chillaxing with Mimon, Monsieur LaCashire and Mama
28.12.2016 - 01.01.2017 6 °C
After all the excitement and shenanigans of Christmas, it was time for some serious relaxing and downtime. We let the Lancashires have some quality family time at the Butterfly House while Simon had some quality time at the hairdressers and I explored the charity shops of Otley. They were absolutely packed – not at all conducive to the leisurely browsing that I enjoy. And as I stood on a corner, contemplating my next move, a woman walked past and said “just cross here, Alison”. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is. So I crossed.
Simon and I checked out one of Otley’s newest cafes (part of Simon’s quest to visit every coffee shop in town), and then strolled home in the lovely crisp winter air, admiring the sunset and watching the plane trials fly overhead. And then we spent the evening eating a Mary Berry casserole and catching up on East Enders. Bliss.
Andy worked from home on the Thursday, Annie did some family visiting and I walked from The Oval to The Chevin (much to Simon’s disbelief – even the photos were not sufficient proof apparently). It was absolutely lovely up there – lots of families out and about walking and engaging in wholesome pursuits like Exercise and Conversation. Some less wholesome pursuits too, like Whinging and Moaning About How Steep The Hill Was and Complaining That We Are Not There Yet Because We Must Have Walked At Least Eight Miles By Now. But mostly there was the wholesome stuff. There was also someone called Henry who seemed to be missing, as his name was being called with great regularity – and I could only hope that Henry was a dog, and not a small child.
On Friday we set off to Bradford for a Lanccheri family outing, with Rosie totally rocking her new boots. When we got to the fountains in the centre, it was difficult to know who enjoyed frolicking in them the most – Simon or Rosie. Eventually we dragged the two kids away and into the National Media Museum, an excellent free (donations welcome) facility complete with arcade games. You know what they say – the family that pacmans together, stays together. Rosie loved the weird and wacky mirrors, and thought the seating facilities in the photographic exhibition were the perfect opportunity to play hide and seek. She was less impressed by the ‘history of the internet’ part of the museum – but the rest of us enjoyed the trip down memory lane with the computers and mobile phones of the past.
Museuming done for the day, we strolled the streets of Bradford, soaking up the industrial-heritage-multicultural vibe of the place. I’ve gotta say I liked the place. There was a feel of grandeur that had faded, and a kind of gritty beauty about it all. Probably helped that the sun was shining; that always gives a place a bit more charm, even when the temperature hasn’t hit double digits.
We made our way to one of the early curry houses – because we couldn’t leave the UK without having had a Bradford curry… The International looked a solid choice from afar but once we got closer and found a dead rat in the carpark it suddenly wasn’t so appealing, so we settled for the Kashmir Restaurant. Rosie obligingly slept through the whole experience, but I’m sure she’ll have a Bradford curry another day. The food was cheap and thoroughly delicious, and only enhanced by the service-without-a-smile and wipe-down-formica-table setting. Our waiter was most annoyed by our indecision over just how many serves of onion bhaji we wanted, and decided for us that we couldn’t have biryani AND a serve of plain rice. Because biryani IS rice, y’know? The constant serving of three things to a table of four was downright comical – three menus, three forks, three plates… somehow we managed four glasses, but that was obviously a mistake. It was all we could do to stop ourselves laughing after each interaction with the waiter, and I’ve never been so happy to have rotten service in my life. We had come forewarned that it would be part of the Bradford Curry Experience – and it lived up to our expectations. We wanted to be fed delicious food to the point of exploding for very little money, and if it meant having only three forks then that was fine by us.
Feeling rather rotund, we drove on to Armley for a slide night at Steven and Lesley’s (because surely they hadn’t seen enough of us). Steven impressed us all with a three-technology-slide-experience that was almost like being back at the Media Museum! And in amongst all the photos, I even got an early birthday cake. Winner. I suppose technically my birthday had started in Australia by then, so it wasn’t cheating.
My birthday started in England the next morning, and Annie and I tootled off into town to catch the Leeds bus – which we managed to miss by about 30 seconds. Never fear – in Otley you are never far from a café, so we enjoyed a hot beverage while waiting for the next bus. We sorted out most of the problems of the world on the way in to Leeds, and then had time for a quick pint and snacks (and more problem solving) before running in to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see Strictly Ballroom. And oh was it magnificent! Annie and I were laughing from the moment the first actor opened his mouth, because there is nothing more hilarious than English millennials portraying 80s Australians. The accents ranged from very convincing to not-at-all-Australian, and the dancing ranged from brilliant to we-can-tell-you-are-the-understudy. It’s concerning when the backup dancers have more charisma (and bigger muscles!) than the lead role, but it just added to the charm really. The adaptation to the stage was perfect, and included all my favourite parts of the movie. The sets were clever, the costumes flashy, and the whole experience was just bloody fantastic. Ah Straya…
We walked out of the theatre and managed to cross the road just in time to catch the bus back to Otley, where we headed to the North Bar Social (aka The Pub Near Rosie’s Chair) for a few brews and a couple of games of draughts and Jenga. Just because you are drinking beer doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your brain cells and manual dexterity at the same time. We walked home via the chippy and timed it to perfection, arriving just after the boys and Rosie who had returned from their outing to see Burnley beat Sunderland 4-1. The boys were happy, the girls were happy – and then we ordered takeaway and proceeded to enjoy some beverages and some games. Rosie was too excited about NYE to go to bed, and insisted on playing Dream Phone with us, but she finally settled before the Jenga came out (luckily Annie and I had done our pre-party-Jenga-training). It quickly became apparent that the boys were fairly hopeless at Taboo, and that Robbie Williams was a rubbish singer (despite holding a guitar). We watched the London fireworks on television, and heard a few go off in Otley, before making each other resolutions for 2017 and trying not to spill salsa on the carpet.
New year’s day was a quiet affair, and we played games like Make Soup Using Leftover Vegetables, Fix the Render, and Rearrange Rosie’s Toys. Just what we needed – there were no complaints from any of us. 2017 was officially off to a good start.