What’s your first Yorkshire memory? We moved to Yorkshire when I was five and many of my first memories are domestic ones. The house we bought in Rothwell had a lovely big back garden. We’d never had anything like it before, but it was really overgrown and wild because it had been empty for over a year. It felt like a jungle to me, it was very exciting to explore. One of the first things we did as a family was to take a trip to the Yorkshire coast. I remember sitting in the back of the car and my dad saying he could see the sea, and me and my two older brothers craning our necks to see it too, full of excitement.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why? Definitely the coast, it’s absolutely stunning, especially Filey and Scarborough. I love going to the beach at Filey with my daughter, wandering along, exploring and creating wonderful memories.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend/day out in Yorkshire? It would involve spending time with Daisy, a train ride somewhere, and plenty of tea and cake. There are so many places to venture to as a family, lots of days out and activities to enjoy. If you asked Daisy, her absolute favourite place would be the National Railway Museum in York. It’s like a home from home for her, we’ve been so many times.
Do you have a favourite walk or view? Apart from my favourite beach in Filey, I think my favourite view is standing in front of York Minster on a sunny day and looking up at the majestic building against a clear blue sky. It’s a magnificent sight in a truly beautiful city. I went to university in York, so it’s a place that evokes many happy memories for me.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star (past or present) would you like to take for lunch, and why? I think James Mason would have been fascinating to spend an hour or two with. The potential for incredible stories and that amazing voice.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’ what or where would it be? I’m not sure if it counts as a hidden gem, but Aysgarth Falls is such a beautiful sight. It’s a lovely part of Yorkshire, the Dales are breathtaking. One of my closest friends used to run a bed and breakfast in Aysgarth, and my husband and I used to love visiting. We’d enjoy a lovely walk around the falls followed by dinner in the local pub, the George and Dragon.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? I think it’s the sheer variety of things on offer here. Bustling metropolitan cities like Leeds and Sheffield, wonderful small towns each with something unique to offer, fascinating industrial heritage, stunning countryside and a beautiful coastline.
How do you immerse yourself in Yorkshire’s cultural life? With absolute abandon. The cultural life is incredibly alive and varied in Yorkshire, with plenty of galleries, theatres and unique performance spaces. There is also a vibrant film scene. Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Sheffield all have their own amazing film tradition and festivals, and there are some wonderful independent and community-led cinemas across the county. The arts are truly valued and respected here, and appreciated by knowledgeable and passionate audiences.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? There are some great restaurants and cafes in Leeds. We are so lucky to have such a variety of cuisines and tastes on offer, with something to please everyone. My favourite restaurant is probably Tharavadu, a lovely authentic Kerala restaurant with an amazing menu and a wonderful welcome.
Do you have a favourite food shop? To be honest, I love my local high street in Garforth and the food shops it has to offer. There is a great family-run greengrocer, a well-established butcher, a great independent coffee shop, and it’s always buzzing with activity. We are lucky to still have one, and it’s great to see it used by the community.
Who is the Yorkshire man or woman you most admire and why? There are so many local heroes in Yorkshire, just quietly making positive changes in their communities, supporting and enabling others. But the late MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was, and still is, hugely inspiring. She went into politics for all the right reasons, to serve her local community, and to help others and give a voice to those who didn’t have a platform. In particular, her work on tackling loneliness and isolation in communities has created an amazing legacy.
How has Yorkshire influenced your work? I write mainly about cinema, and Yorkshire has produced so many wonderful filmmakers and actors, and been the backdrop for so many great films. I’ve been able to access film screenings and events that have educated and inspired me. I’ve also been lucky to have interviewed some great Yorkshire-based artists and performers. The region’s reputation as a cultural hub really does attract some wonderful talent.
Name your favourite Yorkshire author/artist/performer? Yorkshire has produced so many unique literary and artistic voices, but the late novelist Stan Barstow changed my life when I discovered his work as a teenager, thanks to my wonderful English teacher at school. A Kind of Loving is still one of my favourite books. In terms of current performers, I’m a big fan of Sheffield musician Richard Hawley.