We arrived home yesterday evening after three days of intense holidaying. In fact, up to this point all holidaying has been intense. It has been like being in a holiday stock cube up to now. We have done many, many things, seen many, many people, and idled little.
It is usually the other way around for us, and I’m not sure I can keep up the pace for the next four weeks without exploding. We’re going to London on Friday for a week, and my intention is to do as much of buggerall as humanly possible over the run up to what will be a bonkers holiday in order to reach some kind of zen state of mind, or something.
Today has been a strange mix of ferrying children here there and everywhere, and reading, reading, reading like a woman possessed. My review pile is staggeringly large. My books loaned and gifted from other people which must be read pile is staggeringly large, and my current rate of reading, due to sightseeing beyond my control, has been pretty poor. Today I have made up for that by belting through a few of the children’s titles I have been sent to review.
My aim, by Friday is to have cleared my current review and gifted/loaned pile. Can I do it? Probably not without severe eyestrain and putting on half a stone from idling around, but it may happen.
In the meantime we had a splendid time despite migraine, roadworks, setting off in the wrong direction to Yorkshire Sculpture Park (I am so used to heading to London on the M1 I turned the wrong way and had to take the next exit 16 miles later. Curses) and iffy weather.
The Rob Ryan exhibition at the sculpture park was rather lovely. It is indoors in the main visitor building if you fancy going to see it. We found a whole area of the park we had never been to before and frolicked among some marvellously bonkers sculptures and a lot of sheep pooh. As well as the Henry Moores and Barbara Hepworths, we saw some new Marc Quinn and Tracey Emin which we loved. We also enjoyed the experience of being inside Seizure by Roger Hiorns. Hiorns made a cast of a bedsit in London and then filled the whole thing with copper sulphate crystals. It is now in situ at the YSP and you can go and clamber round very carefully inside it. It’s utterly insane, but rather lovely. The man who guided us round told us how to make our own.
One day I will crystallise the downstairs loo.
The weather as we arrived was cold and windy, perfect conditions for the massive picnic we had brought. By the time we had shivered through our lunch, the sun came out and by the end of the afternoon it was glorious sunshine and the park was looking magnificent.
I have decided that it is one of my favourite places in the world. I have also decided that having seen Hepworths in situ, in the natural world where she wanted them to sit, I am not going to go and see the retrospective at the Tate when we are in London. I have read that it is disappointing, and I do not want to be disappointed by the lovely Barbara.
We headed off into the night, and a very decent Premier Inn near Leeds Bradford Airport, which was much more rural and lovely than it sounds, and right opposite the vast Murgatroyd’s Fish and Chip restaurant which claims to have the finest fish and chips in the country. As people were queueing out the door we felt we ought to check out these claims, and went and waited patiently for plaice and chips, which were very nice, but outrageously expensive at £14 per portion, despite the fact you got bread and butter with it.
In the morning we hied off to Salt’s Mill and Saltaire and spent a thoroughly satisfying day there. It is always a joy to visit. There are vast numbers of new Hockney’s showing the arrival of spring in the Yorkshire Wolds to marvel at, many of which were at the big RA show a few years back. Here they are free to see and you can take photos. It was such a pleasure to revisit them. They also have tons of his earlier work, and all of it looking magnificent against the industrial backdrop of the renovated mill.
Not only that but there is a terrific restaurant where we had lunch, a frankly jaw droppingly good bookshop, plus antiques and kitchen ware and art supplies and other things that make your heart thump, if you’re me.
The village of Saltaire is equally lovely and picturesque. You can explore the allotments, the Italianate church, the huge stone lions, the other art galleries and delicious looking tea rooms, marvel at the architecture, get on a tram, go on a canal trip or go to the park, or walk up into the hills. It’s stunning and well worth a visit.
Our next stop was Sheffield, where we were hooking up with an old friend. Our journey back, navigating through the horrors of Bradford’s ring road system and then along the roadwork ridden M1 was so horrific we were too tired to paint Sheffield red when we arrived, so we stuck to the safety of the vast Meadow Hall shopping centre just off the motorway turn off, for our dinner. It wasn’t very novel or inspiring, but I didn’t have to navigate any particularly taxing one way systems and there was plenty of parking, which, by this time was a godsend.
The next day we met up with our friend Kate and her son Zach and went to Barnsley. It is not the most delightful of spots, I have to say, and I would find it hard to recommend it in terms of a road trip, but there was a good Nick Sharratt exhibition at the Civic Hall and we had damn fine pizza for lunch, so all was not lost, and at least we can now say we have been to Barnsley.
Which is something.
Our trip home was hideous. Almost the entire M1 from Leicester to Leeds is 50 miles per hour average speed cameras and road works, and back again. On a Friday afternoon when traffic was chocka block, we were down to five miles an hour at some points, and the intermittent torrential rain didn’t help. Lorry spray, rain so hard you couldn’t see for it bouncing off the windscreen and constant warning signs flashing up made it a journey I wouldn’t want to repeat in a hurry.
Still we did it, and it was well worth the anguish in the end.