Monday, 31 December 2012

That was 2012 that was!

Welcome to another epic post (epic as in length rather than content I'm afraid)!

I thought I'd best get my act together and write an 'End of Year' post - thankfully the Mayans were incorrect and it's not an 'End of World' post!

So, firstly, a recap of the last 2/3 weeks...

Christmas decorating:

 (note the stack of Christmas films!)
 (my awesome new advent calendar!)
(the only cats I couldn't get a photo of in hats were my own!  I've got a lovely santa dress for them next year though!)
I've just realised that I forgot to get a photo of my Tigger jack in the box so that'll have to wait until next Christmas too!
However, I can (and have an overiding compulsion to) inflict my favourite Christmas song on you once again - in a gesture of goodwill I'll also include another festive favourite which hopefully won't be as painful!

Salt dough decorations:

Christmas Party:
No photos of this one but it was a very good night, food was good, entertainment was also good and there was even a  Prince Charming who left behind his hat rather than a glass slipper! 
Now I feel the need to explain...there was a chap at another table and I noticed he was wearing a rather fetching hat, I told Kevin and Ray that I'd have that hat by the end of the night, Anna and I spotted said chap leaving early and as he was about to hop in his taxi Anna asked him where he'd got the hat, I told him it was awesome and he kindly gave me the hat before disappearing into the night.
Masquerade Ball:
Not really a ball at all and quite disappointed at the lack of effort made by the majority of participants, as I couldn't find a mask I liked to go with my outfit I spent an hour drawing on my face and adding various shades of purple eyeshadows, purple glitter and sticking sparkly things to my face - it looked fantastic but unfortunately the only photos I have so far are on my ridiculously small mobile phone so they don't really clearly show anything!
Other festive stuff:
The St. Mike's light switch on was as lovely and emotional as usual, shopping and lunch with Bernie was the usual combination of a brief period of frustrated shopping followed by lunch and laughter, pre Christmas get together with Kevin and Ken, a bucket of KFC and Mrs Brown's Boys was fun, the Harrogate Gilbert & Sullivan Society and Brighouse and Rastrick Band Christmas concert at the Royal Hall with Kevin was absolutely fantastic (in fact we enjoyed it that much that we've already got it booked in for next year's festive activities!) as was lunch at The Montpellier with Kevin the next day.  A lovely suprise at the end of a full festive weekend - carol singers!  They were working their way around the streets at the top of Otley Road - I went down to listen and give them a donation and they asked me to join them on the next road down, so I did! Fantastic :-)
Christmas Eve/Day and Boxing Day:
We all had a lovely time at Pops and Olives, every meal was beautiful and I really wish I'd taken a photo of Christmas dinner!  We were all spoilt rotten but I managed to find a home for almost everything when I got back home on Boxing Day - just in time for Bernie to come back to mine for some nibbles, wine and a film (Rock of Ages - a bit odd but, to my surprise, found myself enjoying it!  Also, Tom Cruise...under normal circumstances, no, in this film, hell yes!).
And now, a recap in general...
Most visitors: January (largely my own fault as I really haven't made much effort this year)
Most visiting country: UK followed by USA with Russia coming in third place (the reason may be obvious shortly)
Most viewed post: Pretend to be a Secret Agent (told you), which is actually a post from last year!  In fact in the top 10 viewed posts this year only one of  them is actually from this year - a disturbing amount seem to be read as a result of people looking at photos of my feet on google!
It's been a bizarre old year, I was thinking to myself that not much has really happened and I haven't really done anything but, on looking back through the (woefully small number of) posts I have made this year it seems I'm wrong!  I had photo's taken by the talented Nicola Radford, went to two Mirabelle's wine tasting evenings, saw my first proper musical, went to a classical concert, had a lovely Easter, dressed as a clown and appeared in the paper 3 times (including the front page!), saw a magic dragon, finally had a murder mystery party, paid my loan off, celebrated the Jubilee, Eurovision and Canada day in style, enjoyed (apart from the jelly babies) a great experimental cooking day, watched NYPD Blue in its entirity, discovered Charlie's Place and with it a little adopted family, made some mistakes and learnt some lessons along the way. 
Facebook has a handy little thing which creates a collage of some of your posts throughout the year, here's mine!
And the good news is that Bernie bought me next year's diary! 
I'm going to attempt to post on average about once a week (and I will have to juggle some days around - why on earth put 'Pull an All-nighter Day' on a week night?!) but we'll see how it goes.  I'll also try to change the font after recieving feedback that my (excessive) exclamation points look like the letter l - I've already tried but I seem to be able to change the font on every aspect of the page/posts except the main body of text!!!
So, Happy New Year to all, family, friends, acquaintences and those of you I've never even met - may 2013 see your dreams stay big and your worries stay small.

"New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights."
Hamilton Wright Mabie

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Social Butterfly!

So much to write about, so little time to write about it!

I've never had such a busy December, it actually started in November with the fireworks and then really ramped up towards the end of November with every single weekend (Friday and Saturday and Sunday!) booked up with various events, crafty things or get togethers - and it's set to continue until halfway through January!

A couple of highlights have been;

Helen and Heidi's Christmas crafts - Helen made a fabulous wreath and you'll see more of my efforts shortly!
Bernie's birthday - a 2 day event involving a 10+ hour Twilight fest, furry wine (sparkly was the word I was searching for and couldn't find) and a meal at The Thai Elephant with good friends
Handel's Messiah at the Royal Hall - an evening of culture with Kevin, Ray and Ken
Beaujolais Nouveau Evening at Mirabelle's - as I included the menu for the Burgandy Evening back in April I think it's only fair to do the same for the Beaujolais event (and this time I'll also include the wine - John Butterwick of Winetalks was both knowledgeable and entertaining!).

Le Menu
Amouse Bouche
Wine soaked bread baked with pieces of spicy sausage
Beaujolais Noveau - Georges Debouf 2012
Rillette de Canard, legumes aigre doux
Duck Rillette with sweet pickled vegetables
Beaujolais Blanc - Reserve des 7 Pieces, Vieilles Vignes 2010
Nos Suites:
Saucisse de Toulouse au lentil
Toulouse sausage & lentil stew
Beaujolias Villages - Chateau des Vierres, Georges Deboeuf 2011
Poire au vin rouge, tarte au chocolat
Poached pear, chocolate tart
Vin chaud - French hot spiced wine
Forthcoming things to look forward to include putitng the Christmas decorations up, decorating the office, St Mike's Light up a Life, annual Christmas shopping and lunch with Bernie, Christmas drinks with work, work Christmas party, masquerade ball, Christmas concert at the Royal Hall and many evenings getting together with friends - all in the next two and a half weeks!
I'll try to write about some of them as and when (and if) I find time!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Wear Lots of Colours (and 'Frankenpants')!

Kind of.

I wore lots of clothes. Which were all different colours.

This would have been much more effective (and colourful in a totally tasteless wacky kind of way) had it been an intentional wearing of lots of colours, but it wasn't. Disappointingly it all came about as the result of a practical necessity.

With the advent of recent chilly weather (quite frankly it's been bloody freezing) my flat has once again assumed sub-zero conditions. In time honoured tradition (every winter I've lived in it) I unpacked the blankets, furry slippers, furry PJ jackets and my indoor hats, fingerless gloves and scarves (yes, I actually own these items specifically to wear whilst sat on my sofa indulging in the seasonal entertainment of comparing the steam coming from the cup of tea almost permanently clamped in my mitts to the breath I'm breathing out condensing in the frigid air in front of me).

Anyway, Bernie came over and we decided to watch a Christmas film or two (stop right there with the disapproval, there was one on the TV which I considered official permission to proceed) so we both got wrapped up in multi-layer (and coloured) insulation (believe it or not the central heating was actually on all day too) which in my case included my 'Frankenpants'.

Now I love my 'Frankenpants' despite what the rest of the world says about them and, although I'll concede that admittedly they could be referred to as a little past their best, I find myself unable to part with them. Originally known as Clownpants (due to the fact that they're very big on me and I'm permanently hitching them up/falling over them) the fraying around the bottom of the legs finally reached epic proportions resulting in a rip in one leg halfway up to my knee. I haphazardly repaired the tear (they're only for indoor use so care and attention wasn't required) and continued to wear them. Until I foolishly ventured outside in them.

In the rain.

Heavy rain.

The frayed bits and previous repair didn't take kindly to this careless treatment and by the time I got home my trousers looked suspiciously like I'd borrowed them from Bruce/David Banner after he's resumed his own form. So, after some pretty major surgery the legs are now held together (just about) with zig zag rows of stiches all over the place - although some minor surgery is still required.

But, speaking of wearing lots of colours I was reminded of this awesome clip!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Nicola Radford - Photographer Extraordinaire!

“ You don’t take a photograph, you make it." - Ansel Adams

So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell you all about my lovely and incredibly talented friend Nikki.

The official blurb is that she's a British photographer and painter who studied fine art at Leeds college of Art and Design and has spent a lot of time travelling around North America, South East Asia and Europe.  She now lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and works from Rift Systems on Bower Street.

What the official stuff doesn't tell you is that she's a fantastic artist in so many fields, her drawing, painting and photography are simply stunning and she has a beautiful writing style which I thoroughly enjoyed reading whilst she was on her travels.

Her shoots are a perfect balance of professionalism and relaxation, I can speak from experience when I say that she has an intuitive ability to put you totally at ease while she's busy capturing images and her creativity and enthusiasm are contagious .

In addition to all this she's also wife to Jerome, mother to the gorgeous Niamh and friend (and inspiration) to so many.  One of the bravest people I know, she's achieved so much to be proud of in the several years I've known her and I'm looking forward to seeing her continue to grow and build on her successes.

Anyway, until Christmas she is offering a 1 hour location shoot with a disc of photos for only £60.00! Ideal as a Christmas gift for a loved one or simply for beautiful pictures of you or your family. If you'd like to book please either email her at or call on 07922855749.

And check out her website

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Big Bang Saturday!

Last year I was on my way back from York hospital while the fireworks were going on, I just have a vague memory of being slumped against the window seeing the sky light up every so often.

This year was much better!  Wandered down to the Stray with Bernie, lit a sparkler, managed to successfully resist the temptation to raid the hot dog stand and enjoyed 15-20 minutes of ooohing and aaaaahing (no matter how much you're determined to not stand there making stupid noises along with everyone else it's a totally involuntary reaction and you just can't help it!) - I love the ones that reverberate right through the ground and you can feel in the pit of your stomach - awesome!

Of course this was then followed by the obligatory 10 minutes of cursing as we tried to make our way back home amongst the hundreds of idiots that seem to come out of the woodwork at this event.  I saw some staggering (literally in some cases) examples of sheer stupidity, there was more chance of injury, maiming or death in getting home than there ever would be in attending the firework display!!

(I'm also starting to think that when I say that I never want to live with anyone again I actually need to think about it in terms of miles and radius!)

Apologies for the amount of photos - just be grateful I deleted the many, many others!

Speaking of photos - check out my talented friend's website, and she's offering special discounts on portraits for Christmas!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Practice Your Evil Laugh!

I think we can safely say that this one was achieved!

And it was good to actually use the decoration etc that were put up and hastily removed again when I was hospitalised (not as a result of the decorations I hasten to add!)!

Pumpkin carving competition
Debbie's creation
My creation
I didn't dare take it home!
Proud 'parents'
There's something not right about all our eyes on this one - and I look more like a pilgrim than anything else!
Slime tarts and mini muffins
Debbie''s homemade cupcakes and Sara's bat biscuits