Playing Out

The enormous kitchen dresser at Harewood House

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And it doesn’t do a lot for Jill either.

So yesterday, I played.

Well, first of all I had to do sensible things like shopping and putting a load of washing in and feeding the cat. But then I played.

I took myself off to Harewood House. It’s only about 30 minutes’ drive from here, but I’d never been before. Timing is everything – it rained continuously on the drive over, was still raining when I went into the House, but by the time I was ready for a walk in the grounds it had stopped and the sun was out.

The State apartments were stunning. At the moment there’s an exhibition running (Useful/Beautiful Why Craft Matters ), with modern craft items displayed alongside the old treasures. Some of it jars, for me personally – maybe that’s part of the point.

But the music room took my breath away – all the art on the walls has a musical theme, and there’s a piano etc in the room. But also, for the exhibition, the chairs were pulled into a circle, and on the floor in the middle, but spilling out onto the piano and beyond, there were ballet shoes. Pairs of ballet shoes, balanced en pointe. You could imagine ghosts of dancers.

But always for me the best part was below stairs. As you know, I’ve just started a job as a kitchen designer for a major DIY store – but I’ve always been interested in them. I think it dates back to my Great Aunt, who was Housekeeper to Lord Sefton at Croxteth Hall in Liverpool. The whole ‘below stairs’ part of big houses fascinates me. In fact just in my last blog post I wrote about Mrs Beeton. So food, and food prep, and the history of kitchens has been something that I’ve always been interested in.

At Harewood House, they have the biggest range I’ve ever seen, the biggest dresser I’ve ever seen, and the biggest kitchen table I’ve ever seen! The range was put in to ‘modernise’ the kitchen when Princess Mary (sister of Edward VIII and George VI) married Henry Lascelles and moved in to Harewood in the 1920s.

The kitchen range at Harewood House – huge!!

Lunch out – a rare treat. I had a sandwich and a bottle of traditional lemonade in the Terrace café – not quite warm enough to sit out on the terrace itself, but I had a walk out on the terrace afterwards, then made my way to the Courtyard and on to the bird garden and the ferry over to the walled garden. All very pleasant, but such a shame that the glass house is minus all its glass and falling into disrepair. There are still plants growing in there, but how glorious it would have been back in the day!

Back to the Courtyard café for a cuppa before heading home. Gave in to temptation, and had a scone with jam and cream…

Headed home in time for the next excitement. As you know, I like a preview show. Always a good excuse to get out the smart jacket and put on some lippy.

I headed off to Keighley, where Jane Fielder (a friend and blog-follower) and fellow artists Helen Shearwood and Thomas Shane O’Hara were exhibiting at Keighley Creative Space.

I know Jane for her quirky views of Bingley, but last night it was her work on electricity pylons that was on show – a totally different side to her art that I’d known nothing about. Intriguing views of an object that, if we think about them at all, we tend to think of as an eyesore.

And last but not least, as keen followers of this blog will know, I have a takeaway once a month. And last night was the night. I ordered Chicken Dhahi, with peshawari naan, then walked up into town to collect it. It was about 9 o’clock by this point, and as I walked out of my front door and into the night I remembered all the warnings we’re given about not going out alone at night. Sod that.

The Chicken Dhahi was everything the menu promised – fragrant, tangy, delicious. And half of it is in the freezer for next month. I’m looking forward to it already.

So, a bit of a spendy day – which doesn’t happen very often at all. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve had this sort of day out since my husband left back in February. Getting paid last week has allowed me to just relax a tiny bit. I won’t be doing this sort of thing every week, or even every month, but it’s very nice to know that I can play out now and again.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. anglosvizzera says:

    Yes, it is important to ‘play’ and have fun – and not have the nagging worry of all the chores that haven’t been done, spoiling it.

    These historic places are so interesting – I do love it when they are presented as if the original inhabitants have just popped out for a while. There’s a lovely house at one end of Royal Crescent in Bath that’s like that, and I recall visiting one of the flats in Gaudi’s La Pedrera in Barcelona which was left as a ‘museum’ with all the original fittings. Fascinating.

    I love craft items – we are surrounded by so much mass-produced stuff these days and I think generally people underestimate the care and love that has gone into well-made craft items.

    When Jane (Fielder) and I were doing our art foundation course together back in the 70s, I guess we had no idea what the future would bring. We both had knitting machines and one Christmas had a market stall on the bridge in Guildford, selling our wares.

    Then Jane moved to Yorkshire and became a famous artist, producing amazing work, creating a gallery, promoting other artists, making us see things in a new light (eg pylons, washing lines) – whereas I had a vague plan to become a ‘studio potter’. I didn’t get onto the course I preferred so turned down the one I was accepted on (more ‘fine art ceramics’, so not my thing – should’ve done my homework!) and ended up training as a diagnostic radiographer.

    I kept up with my drawing and painting in a small way, also knitting and sewing (especially when I had children and we were living on my husband’s student grant) – did a bit of pottery during my degree in architecture (after 6 years of radiography) but really I never got into art or craft again in a more professional way. I was the ‘craft co-ordinator’ for a primary school Advent Fair for a couple of years and organised other mums to make things for it, which I contributed to myself (having to test how easy or difficult they were to make) – the head teacher told me it was the best one they’d ever had, that first year!

    More recently I toyed with upcycling wooden door knobs using decoupage…although they were beautiful (in my humble opinion – but also from what others told me) they didn’t sell too well although those that bought them were over the moon.

    I do think that had I followed some kind of craft training I would have been more ‘satisfied’ with my life – I’ve recently taken up spinning (wool, not gym) which is really meditative and relaxing and am currently knitting a tea cosy from yarn from various fleeces, some raw that needed processing, some that I dyed at a workshop, and all spun into something ‘knittable’ which I love doing.

    Keep on having fun – it’s important!

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    1. Making things is very therapeutic, isn’t it. I enjoy knitting – the trouble is, I don’t like knitted things!!

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      1. anglosvizzera says:

        You could knit things and give them away?

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  2. I could – the trouble is, because I don’t like them, I think other people won’t like them either…

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    1. anglosvizzera says:

      Ah – but there are plenty of people who love knitted clothing but can’t knit, or don’t have the patience (my kids for example!!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah says:

    I’m somebody who loves knitted things, but i have tried and not managed to learn to knit, I am determined to learn, I’m just not patient enough.

    Every couple of years my Mum makes me a new tea cosy as the current ones are a bit baggy, she suggests I get rid of the old ones.

    My children also appreciate hand knitted jumpers and cardigans, my teenager is loathed to part with his home knitted garments as he loves them so much

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    1. Oh, you must – it’s very relaxing. My grandma was known for her knitted tea cosies!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Athene says:

    I love knitting and find it very therapeutic – socks are always popular!
    Re going out, statistically middle-aged women (I’m the same age as you so please don’t be offended!) are much less at risk than young men of coming to harm at night. I decided some years ago that I wasn’t going to limit myself by such rules; once you start to do that, you are restricting your life and can end up not doing things you want to do. I take common-sense precautions and I use my car more often at night, but I have never had any problems travelling on the Tube, walking back from friends etc.

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    1. As the writer of a blog called ‘middleagedfreeandsingle.com’, I can’t be offended about being called middle aged!!! I totally agree – common sense goes a long way. And I refuse to let some imagined problem stop me from doing what I want or need to do.

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