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 13: Cusworth Hall

TLDR: depending on how you see it either an amazing service station or a fairly average stately home.

I’d been meaning to visit for a while, mostly as it is free and I love free things. However this time we didn’t get to have the full visit as annoyingly they haven’t re-opened the museum.

We just had a potter around the outside, hung out with the ducks and swans for a bit then had a play on the play area.

The good bit and the bad bit of Cusworth is the location. The house is on a hill with a view…of Doncaster. Specifically Doncaster’s high rise council blocks. But this does mean it is close to the A1 so for a couple of minutes diversion really handy on a journey.

The playground is good with plenty of picnic benches and green space around but it is right next to the car park.

The house, cafe and toilets are only a couple of minutes walk from the play area and car park so a good place to spend an afternoon when you’re low on energy. Which I am, as I am basically a vehicle for shoulder rides at the minute.

It probably deserves a 6 out of 10 but I’m bumping it to an 8 as I really could not be bothered with unnecessary effort or expenditure on the day I visited.

Definitely a worthwhile new thing 👍🏻

New Thing 12: Rowntree Park and Reading Cafe

I am heavily biased by the gorgeous sunshine and the fact Emily was having an excellent time with her little friend. Both biased and distracted, as I was fairly focused on not losing a child into the pond / to be attacked by a goose or other park dangers.

The park was made in the 1920s as a gift to the city from Joseph Rowntree (who gifted the rest of the world Fruit Pastilles and Smarties). If my A Level geography teacher was correct Joseph made the factories at one end of the parks and the houses at the other so the employees all stayed fit and had a bit of leisure time in their day.

I’ve been inside one of the Joseph Rowntree houses and they are like little country cottages. They are still saved for social housing as part of the charity and have very strict rules on trees and hedge sizes with big front gardens. This means the whole area feels like a pretty 1920s village rather than a council estate.

Rowntree Park runs close to the river Ouse so we walked along the river side and got some ice cream from a little ice cream boat moored up. With a two and three year old there was some swapping of cones to ensure everyone had the correct colour combinations which somehow ended up with me missing out on the rhubarb I was excited about…nothing to do with the park but I like to complain.

Linking up the main city to the park you can either cross the old bridge by Clifford’s Tower or walk further down the river to a big modern footbridge lined with deep benches. A few people were just chilling out there watching all the boats go by.

After balancing on walls we headed over to the Reading Cafe. This is a really cute little cafe upstairs, it is linked up to York Libraries so you can borrow a book while you’re there, but it also has decent coffee and good cake. The outdoor terrace was busy so we sat inside, but it was on the first floor with views across the ponds and park so a pretty spot to sit and relax.

Unfortunately no photos of the terrace as I mostly spent my time walking between the table and the toilets as toddlers are never quite sure if they need a wee or not.

The park itself had some Arts and Crafts type features. Little bridges and fake cottage style buildings.

There was a decent sized playground with a range of activities for different ages.

Super fun day. 10 out of 10.

New Thing 7: The Tetley

I’m not an art person but I can definitely be enticed out by a good brunch menu.

I was intending to go to the Henry Moore sculpture museum in Leeds, which is apparently a Very Important Museum if you are into art. I do not know about art but I do know that the idea of steak for breakfast feels very Americanly excessive and I am into that.

So here I am eating steak for breakfast at an art museum. Also someone decided to create a new word for cortado as maybe cortado doesn’t sound Italian enough and Piccolo makes the hipsters happy? I don’t know, but here is a piccolo (aka cortado).

Steak was good, coffee was good, egg was good. I was high maintenance and swapped out the chips (too early) for a hash brown (appropriate) but I would technically class this as a potato rosti.

I also feel the need to point out that I did not massacre a plate of tasty food by stripey smattering ketchup across the whole thing. That was some kind of chipotle type sauce from the chef and it was also good.

This isn’t just a post about how fussy I am regarding food and drink presentation and terminology.

I did actually visit a gallery as well. Here is some evidence:

My information on this is that an art student asked some different groups to make them a chair and then put the chairs together and here it is. UNITY IS POWER. I may have missed the point.

The rest of the museum did have a point of mental health, the artist did a collaborative sculpture / audio / art / written piece approach to time spent at mental health institutions gathering information.

The take home point I got was : men are shit.

Example 1:

Next up we have chaotic piano music pumping out to signify gradually declining mental health as your family drive you insane. Unsurprisingly the phone had a male voice saying things that would drive you insane.

After this an elaborate tale of how men fuck up your life.

But don’t worry, the (ex) wife eventually had a brief period of happiness before death.

Moral of the story, don’t marry men.

And other than some video / audio extras that was it. It’s a very small gallery (but free entry).

So I’m giving the gallery a 6 out of 10

Steak for breakfast 5 out of 10

Bacon is a British breakfast food because it makes much more sense than steak.

14th June: Woah! We’re going to Eureka. Woah! Get to West Yorkshire 🎼

Very, very, very belated blogging here.

I toyed with the idea of forgetting the whole diary section of my blog and waiting till I’m having a bad day and just going waaaaahhhhh fuck my life / oh and here is a charity shop buy. But then I remembered I had some cute Eureka photos I want to show off so back to the diary thing.

Friday 14th June we went to Eureka. You pay for an adult and you get in for free for a year. Babies under one are free anyways and babies over one (who I refuse to call toddlers as this is scarily close for my baby and I can’t let go) cost money. But for some reason if you take your under one baby and go once they are over one you don’t have to pay. Excellent. Get yourselves to Eureka almost one year old babies. Bargains ahoy.

So there were three under 5s zones. The first was the sound garden featured above with a padded area for non walking babies to be safe from devilish toddlers and many signs to this effect. Did a single toddler walk past the safe baby zone without hurtling themselves into it? Of course not. How many shits did the mothers give? Absolutely zero. So I had to sit inside it with her as a human shield.

Here are a couple of photos from the sound garden, because it was nicely photographable and I bothered to put lipstick on so I’m going to upload a selfie:

Then the second under 5s bit was the discover zone. It kind of felt like my very vague memories of my old nursery. A table to cut / colour / create, a sand pit and a corner with rugs and puppets and cushions and toys. I just lay myself down there like a very lazy woman. The mothers at the table having to humour their small people and shit artwork kept looking at me. I’m not sure if they were judging me for lying down or jealous. I did a puppet show for Emily until I realised she really wasn’t watching and just wanted to bash the water bottles around. Could have done that at home really.

Next up was a desert themed something. Probably fun if you’re five. Emily was too busy to pose here:

Then we wandered around the non baby specific bits. A flashing lights section which was a bit trippy and a member of staff kept coming over to say Eh-Oh in the style of a teletubby to Emily. Quite alarming. Very awkward.

Then we went around the human body bit which is the most interesting. They had a screen which showed the hottest parts on you when you stand in front of it. It showed up that Emily is a human furnace. Which I knew already. Weirdly my crotch was a hot zone. I have a super hot crotch, can’t believe I’m single with an asset like that. I was quite glad the place was empty. I swiftly moved on to the giant tongue for a photo opp:

I think that was all that was note worthy. Other than the fact I skipped lunch and got excited walking up to see an M&S Food only to realise its all fucking plastic. Instead I got the £2.50 coffee and cake after 2pm offer from the cafe even though it was 1.50pm because I obviously look poor / desperate for cake.

So it gave us something to do for the afternoon. I’m not quite sure if Emily enjoyed it as she has developed a resting disinterested face at the moment. It’s quite funny watching people try their very hardest to get a smile out of her when we are out and she just poker faces them. It makes people feel awkward. It’s funny.

That’s all I can add other than that there is a massive sand pit outside which was fun:

And that’s Emily saying bye for now folks.

21st May: Armouring myself for a food tour of Leeds

Cars are bastards. You look after them and love them and use them as cribs to gently lull your precious one to sleep and then the bastards get to 100k miles and demand a new cambelt. Bastards. They don’t care that you’re on the last portion of maternity leave with ZERO income and your husband just left you. They just demand a new cambelt anyway.

Anyway I went to VW as they gave me a new Polo for the day which was fun but a basic car and I think I’d rather have my six year old Golf over a new Polo because it is actually nicer. The Polo feels like a little tin can when you shut the door and there was nowhere to rest my left arm and I had to use a hand break like some kind of flintstones character. Absolutely bloody outrageous. And yes I’m a bit of a twat.

So getting myself and a baby to Leeds through rush hour to arrive at Elland Road before 9am was nothing short of traumatic. I had to recover with a McDonald’s breakfast (sausage and egg mcmuffin, flat white and hash brown). Then we headed on down to Leeds Royal Armories. Here is a photo essay as I don’t really have any comments to add other than I like armoured elephants and Emily likes the actor telling the Beowolf story.

Then we had a wander around the gift shop. I do like me a museum gift shop. They had a rather good selection of books for girls and older feminists:

I almost went with the ‘girls can do anything’ but thought it was a bit patronising. Emily was born assuming that girls can do what boys can do so it seems a bit weird buying a book to say so. Instead I went for a story where a Princess and Queen are basically trolling a dragon together when the Princess dresses like a Knight and they have joint lolz as they trick him into leaving. It’s like Gilmore Girls of the dragon era. I like it.

Then a wander around the Leeds Docks area

And back to the car when I realised I had just stepped over into three hours parking territory which is annoying at £2.50 per hour.

Then we went to the absolute luxury of Asda cafe on York Road *intense sarcasm it is a hell hole*. Which is near Emily’s dad’s office so that she could see him. Her father informed me how often the police are there because of in Asda fights. How jolly. I clutched Emily to me a little closer.

Whilst there I ate a pizza slice, coke, chips and hot dog.

I had two hours to kill so obviously took a little detour to Temple Coffee the land of overpriced donuts and trendy hipsters.

And we picked up the car, departed £600 lighter and went on our merry way.

6th May: Rainy Monday

It feels quite appropriate to have rain on a Bank Holiday Monday. Very British.

We had no buddies today and didn’t want to be bored at home all day so set off for Fairburn Ings. It is an RSPB reserve but I’m cheap and didn’t want to pay for parking when we weren’t staying long so we parked on Cut Lane in the village.

We planned to do the red loop but there was a massive downpour so we turned back for one of the birdwatchers huts. I had thought that we would have a little picnic and I could set Emily down on my scarf to eat her snacks. Instead she had to eat snuggled up inside the sling. I got very cheesey in the process.

It’s a nice easy walk with views of the water on both sides. There must be some interesting birds (as there was a lot of binocular excitement all around) but I have no idea and only spotted swans and ducks.

Other than a few kissing gates that might be difficult for a massive pram it’s an easy pushchair friendly walk. We were of course using the sling. Now that Emily is gaining a fair weight I felt like a bit of a packhorse with baby on front and rucksack on the back. With all the snacks, baby gear and drinks the bag was really uncomfortable. I have a Pacapod Saunton which I love as it’s fairly hand bag looking but it is quite big and can be a handbag / shoulder bag / rucksack. But I carry a ridiculous amount of stuff and it’s not really a hiking bag. The band keeping the straps attached is looking a little precarious so I think I’ll have to stop loading it with flasks and picnics.

But…look at what a pro rucksack this is (above). We went to Junction 32 at Castleford as there are plenty of outdoor shops there. First of all I learnt there are different names for these things: daybag (little rucksack), backback (medium rucksack) and rucksack (big, maybe with a frame on to keep your back cool) . At 30L this one is maybe a rucksack as it’s fairly big with a bit of a frame? Still confused.

I like it though, it’s big but doesn’t look like I’m going on my gap year. It’s grey and I like everything to be grey. It’s waterproof but doesn’t feel it. It has a frame to keep the heat off my back if I’m going proper hiking. It was £30 reduced from £80 and I also got the water bottle for £2 down from £10 and the headband (as I get very cranky as soon as any kind of wind hits my ears) for £2 as well. Excellent bargains.

Other than the Tog24 buys I just went to the Cadbury store. I personally think it isn’t that cheap. The only thing worth buying (when I compare it to Home Bargains prices) was a multipack of 8 mixed bars for £2. I’m happy for 25p per bar. Not all eight bars survived the 15 minute journey home unfortunately.

I also finally got around to visiting the car wash place. I have a very comfy down Joules winter coat that I misplaced months ago. I last remembered seeing it in my car before we went to the car wash but had never got around to going back to ask. I half expected them to have gotten rid of it as it had been so long but I was finally reunited with my old coat.

Walks. Coffee and cake in a birdwatchers hut. Bargains. Chocolate. Coat reunion. All in all not a bad day.