A busy trip to Harrogate

I came home on Saturday from a visit to Harrogate with Kieran and his children.

The ten days passed all too quickly, with visits to Tropical World, a trampoline park, Harlow Car Gardens, swimming and the Forbidden Corner, among other places and of course, meeting up with old friends.

Harlow Car Gardens
Forbidden corner
Harlow Car Gardens
Forbidden corner
Forbidden corner
Forbidden corner
Tropical world

The cherry trees were in bloom on the Stray, which was a treat for the eyes. I’m sure they used to flower in May, but it was lovely to see them, early or not.

I was lucky enough to be invited to an eightieth birthday party. I’ve known Mike since I was 7 years old and can remember my mother going to his 21st party; he’s still going strong and looks a lot younger than his years. It was amazing to see people there who I haven’t seen for over 50 years, and to recognise many of them.

Alex had just started a new job, so couldn’t take time off, which made the weekend and evenings even more precious, it was lovely to see her so happy after a year in her previous role in a toxic environment. Her new job looks as though it has possibilities for growth and she’s giving it her all.

Belle and I went to Harrogate theatre to see an amateur production of Sister Act, which was great; so between that, decent curries and the availability of vegetarian food in restaurants and cafés, the trip ticked all the boxes of things I miss in France.

I’d forgotten, however, just how cold it can be in Yorkshire; I took thermals, thick sweaters, hat, gloves and scarf, but was still perished most of the time in the glacial winds and have arrived home with a dose of bronchitis and without my voice – if anyone finds it, please send it to me!. But if that’s the price I have to pay for a great holiday, then so be it. I don’t think I could live in that climate again though.

Harlow Car Gardens
Harlow Car Gardens
A meal with friends
A walk in the dales
A walk in the dales
Cherry trees on the Stray
The forbidden corner
The forbidden corner
Another meal with friends
Immy at the Valley Gardens after school
Bordeaux airport

Some of my photos seem to have doubled up and I don’t know how to get rid of them, sorry!

Painting expo

Twice a year, the painting club holds an exhibition in a community building on the edge of the lake and this time I was persuaded to put in three pieces.

I’m no great painter, the only painting I’ve done over the last 50 years being of walls and ceilings, but I thoroughly enjoy the afternoons I spend “playing” at the workshop.

There are some very talented artists, all happy to share their expertise and give me the benefit of their experience, but I’ll never be a real painter and am very happy to use what I produce as the basis for some textile art, unlike the work of anyone else in the club.

I framed my three little pieces and took them along to be hung. We all do one or two afternoons manning the exhibition; often there are 5 or 6 people, which makes for a very enjoyable few hours.

I was there one afternoon when someone pointed out a couple having a good look at my work. “Go and talk to them”, she said, which I did; they wanted to know about the techniques I use to arrive at the result, they seemed very interested and ended by buying one of my works! I was delighted, though to say I was surprised would be putting it mildly.

My pieces of textile art

A few days in Naples

My brother’s partner, Penny, had some leave to take from work, but Peter didn’t; so Penny and I decided that we’d have a few days away. Naples seemed to fit the bill; we could find flights that arrived within minutes of each other and we had a good chance of decent weather in March.

Penny booked the accommodation; it was amazing – a beautiful apartment on the 6th floor of an old block, overlooking the bay of Naples and with a view of Vesuvius! There was even a concierge, who chatted away to us in Italian, seemingly unconcerned that, beyond good morning, pasta and pizza, our Italian was somewhat limited. If there was something we really must understand, he’d drag someone in off the street to translate for us.

A colleague of Penny’s comes from Naples, so we had a list of good pizzerias to try, along with a recommendation to try fried pizza. It sounded disgusting, but actually was delicious. The pizzas were so huge that we never ordered more than one between the two of us.

Friends I’d spoken to were horrified at our choice of destination – they said it was busy, filthy, etc, and it was! The traffic was unbelievable, scooters weaving their way in and out of fast moving cars, lorries, buses, everybody hooting their horns; you felt you were taking your life in your hands every time you crossed a road, even on zebra crossings, which the drivers largely ignored. And yes, there were overflowing dustbins outside the shops in town…… However, there was such a buzz about the place; people were so animated, so full of life. We loved it.

We’d booked a guided tour of Pompeii on the Saturday afternoon; a good job we didn’t book earlier as it took us all morning to work out the trains. At last we arrived, found somewhere to eat and were ready for some serious history and culture.

Pompeii was fantastic; our guide was very knowledgeable and more than happy to answer questions, he even managed to keep two very loud Americans in check. It was incredible to think that the frescoes on the walls and mosaics on the floors have been in place for over 2000 years, they’re in such good condition. Some parts of the mosaic floors resemble crumpled pieces of fabric, following the form of the earth as it moved and buckled on the day of the eruption in 79AD. There are plaster casts in glass cases, made from bodies found, intact, during the excavations, as well as fast food outlets, bakeries and  brothels.

Once the tour was over, we took the train to Ercolano, a modern town around ancient Herculaneum. Having been to Pompeii allowed us to interpret better what we saw in Herculaneum, which was a richer suburb of Pompeii all those years ago. It was getting dark by the time we left, the thought of the long walk back to the station was too much, so we took up the taxi driver’s offer of a “special deal”; yes, we were charged more than we should have been, but our feet felt it was worth it.

All too soon it was time for me to take the bus back to the airport, Penny had an extra half day before heading back to London.