Monday, 30 July 2012

Worsley's Expert Pasta Kitchen

Now lets set the scene....start the Dean Martin song Amore playing in your head, you know the one that starts 'when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, thats amore......when the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine, thats amore....NO!  Actually its when you have been lucky enough like us to go to Worsley's expert pasta kitchen!  What a treat!

Worsley's expert pasta kitchen

Our good friends the Goms invited us round for an evening of pasta making a few weeks ago and I thought it was only right that I went to a little effort to make them an official sign for the job (above) seeing as though they had gone to such a massive effort to teach us to make pasta!  They had a big shiny pasta machine and every type of pasta filling that you could imagine in order for us to have a most tasteful evening!  There was also a LOT of red wine involved - but its only right if you're doing the cooking I think and we were ALL doing the cooking after all!  Every single one of us got right into the spirit of the Italian was a great night!

Kimmi Custard joins the experts!

Oh what fun we had!  In no time at all we had flour flying all over the place when making the pasta dough (mostly down to me actually...oops!) and then when we moved over to the pasta machine the giggling started.  Little Ethan was an absolute whiz with turning the handle - he actually looked like Clark Kent turning into Superman at one point he was turning it that fast!  It took around three of us to hold the pasta out as it got really long and then when it was time to cut it all up, you could totally see where Ethan got his Superman impression from as Matt made the ravioli in super fast time - he seriously looked like a Pro - in fact I bet he would give Gino D'Campo a good run for his money at breaking the record for ravioli making!

When we sat down to eat the pasta it was amazing and the kitchen quickly became filled with 'oohs' and 'arrs' due to the absolutely mouthwatering taste explosions that we were all experiencing at that moment!  There is also something so satisfying about sitting to eat food like that which you have made completely from scratch - its just a great feeling!  We then finished the meal with THE most amazing lemon tart I have ever had made also by Matt's fair hands.  Below is an Instagram collage of our pasta making evening, just in case you want to drool....

From eggs and flour to full on Italian cooking!

This really was a great experience that we thoroughly enjoyed and would like to do again.  It has left me thinking however that maybe Matt and Carrie should open one of the latest trends - a pop up restaurant?  I mean lets face it, they have the branding and the foodie shots for the advertising already thanks to moi - all they would have to do is get the customers in but frankly I think they would come in droves after reading about the Custard's evening with them!  I am even going to go so far as to say that Mr C and I are going to award The Worsley's expert pasta kitchen the 'Custard Favourite Places Award!'

Friday, 27 July 2012

Don't Mess With Mr Custard!

A few nights ago, me and Mr C went on a work team building evening to the Paul Lane rifle club on the outskirts of Huddersfield where we got a chance to shoot three different rimfire rifles down a firing range with the targets at 20 yards away.  This is something that we wouldn't normally have chosen to do but you have to try out different things right?

Kimmi Croft - I wish lol!

Now those of you that know me will know that this is not really my kind of thing, however, I was actually looking forward to having a go to be honest - just so I could say I've done it and O.K. I'll admit it - maybe I fancied myself as a fatter version of Lara Croft!  I also think its good to push yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes.  Mr C was really looking forward to it too as he absolutely loves anything that includes 'boy stuff'!

When we entered the gun club it was just like I had imagined - there were animal busts and pictures of legally hunted animals everywhere - it was actually really interesting to have a look around at everything and listen to tales from the owner about the trophies and the actual bear skin that was hung on the wall etc.

We were all really intrigued as to how the bear was allowed to be killed and brought back to the UK from Canada. He went on to tell us that the Indians in Canada are the only people allowed to have a licence to kill bears but what they do is sell the licence to other hunters who want to shoot one.  The hunter gives the Indians the bear meat on top of the money for the licence and then the hunter takes home the bear skin with the correct paperwork as a trophy.  It seems that in this situation, everyone's a winner - except for the bear that is!

The Bear!  Surprisingly its fur was very similar to Pedro's!

Anyway, we were quickly split into teams and one by one were taken into the firing range.  The security and safety of the staff at the place was absolutely rock solid which was good because at this point I was a tad nervous (bricking it actually!).  The first rifle we shot had relatively small bullets and to start with I was going nowhere near the target - I quickly got used to it though after calming my nerves and when my tutor announced I had hit the paper target for the first time I could have danced with joy!  I didn't though as I probably would have ended up shooting someone knowing me!

I came out of the range very proud of myself and quickly tweeted a picture of my target saying 'Don't mess with me!' - I even got a shot in the black bit near the middle (see below - for those of you who can't see it, its just to the right of the top number 7!) - elated is the word for how I felt at that point!  It was my first go ever and I hit it loads!  Woohoo!

Kimmi Custards target

Then, it was Mr C's time to go in.  Half an hour later he came out looking very proud of himself and he showed us his target.  Now you have to believe me that this was his very first time at shooting a rifle too, however, after seeing his target I'm a little worried now as to whether he is secretly a sniper and he just forgot to tell me!  Check out his target compared to mine....

Berticustards target + a souvenir he purchased!
This was a fantastic experience for both of us and we are very proud of our souvenir targets however, the moral of this little tale is quite simple - DON'T MESS WITH MR C!  He was obviously a fully fledged sniper in a previous life!

The 'real' Mr Custard!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Save Our Surgery! People Of Yorkshire Unite!

Yesterday, 2500 people took to the streets of Leeds for the SOS save our surgery demo.  This peaceful demo was immaculately planned and executed to a very high standard and helped the people of Yorkshire continue to get their opinions heard.  As well as attendance from parents, families and children who are directly connected to the unit, the demo was also attended by people who have no current connection to the unit but realize the importance of it staying here.
Save our surgery!
The sun shone gloriously all day for the protestors as they marched through Leeds with a true passion to their destination - Millennium square.  After watching a video of the march on the Yorkshire Post website last night it made me feel absolutely uplifted how all of the people of Yorkshire have come together to fight this categorically wrong decision.  The speakers for the cause at the demo said their words with real conviction and are a wonderful example to us all - the atmosphere looked absolutely electric as they stood tall and meant every single word they said!  If you want to watch the video that made me feel uplifted, here it is courtesy of the Yorkshire Post:

The next step in the fight to save the unit is happening today.  Councillors from across the region are to meet in Leeds to review the closure which is expected to be referred to the health secretary - Andrew Lansley.  An indication has also been made that the decision will be referred to an independent reconfiguration panel - which is welcome news.

A team of representatives for the Leeds children's heart unit which includes my good friend Gaynor Bearder and other major campaigners will be present at the meeting to put the message about the wrongful decision across once more - and if their passionate words in the video above are anything to go by, we will have cause once more to feel utterly proud that we are from part of a community that includes people like these who will tirelessly put themselves forward for the good of us all and our generations to come. They have completely managed to uplift a whole region in order to stand together - now this is how life should be!

Even though many of us couldn't get the day off work yesterday (boo!) to attend the demo, we would just like to let the campaigners and people who are heavily involved in the fight know how much we appreciate every single thing that you are doing for the people of Yorkshire and their generations to come and even though we couldn't be there with you in body yesterday, we are now standing with you in spirit - true Yorkshire spirit - and THAT is a force to be reckoned with!

We would like to wholeheartedly thank you all for what you are doing for our community and wish you every bit of luck in the continued fight - we are behind you 100%!

The Leeds save our surgery demo - S.O.S!  What amazing people!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Leeds Heart Surgery Closure - Time To Get Personal

This week has seen a major blow for the people of Yorkshire by the decision in London to close the Leeds heart surgery unit after a solid 18 months of endless campaigning by some amazingly strong people to get this decision stopped.  Quite obviously, the opinions and feelings of the people who need this unit the most (to be honest this includes anyone living in Yorkshire) have not been listened to.  After reading many reports of this news it actually seems to me that these opinions have actually been completely ignored - almost like the decision had already been made without them.  Because of this I think it's time to take things personal, so here is my story of how important I think it is to keep the unit open....
One of the major campaigners against this decision is my good friend Gaynor Bearder...I have known Gaynor and her husband Tony for around 17 years now and over the last few years since having their second precious child Joel, I have seen them at times go through hell because Joel was born with a major heart condition that has needed specialist care at the Leeds unit.  They have even said goodbye to their beautiful little boy before as they weren't sure that he would wake up due to his illness - now I don't know about you but being a parent myself, even the thought of having to do this with my daughter makes me feel overwhelmingly upset so goodness knows how my fabulous friends have coped.

Being a photographer by trade, Gaynor and Tony rang me one day when Joel was very tiny and asked me to do a portrait of Joel.  What should have been a joyous occasion (everyone loves baby photos right?) turned into one of the most heart wrenching jobs I have ever done when Gaynor explained to me that they wanted some photos doing as soon as possible as they weren't sure that Joel was going to survive.  Naturally, for my friends I said yes straight away and sorted something out quickly, but I have to say, when I put the phone down that day I could have cried.  I just couldn't comprehend what they must have been going through and from that point onwards just hoped and prayed that everything would turn around - its the most awful thing in the world knowing that your friends are in so much pain.

A day or so later, Gaynor, Tony, Joel and their eldest son Lucas came into the studio and we got cracking on the photos.  From the point at which they arrived, I could see the torment and grief in Gaynor's eyes and I just couldn't stand it - but I didn't want them to feel any more upset than they already were so I kept myself upbeat and positive and tried to make the session into a happy, normal kind of family portrait shoot which I think we managed as I had Lucas leaping around in the air having some fun and then took some beautiful pictures of Joel and Lucas together.

After we finished the photos, I hugged Gaynor and said goodbye to them all - not knowing what was going to happen next.  There was only one thing that was certain to me and that was that I was going to put my heart and soul into these photos so that they absolutely loved them and had a record of Joel and his brother together no matter what happened in the coming days, weeks or months.  This particular photo shoot is perhaps one of the most poignant and special in my career and always will be because of what it meant to my friends  - in fact, two of the photos are still some of my favourites today:

Beautiful little Joel!

Beautiful Brothers!
Thankfully, 5 years on, due to the most immense love and care you could ever see from a set of parents and the amazing expert care that he has received from the specialist heart unit in Leeds, Joel is doing phenomenally well.  However, after seeing what my friends have been through - the countless trips to hospital they have made, the sleepless nights and the absolute torment of the possibility of losing their precious little boy, it has hit home to me just how important this unit is.

To have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool in future for this treatment and care will add an incredible amount of extra pressure on the family of a patient at an already stressful time and should not be allowed to happen.  In this day and age where we put so much into our countries health care should be our right to have easy access to these facilities at the most difficult of times and lets face it - any one of us living in or around Yorkshire could need it one day - you just never know.

After talking to Gaynor a few nights ago though, when she got home from London, she showed me her true fighting spirit once again and even though I knew she would be upset about the decision - she simply stated 'We are down but not out - our fight will go on'. After reading that, I felt so proud of her - to me, Gaynor and the other campaigners are truly inspirational.  The work that they have put in over the last 18 months raising tens of thousands of pounds for the unit as well as fighting this major injustice is just phenomenal.

So, what I'm thinking is that maybe its time for more of us to pitch in and join the fight with them. Any little thing we can do now adds another drop to the ocean of fight and if this gets bigger and bigger, hopefully the powers that be will listen. Until now, the campaigners have had a direct link to the unit, but now it's time for the onlookers to get involved too...after all, many of us have children and many of us may need this unit one's time to join forces with the people already emotionally involved.

So this is why I have shared my personal story as an onlooker of friends in pain - which in turn hurt me. The idea I have had now to help this cause is to collect some personal stories like my own that show the reality of what this unit means to the people who need it - so, if you have a story that will tell of the heartache that this kind of illness has caused and why you think that it would be terrible to make people travel so far when they really need treatment and support nearby, please feel free to either leave a comment on this blogpost below or email me at  I will then pass all of these personal stories on to Gaynor and the other campaigners and hopefully they may be able to use them in the fight to overturn this severely wrong decision.  It's time now that the bigwigs listened to the people who need the unit that they are trying to close so let's make it personal and tell them exactly what effects the closure will have on the real people of Yorkshire!
Time for the bigwigs to listen!