What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
Oddly enough, it is from 1973, which was when my father – an engineer and a keen railway enthusiast – brought me up to Yorkshire to see some of the many sights, and one of our first ports of call was the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which three years earlier had been used as some of the locations for the hugely successful film, The Railway Children. I was brought up in Birmingham, so this was quite an excursion, and I think we went to a few other places, such as York Minster, and the railway museum.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?
Anywhere that is rural – we have some wonderful cities, and York has no comparison anywhere in the world – but I love to get out into the countryside. Riding our line from Pickering to Whitby is a wonderful way to get a glimpse of its sheer variety, from the valleys to the tops. I love the scenery, the changing skies, the colours.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire? What spare time I get is devoted to maintaining, and fixing, our two motorbikes, a BMW 60560 and a Triumph American, which we both love. The process is generally very concentrating, and calming – I’m guessing that it’s a bit like other people’s enjoyment of their gardens.
Do you have a favourite walk – or view?
We’d take a bike ride over to Filey, and walk along the beach, and then maybe on up the coast to Staithes.
Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?
That “honorary Yorkshireman” Sir Ian Botham, because I admire his honest and very frank personality. And I very much admire the way that he actively supports charities and good causes.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
The lovely Joanne Froggatt, who was born in Littlebeck in North Yorkshire, before she became one of the stars of Downton Abbey.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?
Newton Dale Halt, on our line. Quite apart from being so lovely in its location, it is a terrific stopping off place for walkers – there are four main routes, which take you through Newton Dale and Cropton Forest, and the longer ones will bring you to Levisham.
If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be?
It’s the Ripon Horn, which is blown every day at dusk in the market square. Oh, to be given the opportunity to hold it, and to give it a right good blast!
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? There are so many facets to the place. For a start, the people are very friendly – we were aware of an instant welcome when we came to live in Pickering. There’s a feeling of good graft in Yorkshire, the folk understand the idea of hard work.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?
Confession time. I have been a follower of Birmingham City for as long as I can remember, and I don’t think that that is going to change anytime soon. I do try to catch them if they are playing away somewhere relatively near us.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?
Alison is a Macmillan nurse, and her hours are long – as are mine, especially in our season, so we tend to eat out a lot. There are some great little places in Pickering that are very much “go to” for us, among them The Black Swan pub, Spice for You on Hungate and Noyon on Eastgate.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
Any of the small local traders, of which, happily, there are many – as well as the regular markets. Everything is fresh, and well sourced. If you are a cheese fan, then Pickering is the place to be.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?
A lot of issues have combined, I think, to make folk in general a lot more careful about how and why they spend their money, which makes us tourism-related businesses have to work extra hard to pull in the visitors, and to give them all added value for their custom.
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be?
Not a lot. But the county should be a lot prouder of itself than it currently is. And yes, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more sunny days!
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?
The much-under-rated (and very courageous) Guido Fawkes had a lot of very good ideas about changing the political system. It would be interesting to see what would have happened had he and his mates had been successful – it would have changed the course of history.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work?
Very much so. With this job comes a lot of responsibility, which is shared with our permanent staff and our amazing volunteers. We are big employers hereabouts, and we have a big impact on the town.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer? The author James Herriot did an awful lot to turn the attention of a world-wide readership to the pleasures of this county, so I think we owe him a debt of gratitude.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be? It has to be York, does it not? The “go-to” place for so many people, with scores of attraction and amenities for all tastes.