Monthly Archives: February 2016

Celebrating with Barbara and Don

You may well be wondering who Barbara and Don are. Although they may sound like my great aunt and uncle, neither are personally known to me.

The former is the Yorkshire-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The latter Don Draper, a fictional character from the American TV series Mad Men.

Both were part of the celebrations for my birthday which fell over half term. The birthday outing was a toss up between the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield (my birth town which now forms the Yorkshire Sculpture triangle along with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery).

As the weather has been a bit mixed over half term with intermittent days of snow and rain we opted for The Hepworth Gallery, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this year.

The gallery is named after Barbara Hepworth, who was born and educated in Wakefield, and whose work is displayed here.



The Hepworth also hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and photography. The current exhibition is The Rhubarb Triangle & Other Stories: Photographs by Martin Parr. His photos of the Rhubarb business (as in the forced rhubarb that Wakefield is world famous for) show a detailed account of the process of how this fruit is grown through to its harvesting and its subsequent popularity for coach party visits.

The boys were quite captivated by some of the photos especially one wall of kitsch photos from around the world – nothing to do with rhubarb by the way.


The award-winning Hepworth Gallery building is situated within the Wakefield Waterfront conservation area, which protects several buildings that were once the town’s cloth and grain industries.

It sits on the headland of the River Calder whose rushing water you can see cascading beneath it from the vast glass windows.


After having our fill of food and culture in the cafe and galleries we headed off to Heath Common for a walk and some fresh air – after all there is a limit as to how long you can push it with kids and galleries.

Heath, a conservation area, is a village built around a common on the way from Wakefield to Castleford. It’s a wide open space surrounded by attractive buildings dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th century.


We met some charming furry friends on the common.


We soon realised why we were so popular with one little pony when a couple pulled up with a bag of carrots and cabbage peelings. We will have to come better equipped next time if we want to keep on such good terms!

Once back home to a warm house, fire lit, candles glowing, champagne cork popped, it was time for the grand finale. Mr B and I are big fans of Mad Men. I was given the first series by a friend four years ago and we have followed the series through to the end, finally watching the last episode on February 18th 2016.


Mad Men depicts a world of sleek-suited, chain-smoking, hard drinking advertising executives. But this is an age where women are also starting to forge careers in the professions and inhabiting this male-dominated world are a trio of strong female characters.

The fashions and decor of the 1950s, 60s and 70s create a hugely visual appeal.

We have lived with the characters through their various trials and tribulations over this four-year period, and enjoyed every minute of our screen time with these lovable yet frequently flawed folk.

With kids it’s not always easy to squeeze a film in during the evening especially as they get older and are harder to shoo off to bed. But I find there’s often time to get lost in a world of box sets where each episode lasts around 50 minutes.

Man Men is a stylish, witty and enjoyable drama. If you haven’t seen it grab yourself a box set and take yourself off into the world of 1960s advertising along New York’s Madison Avenue – I can guarantee several hours of enjoyment but probably not the four years it’s taken us to watch it.


February Fun Ideas

I always think that the February half term break is a turning point in the seasons, marking the dwindling of the winter months and a taste of spring ahead with tantalising days of blue skies and sunshine – although still with a nip in the air.


Our three little bantam hens keep hunting out the sunniest part of the garden to enjoy a bit of fun in the sun….


Whilst indoors I am enjoying some floral colour especially the delicate pink of these lovely tulips, an early birthday bouquet from a thoughtful friend…..


I am looking forward to a change in routine over the next week. We can be a bit more leisurely without the timetable of the school run and other activities defining our day. I’ve had a glance at what’s on over the half term break in our neck of the woods and we might try and get along to one or two of the events taking place.

In case you fancy an outing yourself, I have put together half a dozen ideas that you might like to share if you’re in the area:

Jorvik Viking Festival – February sees the largest Viking festival in Europe taking place in York. Over the coming week there’s a chance to do some ‘Have-a-go Sword Combat’, watch a dynastic clash in the Combat Arena at York Guildhall or enjoy a performance of Beowulf by candlelight.

Hepworth Wakefield – The Hepworth Gallery is one of our favourite art galleries to visit with the kids. It always has a family-friendly programme of events. As well as their regular gallery trails and crafty art pods, there are printmaking sessions over the holiday to entertain the kids. If it’s fine out there’s an outdoor play area with swings and zip wire plus an indoor picnic area.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Just a hop and a skip down the road from the Hepworth Gallery is The YSP. It’s a fantastic 500-acre open-air art gallery with plenty of parkland to explore with its follies, shell grotto and lakes as well as current sculpture exhibitions. The kids will love the current exhibition by American artist KAWS whose voluminous cartoon-like sculptures are on display across the park.

Dalby Forest Dark Skies Festival – The North York Moors offer some of the best stargazing in the country and the Dalby Forest Space Centre is holding a dedicated week-long festival. Activities include night vision using the latest infra-red technology; open telescope sessions; wildlife walks and stargazing; astronomy talks and trails; a solar system scavenger hunt; telescope-making; rocket building and other crafty activities.

Flamingoland – We have had some fun days out at Flamingoland during their winter opening (up to March 6th) when the rides are closed and the animals are the highlight. The sealion show is amazing. I never realised what personable creatures sealions were until I saw them in action. The entry prices are cheaper at this time of year too.

Mini mornings at Vue Cinema – A cinema trip is always popular with my gang in the holidays. Mini mornings at Vue cinemas offer big discounts on tickets costing from only £1.99 (3D £2.79) per ticket for adults and children, every Saturday and Sunday morning and every day in school holidays.

I hope this has given you a taste of what’s on in North Yorkshire this half term. Whatever you do – and sometimes the kids just want to spend a bit of time chilling out at home – I hope you all have a fun-packed break.

Discovering Talbot Yard

Do you ever read those sections in the weekend papers along the lines of ‘a day in the life of…’ or ‘my perfect weekend’?

I am always quite envious of the blissful start to their weekends, especially when it involves strolling along to the local cafe to drink coffee and browse the papers.


With three young boys, lingering over a latte is not our usual start to the weekend. However, last Saturday our eldest boys were out, leaving us with just our youngest son at home. So we made the most of our downsized family to search out our own halcyon cafe experience.

We headed off to Malton, our nearest market town which has a growing reputation as a foodie capital with monthly food markets and an annual Food Lovers Festival (May 28th & 29th 2016).

We pulled into Talbot Yard in Yorkersgate, which were once stable yards and a carriage house for the Wentworth family and The Talbot Hotel opposite. The old buildings have been sympathetically converted into individual units housing a coffee bar and roastery, an artisan bakery, an ice cream parlour, and a butcher.


The early 19th century brick buildings set around a central courtyard have been brought to life by the renovation, highlighting many of their beautiful architectural features.

In their day this courtyard must have been bustling with life and business with the comings and goings of The Talbot Hotel – and it is wonderful to see them buzzing with activity once again.


Our first stop was the family-run Roost Coffee and Roastery, housed in a very pretty building with a dove cote above. The decor has been kept minimal with exposed brick walls and industrial-chic furnishings. As well as enjoying a coffee here, we also bought some of their speciality coffee to enjoy at home.


Roost adjoins the Bluebird Bakery where we bought a brownie for Ted to munch on while we were enjoying our coffee…..


…as well as one of their three seed cobs and some organic bread flour. The Bluebird Bakery does all its baking here to supply its shop both here and in the Shambles in York.


Hidden round the corner of Talbot Yard is the butcher, Food 2 Remember, which sells free-range chicken and pork as well as pies, quiches and gluten-free products such as sausages and scotch eggs.


I know from friends’ recommendations that Groovy Moo’s Ice Cream Parlour is a big hit with the kids so we will be back to sample some of their creamy ices very soon.


With such a lovely collection of individual shops, I can see us spending a fair bit of time here in the months to come – and if we are not at home on a Saturday morning, you know where to find us!


A wild end to the month

Good morning Monday! Good morning February! Looking out of the window today, I am not sure February is looking much different to January.


The weather has been extremely windy up here in North Yorkshire, causing havoc, not least in our own garden.

You may have read my post earlier last month about the boys’ den that Mr B had spent daylight into twilight hours erecting before Christmas. On Friday I looked out of the kitchen window and the den had blown across the garden with just two corners held together. A tremendous gust of wind must have ripped it up from its base. It took us completely by surprise as it hadn’t looked that windy outside.

Hopefully it will be salvageable with a few new pieces of wood but we will wait until the weather calms down before fixing it.

In the meantime here’s hoping the weather calms down in February and that Spring isn’t too far away….


Wishing you all a good week ahead!