D&S column: a locally-sourced festive table and the annual panto visit

AS you plan your Christmas table this year, I hope you will try to ensure that as much of your festive fare is locally-produced and sourced as possible. 

We are lucky to have so much great food and drink produced on our doorstep and Christmas is the best time to showcase it for our families and friends. 

The Flavours of Herriot Country Awards, always held as the Christmas countdown begins in earnest, serves as a reminder of the fantastic fare the area has to offer. 

This year’s winners were no exception, starting with the Wensleydale Creamery which received a special award for its contribution to cheese-making and the economy in the dale. 

The range the creamery now offers, all of it made from North Yorkshire milk, is truly comprehensive and our Christmas cheeseboard will feature the traditional favourites with cranberries, the Wensleydale Blue and, after its successful launch this year, the really creamy Yorkshire Brie. 

The Local Product of the Year was the varied gins produced in small batches by the Brotherton family at the Yorkshire Dales Distillery. I visited their newly-established business at Colburn in the summer to see them producing their range, all made with Swaledale water and locally-sourced botanicals. 

The Specialist Retailer winner was Rountons Coffee, near Northallerton. David Beattie and David Burton haven’t managed to grow coffee plants in East Rounton (yet!) but imported beans are roasted and blended there and their business continues to develop. 

Of course, we have no shortage of micro-brewers so the Locally-Produced Beer category was ultra-competitive. Congratulations to Geoff Southgate and Carl Gehrman of the Wensleydale Brewery for their success. 

Buying local produce matters because it keeps money in our area.  In last week’s D&S, you may have read about two local butchers – Kitsons in Northallerton and Angus Morton in Richmond – who between them spent more than £100,000 at local Christmas Primestock Shows – mainly Northallerton mart – on champion stock reared and sold by local farmers. 

That’s money that stays in the area and helps maintain local employment. It’s a virtuous circle. Shop local. Buy local. And enjoy great Christmas food and drink. 


Christmas just isn’t Christmas in the Sunak household without our annual trip to the pantomime at Richmond. 

Having seen Sleeping Beauty with family and friends last week I can heartily recommend it. 

As ever, it was the crazily entertaining mix of comedy, singing, dancing and pathos, cleverly written by the Georgian Theatre Royal’s chief executive Clare Allen and directed by Gary Bridgens – better known as the theatre’s regular panto dame. 

The production drew a poignant parallel between the Sleeping Beauty of the show and that of the theatre itself – a neglected, almost forgotten, beauty reawakened from dereliction 55 years ago. 

I thought the singing was particularly good this year, some of the Brexit jokes were excellent and my daughters enjoyed the slapstick fun – but sadly didn’t manage to secure one of the liberally distributed (thrown) Tunnocks Teacakes, a Richmond panto tradition. 

I have to confess to being busted by the cast for mobile phone use. Unforgiveable, I know, but it was the Chief Whip so I thought I’d better reply to the text! 

Sleeping Beauty runs until January 13 and front of house manager Paul Gilpin told me it’s set to break records. Book now. 

The column returns on January 4th. Have a great holiday and here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2019.