Yorkshire Day, 1 August (see here), seems to have a higher profile each year. This year the Yorkshire Post’s editorial was ‘Yorkshire’s special day’ and it celebrated the historic county and the character of its people. Correspondents explained which were their favourite places in God’s County; these included York Minster, Settle, Saddleworth, Ribblehead Viaduct, Kettlewell and the Boot and Shoe at Ellerton, near York. A recent report by Demos said that, compared with the south, self-esteem of people in northern England and Scotland is low, with the clear exception of Yorkshire whose people have a strong and proud sense of their identity. I should say so.


And we have a lot of commonsense. The government’s plan to hold a referendum this autumn so that Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire could approve a regional assembly has been ‘postponed’. Apparently polls indicated that as many as 95% would vote against.

The government made voting in the local and European elections postal only in an attempt, it claimed, to increase the number voting. It certainly worked in Bradford according to a report given to polling officials. People who were dead voted, inhabitants of empty flats voted and people outside the country when the voting forms were delivered and votes had to be returned voted in droves.

The area around Forster Square in Bradford, which was redeveloped in the 1960s, is in the process of being demolished. It remains to be seen what will take its place but it couldn’t easily be worse than the decaying run-down sixties buildings. Let us hope that, together with the redevelopment of Lister’s Mill, it will mark the start of the regeneration of Bradford.

We have, I think, nine racecourses in Yorkshire – Beverley, Catterick, Doncaster, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon, Thirsk, Wetherby, and York. Next summer, whilst Ascot is being refurbished, the Royal Meeting will take place at York. Hotels, guesthouses and indeed private houses will do very well out of it. The Queen is, of course, not staying at the local Travelinn; she is expected to stay at Garrowby, the home of the Earl and Countess of Halifax. Jonny Beardsall, writing in the Daily Telegraph, makes the following point: ‘Once southern racegoers spend the week in Yorkshire where the air is fresh, the pace of life a little slower and strangers still say good morning, some may decide they want to relocate permanently’. Well, it’s a risk we have to take.

Fox & Hounds, Great Wolford

I spent a couple of nights in June at the Fox and Hounds at Great Wolford in the Cotswolds. It really is an unspoilt village inn – honey-coloured stone, log fires, faded hunting prints, stone floors, good beers and excellent food – my breakfast of orange juice, scrambled eggs, strawberries, toast and strong coffee was a treat. It is indeed unwrecked England. The owners, Paul and Veronica, come from near Sheffield. Paul used to play in goal for Sheffield United and Bradford City. The pub sign is unusual (Click HERE); it shows Tony Blair being worked over by the local fox and hounds. If you are in the area and want good value straightforward food and accommodation you know where to go. Nearby are Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden and, of course, Oxford where I spent a lovely day in the Home of Lost Causes.

We went to Polzeath in Cornwall in July again. We have been taking the boys there since they were little. Surfing in the Atlantic, sitting in the Doom Bar watching the sun go down behind the Rumps and eating in the Blue Tomato on the cliffs above the beach take some beating. A report recently said that Devon and Cornwall are now the edge of Greater London; it was certainly the case that we met few northerners there.

I always enjoy local papers, which confirm that little actually happens. Had I not read the Western Morning News I wouldn’t have been aware that Noel Edmonds has been made Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, that Cornish Blue made by the Cornish Cheese Company has won the Tesco Cheese Challenge 2004 (it is very good) and that a new ticket office has opened at Looe station.

One summer’s day the police arrived at the school where my wife works. They were looking for one of the teachers to tell her that her husband had been killed in Iraq. He was 39 and lived in Halifax. His son is six.

In a previous diary I referred to the difficulty Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls’ High School were having in finding a name, which wouldn’t upset anyone, for the new merged school. After long deliberation the school is to be called, wait for it, the Grammar School at Leeds. A minor victory for those of us who objected to the proposed name, the Leeds School.

It is reported that some members of the Scarborough branch of the National Council for the Divorced and Separated have formed a breakaway group.

Grammar School at Leeds

The Law of Unintended Consequences is rarely benevolent. However, when Morrison’s supermarket group, based in Bradford, was given the go-ahead by the regulatory authorities to acquire Safeway, they were told they must sell some of their supermarkets where they had a monopoly position. John Lewis bought some of these. As a result we are to have a number of Waitrose outlets in places like Harrogate and Otley.

In the last diary I referred to the dispute in Skipton concerning washing lines across the back lanes. North Yorkshire Council initially suggested that the women should agree only to hang out washing at specified times for eight hours a week. It was pointed out that that isn’t much use if at the time it is raining. The Council recognised the flaw in their proposal and decided to do nothing. On Look North Margaret Hicks claimed victory. David Painter now threatens to go to the European Court of Human Rights. Let it go, David. Irritations can become obsessions. Yorkshire is full of men who will tell you that you cannot take on a group of strong-willed Yorkshire women and expect to beat them.

Castle courtyard, Skipton