Quick update

Hey guys, I’m in the bar at Leeds Bradford airport, awaiting the stag-do express to Amsterdam. Surprised I haven’t seen anyone in costume or full drag yet, but it’s still early, so there’s time. Yesterday at Limoges airport, cooking in the cattle-class glass fronted people greenhouse that is the departure gate, it was just like old times, heading back to the U.K. after a holiday, except these-days the U.K way feels like the wrong way.

First trip back to the U.K. in 6 months!

I was greeted at the airport by my Sister and my niece and nephew, waving a Burkinshaw sign they had made. I’d said I always wanted to be greeted by a guy in a chauffeur uniform holding a sign with my name on, so bucket list more than partially ticked. We stayed with my Mum overnight and it was lovely to see her and the rest of the family.

Of course, tea was fish and chips, curry sauce, bread-cake (I’m from Yorkshire, that’s just what they’re called – actual fact) and a can of Ben Shaws Bitter shandy. Still tastes like being 10 years old and going to the chippy on my scooter in my slippers. It was epic!

Our dogs and home are being looked after by Elise and James, a most wonderful couple from Seattle, that we found via a website called Trusted House Sitters.com. It’s been a most excellent experience so far. You post details of your home, pets, plants that need watering, dates of travel etc, and people register their interest in wanting to come and stay. Many will sit for free, and you have the peace of mind in knowing your home and pets are cared for. We had dinner together and stayed up talking until the early hours, I feel like we have made firm friends already and we left Shelly curled up on the sofa with Elise, they’re in great hands and I’m getting regular Instagram updates which is lovely.

Needed a quick pit-stop at the White Rose Centre on our way from the airport as my favourite Monsoon jeans had given up under the French cheese induced strain. We were pressed for time, so like the fast paced dialogue of an episode of E.R. I went to the counter and said, I need straight leg size 16 regular, and I need them now – stat! The lovely lady went running off to the stock room like a challenge on the Crystal Maze, new jeans sorted!

Back in my home village, which these days is far more like a bustling town, it of course all feels very familiar but doesn’t feel massively like home. I go for months without hearing a siren in France, here it’s constant sirens, and usual non rush-hour traffic on the Leeds ring road and it’s just a bit, well, much. The patch of land opposite Mums, and to the rear of the first house Craig and I lived in together is now a building site, with the first floor of a new block of flats being added. Soon there will be no green space left anywhere. Makes me very sad.

Another symptom of this urban sprawl and generally having more people squashed together is that sadly your percentage of undesirables goes up. My Mum was victim to some scumbags recently, that gained entry to the house while she was distracted. They said they were from the council and had come to cut down the dangerous tree that overhangs from the neighbouring churchyard. This was given credence by Mum, and her neighbour, having staged a long running battle, over 2 years with vicars past and present about the removal of this tree, and having been most recently told it was imminently coming down. I have contacted the Vicar, the council, and the diocese about this myself now, and the amount of mistruths told over the years has been staggering, as I’ve now read the amazing dossier of correspondence put together by Mums neighbour Tina. The churches inaction on this is directly responsible for my Mums distress and we will not be letting it go. I witnessed it first hand last night, the debris dropped in Mums garden it really quite large and would cause significant injury, the church stone wall, undermined by this inappropriate tree is now shedding large pieces of stone, and is dangerous. I raised this with the diocese directly, because the Vicar was disinclined to do so, and was firstly fobbed off and secondly ignored. Not really very “Christian”. I feel less time spent worrying about “him upstairs” and more time worrying about your fellow man would be time better spent. So I do the latter.

As a result, Mum has been understandably unsettled, so Craig spent the afternoon installing an Echo dot, and connecting it to a ring doorbell. Now Mum can use this to phone us, Skype us, and see who is at the door before she even opens it. It’s motion sensitive and will record footage of anyone near the front door, it doesn’t have to be pressed. We hope this will give her some much needed comfort.

Still seething about the damned tree!!!

We were up at 4.00am this morning to fly to Schipol, so I’m finishing this off on the train to Groningen, where we are visiting our good friends for the annual Groningen Beer festival. This is our third visit, and not only is it in a beautiful space, a Monastery, but it has a great selection of worldwide and local beers and is always a really fun day.

I am a fan of the Untappd app, as many of you are aware, this app allows you to check in and review beers, and rewards you with different levels when you achieve certain amounts of unique beers. I’m heading to around 550 unique beers now (over a few years I might add), so finding new beers to try is becoming increasingly difficult. My favourite beer of all time remains Delirium Tremens (it has pink elephants on the bottle and would tranquillise a horse) but it’s my favourite in moderation. So, I look forward to a good unique beer haul tomorrow, and catching up with everyone. Let’s hope the sun comes out. We have some sneaky train beers on the go, it’s 5 o clock somewhere right? As a wise man once said.


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