Puffins, fishing and writing swan songs - Five long reads from The Yorkshire Post features team this week
What is it that makes Yorkshire unique? The people? Their outlook on life? The landscapes? Everybody who lives in the county has their own opinion, and so do those who visit for work and holidays, or love the television dramas set here.
Andrew Martin has his opinions too, and they inform his new book, Yorkshire There and Back, which seeks to get to the heart of what makes his native county special.
It is a wry, witty and personal perspective on what it is to be from Yorkshire, part memoir of growing up in York in the 1970s, and part exploration of the county’s past, present and quirks, ranging from navigating his home city’s Micklegate pubs to its breed of professional Yorkshiremen who dominated the television of his boyhood.
New era for historic hall
Tucked away in leafy gardens off Fossgate, York’s historic, Grade I-listed Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is of national importance as one of the oldest and largest surviving trade guild halls in Britain.
The timber-framed structure looks much as it did in its medieval heyday but, behind the scenes, change is most definitely afoot; a woman is at the helm for the first time in its 665-year history.
Last month, Dr Delma Tomlin MBE was inaugurated as the first female Governor of The Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York, which started life in 1357 as one of the city’s 47 guilds.
Calming sport of fishing
Marina Gibson had a fishing rod in her hand by the age of five. Hers was a childhood spent angling with her parents, each school holiday an opportunity for river or sea fishing and getting stuck into the pastime that years later would become her career.
These days, she runs The Northern Fishing School, based at Swinton Estate, in North Yorkshire, and is a trustee of the newly-launched Cancer and Pisces Trust, a fishing charity for those affected by cancer.
“The purpose is to use the well-documented therapy of fishing to aid those undergoing the trauma of cancer,” she says.
Here's more about the new charity: The Yorkshire charity helping people affected by cancer with therapeutic fishing sessions
Pulling power of the puffin
It's a bird which has captured the imagination for generations, a charismatic black and white ‘sea parrot’, a sort of Hercule Poirot of the natural world with a gorgeous chunky beak of blue, red and yellow stripes, webbed feet and bright orange legs.
It stands around 30cms tall, is also sometimes referred to as the clown of the sea because of its spectacular beak, and now is the best time to spot one, after having spent its autumn and winter out at sea.
It’s spring, breeding time and puffins are back at Flamborough and the Yorkshire coastline.
We discover the pulling power of the puffin: Yorkshire Puffin Festival: How seabird supports tourism in Flamborough and beyond
Writing swan songs
“It’s hard sometimes to go up to somebody and say ‘I love you’,” muses musician Jon Gomm. “And yet there’s millions of songs saying exactly that in the most heartfelt outpouring ways you could possibly imagine.
“They’re saying things you would never probably actually sit down with somebody and say in words because it would come across really strange. But what a song does is give you the freedom to say the things you would really want to say if only it wouldn’t feel awkward or difficult.”
The Saltaire-based musician is speaking in his new role as the first ambassador for Leeds-based charity The Swan Song Project. It gives people facing the end of their lives – and the loved ones surrounding them – the opportunity and support to write and record their own original song.