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Monday, 12 September 2016

Rejuvenation for baths and spa

Harrogate's award winning Turkish baths and health spa have benefited from some rejuvenation of its own.

A refurbishment programme has seen improvements to the newly-decorated reception area and the changing rooms have been enhanced with parquet flooring which complements the velvet curtained wooden cubicles and a new steam room featuring atmospheric mood lighting has been installed.

The spa has undergone extensive refurbishment and decoration including a new grey and purple colour scheme, better lighting, new carpeting, new furniture in the treatment rooms and new walnut cabinets in the changing rooms.

The baths timetable has expanded, re-introducing a gentlemen-only evening session on Wednesdays.

Assistant manager Sarah Leachman said: “We offer a magical experience, blending the 19th century glamour of the Turkish baths with the modern and contemporary health spa. It's important that customers feel relaxed while they are experiencing a treatment and their surroundings certainly influence this. We take great pride in providing the best possible experience for our customers, and our refurbishment will allow us to further improve on the award winning service which we offer.”

Further information: www.turkishbathsharrogate.co.uk.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Major musical talents at Markenfield

Two musical talents are brought together for an evening at Markenfield Hall on Sunday (11 September) Dr Richard Shephard, musical director of the York Mystery Plays and Richard Mantel, general director of Opera North.

Dr Shephard's life in cathedral music began at an early age and his tales and anecdotes from behind the scenes at some of the most important cathedrals in the country including York Minster.

Richard Mantle will lead the St Wilfrid's Occasional Singers who will bring the evening to a close
by performing Dr Shephard's arrangement of Alcuin's Sequence to St Michael which he composed to mark the re-dedication of the chapel at Markenfield back in 2001.

My Life in Cathedral Music takes place at 7pm. For ticket details, email info@markenfield.com

Monday, 5 September 2016

Film festival rides the crest of a wave with Harrogate screening

Harrogate's Royal Hall is the venue for a screening of the Ocean Film Festival World Tour on Friday 30 September at 7.30pm.

The festival showcases the world’s most amazing ocean films above and below the water’s surface and comes from the producers of the Banff Film Festival UK Tour.

Organisers say the diverse collection of films capture the raw power and beauty of the ocean, while celebrating the surfers, kayakers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray; who chase the crests of waves; and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.

Further information: www.oceanfilmfestival.co.uk

Thursday, 1 September 2016

A Carmen influence for Bizet fans

Harrogate, Scarborough and York are the three North Yorkshire venues lined up for performances of Carmen by the acclaimed Russian State Opera this month.

The production promises the thrill and passion of love, jealousy and violence of 19th Century Seville in one of Bizet’s most popular pieces.

Its mix of passion, melodies, dramatic confrontations and musical wit has found favour all over the world almost since its first performance in 1875.

The production can be seen at Harrogate Theatre on 21 September; York Barbican 28 September and Scarborough Spa 29 September.

Further information: www.opera-tickets.co.uk

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Library embroidery workshops have all the fun sewn up

Textile artist Janet Browne.
Two North Yorkshire libraries are running free machine embroidery workshops as part of an artists in residence project.

Textile artist Janet Browne will be at the Bilton and Woodfield Community Library and Stokesley Library to help participants create artwork to be exhibited. 

Organisers say it's a great opportunity for anyone keen to develop their existing sewing machine skills and learn to create something bright and eye-catching.

The Bilton and Woodfield Community Library has eight workshops taking place on some Fridays in September and October. Further information: email info@biltonandwoodfield.org.uk

The Stokesley workshops will take place on some Thursdays in September. Further information: email stokesley.library@northyorks.gov.uk

 Arts Council England is funding the events.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Deserted village gives up its secrets

Visitors to the remains of the 20th century-abandoned Lodge Village got a glimpse into the past as part of the archaeological excavations searching for evidence of the settlement’s medieval origins.

Digging it ... excavating the Lodge Village site.
They saw the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership’s dig team in action, heard about the site's history and looked at what the team's found so far during an open day.

The remains of Lodge sit in stunning scenery above Yorkshire Water’s Scar House reservoir at the top of Upper Nidderdale.

The lottery-supported excavation is an important part of the partnership’s work to look after the area's heritage and help people understand the area’s past and present.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Pollinator conservation workers are set to get buzzee, thanks to grant

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Otley Wetland Nature Reserve are set for improved pollinator pathway habitat work, thanks to a £42,000 Biffa Award.

Assessing species along the pollinator pathway.
The pathway will link fragments of habitat together along a 10km corridor, supporting Harrogate district's biodiversity action plan.

Species-rich lowland meadow was once a common habitat across the area but changes in farming practice have led to a severe decline in habitat.  Mapping grassland sites or restored sites allows conservationists to identify gaps in the network. These links in the chain of grasslands will be strengthened to give invertebrates and other wildlife an opportunity to move around the countryside.

The two-year project will restore more than forty hectares of lowland meadow at carefully selected locations using seed and hay collected from local donor sites wherever possible.

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty biodiversity project officer Kelly Harmar said, “Pollinators generally only travel short distances and the Biffa Award funding will allow us to create new pollinator habitat close to existing flower rich hay meadows.  It will also enable us to improve the quality of the surviving meadows and to build up a comprehensive seed bank for future grassland restoration”.

The Biffa Award initiative is a multi million pound environment fund managed by Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts which uses landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services.

Further information: www.nidderdaleaonb.org.uk

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Young squaddies branch out with tree planting project

Junior soldiers have been helping to make the countryside around Malham even more attractive.

Members of 16 Platoon, Peninsula Company from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate joined staff and volunteers from the Yorkshire Dales National Park to plant 500 trees for a new native woodland on the outskirts of the village. In the afternoon they were joined by staff from Malham Youth Hostel for a giant litter pick around the village.

The young soldiers – aged between 16 and 18 – are seven months into their training and are doing working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Their work in Malham was part of their voluntary service.

Geoff Garrett, the authority’s senior trees and woodlands Officer, said: “Our trees and woodlands are currently under many threats and planting new areas like this one helps to build on the landscape as well as creating a habitat for woodland plants and animals.

“At the moment many grants are available for planting trees to create woodlands and next year we will be looking for a similar site for the soldiers to help us with.”

Monday, 13 June 2016

Simply divan as town's annual bed race draws the crowds again

Thousands of townsfolk and visitors lined the streets, cheering on a total of 630 runners over the 2.4 mile course of the Knaresborough Bed Race. 

A sprinkling keeps Team 25 temperatures
down during the challenging race.
Temperatures were mild but the runners still welcomed the occasional hosepipe sprinkling courtesy of local residents. 
There was plenty colour, too, when the traditional procession of floats took place before the main event. 
The event has been held each year since 1966 and is one of the highlights of the visitor calendar.
Planet Steel was the fastest team and Hiscox took the title of the best dressed bed.

Swan absence is over as Sylvia makes welcome return and with a mate

Sylvia, Markenfield Hall's black swan, is back following a two-month exile. And she's back with her new mate.

It's a welcome sight at the historic home because Roland, her previous mate was was killed by an otter in April after a spree that saw more than 50 carp consumed on and around the moat.

Owner Lady Deirdre Curteis said: "We've had black swans on the moat at Markenfield
continuously since the 1980s, when my husband and I were given a pair as a 'house-warming' present.

"They have become synonymous with the hall and our visitors have really missed seeing them. We've missed seeing them too. They develop personalities and become a part of the family. Sadly we lost Roland, and Sylvia was then removed for her own safety until we were sure that the otter had moved on."

Suggested names are being sought for Sylvia's new mate. Ideas via email info@markenfield.com or the hall's Facebook page.

Visitors can see the swans in residence now that the hall has opened its doors to the public until Sunday 26 June, 2pm to 5pm. Further information: www.markenfield.com

Saturday, 11 June 2016

North Yorks pubs get their point across as competition finalists

North Yorkshire drinking holes dominate the running for this year's Yorkshire Favourite Pub contest.

A shortlist of 12 has been drawn up and go head to head to be crowned winner at the Great Yorkshire Show on Tuesday July 12.

North Yorkshire's standard bearers are the Blue Lion, East Witton; Bull Inn, West Tanfield; Duke of York Inn, Gate Helmsley; Durham Ox, Crayke; Fairfax Arms, Gilling East; Queen O'T'Owd Thatch, South Milford and Woolly Sheep Inn, Skipton

Royal birthday celebrations at cathedral

Around 700 invited guests are expected for Ripon Cathedral's celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday tomorrow (Sunday (12 June).

The Queen's representative Lord Lieutenant Barry Dodd CBE will lead the party which will include people from the lieutenancy area born on the Queen's actual and official birthdays.  

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Update: no words needed because he's got it taped in America

Breaking news: Tape Face, who performs at Harrogate and York, later this year, is through to the next round of America’s Got Talent in October. He gained 8,000 twitter followers while the show was airing, and that is continuing to rise, and the general response via FB, Instagram, Twitter has also been amazing.

Click here to see the video clip.

Tape Face makes its return to the UK this autumn with a major tour that takes in Harrogate and York and a production that includes stand-up comedy with no talking, drama with no acting and punch lines with no words.

The artist formerly known as The Boy with Tape on His Face brings his multi-award winning spectacle that needs to be seen to be believed. Tape Face conjures uproarious and moving tableaux using only the most everyday of objects and the most popular of songs.

Sam Wills accesses an inner child and draws on a heritage that includes silent film, mime, magic, puppetry, Motown and the films of Patrick Swayze,

Performances can be seen at Harrogate Theatre on Tuesday 11 October and York's Duchess on Tuesday 18 October.

Monday, 23 May 2016

B&B; checks in with a reality TV win

Plaque of glory ... Denise Carter (front) with Nikki Langford-Young
 and Jackie Fennell.
Knaresborough's Newton House B&B is the winner of the latest Channel 4 TV Show Four in a Bed.

Owner, Denise Carter and her colleague Jackie Fennell, appeared in the reality programme and were tasked with visiting and judging the other properties as part of the format for the show.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Harrogate's TED-style memory event is a date to remember

Don't forget 30 June as Berwins Salon North returns with an evening dedicated to memory.

Kicking off the summer programme, entitled Memory, Music and Magic, the series has become a sell-out event in Harrogate’s cultural calendar and came sixth in GQ Magazine’s top 100 things to do in the world, thanks to its revolutionary premise – three expert speakers, each given 30 minutes to deliver life-enhancing TED-style talks.

Doing it by the book ... Nathan Penlington
who concludes the line up.

Gemma Rowland, operations manager at Harrogate International Festivals, which delivers the series said: “Some of the biggest minds in the world have already featured in the series, and this summer is no exception with remarkable ideas that engage, inspire and entertain. It offers a real journey of discovery for audiences, and has fast become one of the Festival’s most in-demand events.”

Memory begins with Ed Cooke, a grandmaster of memory, and the co-founder of Memrise, a digital platform designed as a free resource to help people optimise memory potential. He’s bringing a range of techniques and ideas to the salon to increase the size, scope and range of our capacity to remember.

Next, explore how human memory works with Nicky Clayton, professor of comparative cognition at the University of Cambridge and University of Cambridge artist-in-residence Clive Wilkins. They’ll demonstrate the way the brain processes memory and its function, leaving us with an understanding of how we access it and what its purpose is.

Concluding the line-up is author and performer Nathan Penlington, who fuses storytelling with comedy and has been billed alongside Ricky Gervais and Stewart Lee.

When Nathan discovered a job lot of the first 106 Your Own Adventure books for sale on eBay he snapped them up. Flicking through the pages, he found another story in the margins – the scribblings of a little boy – resulting in The Boy in the Book – a poignant recreation of the boy’s diary. The process forced him to examine his own childhood, exploring unreliable memories, resolving recollections with the truth, and the reasons why we remember.

The series continues with Music on 28 July and Magic on 29 September.

The 30 June Memory event is being held at the Crown Hotel.

Further information: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

Trust sows the seed of tree conservation volunteering

If you like trees and conservation, here's a seed of an idea that will appeal.

The Woodland Trust is seeking volunteers to help monitor local ancient woods and collect seeds as part of a UK-wide project set up by Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, and funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The trust is particularly keen to recruit volunteers in North Yorkshire at Hackfall in Grewelthorpe, Scar and Castlebeck in Scarborough and Thwaitestones in Angram, Swaledale

Tree seeds collected as part of the project will be safely banked in underground vaults at Kew – forming the UK’s first national collection of tree seeds. These will play a vital role in conservation work to protect UK trees and woodlands, including against pests and diseases such as ash dieback.

The collections and associated data will be available to researchers working on solutions to tackle the many threats facing our woodlands.

Volunteer manager Kylie Knight said, “There are many threats facing our native trees and shrubs, and we need to do all we can to safeguard their future. These seed collections will support research and conservation work to better protect and understand our trees. We need keen tree lovers to help us succeed and you could be perfect for the role.”

Further information: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/volunteer

This favourite pub competition could be a bitter contest

The opportunity to vote for the best pub in Yorkshire has been extended until 1 June.

Official tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire runs the annual contest which attracts thousands of votes.

A top ten will be announced on Twitter on 2 June when the public has the opportunity to say choose their favourite which will be announced on 12 July at the Great Yorkshire Show

Last year saw The Fleece Inn at Barkisland crowned the winner, with The Bull Inn at West Tanfield coming in second place and the The Royal Oak at Ripon coming in as Yorkshire’s third favourite pub.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “Yorkshire is not only famous for its stunning landscapes and rich heritage, the county is also renowned for its wealth of welcoming pubs which are just as important in attracting visitors. From traditional inns to city centre pubs, make sure you cast your vote for your favourite!”

The competition was first launched in 2011 to help promote Yorkshire’s variety of pubs and the top 30 nominees will once again feature in Welcome to Yorkshire’s Ale Trail leaflet.

 Votes can be cast at www.yorkshire.com/pub

Monday, 16 May 2016

Guesthouse checks in with TV programme appearance

Knaresborough's Newton House is in the TV spotlight, appearing in several episodes of Channel 4's Four in Bed from today until Friday.
Checking in ... guest house Newton House gets put through
its televised paces when other proprietors come to stay.

Guesthouse owner Denise Carter and her colleague Jackie Fennell were involved in filming the new series of the popular reality TV show, and had the task of visiting and judging other B&Bs as part of the format for the show.

Denise said: "We were a little nervous at first about being asked to take part in a national TV show, as it is one of those warts-and-all formulas where other people are judging your business. But, we soon realised, it was a great opportunity for Newton House to be featured on national TV.”

The programme sees the owners of four B&Bs throwing open their doors and taking turns to stay with one another, paying what they consider fair for their stay. The winner is judged on best value for money.

Denise added: “We are not allowed to say who won, as we are sworn to secrecy until the show is aired, but what I can say is that both Jackie and myself had great fun.".

The first episode is screened today on Channel 4 at 5pm with three more episodes following during the week before the winning B&B is revealed on on Friday.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Harrogate set to ignite festival spirit with fire displays

Plans are under way to transform Harrogate with a three-night fire spectacle.

Organisers say the Fire Garden in Valley Gardens will be a magical experience with a flaming display of sculptures and installations on a grand scale.

Flaming flower-pots, cast iron sculpture and resonating music will entice audiences through the blazing landscape. This ‘fairground of fire’ aims to spark imaginations and is delivered by French street arts company, Cie Carabosse.

The event is the centrepiece of Harrogate International Festivals’ 50th anniversary celebrations and part of this year's Yorkshire Festival.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Tourism chiefs get golf visitor experience down to a tee

Golf lovers visiting Harrogate can get in the swing with the launch of the new pass for the district.

The Visit Harrogate offer is a choice of a three-day or five-day pass at Harrogate, Knaresborough, Pannal, Ripon City and Rudding Park golf clubs.

Visit Harrogate director Michael Newby, said “The district boasts some truly magnificent courses with superb facilities. Our golf pass is excellent value and we are confident that it will help put us on the map as a great golfing destination.”

For further information, call Visit Harrogate on 01423 537388.