Armed with a well deserved glass of wine in one hand and yet another deadline in the other, I feel ready to tackle this issue’s column which will mostly feature my new found home improvement skills. Yes, after dramatically falling from a great height off the property ladder back in 2009 I have finally managed, with the mammoth support of my husband, to clamber back on. Unlike our previous property which we had to sell at a loss due to the shocking revelation that we had bought an amazing house but, on a terrible street, this time I truly feel that we have found somewhere to settle and finally call home.
Over the last 2 months we have been painstakingly modernising a property stuck in the 1950’s, breathing new life into it and bringing it into the 21st century. This house needed everything doing to it! Walls knocking down, rewiring, new windows, damp proofing, new kitchen, new bathroom, the whole schboodle (is ‘schboodle’ even a word? I think it should be ‘caboodle’ – ah well.) And now for the first time since the house was built in 1925 the property now has central heating. This is thanks to my very talented other half, Jacob who trained as a plumber a few years back, thus saving us an absolute fortune! It is so hard for first time buyers to get on the property ladder, but if you can save like a good un’ it’s well worth doing as there are some bargains to be had. We bought a house lost in a time warp but now it is starting to resemble something out of a glossy magazine. That won’t last, once I move in with all my nonk and clutter, and then of course we have a 5 year old who doesn’t travel light. No doubt I’ll be cursing him for leaving bits of Lego around!
It hasn’t all been sanding, stripping, caulking and painting. I have managed to do a couple of relaxing things of late including going to the Turkish Baths in Harrogate for a very good friend’s birthday. I can’t believe it took me so long to check out the Harrogate Baths! I always wanted to go but never got round to it. Now I think I’d like to go every couple of months. It was a ladies only night and we got into the mood by sipping some green tea (full of antioxidants) in the serene reception, but nothing can quite prepare you for how sumptuous and tranquil this place is. The historic building oozes glamour and is pure drama. It also maintains most of its original features including actual wooden Thomas Crapper toilets in the changing area. For those of you who have never experienced a Turkish bath, it’s basically exposing your body to extreme temperatures of both hot and cold. The ice cold plunge pool is scary at first but most invigorating. There are lots of areas to chill, relax or chat quietly with friends and it made a welcome change from going out to a bustling bar for birthday drinks. Me and my girls spent a good 3 hours in there and I cannot wait to go back! Think I’ll take my hubby there next as a treat for all the hard work he’s done at the house. They do single sex days and mixed days so make sure you go to the website to check, and if I was you I would book in advance to guarantee entry.
It’s the dreaded 6 week holiday, a time feared and dreaded by most working parents. Except teachers, as they have the holiday too so are able to take care of their own kids. That’s not a dig by the way, teachers work really hard and I am full of admiration and respect for anyone who goes into teaching and does it well. But how do you entertain your kids for that long? Get other people to take care of them? Well you may have to rely on family and friends, but if you do get enough time off from work to enjoy the odd day out can I thoroughly recommend Harewood House www.harewood.org. I recently went there with Adam O’Neill who does our ‘drivetime’ show here on Capital and we had a marvellous time exploring the house and gardens. Unfortunately, we forgot to go below the house to check out how the other half lived, which I will do on my return. It’s wonderful place and has plenty going on; a grand historical house, kids play areas, a lake, bird garden, including penguins and flamingos. My favourite part is the specialist gardens, especially the Himalayan garden and Cascade. Its beauty is overwhelming and I could have stayed there for hours blissfully dreaming the day away, but my son was more interested in climbing and going on the zip wire. Entrance prices vary as you can purchase a ticket for the grounds only or a full ticket which includes a tour of the house. It’s well worth a visit. Staying on a garden and outdoor tip – have you checked out the gardens at Roundhay Park? The winning canal lock garden from Chelsea flower show is on display alongside a couple of other previous garden entries. The canal gardens by Tropical World have been massively improved since my last visit and these gardens are free to have a gander. There is a small fee to go into Tropical World, which is great on a wet, cold day as it is reminiscent of a tropical climate. The park itself is excellent to yomp around with lots of open space, woodland, lakes and a folly in the form of small castle. Go on, get out there and have some fresh air. Ooo – I must give a cheeky mention to Meanwood Urban Farm, a favourite of mine. A small donation of £1 gains you entry into this community farm where you can meet the animals including donkeys, pigs and goats. The kids love it!
And finally, just one or two other things before I wrap up. I loved hosting the Leeds’ Bar and Club awards with Hirsty. Well done to all the nominees and winners, especially the legend that is Dave Beer, who received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his services to the Leeds clubbing scene. Well deserved methinks. Also – ‘Happy Birthday’ to Birds Yard, who have recently celebrated their 1st birthday. The shop is on 3 floors, on Kirkgate, opposite the Duck and Drake pub and is a haven for one off vintage garments and so much more. In addition the Queen of Fashion – Lisa Jayne Dann has recently opened up her first boutique on the top floor, so please make an effort to call in as shops as unique and wonderful as this need our continued support.
That’s it for me – catch you next time and if you need a JoJo fix you can find me on Capital on Hirsty’s Daily Dose 6am – 10am every week day morning when you wake up! xx
I may have mentioned in the past how I have a great admiration and interest in all things fashion. Well, word must have got out, as over the past month I’ve hosted 2 fashion events and even DJ’d at another. Yes, I do still occasionally spin some tunes if requested, and I was more than happy to play some choice cuts at a VIP preview of this years spring/summer collection at Whistles in the Victoria Quarter. It was even attended by a true fashionista, Grazia magazines, Polly Vernon – who gave a talk about this season’s key looks and offered expert style advice too. I was content just spinning my tunes and eating the delicious canapés (I had not had my tea).
Then something made me gasp and I was a little taken aback by this year’s ‘must have item’, which is a pair of pastel coloured jeans. Pink to be precise. Weirdly, only that morning, before the event I had been blathering on the radio like I always do and happened to mention how I met up with my Mum to take her out for the day and how she was outrageously wearing ‘pink jeans’. I must admit that I did take the mick a bit, I told her she carried it off, but thought that the look would never catch on. So imagine my surprise when the first item modelled was pink jeans! Sorry Mum, I take everything back. What do I know? You are obviously a fashion leader. Checkout the light weight leather jackets in store….I’ve got my eye on one of those cheeky numbers!