Juliette Bains: Snooping around posh pads is starting to get a bit rich

Simon Cowell.
Simon Cowell.
Have your say

I’ve got a niggling feeling that my nosiness is starting to get the better of me.

Whenever I drive through north Leeds – you know, the really posh bit – I have an overwhelming urge to make a mini detour and have a sneaky peek at the huge houses that stand proudly along the beautiful tree-lined streets.

I realise many of you are probably thinking I need to get a life.

‘Surely a 20-something-year-old can find something better to do with their time?’, I hear you cry.

Well, I don’t care. I’m nosy and proud.

There’s just something so satisfying at gawking at other people’s opulence.

It’s like your very own, real-life version of that MTV show, Cribs.

OK, I’ve always been a bit of a nosy parker, but it really kicked into overdrive after I recently visited Lotherton Hall for the first time.

Taking a look around the stunning stately home and strolling through the gorgeous grounds and bird gardens, it felt like I’d stepped into a world that was light years away from my own. It was like walking into a Jane Austen-style costume drama.

Call me materialistic if you like, but it was impossible not to imagine what life might be like in a house that comes complete with several grand pianos, stables, a chapel and its own little flock of flamingos.

Ever since then, I’ve been inexplicably keen to seek out more impressively posh pads.

Scarcroft and Shadwell are fast becoming my favourite guilty pleasures.

Last weekend I had absolutely no shame as I drove past mansion after mansion, crawling past at 2mph with a look of pure amazement on my face and a string of cars beeping their horns behind me.

The disapproving homeowners standing outside, busily watering their rhodedendrons with scowls on their faces weren’t enough to put me off.

After openly admiring how Leeds’ other half live, I started researching what exactly it takes to make the kind of money that would buy you a place alongside them.

If the recent Rich List is anything to go by – you can make millions in pretty much anything.

This year, to make the top 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK, you had to make a mere £85million.

Besides the Queen, who came in at 285th place with a reported wealth of £330m, the list included all types, from chefs and footballers to game designers and authors.

The makers of the game Candy Crush saga, which has claimed more hours of my life than I’d care to admit, made the list for the first time this year.

And the man behind fashion retailer Boohoo.com, Mahmud Kamani, saw his fortune estimated at £300m, while Alex Chesterman – who co-founded the Lovefilm business and set up property website Zoopla – is now worth £100m.

So carving out a niche online seems to be a good place to start if you have aspirations of swimming Scrooge McDuck- like through a lake of cash.

Or perhaps music might be the way to go, with pop mogul Simon Cowell now worth a whopping £300m.

The more I read through the list, the more impossible it became to get my head around the figures – millions and billions don’t mean much to someone who takes pleasure in buying a £5.99 bottle of wine as a cheeky mid-week treat.

Whilst it must be a lot of fun to have a billion in the bank, does it actually mean anything?

Surely when we’re all sitting at home watching the telly, it doesn’t really make that much difference? Perhaps that means I’m better suited to being a gawker than I am to being one of the jet setting lifestyle.

Plus, if I was living in one of these dream homes, I’d have no reason to be nosy anymore.

And where’s the fun in that?

Why being a Brownie is now cooler than ever before

MY lasting memory of being a Brownie is making endless cups of tea.

I can’t remember why exactly – I think it was something to do with a ‘hostess’ badge, which seems quite dated now, come to think of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a Brownie and I made lifelong friends with some of the girls I met there.

Despite it not really being the coolest extra curricular activity, I was still proud to be a part of it (and, truth be told, I can still remember the Brownie Promise to this day).

But now it seems that being a Brownie is cooler than ever.

To earn your Brownie badges these days, youngsters have to prove they are eco-warriors, survivors and explorers, to name a few.

As part of the organisation’s 100th birthday, it aims to ‘trigger a wave of altruism, adventure and active citizenship’ through activities including geo-coaching and projects focussing on spreading positive messages about body image.

If that’s not girl power, I don’t know what is.

Bowled over by a brand new city centre bar offering

I’VE heard SO many people whinge about the fact that they’re “bored of the Leeds nightlife”.

If you are one of these people, take a good look around.

Leeds has pretty much everything you could want from a social life – in my eyes, at least.

There seems to be something for everyone – from hardcore ravers to the more alternative types and everything in between.

Plus, there are always new venues opening their doors in the city.

The area around Merrion Street has seen a whole host of new bars pop up in the past year, plus the area around Trinity Leeds has become a hive of activity.

And if you go off the beaten track, there are some hidden gems.

One new kid on the block has highlighted this perfectly.

Roxy Lanes opened on Upper Basinghall Street in the heart of Leeds just last week.

The street name might not ring a bell, but it’s nestled just behind the Tesco on Bond Street, off Park Row.

Hidden behind the non-descript doorway are four bowling lanes, a bar and a restaurant.

It has been set up by the same people behind Roxy Ballroom, which is located round the corner on Albion Street.

It’s a welcome addition to the Leeds nightlife and offers something a bit more unusual.

So for those of you who are wanting something different from the usual nights out, give it a try.

You might well be bowled over.


Caroline Verdon: Nothing quenches your soul like the taste of a great cuppa