Monday, July 27, 2009

Family, friends, food & festivities

Top Picture: Chris Bonington and Kevin; above (Left to Right), Roy and Enyd Hales, Frank and Nicola, Chris Bonington, Kevin, Ro, Bex, Rita, Danis and Jenny Parker. Photographer: Keith Taylor.

Last week was a tremendous thrill for me. I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Laws by Lancaster University. This was a particular thrill for me since I’m Lancaster born and bred, and the Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings is an old boy of Lancaster Royal Grammar School as am I. To be honored by my local Uni in front of friends and family was very special. Two of my favorite inspirational teachers (Peter Sampson and Doug Cameron, both in splendid form at 71 and 80 respectively) joined us for the celebration. And the icing on the cake? The Chancellor awarding the Doctorate is a hero of mine. Chris Bonington. An icon in the Lakes and the UK as a climber, explorer, mountaineer, writer and lecturer and a wonderful man. To look at him you would think he came from Hollywood central casting for the role of Chancellor. 75 years old, fit, healthy, a natural storyteller, a born leader and a perpetual grandfatherly smile on his face.

I was awarded the honor following the graduation ceremony of students from County College and Pendel College and it was great to see these fresh young, enthusiastic leaders about to go out and take on the world. I urged them to be optimistic, joyful and to look for jobs that offer responsibility, recognition, learning and joy and also encouraged them to follow their hearts, strive to be the best they can be and commit to make a difference. I got out just ahead of the stampede to the pub!

We celebrated that night in The Highwayman which is a great gastro pub in Burrow, near Kirby Londsdale. It’s part of a 6 unit operation run by Michelin star chef Nigel Haworth. Terrific fresh food, all from local sources served by talented young chefs. If you get the chance and you’re in the area, check out the Northcote in Blackburn, the Three Fishes near Whalley, The Bull at Broughton near Skipton, the The Clog and Billycock in Pleasington, as well as The Highwayman. They are all chock-a-block with authentic Northern recipes including the authentic Lancashire Hot Pot that Nigel created which just won a place on the great British menu celebration.

Nigel works closely with regional suppliers and credits all of them in his restaurants showing where they are located, what products they produce and giving them weeks for promotion. We went there during Cauliflower Week!

Nigel Haworth and his team are in the same place as Alice Bloomfield from The Spotted Pig in NY. Good value, well priced, high quality, local cooking at its best.