The 39 Steps

We’ve just got home from the last of our “Big Deal” tickets at the WYP. It was an adaptation of The 39 Steps by John Buchan.

Acted by only 4 actors (and an extra arm at a crucial plot point!), it was very fast, funny, melodramatic and all round excellent entertainment. Definitely the best thing we’ve seen in the season. Highly recommended.

I got given the next season’s “Big Deal” for my birthday, so more to look forward to in the Autumn.


John went to dance this morning, Rose was picked up from her sleepover at 11:30 – absolutely exhausted, very little sleep I think. In the afternoon we went down to the park, played hide and seek in the waist high cow parsley – absolutely impossible to find anyone. Later on in the afternoon, John went to a party at water world, and Rose and I went to see Anna in hospital (she’s got pneumonia, poor thing, but seemed much better today.)

Keith and Judy came round for a meal in the evening. We had fantastic steak with chinese spices, noodles and pak choi. Biggest pieces of meat I have cooked for ages, ever perhaps 8oz steak each! Too much really, could have half as much meat, twice as much veg. Absolutely delicious though.

Non Contact Time

We went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see the third of the plays that we’re seeing on the big deal. It was Non Contact Time, a play written by a primary teacher about life in a primary school. It had some very funny, well observed moments, such as a chorus of “Pens down. 5 4 3 2 1. Let’s see who’s ready. Well done, well done, well done. Who’s letting us down?” Lots of laughter of recognition from an audience that must have been mostly teachers! The story, particularly at the end seemed over dramatic and tacked on.

The play was only 90 minutes long, so we were home nice and early. Jean had been babysitting, and only John was home. Rose was out at a sleep over and Toby is away for the weekend on his D of E expedition training.

Nitin Sawhney

Yesterday evening, Cindy and I went to Gateshead to see Nitin Sawhney play at the Sage.

It’s a fantastic building and a brilliant concert hall. It is very comfortable and has fantastic acoustics, but it was a slightly strange venue for a “pop” concert.


Because it was all seating, everyone was sitting down most of the time and listening very reverently with clapping after the end of each song – a concert rather than a gig.

The music was brilliant with 5 fantastic vocalists. They played some tracks off the new album, Philtre, and some older ones too.

We came home on the train after the concert and collapsed into bed at about 1am.

A Doll’s House

Very good. Felt long and lots of talking, but the main actor – Tanya Moodie – who was on stage for almost all the play was absolutely spellbinding. I really found it difficult to look at anyone else. At the end of the play she suddenly appeared behind the scenery in a snowstorm – very bleak ending. The play is all about the position of women in 19th/20th century society and coincidently we’ve just been listening to A Room with a View in the car and it has lots of the same themes – independence, thinking for one’s self…

There’s a Guardian review of A Doll’s House here.


The kitchen ripping out is really getting close now. We’ve got the new units in Lance and Mary’s cellar, the floor digging up people (damp) are booked, and a plumber is booked to move the gas for the new hob. Dave knows what we want and is coming up next week to start!!

We’ve still got to order new oven and hob, but I think we’ve decided what we want and it only has a week or so delivery time, so we’re waiting a little bit still.

What we have got to do is empty the kitchen of all its stuff – and most of the backroom too, so it doesn’t get too filthy.

Surprise for Cindy

As it is getting close to time for me to go back to school, I thought that Cindy and I should try and have a night away together. I arranged with mum for child care for a night, and set about booking somewhere.

On Monday night I told Cindy that we would be going out the next day to the Star Inn, in Harome near Helmsley. Initially, she thought that we would be going for an evening meal, but I was able to tell her that we were staying the night as well.

I decided to tell her that evening, rather than the next morning as I had planned, because she kept saying she had a sore throat, or a bit of a cough and she might be going down with something. I was starting to wonder who we could give the room to, as I would have to pay for it anyway!! Anyway, this bit of news seemed to give her some more energy, and determination not to get ill quite yet!

We went to the Star for lunch once last summer and had an absolutely superb meal – with the best summer pudding I’ve ever had, made even better by being served with a generous glass of home-made raspberry vodka. So our hopes were very high for an evening meal and B&B. I had had to reserve the largest room in the place, as I booked so late that that was the only one left, so we were expecting that to be quite nice as well.

We had a lovely morning in York doing some shopping – Cindy had bought a skirt (50p) and shoes (£3) in Age Concern at the weekend and wanted a blouse to go with them (£27 – not such a bargain). She was able to wander around all morning, which is a huge improvement on a few months ago. We went home for lunch, made a list of evening activities for my parents and set off.

When we arrived, after discovering that the accommodation was just over the road from the pub, behind the village shop (also owned by the Star, and selling lots of their goodies), we were shown to our room. It was huge, with an enormous bed, pool table, lovely bathroom with double size bath, home-made chocolate cookies and a view out over fields with huge-horned highland cattle in them. The stereo even had speakers in the bathroom, so you could put a CD on (luckily we had some of our own in the car) and listen to it in the bath.

We went downstairs to the sitting area, which had a raging open fire, super comfortable armchairs and sofas, lovely olives and nuts and a write your own bill honesty bar and drank sherry, read the paper and tried to do the crossword.

We went over to the pub at about 6:30, had more drinks while reading the menu, ordered and were taken into the restaurant. The bar is like an English country pub out of a film – just like the stereotype, except for the huge wine list and enormous bowl of olives out on the bar. The restaurant uncrowded, lovely old wooden tables and interesting cutlery.

The meal was superb. Cindy had wild mushrooms on bruschetta, followed by woodcock; and I had pheasant risotto and then beef steak. There was plenty to eat, so much in fact that neither of us had any room for dessert, much to my disappointment.

We had coffee upstairs in the loft, another charming space with lots of arm chairs, noise from the bar coming up, but seclusion from the bar. Up there, there was cheese and biscuits and grapes out on the side, nuts, raisins and other bits to pick at. This was one of the things that really struck me – things that you might expect to pay extra for, were just around for you to take – it seemed extremely jealous.

We went back to our room and played a few games of pool, before bedtime.


The next morning we didn’t get up till about half nine – to try and give our appetites a chance to build up again after the previous day’s huge meal.

Breakfast was equally lavish – a buffet of croissants, smoked salmon, ham, melon, parma ham, fruit salad, pineapple, freshly squeezed juices ans smoothies. You could ask for porridge, kippers, or full English, or any combination! Cindy had full English (super black pudding), I had mushrooms on toast and some bacon, then smoked salmon on toast, parma ham, fruit salad… didn’t want to starve.

A bit more sitting around digesting, enjoying the comfy chairs, pay our bill (!!!) and gently back home a pretty country route.

Superb, gorgeous, can’t recommend it highly enough. Repeat visit sometime.

And a huge thank you to Lance and Mary for looking after Toby, John and Rose.

Don Giovanni

We went to the opera last night with Keith and Judy. Before it started, we went for a meal at Fruits and Shoots, a vegetarian restaurant which is just round the corner from the Grand Theatre.

I really enjoyed the opera – the costumes seemed a bit of a hotch-potch, most in sort of 30s style, and one not at all. The singing and playing though were excellent – I particularly liked Leporello’s voice.

Not particularly knowing the opera, I couldn’t see how they were going to have a second half – as they caught Don Giovanni and were just about to have their revenge, when… he escaped! The second half was a bit bizarre, with an invitation to a meal issued to the statue of a dead man – who then turned up and took Don Giovanni down to hell.

The final bit of singing, which sounds very joyful when sung in Italian, turns out to mean “All sinners will go to hell.” Odd.

I suppose you don’t particularly go to opera for the coherence of the plot.

Kitchen Started

Cindy & I went to Ikea today, and spent a load of money on kitchen units. So things are finally underway. We’ve been saving to do the kitchen for ages – since I started working really, and thinking about it for even longer. Now the units and worktops are ordered, we’ve chosen oven, hob, extractor and someone is coming to look at the damp wall and floor next week. The floor and floor are the big unknown item really, we don’t know how bad it is, or how much of the floor will need digging up.

It’s exciting starting at last.

Short entry as I’m finding it difficult to type. I cut a finger on my left hand really badly the other day (knife was too blunt when chopping carrots!)