My Yorkshire: Keeley Donovan

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Keeley Donovan is part of the Look North team. The 34-year-old, who lives in Leeds with her partner and fellow broadcaster Johnny I’Anson, also appears on Countryfile and presents the current affairs programme Inside Out.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Family holidays in and around Grosmont. There are pictures of my younger sister Kirsty and me wearing matching outfits and the sun is shining. We also used to go to Scarborough, to Whitby, to Robin Hood’s Bay, and it was always fun and packed with laughter.

What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?

The Dales, with its patchwork of fields, separated by dry-stone walls. We were away for a few days in Cumbria recently, and it was lovely, but their slate walls alongside the roads and paths didn’t look quite right, somehow. Silly to say it, but it’s true.

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?

Walking somewhere around Hawes is a favourite. Ending up at the Kings Arms, and having a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery and tasting a few of their samples would definitely be included. Johnny works most weekends, so we have to schedule things in advance, but we do manage a proper visit three or four times every year.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

It’s the Three Peaks walk, which takes you through some breathtaking countryside, and, as for views, well, you are spoiled for choice. There’s one, and you turn, another. Move a few paces on, and another… and another.

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

The weightlifter Rebekah Tiler. I’ve just started doing weights at my gym and I’d love to ask her what motivates her, and how she got to achieve what she has.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

May I be indulged, and ask for the company of the ladies who are all the real-life Calendar Girls. What a story of courage and determination. I’m sure that the dinner would be filled with a lot of laughter, and probably a few tears as well.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?

The House of the Trembling Madness in York. It is a tiny pub in a Tudor building, which has taxidermy on the walls, so to say that it is “quirky” is an understatement. The last time we were there, there was cheese soup on the menu. It was little more liquid than fondue, but it was completely delicious.

If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be?

A farm. With livestock. Anywhere. I’ve been on plenty of them, of course, Countryfile has seen to that, but I’d like to be in charge, and to see what it all involves. I love being outside, in the fields and the open air, and this would give me a completely new perspective on how it is all done.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

First of all, it’s the way that it looks – because the landscape changes as you go across the county. Secondly, there’s a sense of “belonging” here, and you don’t get that anywhere else – except, possibly, on Tyneside.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

Oh gosh, sorry, no – despite coming from good footballing stock – my dad used to play for Rotherham United. When I was living in Hull, I once went to watch Hull Kingston Rovers play in a match against Wakefield in rugby league. For the first half, I was cheering like mad – until I found out that I was yelling for the wrong side. I’d got the strips confused.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

It’s called Further North, and it is in Chapel Allerton, in Leeds. They don’t do food, and it is like being in someone’s front room, but it’s a lovely little welcoming place, with some superb locally-brewed ales. I’m more of a full-bodied red wine girl myself, but I do enjoy a half.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Leeds Market, and not just because it is fairly close to work. It’s full of great little stalls, all offering fresh produce at competitive prices. The atmosphere is wonderful, the people are all friendly, and it is a pleasure to wander around.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

We seem to have gained a great prominence in the world, and that has been achieved, for the most part, through our sporting achievements.

If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be?

I’d give us a Mediterranean climate. But that predictability might make my weather forecasting job a little surplus to requirements.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

Jane Tomlinson, for her determination, courage, and bloody-minded strength of spirit. She was brave, and inspirational, and her wonderful family have kept her name alive and have continued raising funds for charity. My admiration knows no bounds.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

It IS my work. I learned my trade here, and I love getting out into the county with programmes like Inside Out and Countryfile. Weather forecasting here is never boring, because the place is full of little climatic quirks. There may be a pocket of air over the coast that makes Whitby have a bright warm sunny day, but gives Scarborough a mist.

Who is your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer?

A band called Hope and Social, from Leeds, a six-piece outfit, who write their own music. They make such a joyous sound and just lift the spirits.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

It has to be York. It’s so quintessentially English, with cobbled streets and little alleyways and lovely buildings. Then there are all the medieval churches, the great Minster, the museums, galleries and theatres, the restaurants and pubs. It never fails to entertain.