Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Chatsworth Estate

On my last day in Yorkshire we decided to take a little day trip into Derbyshire to visit the Chatsworth estate. Again, we were really lucky with the weather, sunshine instead of the predicted rain!

A few minutes from the house is the Garden Centre with its colourful array of plants, lovely big gift shop and of course the family favourite, the cafe. We stopped here for our morning break, well, it was close enough to lunch that I managed one of the most amazing pork and stuffing pies with a bit of salad. A wander round the gift shop and then we got back in the car and drove towards the house.

Disappointingly, the view of the house as you drive up was obscured by scaffolding, so the photo I wanted to take I couldn't. Chatsworth will always be one of my favourite places to go and visit, as you drive up to the house you cross a bridge, and it was a painting of that bridge that my Grandad painted that has hung in my parents' house for many years.

Although I've visited the grounds many times, I don't remember visiting the inside of the house since I was little, and I couldn't remember what was inside. I twisted my parents arms to get the ticket for both and in we went. And I'm so glad that we did. I can't even count the number of times that my jaw dropped as we went round. Everything was so decorative, I couldn't stop snapping with the camera. Ceilings were painted in amazing ways, there was so much beautiful wood carving on the staircases and walls, and the whole design of the place was just spectacular.

I was also impressed with the current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's willingness to incorporate new art amongst all the existing. There were a number of modern pieces throughout the house, and although they stood out a little, the willingness to encourage and commission new artists was something that I thought was really wonderful.

After the house, we went for the compulsory walk around the stunning gardens. So much work has gone into these, and there are many different points in the walk where you get a really impressive viewpoint of the house, or the fountains, the planted gardens or there's even a maze.

A really fantastic day out, well worth a visit if you get a chance, and on the way out, we always call at the farm shop to stock up on tasty food.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Great Yorkshire Show

Last week I was happy enough to plod on off up to Yorkshire to see my family, and whilst I was there, we were looking for a day out. Happily, my visit coincided with the Great Yorkshire Show, which was a 3 day midweek event about much more than cows, pigs and sheep. Here, people can also show off their vegetables, cheese and birds in the hope of winning first, second or third prize.

The showground near Harrogate offers far more than that though. I thought at first it was quite an expensive day out at £22 for a regular adult ticket, but there was a huge amount to do, and we were there for the full day, and it didn't feel like we had seen everything. Apart from the showground where the animals are shown (we saw some absolutely huge cattle), there are also falconry displays, a display by the Red Devils, sheep shearing displays, you can learn more about the schools and colleges in Yorkshire and what they have to offer. There are also a wide variety of stalls selling everything from food and drink to clothes and crafts.

We watched some of the wood displays, lumberjacks attempting to pop balloons, and competing to strip branches from logs while the mechanical equivalent tried to get through 4 logs in the same amount of time. The great British Pole Climbing championship was incredible, with amateurs and pros climbing 80ft in under 20 seconds!

We also saw a fashion show which had work by some local colleges and university students and the latest fashions from the store Hobbs. I was really impressed with the quality of the designs from the students, there were more than a few things I'd have loved to get my hands on.

Even if you're not interested in seeing the livestock, I'd recommend this as a great family day out, with so much to see and do. Even though they were expecting 130,000 people through the gates over the three days, and it was very busy, it never felt claustrophobic or as though you were being pushed around. And the service in the restaurants was impeccable, the tables were cleared quickly so that it was never a long wait to find a table. Add to that the attitude of all the staff and exhibitors and it just once again shows why I'm so proud to be from Yorkshire. It's the best.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Time Off update 1

Ok, the photos didn't come out so well. But the result of the wardrobe clearout was 2 big bags of clothes that have been taken to the local Oxfam. The wardrobe itself still looks just as full of clothes, I'm not entirely sure how that is possible. But I definitely don't need to buy anything new, except maybe a smart black suit that actually fits, for when I need to start going to interviews etc.

I also discovered a really amazing black velvet evening dress that looks so good with my new red hair. And a couple of party dresses that I'd forgotten about. Heaps of things, there just isn't enough time to wear them all, but I'm glad that I can at least see them. What it did confirm when trying a few things on was that for the first year ever, the weight I put on at Xmas didn't come off again. I know that it wasn't much, but still, it's a bit of a shock and made me feel like I'm getting old now. Must sort out some kind of exercise so my tummy doesn't keep expanding, since I'm most definitely not giving up food.

I've also been doing well on the tiger stitching, it's really coming along now, I'm hoping to have it finished in the next couple of weeks. And I'm halfway through the Penny Vincenzi book that I'm reading. Plus I have my trip home to see the family and friends all booked in for next week. Hurrah, I can't wait to see everyone.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The big wardrobe tidy

It's Monday morning. What better time than after a long, restful weekend to tackle my wardrobe clearout. It's not exactly a big wardrobe, it's the one that came with the flat. All the shelves along the top are full of boxes. One of the 3 compartments contains folding chairs, wrapping paper and... more boxes. I'm not touching or clearing any of the boxes since they aren't mine.

But clothes wise, I'm determined to be ruthless. No, really, I am!
And later on, I will post up some before and after pictures so you can see just how hard I've been working all day.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


So, the time finally came, my extension at work came to an end, I had my last wages and my redundancy payment, and that's the end of that. Almost 11 years after I started and this will be the first time I've not been working since I left Uni.

Well, I'm the kind of girl who needs a plan. So my plan is this. I plan to have some time off. And I need to fill this time with things that need to be done, and with fun things, and with blogging a heck of a lot more often. But I know that I will need to go back to work because at some point boredom will set in and then it'll be either watching Jeremy Kyle and at that point Rob would probably kick me out of the house, or else I will have to start looking for work again.

When I found out I was being made redundant, I convinced myself that I wanted to do something completely different. I applied unsuccessfully for a few things. But, I've realised that actually, I'm pretty good at what I do. I can design a good database, I can use some standards and guidelines, and actually I've learnt a lot on the job over the past 8 years that I've been doing this role. A look on the internet suggested that there is still a demand for the type of work that I do, and that I was pretty badly underpaid where I was (that's what happens when you stick with a company out of loyalty... they tell you every year that things are tight and so there's not enough money for much of a pay rise).

So my actual plan is this - that I'll take up to 3 months off (but we'll see how this bit goes) - At this point I think that should be more than enough to do everything I NEED to do and then a whole bunch of things that I want to do.

The stuff that needs to happen is as follows:

Sort out my wardrobe - seriously, I have more clothes than the average shop and just because it still fits doesn't mean it shouldn't have gone into the bin/a charity shop a long time ago.

Read some of the books that I've had lying around that need to be read and handed back/taken to charity shops. Again, with the aim of tidying the flat... it feels like it's bursting at the seams at the moment.

Cook. Lots of cooking. I've got so many recipe books. I want to try new things. I've started making soups from Delia's Soup book and they've been really delicious. There's a heap of things in Jamie Oliver's 60 minute meals I want to try.

Catch up with the people I've neglected for the last 10 years. Yes, see more of my family, and my friends back home. When it's not a rushed weekend, I should be able to see them and their kids. I don't want the kids to get to 18 and I've only seen them grow up via facebook. That's pathetic (though still better than nothing).

The name change. Yes, I've still got to get everything changed into my married name. I've been putting this off because it seems like a neverending list.

Explore London. I know, I walk round London a lot. But there are loads of things that I've never done, like all the free museums. I feel like I'm missing out. I have the time now, so it's a great opportunity.

Finally, the stitching. The tiger needs to be finished. I've had enough of stitching in brown. I'd like a bit of pink or blue. So I want to finish the tiger and get another 3 designs started and finished by the end of the year. I also have a bunch of my Grandma's UFOs that I'd love to complete since she is no longer with us and I feel like they need to be done.

So, that all sounds quite ambitious for the next 3 months, but I'm excited about the time off and the summer and I'm very much looking forward to doing all this and then finding a really great job at the end of it all.