It came to pass that we spent a few days in Yorkshire this past week. In Wensleydale, to be precise, having been invited along by Rocket’s brother Slippers and our sister-in-law Tigger.
They are regulars, it turns out, at a welcoming hotel in The Dales, that hosts a twice yearly malt whiskey tasting. With Rocket (and his bro) being very big fans of the golden liquor they were happy to partake whilst Tigger and I sat happily ensconced with a glass or two of our own particular poison… officiando’s of the Malt we are not.
There is particular pleasure, I find, in the enjoyment of others and I feel I learnt a little more about this national treasure too. We sat warm and comfy, with the gentle hubbub of the whiskey lover’s mellow tones around us. Tigger, more adventurous than I, sampled a little. I wouldn’t say she smiled enigmatically, in fact after one of them she nearly choked…..but she bravely persevered. I sniffed some of the glasses – my uneducated nose failing to correctly identify many of those subtle tones that can be found.
What is it that is special about a, break in Britain? Given the opportunity many people, myself included, disappear to more exotic climbs, so why can a break at home be filled with unadulterated pleasure? I can only speak for myself and I guess I would state my list as follows:
- Exposure to local foods, produce and regional drinks – the pleasure in discovery.
- A great British breakfast – we must be top of the heap in the breakfast stakes – for quality and diversity?
- No bureaucracy…zero time spent hanging around in airport lounges, the view from the window on the way, no currency conversion required…all of which contributes to the sense of calm and peaceful anticipation.
Reasons to be cheerful indeed and with all of my boxes ticked we also enjoyed the great company of our loved ones, a cosy old hotel and the ember glow from ancient fireplaces. Add to that, hikes across The Dales that gently and falsely lulled away any misgivings regarding our hungry habits all punctuated by a pint here or there in an ‘old world’ Inn – you really can’t ask for more. A couple of old peculiars enjoying a couple of Old Peculiers along the way. Back to the tale…
Our temporary abode was set in a picturesque valley, the rugged high ground giving way to softer, rolling pastures studded with black faced sheep, those meadows traversed by prolific dry stone walls, much reminiscent of a Hockney landscape.
There we were in Wensleydale…my ignorance on the subject of Wensleydale and, for that matter, neighbouring Swaledale cheese, was highlighted when we visited the Creamery and were exposed to just how many types are produced. My sister-in-law doesn’t like cheese, but apparantly when it’s cut up very small it metomorphasizes into something that she finds quite delicious….(am resolved to try that with my least favourite foods and am now constructing recipes around very small pieces of okra) add some of the fruit infused cheeses that Wensleydale do so well and Tigger is as happy as Larry….(!) Expect to see some Wensleydale based recipes here soon.
I was very happy that the hotel adorned their own cheese board with a plethora of local choices, I think with just one French Brie in for a bit of variety. We have often experienced a cheese offer devoid of anything local in areas well known for very fine cheese which is always disappointing.
The breakfasts, to which I have alluded, came with the local sausages and black pudding…
Rocket’s highlight was a wonderful salmon dish and I really enjoyed the duck but for me, the local lamb simply roasted with a decent selection of veg and good lamb gravy was the highlight. So much so…that we forgot to capture it on film before devouring it!
So it was, that akin to Victor Kiam, we picked up a rump of lamb and a ‘best end’ from a little family butcher – to bring just a little bit of beautiful Yorkshire home with us.
We departed with great regret, having harboured grand hopes of being ‘snowed in’, but a mere dusting sparkled on those dales when we woke to our last morning.
I hadn’t stayed in The Dales before, I will definitely go back.