Tag Archives: Yorkshire

The Grandest Day Out

C'est Vrai

C’est Vrai

So my children have coped admirably with England defeat.   So much so that as we watched Brazilians openly weeping in the stadium after their comprehensive thrashing by Germany (1 – 7 just in case there is someone on the planet who didn’t know) they would watch so dispassionately and remark that they would get over it.

Buoyed up by their resilience to English football results, I thought I would throw another sport into the mix and I dragged them out of bed on Saturday morning at an UNEARTHLY hour to watch the Grand Depart of the 101th Tour De France from Leeds Town Hall.    For months now I had been watching  with rising levels of interest and excitement as Yorkshire decorate itself (in increasingly more eye-catching and inventive ways) in the tour jersey colours Yellow, Green and White with Red Spots in readiness for the world’s greatest cycle race.

There was disappointment in the week leading up the day when it was announced that Bradley Wiggins wouldn’t be in team Sky due to the support  (domestiques n’est-ce pas) needed for Chris Froome the defending champion.  As any regular reader of my blog will now I have supported him for a long time (click on his name if you want to read it) so I was quite gutted that the first British champion ever of the TDF wouldn’t be riding up the Headrow at 11.10 am on Saturday 5 July 2014.

Still we had Cav, practically a Yorkshire man as his mum lived in Harrogate (the finish for Stage One) so  I managed to get over the absence of my favourite mod cyclist and we joined in the throng of happy (and a few a bit grumpy) spectators and stood behind the barriers and waited, and waited and waited

It was fairly surreal standing in crowd 4 deep on a Saturday morning when then Town Hall clock said it was only 8.15 am watching the oh so cool  Gendarmes walking along the street in wraparound shades even before the sun came out.  There were many, many, many vehicles, from motor bikes to pick up trucks all with French number plates and official looking stickers zooming around looking very official and very important to keep our interest.

We saw Christian Prudhomme (the organiser of the TDF) be interviewed right in front of us.

Monsieur Tour

Monsieur Tour

No 1 of many many many vehicles that drive around the Tour whilst those incredible men race on their two very thin wheels.

No 1 of many many many  four wheeled motorised vehicles that drive around the Tour whilst those incredible men race on their two very thin wheels.

We saw giant fruits shoots and packets of chips fly past us as part of the “Caravan” a convoy of vehicles that precede the riders around the 190km course.  It had to be the most surreal part of the day.  But before we could really process  what we had actually seen the riders started coming out and being interviewed.  The tension in the crowd was palpable and as the riders lined up in front of Leeds Art Galley I had my first glimpse of the pelaton.  It was more thrilling than rows of brightly coloured plastic helmets ever have the right to be.  Then they were off on the roll out up Harewood House where the official race would be started by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  We saw them all, Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and nearly 200 other sleek lyrca’d machines pedaling leisurely up the Headrow.   It was so exhilarating that moments after they passed my legs were like jelly such was the intensity of the adrenaline rush

We had train tickets to go onto Harrogate for the finish to meet with friends but it wasn’t to be.  N and I came home (and H to a party) and watched the rest of the race unfold on television.  The sun had come out and so had every single person in Yorkshire it seemed.  Everyone on the highest of highs and not just those on Cote De Buttertubs.

Yorkshire Cordiale

just where does the race when and the spectators begin?

blurred lines – just where does the race en dand the spectators begin?

Yorkshire Cordiale

Yorkshire looked so beautiful.  The race was so exciting.  I knew every inch of the road.  Ariel shots of Middleham Castle, home of Richard III, Jerveux Abbey and Fountains Abbey, the location of many a sun-filled family picnic all looked glorious.  Harrogate was full to bursting point and as Cav was lead out by his team up Ripon Road (the loudest shouts coming from my dad I have no doubt) it looked like the sprinter would get his much dreamed of stage win in his mother’s hometown and get to wear the Maillot Jaune on Stage 2.  Alas for poor Cav it was not to be the fairytale ending as he crashed painfully just before the line and and Marcel Kittel crossed the line just outside Bettys on Parliament Street.

The crowds just before the end of the race..

The crowds just before the end of the race..hope Betty’s don’t run out Fat Rascals…

But despite that it was the most intoxicating day, all my friends were messaging each other delighting in their “blink and you miss it” stories that all ended in”but it was so worth it and I have never been prouder of Yorkshire” And best of all we got to do it all over again the next day.  My dad always said it was bigger and better in Yorkshire and really I don’t think there was anyone in the world that would have disagreed.  The Tour in Yorkshire was a Triumph.    This is really what this blog is about.  I want to say thank you to Gary Verity for having the vision and balls to pull this off.  I want to say thank you to every single person who decorated a bicycle yellow and dotted them around the route.  Who bunted or covered statues in yellow jerseys.  The pub in Knaresborough who painted red spots all over their walls.  To the farmer in Killinghall who painted his sheep in the colours of the three iconic jerseys.  To all my friends who swapped pictures on social media to allow us all to get intimate views and pictures of their experiences.  You all made this weekend one of the greatest of my life.

Of course N and I got out on our bikes in the evening.  As the sun set behind Temple Newsam N was determined to ride up the hill to the house.  “I need to conquer this hill” she said.  “Every time my legs hurt I just think of the Tour De France riders”.  Now then, isn’t that a champion legacy. Non? Bien Sur!

Why Does Mum = Skivvy?

How my kids see me

How my kids see me

It seems to me that the number one complaint from all my very wonderful, capable and highly organised girlfriends isn’t that they wished they had Jennifer Anniston’s hair or Kate Middleton’s wardrobe or the body of a supermodel. Nope their number one complaint, to a woman, is that no one else in their house clears up after themselves.

That stairs are magical, making anything placed on them (for later transportation up the stairs) invisible everyone, except the woman of the house;

That houses left clean and tidy when my friends go to work, are like bomb-sites when they return tired and weary after a long hard slog at the office;

That they are treated as a living, breathing search engine, “Mum where are my trainers?” “Have you seen my homework/car keys/phone/gerbil (delete as applicable, list is infinite).  That we know the satellite position, or have the intel of the last known sighting of every single item in the house. Information that can be recalled quicker than a Google algorithm;

That no one realises that clothes don’t wash, dry and iron themselves;

That if the men folk do decide to cook every ingredient is in the store-cupboard ready for them, as if Jamie Oliver’s food porn team have been to prep for them before (and then use every pan in the house). The rest of the time we have to respond to “Mum, what’s for tea?” and come up with an answer that would satisfy the harshest foodies, your own kids. Masterchef critiques hold no fear for me, (although I don’t like Paul Hollywood from GBBO – he is really creepy, and I quite like a soggy bottom myself and undercooked pastry with custard is divine!!, sorry just had to get that off my chest!).

All this puts me in mind of that old joke,

Woman “I wish they would invent something that restocked the fridge every time something in it ran out”

Male colleague “Oh I have one of those already. It’s called a wife!”

Carson - making the disapproving sneer into an art form - mothers of the world take note!

Carson – making the disapproving sneer into an art form – mothers of the world take note!

Well I am putting it out there right now. I would like a wife! Working full time, raising two kids, I need a wife. I want a wife. Why can’t I have a wife! Husband and children are great but they just make more mess and don’t see what needs to be done. I am fed up trying to be the entire staff of Downton Abbey, from Carson to Daisy and everyone else in between.

Another friend of mine tried to get her son to do some cleaning up, she even bought a book to show that other children tidy up after themselves…. the response. The boy just laughed and walked away!

Confession Time!  I do have form in this area myself. I can remember all too plainly my despairing mum telling me the story of the little red hen. She even bought me the book.(Nothing really changes does it!). If you don’t know the story of the little red hen I will quickly recount it now. She asked for help from everyone in the farmyard and everyone refused her, so she worked all alone. When she had finished she had a beautiful feast prepared and everyone wanted to help her eat it. And she refused them and ate it all herself. She was a tough old bird, no one helped her so why should she give them anything?

If you won't help... you won't eat.  Simple.

If you won’t help… you won’t eat. Simple.

Could this be why mum = skivvy because we don’t refuse our children enough! Harry is now at high school, and we have been sent home with booklets about not doing anything for the child that they can do themselves. To get them into good practice for independent learning. To let them do things and let them learn by their own mistakes, in essence not to keep stepping in and saving them.

Well it’s just so hard isn’t it. Besides the fact they are your flesh and blood and it is fundamental to our core to protect them from hurt and pain, there are the practicalities of life. If you are rushing to get a young child to school, you help them get dressed so they are not late. When you want the reassurance that your child has everything for high school, it’s a comfort to you to help pack the bag isn’t it. And sometimes us women just like things done our way don’t we? Like getting everything into the dishwasher so it all fits, just so. It is just much less hassle. Men may further along the autism spectrum with their collections and fixations but I think women lead the way in OCD behaviour (let’s not get into my inability to let washing sit in a machine after the cycle is finished. it’s not pretty).

But this is so like a woman isn’t it, to turn it back on ourselves, to give ourselves the blame,  that our children treat us like skivvies because we let them, that it is easier and quicker to do the jobs ourselves.  So I am not going to do it. I am going to make my stand, I am going to play the interactive you tube clip of the Little Red Hen to my children, (I know my audience) see if I can lure them away from their playstations and tablets. Failing that I am just going to hide their chargers! I will let you know how I get on…. you will probably hear the howls of outrage across Yorkshire.

Miro Miro

Unfortunately for Nina we didn’t go and see Mirror Mirror this afternoon. Instead we went to see the Joan Miro exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a lovely day out.  An excellent walk in rolling Yorkshire hills punctuated by works of art of outstanding beauty and  it does have to be said, some sheep poo.  But it just adds to the charm.  There were even lambs flocking around the car as we went to park this afternoon.   We have been many times and with diverse sets of friends and every time we find another previously undiscovered corner to enjoy as well as visiting all the old favourites.  The park is the perfect combination of nature and art.

But today we were there for the Joan Miro exhibition.   After a quick trip to some of our favourite pieces such as the rusted iron HA HA bridge, a bridge of rusted iron with the letters HA HA cut out of both side, and the beautiful smooth granite egg sculptures.  I am afraid they are both so tactile the children love to climb on them despite the signage asking you to desist.  In our defence the signage is quite obliquely placed, it is so subtle and far away from the corresponding sculpture it took us a few visits to even notice they were there. In some cases it is also rather misleading.  This is our favourite:-

Hand on my heart I can promise we have never had a climbing picnic there.

A little further and we were into the Miro sculptures.  They were amazing.  Very elemental. I know nothing really of Joan Miro except he was from Spain, was working around the time of the Spanish Civil War, and that his paintings were very colourful with those broad black strokes and his use of primary colours and shapes.

The inspiration for his work comes from the earth.  His experiences of his family’s farm south of Barcelona had a profound influence on him.    He said himself “It is contact with the earth that enables me to fly”.      And he wanted his work to be shown outside.  I think he would have approved of this exhibition.  I wondered if there was another place on earth so suited to show his work.

The definition of cultured... looking at this sculpture without seeing Wall-E

There were about 10 to 15 pieces outside.  They were unpainted bronzes.  The figures abstract but always appealing.  The children could see similarities to much loved Aardman and Pixar characters.  I am sure to an art connoisseur this is tantamount to blasphemy but thought it said much for the universal appeal of his work.

There was an extensive collection inside includes some of his most famous pieces, the Sun and Moon Birds.   The bronze looked more like wood, it looked like it should be warm, it was hard not to reach out and touch.  Many of the bronzes looked like me in a bad mood sniggered Nina and Harry and this became a great game to compare the abstract forms in front of them to a cross me.

Me before my Yorkshire Tea in the morning apparently.

But reading about the themes I was stuck by the perception of the children’s remarks.   Miro dealt with male and femaleness, with fecundity and creating life.  Miro would also describe his sculptures as “phantasmagorical monsters”  so I think those descriptions of me before my tea in the morning were really rather accurate!

There were some of those world-famous paintings there too.  Seeing them on a wall half hour’s journey away from my house nearly made me cry, it was so thrilling.

The final room of the exhibition went into his working life and techniques.  I was very taken with a quote about life under the Nazis.  He thought he was “done for” that he would only be able to draw in the sand or make pictures with cigarette smoke.   An evocative image in itself and I was a little jealous too if I am honest, jealous of a creativity that would find a way or method of expression, no matter how enormous the obstacles put in its path.

The exhibition is on until January 2013 and I would heartily recommend it.