Multi-tasking is a skill that all working mums are adept at but Lyndsey Thomas excels at it After deciding to leave London and move back to her native Yorkshire, she has juggled a major renovation project with launching a new tourism business and her popular blog “Girl About Yorkshire” while caring for her two young children.
“It’s a good job I like being busy,” says Lyndsey, who works, thinks and talks at 100mph, which helps her get through her daily “to-do” lists. After spending 17 years in London carving out a high-flying career in tourism marketing, she gave up her jet-setting job and persuaded her husband to swap the big city for a new life in the village of Menston, near Ilkley.
“It was a lifestyle change. We had a two bedroom flat down there and we wanted a house and a garden and that was a lot more affordable up here. We still have friends in London so we often go there and get our fix,” she says.
Finding the right home took some time but she and Iain settled on a small, three-bedroom 1950s property on a big plot in Menston.
It held a lot of potential and the large garden allowed the couple to sell off some of the land as a self-build plot.
The income from that helped fund the renovation and extension of the existing house.
Working to plans by Guiseley-based Mas Design, Lyndsey managed the project, which added a large kitchen with dining area and a sitting room on the ground floor plus a bedroom, ensuite and dressing room above
“It was quite stressful because the timescale and budget were tight but we rented somewhere for the first eight months, which helped,” says Lyndsey.
The new living kitchen is now the hub of the house and where the couple and their young children, Teddy and Ferne, gather. Filled with light from large areas of glazing, it is zoned into living, dining and kitchen areas. The exposed brick wall adds texture and character but the focal point is the enormous, bespoke 12ft dining table topped with reclaimed wood and surrounded by Jerry chairs from Habitat.
“It’s brilliant for entertaining. We had 18 people round it at Christmas,” says Lyndsey, who hung a Tottenham Court Road sign in the room in honour of life in London and Iain’s work on managing the refurbishment of the Tube station.
The kitchen units are from Howdens and are topped with Corian.
Her best bargains are the TV and the white goods from John Pye online auctions.
“That’s a cost-cutting tip. The TV was £100 and the washing machine was £60. They have a lot of new goods in the auctions that are very slightly damaged and you can bid online for them. You have to be able to collect them though, they don’t arrange delivery,” says Lyndsey, who splashed out in the new, separate sitting room.
Painted in Farrow and Ball’s Vardo, it has a hard-wearing, wood-effect ceramic floor. The rug is from Etsy, the “Yorkshire” print cushion from Nora’s store in Ilkley and the framed Vogue magazine cover art is from Richard Grafton Interiors in Ilkley.
“The fireplace, tiles and stove are where I spent most money. They were £5,000 but they are a lovely focal point,” says Lyndsey.
What was the old dining room is now a boot room and a downstairs loo. The latter is also a shrine to Arsenal football club and Star Wars. “Iain is a massive fan of both and I didn’t want his memorabilia anywhere else in the house so I said he could have it all in the loo and, actually, I love the way it looks,” says Lyndsey, who commandeered the property’s original sitting room as an office and headquarters for her blog, www.girlaboutyorkshire.com.
The website is a hybrid of personal blog posts on everything from parenting and mental health to reviews and recommendations on where to visit, eat, drink and stay in the region. Along with 20,000 followers on Facebook, she has also recruited a small army of women who write blog posts featuring their area. “The idea was to create a website that featured the best places to visit, eat, drink and sleep in Yorkshire based on my own experiences and my rather high expectations.
“Recruiting a blog squad of other ‘Girls About’ means the website is really informative. It’s like having someone in the know to show you round all the best places.” says Lindsey, who has also co-founded Yorkshire DMC – which stands for destination marketing company.
She and her business partner are working with the travel trade in America, Canada and the Far East to arrange bespoke, luxury bespoke tours of Yorkshire for foreign visitors with an emphasis on experiences. “We are developing itineraries and ideas and we are targeting the cultural adventurers,” says Lyndsey who has no regrets about moving back.
“I love it and it’s a great place to bring up our children. I moved to London from Bradford when I was 18 and being away for so long has given me a different perspective. I really appreciate how amazing Yorkshire is. It’s got everything.”
Girl About Yorkshire: www.girlaboutyorkshire.com
Real Yorkshire DMC: www.realyorkshiredmc.co.uk.