A nice long lie in then a quiet morning pottering about and reading mostly while mum was doing lots of marking. Lunch at The Railway, which was nice, though not all that special. More reading in the afternoon then off on the bus to meet my sister Steph after work. She works really close to the White Rose Centre, which is a big shopping mall on the outskirts of Leeds, so I arrived there and did some mad shopping in Debenhams and came out with a skirt, a pair of trousers and a top. After some confusion trying to end up in the same place we met for a coffee the size of a bowl of soup before hitting the shops again. Two cheap Tshirts in New Look and some more pottering and her bloke Dave managed to find us. So to celebrate we took him shopping with us too. Admittedly we kept to just a couple of shops, and only tried anything on in one of them. Principles had some really really lovely things and I came out with a gorgeous fully lined skirt which I still can't believe was only 30 quid, given the price of nasty polyester things these days. We stopped for another coffee before heading off to brave the cold of the fair.
The fair in particular is the Valentines Fair, which is in Leeds for around a week every February and which this year was entirely at Elland Rd instead of (at least partially) in the middle of town. For a travelling fair it was impressively large with some scarily huge rides. I won a rather cute cuddly leopard on the p-p-pick-up-a-penguin (like hook-a-duck, but with the obvious difference), and then with Dave's money won Steph the ugliest white tiger toy I have ever had the misfortune to meet. Me and Steph had a go on one of the fun-house type rides, and made fools of ourselves falling over in the rotating barrels and getting lost in the mirror maze. It was worth it for the view of the top if nothing else, and Dave was a wimp not to join us.
We only had a go on one of the big rides. Watching it I commented to Dave that it had just too many degrees of freedom. It had an upside-down U shaped gantry which span round wrt to the ground. Dangling in the middle was a ring, which seats round the inside, and this ring could rotate around the same axis as the gantry, though not always at the same speed or in the same direction. And once it got going the ring also rotated around the axis along the length of the gantry, sometimes just to be at a strange angle to the floor, but sometimes going completely upside down. To be honest it was really quite hair raising. And we were very glad of how restricting the harnesses were once we were entirely dangling from them upside down or, what was almost worse, facing straight down towards the ground. I was amazed given the price of the various stalls that this was only 2 quid a go, which seemed like quite a bargain. We were rather shaky by the time we got our feet back on solid ground, and wimps that we were we definitely decided we'd had enough.
We did look around at the rest though, an amazing bungee contraption shooting a two-seater spinning cage over 100 feet into the air. The UK's largest travelling roller-coaster and all sorts of other things. We ate cheap nasty burgers and hotdogs, had a fabulous go on the dodgems, had fresh donuts straight from the fryer and stopped just to buy fudge and sweets on the way out, tired but happy. Home for a cuppa, to find Emily had arrived too by this time, so a nice family gossip and then Steph waved Dave off home until Sunday and the rest of us went to bed. Sharing with a sister is kind of strange when you haven't done it in years, but a hell of a lot better idea than either of us sleeping on an airbed, especially when Steph's bed is so comfy.
Up early on Saturday morning we headed off 5 minutes walk down the road for Steph's birthday treat - a morning at the local holistic health spa. We all had a go in the jacuzzi and the steam baths and had a hand-wax. The latter is downright peculiar: your hands are dipped in paraffin wax, wrapped in tissue and put in little oven gloves then you lean back in comfy reclining chairs with relaxing music on for 15 minutes or so and they come back and peel it off again. Apparently the heat is supposed to be really good for your joints. It was all rather odd though. They do a full body version too, though I gather in that case they paint the wax on rather than dipping you in it. Sounds rather daunting though. After that we had time for a nice cup of tea in their comfy lounge before our individual treatments. Emily went for raiki (sp?) healing, which seems to involve a certain amount of non-contact massage as well as some physical manipulation of pressure points. Mum had a facial massage. Steph and me both went for the full body aromatherapy massage. Which was fabulously relaxing. And smelled nice too. And after that there was a rather lovely lunch before we headed home.
We all went zonk in the afternoon, especially Emily and Mum after having two huge Margharita's each. Steph had gone for a nap, dad was driving, and I'm not drinking, so the rest of us missed out. Apparently they've gone through a whole bottle of tequila in just one week though! After that we had coffee and birthday cake, which was a rather lush chocolate cake from Thornton's, and Steph opened a selection of birthday presents (she's saving the rest for the day). My chocs and DVD really couldn't compete with the lovely scarf/shawl from Em and the stunning gold and garnet earrings from my mum and dad, but I suspect they will be enjoyed. I've forgotten Steph had come and seen Minority Report with us while she was in Cambridge. I'm terrible at remembering what films I saw with who. Then we all got dressed up and headed out for dinner.
I said how lovely Brooks' restaurant in Brighouse is after we went there for my birthday in November, and it's certainly not changed. The food was gorgeous again. I had the spam fritters to start with, since that's the house speciality, and they're very nice. Not at all like the school dinner version. Poached smoked cod for the main course and raspberry cream with almond meringue for afters. It was a really really great evening. We lingered over the food and then coffee and had a great time just talking and laughing lots. Then home to more hilarity in the living room and dad finally managed to get a cocktail of his own, and proceeded to get Campari up his nose. Gave Richard a ring before bed to make sure he was having a nice time at home, and it seemed he had been, though he didn't tell me all he'd been up to until I got back. And then bed around midnight since we were all completely shattered.
Managed to get up relatively early again simply through having found myself far too awake. Got the packing done first thing since I knew it would save worry later, and looked up train times before breakfast. Mum made us porridge which was wonderful, and then we went out for a walk and to fly the kite for a bit, which was fun. It's great little kite, very lightweight. Which was handy because the wind was being a bit fickle and if it had been a bit heavier we'd have lost it during one of the lulls and probably got it stuck in the trees on landed it on the nearby road and caused an accident. Very brisk anyway! After that we for some reason wandered back through the village looking in all the estate agent windows at house prices. Emily is rather despairing at ever being able to afford to buy something, but thinks renting is a waste of money. Steph's kind-of living with Dave most of the time now though, and he already owns a place of his own. Possibly thinking of moving somewhere a bit bigger before too long. The prices they were being horrified at are somewhat lower than Cambridge ones (flats from around 50K and one-bed houses from little over 60K) but they're still a hell of a lot higher than they used to be.
Roast pork and apple sauce and stuffing for lunch, with apple crumble for afters made a great last meal for everyone together, with Dave admitted back into the family again since the blokes had only been banished for Saturday. And just time for a leisurely cup of coffee before heading for the train.
It's been a great weekend, and I've had a lovely time. It's nice to be back though. Nice to see Richard, pizza on the way and we'll watch some videos over it or something, and then I'll get to sleep in my own bed and not even have to get up in the morning. Bliss.