculptures in, reflecting the artist’s own experience of leaving Syria as a refugee.

Looking at them closely there was meaning to each piece and it was very intricate. It also fit the brief of the exhibition, I just expected more art that was relevant and interesting to look at and had some real meaning to it.

Rating : although it was a bit crap I’m giving it 3 out of 10. 1 point for being free, 1 point for the guy dedicated to staring at a blow up toy for 10 minutes and 1 point for having one interesting piece of art.

New Thing 18 : Hiking with a toddler

TLDR : multiple adults and a fun route required.

We did a loop around including Great Longstone and the Monsal Trail. As we passed through the village and Thornbridge Hall there were opportunities to grab ice lollies and a picnic. Thornbridge Hall itself looked fun with a big play area and cafe but it was packed out so I was glad to be heading off hiking.

The Monsal Trail is a big wide track so handy for families as you can cycle or take a pram. The track used to be a railway so there was a tunnel running through the hill, which we needed as it was a nice break from the heat.

We just did a sling walk so we weren’t stuck on the main trail, which was good as after we crossed this huge bridge we trekked down a steep route to get to the river.

We had a picnic stop by the bridge then walked under and had a splash in the shallow bit of the river then walked up to the main route over the bridge again.

After another steep route after the bridge we were rewarded with this view, then just another 15 minutes back to our campsite.

Rating : We didn’t go for a long or challenging walk, but even so I would have been way too tired carrying Emily on my own on a hot day. Plus the navigation would have been stressful. But as a group trip this was really fun and had lots of variety to keep Emily interested so 10 out of 10.

New Thing 17 : Glamping

TLDR : Stayed in the fanciest tent on a lovely campsite because I am too high maintenance for actual camping.

Back in June we had a couple of nights break with my sister, her boyfriend and my dad.

Although the idea of camping is fun I am permanently cold so need a tent fitted with a radiator and log burner. Whereas my sister can survive a couple of nights in a tent with no heating, fortunately Dale Farm Campsite do both.

This was where we stayed:

Each plot is marked out with loads of free space and wild flowers marking each area, if you like camping information then there were plenty of water taps dotted around and space to park by your tent. There was a 10pm quiet rule and no music to be played, so good for families and people who don’t want to be around annoying noisy groups.

My sister stayed at the top of the hill which didn’t have many plots so it was even more spread out and quiet, but look at the view:

The campsite had just renovated a barn into the shower / toilet / pot wash so everything was new. They also had a mini farm shop (with an honesty box / honesty PayPal account) to buy local bacon, sausages and egg, as well as fire pits to hire.

As it is a working farm we were surrounded by fields of sheep and cows, the barn is up against the camping field so we got to see all of the lambs being herded in one morning. It is also just an excellent location, surrounded by rolling hills and no noise other than the birds. The site itself was kept really well:

We had great weather so had a BBQ, outdoor full English breakfast and plenty of time sat by the fire playing games.

It was a short walk from the Monsal Trail and a 15 minute drive to Chatsworth so really handy, we also walked to the pub one night so everyone got to have a drink.

Overall it was the perfect compromise for a child who loves the idea of camping with a parent who is completely unable to handle actual camping.

Rating : for anyone else 10 out of 10, for high maintenance people who cannot sleep well unless the room is pitch black and the perfect temperature 8 out of 10.

New Thing 16 : Chatsworth Farm

TLDR : if Disney did stately home farms they would make this. Bloody loved it.

As you can see from the photos I was biased by the gorgeous weather we had in June. But I still think it is excellent.

Just pulling up to the estate I was a little mind blown by the size of the place. The huge parkland and ancient oak trees, the ridiculous sized house, enormous fountains in the background.

A little history

I say a little as it really is a little. The Chatsworth family come from Bess of Hardwick who lived within view of the estate at Hardwick Hall. Born to an impoverished family she ended up being the second wealthiest woman of her time, after Elizabeth the 1st, as she survived four different wealthy husbands and raked in the inheritance every time.

When Bess married her second husband (20 years older and very rich) she didn’t fancy his land in Suffolk so convinced him to buy Chatsworth in her home of Derbyshire. At this point he was Sir William Cavendish but later their descendents became Dukes and got insanely wealthy and built the huge Chatsworth, running out of bricks and having to take a load from the Old Hardwick Hall which is still in ruins now.

For a while they used Chatsworth as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots. And the only interesting thing I know since then is Debo Mitford (quite a long bit after).

Debo is one of six sisters:

  • Nancy wrote The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate
  • Pamela divorced her millionaire husband so she could spend the rest of her life with an Italian horsewoman (contraversial for an Edwardian born woman)
  • Diana married a fascist and spent time in Holloway prison
  • Unity was obsessed with Hitler and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany
  • Decca was a communist

Debo initially seemed the boring one. She married a second son who wasn’t due to have much money and her family could barely afford her wedding trousseau. But three years after marrying Andrew his elder brother died in the war and they then became Duke and Duchess.

As well as a novelist who was involved in politics she loved the estate and used to hang out in the farm shop and give people tips on how to cook a joint of meat. The family own ridiculous property including Bolton Abbey and the numerous hotels and pubs, some of which she insisted be decorated in crazy bright colours she thought would be fun.

Unfortunately she died a few years ago, at 95 years old, so you won’t meet her in the shop now.

Back to the point

When you park up the first place you pass through is the courtyard. It’s technically just somewhere for the family to leave their horses and carriages, but it is insane. People get married in the stables, there is a huge cafe, restaurant, multiple shops, loads of outside seating and statues and water features.

In the context of a huge tourist attraction it makes sense, but it is a bit mind blowing to think it was originally just somewhere to house one family’s horses.

We didn’t go in the actual house and grounds as the farm seems more toddler appropriate, and you do not have time to do it all.

The farm itself is set up the hill a little, presumably to not get in the way of the view from the house. Even though it is a tucked away working unit, you can tell it was used by a wealthy family as all the buildings are still fancy (for a farm).

Covid meant the shop was closed but there was a coffee shop with decent espresso and ice cream.

The animals were pretty friendly and we could feed this guy:

And his little mates:

I got a bit keen and took a stupid amount of animal photos that day. But there were plenty of things for Instagram addicts, for example this shiny red tractor:

Toddler fun things

Photo opportunities aside it was really fun for children. They had an area set aside with cars and tractors that we spent way too much time in.

Up the hill again there was a huge play area with big kit for older kids with big climbing and zip lines:

But they also had a really good toddler area with a huge sandpit with a hand pump coming out of the stream running along the back:

Rating : 10 out of 10

New Thing 15 : A fancy waterfall picnic

I’m not sure if this justifies a full post as the title says it all.

All my Lake District posts are confusingly spread out over months, but this is back to the Lake District trip again.

The last day I was pretty achey after the trip up Blen Cathra so we just did a little walk up Aira Force. It’s National Trust owned so there is easy parking with a shop and toilets and an easy route running along the waterfalls.

We stopped maybe mid way up which was nice and quiet. As it was a 40th birthday we had champagne, nibbles, birthday cake and coffee.

Rating :

8 out of 10

(points deducted for me forgetting the nice blanket and the sun not coming out)

New Thing 14: Saw a shooting star

TLDR : went to the Lakes, got a bath, looked up, saw a shooting star.

I saw a shooting star, I’m not sure if this is a new thing as if I saw one before I probably assumed it was a helicopter.

But this time I was with a person who has a PhD in star related things and if he accepted my description as a shooting star then it’s going on the list.

By itself it isn’t that exciting. It looked like that two second bit where you see a firework shoot through the sky before it explodes. However it started from the middle of the sky and ended shortly after in the middle of the sky.

Now it doesn’t sound like much but in the context of having a romantic evening in the middle of the Lake District it was pretty cool.

Rating :

All I did was look up at the sky as I was chilling in the bath so effort versus reward alone this one gets a 10 out of 10.

Dangers of Doing New Things

Content warning : Just a massive whinge including disgusting descriptions of my bum infection. Enjoy.

My recent blogs have been pretty emotionally neutral lately so I think I can justify a massive ranty moan.

Coming out of lockdown and deciding to try new things and be an “interesting” person has absolutely fucked me over.

Sleep deprived, life exhausted mothers of toddlers do not get to be interesting people who do fun new things. Those who try it get a bum infection the size of a golf ball that leaks blood and pus for three weeks straight (and I do NOT exaggerate).

It was all going so well a month or two ago, pole dancing and mountain hikes and art galleries. Steak for breakfast. I think a little potter around a museum followed by a coffee is not to blame.

Running is evil

During the long boring lockdown at the start of this year I tried couch to 5k. It is hard to find time to go running but squeezing it into lunch breaks and child free Sundays the odd time was relatively satisfying. However only a few runs in I got a cold that lasted on and off for six weeks. Not even a proper, time off work justifying cold. Just a feel crap whilst going about everyday life cold.

Pole dancing is the worst

Like a fool I decided cardio isn’t for me but pole dancing would be fun… as exercise that is fun doesn’t count as exercise and therefore cannot hurt you.

Wrong.

Pole dancers are insane muscle machines. And whilst my left arm can prop a chunky toddler up for a while, my body is otherwise a flimsy, exercise hating squish. I felt so wobbly and nauseous after the sessions and then the following days walking like I had an embarrassing bum problem. I then had a genuine embarrassing bum problem.

It started with a sore little red spot which I didn’t think much of one Saturday morning. Sunday morning I was getting sore and whiney. Monday and Tuesday I was sitting wonky and fighting the urge not to compain the office due to the piss taking that would follow.

All the time it was getting bigger and redder and more swollen. When I called the doctor on Tuesday they wanted a bum selfie so I had to balance my phone on the windowsill in the shower room and take the most unflattering photo of my life.

Trying to get back to my desk before anyone questioned what I was doing I forgot to clear my screen…so my colleagues may potentially have seen it. No one assumes you have a huge swollen growth on your bum cheek (and the GP wants a photo), so it looked like I was sending sexy photos with absolutely no awareness of what is in fact sexy.

The GP gave me a double dose of antibiotics with did nothing to reduce the swelling and by Wednesday I had diarrhoea and thrush to add on to the fact I could no longer sit down. So Thursday and Friday were spent lying on my side in bed, doing a single hand type on a laptop, while a hot compress balanced on my ever growing swollen bum cheek.

The swelling was so big and sore all I could do was waddle around the house in baggy jogging bottoms, swearing all the way. I assumed it was a boil, which can get really painful.

By Saturday I woke up feeling hot and sweaty and dizzy, my daily bum inspection showed that it wasn’t in fact one boil but a collection of four boils clustered together and the whole thing looked ready to burst. So I almost fainted. The pain was ridiculous, bearable lying on my side but walking around was comparable to childbirth. But I didn’t have to entertain and feed a toddler for the day during childbirth. So I called for reinforcements and my mum came over and I resumed lying on my side.

Finally in the morning there was a boil explosion and the pain relieved significantly. However there was a steady stream of blood for hours.

I initially thought I would wait it out, and frankly thought the sight of it would make me pass out if I moved anyway. After two hours diarrhoea joined the game so I waddled to the bathroom with a handful of kitchen towel to catch the blood. In the few seconds spent washing my hands when my bum was free it looked like someone had slashed a vein in my bathroom.

After most of a day spent waiting for my bum cheek to drain I gave up and put a dressing on but the story didn’t end there and I had three long, long weeks of changing dressings regularly as so much blood kept on draining out. Altogether I had about three weeks where I couldn’t sit down easily and only managed the two minute drive to nursery by balancing all my weight on my one healthy bum cheek.

So after three weeks of not sitting down, two weeks on antibiotics, three packs of Caneston duo and an unquantifiable amount of time on the toilet I finally had a healed wound.

Pole dancing doesn’t hate me, my body does

Before I give pole dancing a bad press, my tale of woe was not a result of rubbing my bare bum on a dirty pole. It was (and I should have learnt my lesson from attempting to learn to run) my body telling me to sit down and chill the fuck out.

Boils and carbuncles come from bacteria that lives on the skin naturally somehow getting into the skin, potentially from a small nick, ingrain hair or spot. If your immune system is struggling anyway it can turn into an infection, which is common for people with HIV or diabetes. And apparently exhausted mothers.

I’d like to say that this is almost an old memory but my ‘nurse’ Emily is constantly asking me ‘if my poorly bottom is feeling better’ which is one of the more embarrassing things a child can announce on public. So the fun just keeps coming.

And whilst I have had all the joys of being able to sit on my bum for the last month I’m now in a cycle of getting a nasty cold, feeling ropey and spending a weekend in bed, getting to the point of being nearly a well human and then getting ill again.

I can’t even find anyone to blame my most recent cold on, I’m just a mucusy, pissed off, barely functional zombie nowadays.

Excluding a trip to the cinema, every Sunday planned out for ‘fun new things’ has been spent in bed or on the sofa trying to pull together enough energy to survive the coming week.

So all in all I’m feeling a bit fed up and pessimistic about there ever being a time when my body will approve of working full time, with a big commute, managing a toddler alone and getting horribly interrupted sleep.

The good news is that my default mentality would be to wallow in self pity thinking poor me, poor single mother me, no one doing regular overnights so I can sleep, my life is so unfair. But I’m so bloody tired I just can’t be bothered with self pity anymore.

I just mindlessly scroll tik tok or find a ridiculous dating show on Netflix and then watch the more ridiculous reunion of the ridiculous dating show.

So becoming a functioning zombie with poor taste is a…kind of silver lining. Two years ago I was doing a lot of angry crying and getting jealous of 90% of the people on social media so I’m going to take functional zombie as progress.