Thursday, 12 May 2016

HARROGATE. Turkish Baths and Bettys.

There were three reasons why we went to Harrogate.
1) Husb had a voucher for Afternoon Tea at Bettys. Woop!
2) Aerobics was cancelled as the hall was being used for voting.
3) We liked the look of the Turkish Baths.

So we set the alarm, got to Harrogate before ten, and joined the mixed session in the Turkish Baths. 

In its heyday, Harrogate was known as ‘the English spa’ and a leading destination for European high society. 
The Turkish Baths interiors were given a Moorish style with great Islamic arches and screens, walls of vibrant glazed brickwork, arabesque painted ceilings and terrazzo floors, laid by the very best Italian experts.
Members of every European Royal Family have visited Harrogate to take the waters.
Only seven Turkish Baths remain which date back to the 19th century, three of which are in the UK.
The most historically complete and in full working order is the Turkish Baths Harrogate.
The unique Royal Turkish Baths Harrogate building first opened in 1896.

In 2004 a £1 million restoration fund restored this special place to its former splendid glory.

We went from plush velvet curtained cubicles through to the Tepidarium  (warm room) and on to the Calidarium (hot room) and up the stairs to the Laconium (hottest area 68-70 degrees) This was followed by a hot shower rinse and then whooosh -a refreshing, spine-tingling plunge in the fabulous COLD plunge pool.....several times. SEVERAL TIMES - to open and close the pores and to stimulate circulation. It was relaxing, exhilarating and fun and we felt ridiculously good when we came out. I sometimes have 10 minutes in the sauna after aqua at Rowton Hall but a cold shower can't compare to a leap into a cold plunge pool. That definitely made all the difference. 
We LOVED it. Would thoroughly recommend a visit.

But it had made us feel hungry.
Or was that because we knew we had Bettys vouchers in our bag?!
There was no point in delaying any longer...we  would have an early lunch at Bettys.

There was nobody about when we got there. It is only round the corner from the Turkish Baths.
But in the time it took for me to say "Ooooh shall I do a plank outside...look there is no one watching" and for Husb to walk off pretending he hadn't heard such a ridiculous request, several people arrived and we had to queue. Bizarre really.

We hadn't realised how many actual tea rooms there were in that building. What I thought was an Afternoon Tea place was actually a coffee shop. Afternoon Tea was served at the back in the restaurant and there was another floor of sandwich, scone and cake eaters downstairs as well. 

There were teapots on shelves.

And there was a teapot each for us.

The tea itself didn't last long.
It was delightful.

How many Bettys ARE there in Harrogate??
You have to pay to look through the window at Sweatys.
It'll cost you if you breathe inside the shop.
Top quality stuff but oh so dear.

A plank would have been ideal here as it IS a fitness shop but strangely enough Husb didn't hear that request either. Planking in Harrogate was a apparently a NO but a good excuse to return. 
I'd be more than happy to sweaty, then Betty and then Sweaty Betty..... again.
 It had been a great day.
Just a small matter of leaping about when I got home at my 7pm Hi Energy class.  

I've just gone through this deleting all the apostrophes in Bettys.
Surely there should be an apostrophe in Betty's?

The Bodyguard, Liverpool Empire.

I have to admit I wasn't that bothered about seeing The Bodyguard, but 61 of my Leapyabouters were and I had a waiting list too. It was a sell out at the Liverpool Empire and now I've seen it I can see why.

What a stunning show. It was very professional, very slick, the lighting was wonderful, the singing was fantastic, Alexandra Burke has really found her niche looking totally at home on the stage, it was so good, the standing ovation came before the end of the show, meaning we were up and dancing for the finale. 

It had everything. 
SUPERB and clever sets accomodating  a blossoming romance between our heroine and her bodyguard, humour at the karaoke, plenty of suspense as the stalker gets ever closer to our heroine, even fabulous fireworks. ALL the singing was professional, powerful and PERFECT (obviously Alexandra Burke, but equally as good was her sister Nicky and HOW CUTE was her son Fletcher!) The toe-tapping audience-participating classics sent us home on a high. Shiny happy people on my bus.

At least 6 on my bus said it was the best show they had ever seen and trust me, we have seen loads. 
I'm so glad I booked it, it was AMAZING. Why is Alexandra Burke advertising SlimFast though? Does she really think she needs to slimfast?? She razzled and dazzled and twinkled and sparkled and shimmied her way round that stage in style with body most women would die for, She was quite wonderful. Go and see it. Just go.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

EASTER 2016 Return of the Cub.

He came HOME!
We had a full nest!
Twins re-united!

So while Cub and Emily caught up with jet lag and office meetings in San Francisco, Pixen and I did a quick lap of the city walls because we haven't got enough photos of the Chester Eastgate Clock haha.
To be fair it was looking magnificent in the sun after its recent makeover.

The 4.45pm early evening shadows made a lovely photo.
 I always love the perspective in this shot.
And the geocache is still there ;)

Next Day

We haven't been to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool for ages so the plan was to nip over there to see the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition and then drive back to West Kirby and walk across to Hilbre Island.

Thr Pre-Raphaelites Beauty and Rebellion was good. The Pre-Raphaelite Group were founded in London in 1848 but this exhibition highlighted the significant role of Liverpool in establishing the movement.

The walk over to Hilbre Island was scuppered by a ferocious hoolie and some ridiculous rainy wind (superb conditions for that wind surfer on the lake), poor  Emily had a shock to the system. But we had all the gear (how many of my coats did Emily wear in the end??) so we had a brisk and blustery beetleabout the lake and then positively belted back to Swifty's pub The Red Fox in Thornton Hough for a brew.

Great day... good fun and bracing, healthy, cultural and energetic. 
And no chance for the Cubster to compute.

So Rahman, Jimmy from 911, Hazel O'Connor

I remember his mum and dad with their shoe shop in Chester market. There wasn't a day go by without Mr Rahman popping in to Michael's Materials where I sat sewing (yes, me."sat") to see what I was making.
Husb taught him at Kingsway High School so we knew he had always been fascinated by TV, in particular the Eurovision Song Contest. It was no surprise he spent several years working on Granada TV with Lucy Meacock. He was very watchable and we would talk back to him on tele so we were all a bit sad when he left for a new job with Al Jazeera TV but he comes home to Chester regularly.

The reason So did his talk at Chester Museum was to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimers Disease about which he spoke so honestly and meaningfully, having been the sole carer for his lovely Dad who suffered from the disease.

OF COURSE he remembered me!
He said "Hi Ali, where's Mike?"
He hadn't changed a bit,

Meanwhile Husb was reunioning (?) with the Brookvale lot (WOOP) and with Jimmy from 90's pop group 911.
Jimmy was an ex pupil at Brookvale and he was MADE UP to see Mr H.
It sounded like a great night. There was no sign of John Bishop though.

Hazel O'Connor however didn't remember me, but then..she only went to Wyken Croft JUNIOR school like me. She didn't go to Stoke Park Senior School even though I had told everyone she DID oops. 

She did a Meet and Greet at Telfords Warehouse so Cheryl got tickets for Dale and I and she was absolutely fantastic. 
Still belting out songs at 60 and told us stories of her life that made the 3 of us say "Maybe we will buy her autobiography."

I ran away from my home in Coventry when I was 16.....made and sold clothes in Amsterdam, picked grapes in France, joined a dance troupe that went to Tokyo then onto Beirut (escaping the start of the civil war by one month!) traveled West Africa, crossed the Sahara, sang with a dreadful singing trio for the U.S. troops in Germany and came home to "settle down". Through all this experience of life and the world I realized that singing always cheered me up. I decided to be a singer. Through strange turns of fate I ended up in a film called 'Breaking Glass' I also ended up writing all the songs for the movie.

We really weren't sure what to expect.
But whatever we expected, she exceeded it by miles.
She was so nice, so honest, so kind, so lovely and sang so well.
She was touring with Clare Hirst (Communards, David Bowie) who was SUPERB on the saxophone  and Sarah Fisher (Eurythmics) who was SUPERB on keyboard.
The blend of their three voices with the playing skills of Clare and Sarah was magical. She had Telfords up on their feet and had a queue out the door for photos. 
Honestly, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the show. 
If she is coming near you...

30 year old twins.

Just for the record, we are parents of 30 year old twins. How have 30 years gone by that fast?
From the moment they were born I cocooned them in blankets as they had been so close together in the womb. This was the day they were born.

From then on we walked miles and miles together, I walked the wheels off this pram several times.
No, seriously. 
I had to have the wheels replaced at least 3 times, oops.

A cardboard box! Let's make a den!

They were great swimmers.

The Pepsi Snow Bear! 
They did such a good job of building him.

Camping holidays in France were always fun.

Especially when the lovely Nich gave us a blow up banana.
 I bet he didn't anticipate it being used as a cricket bat.

And now, somehow, they are 30.

So, for the record, here's how they celebrated, whilst on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Cub stayed up late (San Francisco time) to wish Pixen "Happy Birthday!" (early morning UK time)...then went to bed.

Up in Darlo the Hollibellys had a little gathering to celebrate.

and a few hours later, when Cub woke up in San Francisco, he and Emily had a day out in town,

and then OVERLOOKED town from the Coit Tower in San Francisco,

before going to see the Golden State Warriors.

Thirty. Twinnie Adults. How very grown up.