Reading the weekend Yorkshire Post newspaper I came across a popular feature where they interview a local worthy and they pronounce on the following questions. Here’s my go…
What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
I suppose the first awareness I had of my surroundings, outside of the home in north Leeds, was going into town, down Scott Hall Road, with my mother on the bus. There we’d visit Leeds indoor market for meat and vegetables before going on to Lewis’s on the Headrow for other groceries. I remember the counters where things were sold by weight including broken biscuits. All this was the very early 1960s.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why?
Gosh, there are so many beautiful parts to choose but it’d probably be the Wolds (although an honourable mention goes to the sumptuous Dales and the coast). On the Wolds at Garrowby you can see endless farmland and when at the very top receive a brilliant view to the west. It’s breezy, open, free from traffic, undeveloped and the perfect place to escape on a bike ride.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire?
Taking the top down on the Morgan and heading over the rugged North York Moors to Whitby with Anna, or maybe to Saltburn-by-the-Sea where I spent a year away at boarding school in the year England won the World Cup.
In Whitby we’d have fish and chips and if we’re staying over maybe a pint at The Endeavour or The Elsinore. The contrast with the city of York and the salt air, squawking seagulls, small steep lanes and beaches is marked and only an hour’s drive from home. If I were lucky I’d slip off on the Sunday morning for a bike ride on the local 20% gradient climbs!
Do you have a favourite walk or view?
A walk on the beach at Sands End is always a treat, especially if you can find an ice cream van for a cornet. However we’re blessed around York with the rivers Foss and Ouse to walk along or a dip into the several woods to see deer, hares and a plethora of different birds.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what or where would it be?
There is a remarkable stately home in East Yorkshire called Sledmere House, between Norton and Driffield. It’s a beautiful period house with wonderful rooms and large landscaped estate. The history of the aristocratic owners over the centuries and their exciting lives is remarkable and captured brilliantly in one of the descendant’s books (Christopher Simon Sykes) The Big House.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub?
Now I’m not a foodie and if it’s fresh, well cooked and presented nicely I’m happy but a trip to the Veggie in Ilkley works very well for Anna and myself with everything completely delicious. A pint of bitter in a pub is a treasure and without doubt The Blue Bell on Fossgate in York is my ‘go to’ boozer.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
I love bread and bakeries are my favourite shops. Little Arras on Goodramgate in York has exceptional sourdough bread and a wide selection of cakes to help you add to your waistline. As a simple man then I must doff my hat to that large Yorkshire, head quartered in Bradford, grocer Morrisons, what would life be like without their meat pies?
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
I once heard Dame Judi Dench talk at my daughter’s speech day and she is a wonderful raconteur, however, Michael Palin is genuinely hilarious and has had a wonderful career in comedy and travel that would keep me engrossed. If he were busy then Bob Mortimer would be a terrific deputy.
Which Yorkshire sportsperson, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?
It’d be hard not to invite Geoff Boycott, Howard Wilkinson or Joe Root but I would have been honoured to sit down with Jane Tomlinson. After she was diagnosed with terminal cancer she embarked on many fund raising activities including running marathons and, lastly, riding a bike across the USA in 2004. That is Yorkshire grit. I would have a great time sharing our joint experiences of the route. Her charity today has now raised over £10m and that is a wonderful legacy for a very determined and brave woman who checked out at only 43 years old.
Do you follow sport in the county and if so, what?
From the age of 10 when I saw my first match sat on the shoulders of my future brother-in-law, Bill, in the Scratching Shed of Leeds United versus Blackpool (we lost!), I’ve been a lifelong Leeds fan having had a season ticket for several years and hiring a corporate box when I worked at Moores Furniture Group in Wetherby.
What do you think gives Yorkshire it’s unique identity?
I think the image is of self-contained dogged (bloody minded?) determination allied to an often no nonsense, no frills approach to life. The rugged, sweeping and hilly landscape with some hard weather surely is the reason for these characteristics.
How do you think Yorkshire has changed, for better or worse, in the time I’ve known it?
The whole world is now more global (not least thanks to Captain James Cook) and cultures mingle and dilute. Given that faith, ethnicity and economic circumstance can create ‘silos’ of separation then it’s a good thing that we can’t always retreat to where we were 50 years ago. So yes it has changed and hopefully with tolerance we can have the best of the ‘new’ and the best of the ‘old’.
Who is your favourite author/ book/ artist/CD/ performer?
My bag is music and I was delighted after thinking about this question to be back in my dormitory at Ashville College in Harrogate acquiring an LP by a Yorkshire legend that still sounds brilliant today. Arthur Brown’s 1968 The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown is a classic and he was born in Whitby. “I am the god of hellfire and I bring you fire”….
If a stranger to Yorkshire, only had time to visit one place. It would be?
Impossible! However, probably the largest cathedral north of the Alp: York Minster. It stands dominant and magnificent in the centre of York. It took 300 years to complete in the 15th Century; the structure is imposing and majestic. Apart from the awesome building it contains a book that lists the 18,000 men and women who died while serving in the Royal Air Force in Yorkshire, Northumberland and Durham during the Second World War. This includes many from the then British Empire and I can never fathom the bond that drew these people from thousands of miles away to fight and die in a war that must have seemed remote, say, on a sheep farm in New Zealand.