I've been thinking about people I know in the Yorkshire Dales who make me smile in one way or another. Even as I write this I'm realising that I'm bound to leave out some essential souls. Please don't be offended, this is just my initial list. I'm sure you'll have some more to add?
Guy Carpenter is a photographer who lives in Richmond and whose atmospheric images you'll see on many of these blogs. He has recently photographed and written a fantastic book about Dales folk. He's upbeat, generous and I love his interest in people and places around the Yorkshire Dales, highlighting their stories through photos and prose.
When I think of people who're incredibly generous with their skills and time, Josie Beszant, owner of Masham Gallery immediately springs to mind. She puts a huge amount of her time into running the wonderful Crafted by Hand event with lovely Charlotte Morrison twice a year, supporting artists and makers. Josie also mentors and nurtures so many creative people, and has been fundraising for Karkeri School in Rajasthan for several years.
Liz Cornish runs Cordilleras House in Richmond and not only delights her guests but also works with Marie Curie when she's able, and does laundry for Coast to Coast walkers in return for donations to charity - a simple idea that makes a difference both to her guests and the charities she supports.
I think of Glenda Calvert as the leader of what I call the 'Swaledale Mafia', a delightful group of women who run fantastic accommodation in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Glenda has been generous in her support of this blog and shares her own experiences of living on an upland farm in her own fascinating blog. That genuine sense of sharing and caring for each other is one of the things that makes Swaledale so special, shown too by initiatives like the Keld 'pop up' cafe in Winter, the brainchild of Jacqui from Butt House.
The Two Dales Bakery is a relatively recent arrival in Reeth, headed up by smiley Hannah whose baking and lovely cafe is a wonderful addition to the Dales. You might want to combine your delicious bread from the bakery with cheese from 'the other cheesemaker in Hawes' aka Ribblesdale Cheese made by the wonderful Iona. While we're on the topic of cheese, I have to mention Andy Swinscoe, a real food hero who mentors and showcases independent cheese makers at the Courtyard Dairy. I don't think you could ever meet a man who is more passionate about his product.
Actually a contender for the 'passionate about food' prize would definitely be Chris Wildman over in Airton near Malham. Chris runs the excellent Town End Farm Shop and tea room. Chris just oozes enthusiasm, and the only time he seems to stop talking about Yorkshire food and drink is when he's eating and drinking it!
There's a lot of uncertainty in farming at the moment so I think we really do have to take our hats off to anyone who is still positive and seeking solutions to make farming more sustainable, and to educate the public about the realities of farming today. Neil Heseltine and his partner Leigh who farm at Hilltop Farm in Malhamdale are definitely in this category. Tim Durham introduces visitors to the animals on the farm at Wensleydale Experience in a fun way, opening the doors to further understanding.
The Spence brothers recently returned to Home Farm to expand their family farm and develop new approaches to farming. They've quickly established themselves as innovators, thanks to their fantastic mobile milk vending machine which sells some of the best and freshest milk you're likely to ever drink. Their love for their cows and enthusiasm for what they're doing is infectious.
I recently met another farmer who is passionate about attracting more wildlife to her farm, and making it accessible to others who might not otherwise have the chance to enjoy the fresh air and get up close to the animals. Sheila Mason at Keasdon Head Farm is an inspirational human whirlwind, with great dedication despite the harsh realities of life on a remote upland farm.
Just as not all heroes wear capes, some of the people who contribute so positively to life in the Dales are a little hidden, maybe unknown to many. One of these is Charlotte Foster who works for the Plunkett Foundation and who supports those who want to develop a community pub or shop, or safeguard other rural services.
Many communities have people who work behind the scenes to make things better. In Clapham there's a whole team of lovely people working for the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust who rightly describe themselves as 'a small charity doing big things in the Yorkshire Dales'. If you're ever feeling down, just take a look at all they do and see if there's a way you can get involved as they are an incredibly upbeat group of people.
There are two smiley people round the corner in Ingleton who deserve a mention. Sue at Harling House is passionate about her adopted home, and loves to showcase Ingleton's charms. She was the one who first told me about Amanda who has brought colour and smiles to the village with Craftopia.
Nearby Settle would be a very different place without the efforts of Steve Amphlett, who promotes the market town, and has done wonders to ensure the survival of Settle Folly, together with other volunteers.
To be continued.. It's getting late and I'm hungry so I think I'll stop here and do a second edition of this blog another day as I think there are many more people to add! In the meantime if you want to add your suggestions in the comments, please do so!