Category Archives: Events and Occasions

Help fund the 10th Leeds Brownies trip to London!

browniesOur good friend and Eagle Owl @BookElfLeeds is raising money for her Brownies. Here’s why

When we asked our Brownies what they really wanted to do this year, they told us they wanted to visit London.

We’re a Leeds Brownie unit, based in LS4/LS6, for whom money is tight, and we’d love to give our girls, aged 7-11, the trip of their lives. For most of them it will be their first time visiting London, for some their first time away from home.

We’d love to make this as cheap a trip as possible so that ALL our Brownies can join us, and for that to happen we need your help!

Funds will go initially to cover transport and accommodation costs, and to buy food for the girls. If there is any left over we’d love to have some thing special to look forward to, any suggestions let us know!

We’re travelling down in February. The girls are planning a fundraising Christmas Fair (more details as and when) and our plucky Eagle Owl Jess is going to complete the Leeds Country Way-a 63 round trip all around Leeds-all to raise money.

If you can spare a fiver, that would pay for tea for one of the girls. We’re grateful for every penny and will keep updates on things we’re planning, and let you know how the trip goes!

You’ll be making twenty little girl’s wishes come true with every donation-on behalf of them all THANK YOU for your very kind donations.

If you have a moment, please check out the JustGiving page here!

Convinced? Donate HERE!

 

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PROMO – Open Letters at Hyde Park Book Club

Recently I received an email from Open Letters – letting us know about their upcoming event. We both attended MINIcine at few months back for Never Let Me Go, so they immediately thought of book club when laundching their own literary based event!

Looks like it could be a giggle – do report back if you attend!

OPEN LETTERS

Facebook PAGE 

Date: 13th of July 2016

Time: 7:30 pm

Venue: Hyde Park Book Club

Contact: openlettersleeds @ gmail.com

 

AN EVENING OF LETTERS, READ ALOUD.
Fiction & Nonfiction.
Open Mic: bring a letter to a person, place, or thing. read it aloud.

We will also write letters.
Paper & envelopes will be provided.

FREE EVENT

Christmas Read-a-Long – Greenshaw’s Folly

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Raymond West’s niece is invited by an elderly recluse to help compile her late grandfather’s diaries for publication. After only two days at their sprawling home of Greenshaw’s Folly, she witnesses a murder, which only Miss Marple can solve…

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – The Dream

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Hercule Poirot is slightly reluctant to answer a letter demanding his services by the reclusive and eccentric millionaire Benedict Farley. Entering the strange world that Mr. Farley inhabits and accounting for each stagy nuanced oddity

Poirot is a little at a loss at his ability to help. Poirot is apparently meant to consult on Mr. Farley’s reoccurring dream, of death, something not usually within his remit. The dream haunts Mr. Farley and only one week after dismissing the bemused Poirot the dream becomes real.

What ensues is a perplexing short story in which each member of the Farley household that Poirot questions seems more puzzled than the one before.

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi
O Henry
 
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”
The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”
“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”
Down rippled the brown cascade.
“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty seven cents?”
At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”
Jim looked about the room curiously.
“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”
And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”
The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
 
Free e-versions
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Christmas Read-a-Long – Four and Twenty Blackbirds

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Hercule Poirot is about to tuck into a very traditional English supper with his old friend Bonnington, when the habit and ritual of a lone diner sparks his interest more than the chestnut turkey.

The lone diner has eaten there on Thursdays and Tuesdays for the last ten years like clockwork, but, no one at the restaurant even knows his name.

However, ‘Old Father Time,’ as they have fondly nicknamed him, suddenly stops coming and Poirot believes that he might have picked up that one essential clue that could shed light on a man who no one really knows. Could what Old Father Time strangely ordered as his final meal prove to be the only thing that makes this suspicious?

 

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

REVIEW – The Night Before Christmas – West Yorkshire Playhouse

Carol doesn’t feel very Christmassy. What’s all the fuss about? Trees, tinsel, baubles, pudding, presents…? What a lot of nonsense. Definitely not for her.

That is until the night before Christmas when Elf 30046, all stripey tights and pointy ears, falls down her chimney and they both tumble into a bigger adventure than they could ever have imagined. Will Elf ever do as he’s told? Will Carol learn to have fun? Will they ever spot the speeding sleigh and most importantly of all… can they find Father Christmas before it’s too late?

A beautiful, funny and delightful story of friendship and the true meaning of Christmas, The Night Before Christmas is the perfect present for little elves, a magical treat for the family this winter.

[youtube https://youtu.be/ZqPr3DrjuRo]

In what is becoming a bit of a tradition for us, Helen and I recently attended the West Yorkshire Playhouse for their annual Christmas show. After last years triumph (see our Father Christmas review HERE), we tried to mute our expectations – after all – what were the chances that we would be treated to yet another funny yet touching production that perfectly embodied the spirit of the Christmas season?

Christmas 09

Carol doesn’t like Christmas, presents, or the affable Roger

An hour later we left as giddy as all the (millions of) tiny happy humans dancing on the stage before us! Our Christmas has officially begun.

Christmas 08

Poor Elfie and Carol – NOT a meet cute

Director Amy Leach sets this charming story during the 1950’s, with the set, props and music all from this era. It was rather lovely to watch familiar oldies enchant a new generation. The set design was just wonderful – a feature I’ve come to expect from the WY Playhouse. And the backstage team pulled out all the tricks to delight, enthrall and capture the imagination of their audience – aside from a beautifully compact home recreated on the stage, there was snow (which instantly had Helen all misty eyed! She’s a sucker for Christmas based snow), misdirection and ladders – allowing for the production to literally take to the skies at one point!

christmas 07

Crowd interaction and participation was encouraged at every stage. Indeed Carol is forced to chase Elfie across the auditorium, through the seats and back again at one point. At first, some of the little people were a bit nervous about the rather huge elf and the very grumpy Carol hurtling past them but within moments they were wrapped up in the story line – all worries washed away by the energy and joy expressed on stage.

christmas 03

Possibly my single favourite  moment came towards the end of the play. Carol has been left a present and the audience – predominantly ages between 4 – 7 years – helpfully shouted up to the stage to help her find it. Poor Carol wasn’t really understanding until one grown man – obviously caught up in everything – bellowed out in a deep voice ‘look for your present behind you!’.

Christmas 10

James Barrett – a delightful Elfie

However the greatest accolades must be saved for Rose Warlow (Carol) and James Barrett (Elfie). They bring to life their characters and throw themselves into every piece – whether it is running, jumping, dancing or tracking down Santa – with an energy and conviction that brought every person there with them on their adventure.

Of greater importance perhaps then their impeccable chemistry, timing and vivacity was the timeless warmth that they projected onto all of us. Christmas is meant to be fun, it’s meant to be joyous and it’s meant to bring us together. I think this is a show that inspires that feeling in us all.

Christmas 11

You can read Helen’s review HERE

tl;dr – Go See It!

Written by: Robert Alan Evans
Age: 2-6 years
Director: Amy Leach

WYP_red_grey

The Night Before Christmas at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Buy tickets HERE

 

 

Theatre Reviews

Christmas Read-a-Long –

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

‘One looks for humanity in these matters’

Pretty Lily Margrave, smart little black hat pinned to her golden hair, is not convinced Hercule Poirot is needed in the matter of Sir Atwell’s murder at all. At the request of her employer, the emphatic Lady Atwell, she has had to recount the precise details of what happened that evening, ten days ago in the Tower room even though the victim’s nephew is incarcerated and charged with the murder.

But, Lady Atwell’s persistent bee in her bonnet drives Poirot up to the great house, Mon Repos, to see if he can look beyond the cold facts presented by Miss Margrave and look for the humanity in the matter. Poirot soon takes up residence in Mon Repos, ensconcing himself in the household and all its nooks and crannies.

However, whilst at first the family are struck by his ardent endeavour to find out what befell Sir Atwell in the Tower room, their disquiet at having a ‘ferreting little spy’ going through their rooms becomes too much for some to bare. With his signature ingenuity, a scrap of material and the contents of a tiny box lead the detective to uncover who is behind this violent act.

 

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – The Mystery of the Spanish Chest

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Major Hastings and Hercule Poirot are not interested in the case of the Spanish Chest, so obviously has it been reported in the papers that it seems an entirely closed book.

But, when Hastings persuades Poirot to attend a rather fabulous party given by Lady Chatterton there is someone sequestered upstairs waiting for the pair’s help.

She’s so sure that there has been some great mistake and is desperate for their help. Will the contents of the dead man’s pockets reveal to the inscrutable eye of Hercule Poirot who the culprit is?

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

 

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

In this delightful tale, an Eastern Prince arrives in England with some family jewels which he’s having reset as a gift for his fiancee. However, the Prince also has a mistress; she asks to wear one particularly enchanting piece that features a huge ruby, and then promptly disapppears with it.

Poirot discovers a connection with a house party at the home of Colonel and Mrs. Lacey, and in order to pursue his investigation an invitation is procured for him to the Laceys’, ostensibly to enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas.

He will need all his deft skills and little grey cells to solve this crime!

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

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