Friday, 29 October 2010

End of an era

Many, many thanks for all the messages of support, both in this morning's Breakfast Show, and in the phone calls and e-mails since. They're VERY much appreciated.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Global Traveller

Well, what a 24 hours that was! Maybe not quite a GLOBAL traveller, but I've had quite a hike. Finished work on Monday afternoon, straight to Leeds-Bradford airport, flew out to Amsterdam, then (after a delay caused by strikes in France) I flew on to Luxembourg. Met at the airport by a driver, who took me to the poshest hotel in Luxembourg! Long, hot bath before a trip down to the bar for a glass of wine before bed - and ONE glass of wine was all it was to be! £5.95 for 15cl, which is around the top end of what I pay for a full bottle!
We had a 7:30 date with our transport, taking us on an hour and a quarter drive to Goodyear's test track and proving ground - one of only two such facilities in the world. New laws coming in in 2012 mean tyre manufacturers will provide much more detail about their products, right down to the amount of sound they give off, but more importantly from a safety point of view the grip and drag. We had lectures on worn tyres, winter tyres, summer tyres, and cheap imports.
Then came the practical bit, on the track. We got to drive powerful BMW's and Mercedes, and even a little Nissan which demonstrated the lethal result of mixing tyres. I did 85 in a BMW as I shot over a police stinger device, which was quite an experience - the car handled perfectly throughout, as Goodyear demonstrated the latest generation of "Drive on Flat" tyres. The amazing thing about them is you can continue to drive at 85, for up to 85 kilometres.
At the end of the day it was another mad dash to Luxembourg airport, quick flight to Amsterdam, 2 hours wait for my connecting flight, then back to Leeds-Bradford to be picked up by James Barrett from the Fresh sales team just after 9pm. Thanks to him and Fiona from Sales who did a great job of making sure I made my flights, and got home again in one piece!
I'm hoping to put together a feature on road and tyre safety using the information I got, together with Fire and Rescue, and traffic police. More on that later, but here's the picture that shows (if you look very closely) the hollow needles left by the stinger.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Katie Price - brainless b*tch

Just what is it with Katie Price? The utter stupidity and arrogance of that woman is beyond belief. Having lied through her teeth in an attempt to get off a charge of driving while using her mobile phone, she's now been caught red-handed again, only a month after her conviction. I'm not a fan of the Daily Mail - I think some of their correspondents/readers are some of the nastiest people you could wish (not) to meet. But today they print evidence that the brain-dead bimbo STILL thinks she's above the law. Follow this link to read the story:

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Chile - a flawless rescue

Most people were utterly gripped by the amazing pictures sent from across the world as the incredible rescue mission unfolded. From my point of view it was an absolute joy to have some good news to report for once. And it wasn't marred in any way; the whole operation went without a hitch, and all 33 men and their rescuers were brought out of the mine in record time.

The miners were missing, presumed dead for 17 days. Then the newsreel pictures appeared of a face at the bottom of a tiny exploratory hole. Shortly after a note attached to a drill bit confirming that the men were safe in a refuge half a mile down. The bad news? They may be stuck until Christmas as drilling operations commenced. But it was to take only half the expected time to get a shaft drilled down to the men. Next we hear it'll take two days to get them all out, but no; again it takes just half the time. Only the incredibly cynical and heard-hearted could fail to have been moved by the pictures as the men came one-by-one out of the rescue pod.

I was at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Liverpool last night where, in the foyer, dozens of guests sat and stood around a massive screen as the drama unfolded live. On Facebook I read of people in the Dales staying up all night to be sure of seeing the last people come out of the mine. Chile is now firmly on the world map, and for all the right reasons. I was delighted to be able to cover the rescue operation, giving live updates as some of the trapped miners were brought out - it makes you feel incredibly humble!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Sell out for the R&B Festival

Who says radio advertising doesn't work??!! I've just had an e-mail from the Great British R&B Festival organisers to say that the first night - Friday - is a sell-out, for the first time in the event's history! They've already noted a tremendous number of ticket sales in our area, so what more proof do you need?! It's the 21st year of the festival, and there's a fantastic line-up. The first I went to was the 10th anniversary, which was quite amazing - but this year looks to surpass even that. It's a great shame Peter Green was forced to pull out (due to health issues) but the remaining line-up is still very impressive indeed. I'm hoping to get along on at least one of the nights, but I guess I'd better get my tickets PDQ!

I want to be a dentist - you get to play with some pretty impressive kit, and you've always got a very attractive assistant to cater for your every whim! I've just been along and had a VERY DEEP filling, according to mine - he said he'd caught it just in time. Could be a little garbled at the quiz tonight, but I must admit, the anaesthetic doesn't seem to last anywhere near as long as it used to do!

I have to thank Andy Batters for a fantastic trip at the weekend. We flew from near Easingwold over the dales (via Gargrave Show) up to the Cumberland Gap on the M6, right across the Howgills, over Ravenstonedale, along the A66 to Richmond, Catterick Garrison, down to Northalleton and back to Easingwold. It was a little "challenging", with a fair amount of turbulence in places, but fantastic fun all the same!

Flying over the Howgills
Gargrave Show from 2,000 feet!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Result for Fresh!

Once again we've had a great result following an appeal for a missing dog. Police received reports that the 22 month old Beagle had been taken by three girls from a garden at Draughton, near Skipton. A witness had reported seeing three girls put the dog into a car and drive off. It left the family, who were on holiday from Cambridgeshire, extremely distraught. Police called our newsroom, we reported the incident, and it was heard by the girls in question! As a result they turned up at Skipton Police Station with the dog, which has now been returned to it's very happy owners! Not too long ago we got a call from the police telling us about an armed robbery in Bradley, near Skipton - again we put out an appeal, with a description, and the culprit was spotted by a listener driving down the Aire Valley Trunk Road. Within minutes police had apprehended the suspect, and she was subsequently tried for the offence and jailed - another great result and another great example of the power of real local radio!

I've just made one of my most fattening meals ever - but oh, it was good! Chicken, rolled in streaky bacon, flash fried in rape seed oil, then oven baked for 10 minutes. I concocted a mustard, wine and cream sauce, adding chicken stock and using Dijon mustard and double cream, then I quartered some button mushrooms and fried them in rape seed oil and butter, adding garlic salt. Add new potatoes tossed in butter and chives, glass of wine, and you're sorted! Don't think I'll make Nigel Haworth's standard for a while, but at least I'm having a go!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I need a slap!

I've been so slow in updating this blog, I've been told I need a slap! Been away on holiday for the first time in two years, and it was simply incredible. We had 7 days in Sweden with some very good friends - swam in the Baltic, where the water temperature was five degrees higher than the outside temperature at Broughton! We went on a cruise - again in the Baltic - and I actually went into the on-board nightclub! Had a smorgasbord for the first time ever, ate a lot of caviare (for me) and even tried some eel!
The temperature didn't drop below 28 degrees, reaching an incredible 34 degrees at one stage while we were in Stockholm. And people can knock Ryanair as much as they like, but they got four of us us there and back on time for just over £380 return in total! Some pics have been posted on Facebook, but I'll put a complete slideshow on Picasaweb very soon. Beware though - we took over 500 in total!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Weather with you!!!

(It's a song title!). I suspect we're going to be very grateful for our air-conditioned studios at Fresh HQ as Steve Joy calls it; I finished the news yesterday and then sped up to Grizedale Forest, while Julian braved the crowds at Otley Show. 

Grizedale first, and we stopped off for a bite to eat at the Bridge service station near Newby Bridge. The car was parked in the shade of a hedge at the side of the car park, but when we got back in the outside temperature gauge read a massive 37 degrees! It settled down at 31 when we set off, but it was still sweltering. Up to Grizedale via a fantastically scenic route, courtesy of the Sat Nav, and a chat with Forest Ranger Dave Lowe, who told us of the many changes since we were last there. The Visitor Centre and Cafe are simply amazing - and hugely popular, as is the Go Ape adventure course and the mountain biking. Most business opportunities seem to be franchised, which is a great way for the Forestry Commission to help make up a funding shortfall. Sadly the only other option is to sell off parts of the estate, with the almost inevitable loss of access to the general public, and when you consider what a huge net contribution these forests make in terms of recreation, public fitness and even helping to lock in carbon, it just doesn't make sense NOT to protect them and keep them in public ownership. 

From Grizedale we were going to make our way back home, but the road leading up to Dent via Kingsdale just looked too tantalising! When you come over the top to Deepdale the view is just breath-taking, especially on a day like yesterday. Thornton Lane is a gated road, going round the western and northern end of Whernside, one of the Three Peaks and ending up in Dentdale (not far from Dent Station) via Deepdale Lane. Then it was back up to Ribblehead, where it was too disappointingly hazy to take pictures, and back home via Settle. 

All the way round we were able to listen to Julian at Otley Show, which sounded fantastic. He was able to make use of the very latest technology to not only broadcast from the show, but also take control of the playout system at the studio, something that just a few years ago would have been impossible. Hopefully it will mean we're able to do many more "outside broadcasts" throughout the summer at the various shows we'll be attending.

Right - a bit of show prep for tonight now - we're on the letter F in the Solid Gold Sunday ABC of Pop and Rock, and will be featuring (amongst many others) Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. 

Solid Gold Sunday on Fresh 7-10 tonight; don't miss it!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Bronte Vintage Gathering

Finished the news this morning and then made our way (via an extremely interesting route courtesy of the Sat Nav!) up to Cullingworth, for a day out at the 12th annual Bronte Vintage Gathering. I'd set the Sat Nav on Shortest Route; it came up with a warning, but OBVIOUSLY it didn't mean me - so I ignored it! On the plus side, I've seen places today that, despite having lived not more than 10-15 miles away, I can honestly say I've never seen before!

Made a few bob on the Sheep Racing, with magnificent commentary by Andrew Wood, wearing his YFC badge. The blue lamb, bringing up the rear, was obviously not that bothered about getting back to his mum any time soon. Immediately after taking this picture he turned back around and did a couple of circuits of the arena!

Lots of interesting stuff to see, but it was pretty windswept, and not having prepared properly we were both chilled to the bone! The show's on again tomorrow - and the forecast is significantly better!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

End of an era - and Solid Gold Sunday

It was quite an emotional last quiz at the Unicorn last night. The hotel is closing for around four months, having been bought by Wetherspoons. They're going to spend the time renovating the place before re-opening. What happens after that is anyone's guess, but they have retained the staff, which has to be good news. It's frightening to think we've been doing the quiz there for 20 years, initially for Stray FM in Harrogate before I moved to Fresh Radio. I'm going to miss the regulars - in fact I was quite surprised at how emotional I felt at the end!

Solid Gold Sunday entered its second week this week - I felt a little easier on Sunday night, but it's a long time since I did programmes, so I'm still a bit rusty. Lots and lots of feedback though, and all good, which was nice. Got a night off this coming Sunday to celebrate my birthday, but there'll still be lots of good music while I'm away! Back next week though with the letter C in the ABC of Pop and Rock, another teaser in the Mystery Music Challenge, and some more classic tunes in the "Sloppy Bit" - the last hour of the show.

There's more than 70 members on the Facebook page for the show - look for Fresh Radio's Solid Gold Sunday. It was quite amusing on Sunday night, with all of the feedback coming in via Facebook. Every time someone sent a message an audible pop came out on air! Fortunately I've sussed how to stop it now. Don't forget, if you've any requests or dedications either log onto the Facebook page (and become a friend!) or e-mail me personally at work -

Sunday, 4 April 2010


It's been a long time since I updated this blog, and deliberately so, but maybe more on that subject at a later date. It's been a busy but interesting period at Fresh - people have gone, new people have arrived, and at least one old face is back again. Nick Babb rejoins us on the "mid-morning" slot, we've a great new talent on Saturday mornings in Sophie Metcalfe, and Tiiu Shelley takes over from Steve Joy after 6pm weekdays. I'm back on Solid Gold Sundays from 7pm every Sunday night, starting next weekend, which means I'm now at work 7 days a week! I'll be catching up with Julian before long, only he's got more stamina than me! 

It's been an eventful couple of months on air too - one of the highlights was when we were visited by a couple of kuni-kuni piglets from the Hesketh Farm Park. They've now been named Julian and James! I actually read my news headlines with a piglet on my lap, while Julian did the same with the weather and travel! Lovely animals though, well worth a visit to see them.

We're just getting ready to drive up to Cockermouth, to see an old friend play live at the Fletcher Christian, on the town's Main Street. It's been a long time since I bumped into Paddy McGuire, so it'll be good to catch up. He's a prodigious talent, well worth the trip, and is on from 5 this afternoon. 

Quiz as usual tomorrow night at the Unicorn, despite being Easter Monday, then back to normal at the Tempest and Rolls. Be warned though - it's about as tough as quiz as we've done in a long time. This weeks rounds include Blockbusters and History of the World - both stinkers - and Bits and Pieces from the 50s and 90s, both REALLY easy!

Coming up in the next couple of weeks or so Jon Ranwell is coming onto the Breakfast Show to talk about a new venture he's taking on based at the Ace Centre in Nelson, then I'll be talking to actor/singer Paul Nicholas about that very same venture. All will be revealed in the fullness of time!

Friday, 29 January 2010


I'm staggered, relieved, and a little disappointed*. Following a catalogue of disasters and the imposition of an interest charge of over £1,000 I finally managed to contact the managing director of Homebase Mr Paul Loft. He has now personally intervened and apologised for the situation that has arisen, and cancelled outright the interest charge.

He has now also offered to replace or refund the damaged oven (see previous blogs) for which I have been charged over £700. What tragic irony that I actually took the ruddy thing to the skips JUST LAST WEEKEND, it having sat in my shed all this time. Still, I'm halfway there, and better to meet halfway than lose out altogether. Many thanks must go to Mr Loft for his intervention - it's always good to know there is a human face at the head of these big organisations.

DESPITE the wrecked oven going in the skip, Homebase did agree to replace it. The new oven is now in place, working beautifully!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Masterbrain© 2010

I've just been updating the Masterbrain website ( to reflect the recent changes - notably the unilateral disbanding of the Rolls-Royce Club Committee by Rolls-Royce Leisure management. We are hoping to be able to run the competition again this year, and once again it will be raising money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
What isn't certain however is the venue; we'll be checking out what's on offer, but practically it will need to be in or close to the Craven area. More details on that as we get them, but for the time being keep an eye on the Masterbrain website and this blog.
What we would really like to do is to gauge interest in the event, and to attempt to make an early selection of candidates. The other thing we really want to do is to spread the word to more pubs, clubs, companies and organisations to take part in the Fresh Radio Pub Quiz Challenge, which runs in conjunction with Masterbrain. Giz a hand - spread the word - tell everyone about it!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Another massive Homebase rip-off

Well, those rip-off merchants at Homebase have really excelled themselves this time! You'll perhaps recall that I bought a kitchen from this shonky outfit a year ago, in the dying days of their December sales. I put off delivery until the spring for obvious reasons - I didn't want to be fitting the kitchen in the depths of winter for one. It duly arrived, I took a week off work, and the mrs was promptly rushed into hospital. One thing led to another, and I wasn't able to do the work as planned. Bear in mind there were several thousand bits to this kitchen, including all the appliances, some of which were put into a shed for safe keeping. One of those was the double-oven - still wrapped in its polystyrene protective casing, and to all intents an purposes looking in perfect condition. Because of the way the kitchen went in the oven was virtually the last appliance to be fitted, and to my horror, when I eventually took the outer covering off I discovered the glass in the top oven was smashed and the entire thing squashed, obviously by having been at the bottom of a pile of heavy items. Homebase refused to accept any responsibility and as a consequence I was £700 worse off.
The kitchen was bought with nothing to pay for 12 months, so I simply put the money in the bank and waited for the bill. Each month they sent me a statement which read "payment due £0.00". That's what my last statement read too, so I assumed I had to wait for one that said "£4,000 now due". To my horror, this morning I received the statement, but instead of £4,000 it said over £5,000, as I hadn't paid in full by the end of December! They've added well over £1,000 interest, and say it's my fault because I didn't read the small print. Yet again I find myself having been ripped off by this company, with nothing I can do about it. The kitchen itself, while adequate, is nothing to write home about, and instructions for putting it all together were the worst I've ever seen. Having trawled the Internet I find plenty of horror stories regarding this company, which I believe is linked to Argos, and I can only add my voice to the many saying "Don't deal with them!"

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Facepage Youbook

I've just joined a new group on that Facepageyoubook thingy. It's called "I hate people who don't indicate" and I suppose it gives you an opportunity to let off a bit of steam for things that wind you up (in my case, idiots who drive through dense fog with no lights, then hurtle around blinding everyone on a clear day (or night) with their foglights full on and people who don't indicate). Anyway, a couple of friends had joined up, so I thought I would - along, it turns out, with 1,677 others! Not just me that it winds up then! So, having joined the group I thought I really ought to write something on the "wall" - here's my contribution:

"I could have saved the entire British car industry with one very simple idea, saving billions in one fell swoop. Remove from the car's wiring loom all of that very expensive wiring that runs from the steering column to each corner of the car, plus all of that horrendously expensive switch gear on aforementioned steering column. By my reckoning, if you take the shortest route there's probably in the region of 20 metres of cable per car, excluding wing repeater lights. Keeping the figure simple let's say it's a quid a metre, plus if you go to a main dealer maybe an average of £100 for the switchgear. Six lightbulbs no longer required, another quid each. Maybe a couple of hours to install the lights at say £15 an hour; a kilo perhaps of amber plastic (being a product of the petrochemical industry it costs the earth). Now - only one in four drivers appear to have the intelligence to know how to use their indicators, so that means 3/4 don't. Create legislation to make these people buy our special new indicatorless car (27,401,793 drivers outside London who don't indicate) - work out the saving, plus the jobs created, for yourself! I'm a bloody genius!"

Rant over - well, almost; yesterday I drove through to Blackburn in what could best be described as poor visibility - there was a significant amount of fog about. We did a potted survey of cars with no lights or just on sidelights. Around half hadn't bothered at all, and I'm afraid of those very nearly all were female. Hmmm!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Snow and Ice

Well, we got Christmas and New Year out of the way without any dramas. It was the first New Years Eve since my father died, and our first for many years not spent with him. Instead we spent the evening with our friends John and Carolyn, at their home in Ripon. It was a cold night, with snow on the ground, but after a fantastic meal we decided to walk into the City Centre to bring in the New Year in the Market Place - and we had a lovely night too!  Back home for a glass of Buck's Fizz and then to bed (2am). The following morning, after a superb cooked breakfast, we made our way back home via Pateley Bridge and Stump Cross Caverns. To our surprise Park View Stores were open in Bridgehousegate, where you can find the finest flapjack known to man. We bought 10 (yes, 10!) slices, then drove up to Stump Cross for another breakfast - a tradition we've tried to keep up for the last 10 years or so. Conditions on Greenhow Hill were a bit of a surprise, considering the year before when the entire village was like a winter wonderland - totally frosted over. Yes, there was snow; but Greenhow is usually a world apart from anywhere else, and really there was very little up there.

Then of course the snow arrived - and most of the country was paralysed! Julian and I managed to get into work every day during the worst of the weather, and spent most of the Breakfast Show fielding phone calls from schools reporting closures. Snow in the dales of course provides some fantastic photo opportunities, but we decided to head for the Lake District, where we expected to be met with snow-covered mountains and fells. It wasn't to be though - really there was very little on the ground, and we made our way from Penrith down through the lakes and back home via the A65. If only we'd turned right onto the A66 it was blocked just a few miles to the east, with massive drifts! A few days later though we did manage to get some pretty impressive pictures around the Three Peaks, in particular at Ribblehead.

The next thing the weather threw at us was freezing rain, covering the region in deadly sheets of ice. Lancashire County Council had come in for particular criticism due to it's policy of not gritting any side roads, housing estates or anything that wasn't a major through route. But when the ice came they simply had to take action. Before eight in the morning that first day Skipton Police alone reported more than a dozen accidents. Schools closed again because of the danger posed by the ice, and again Julian and I were on our own. Listeners started to play Spot the Gritter, and there were even rumours that gritting teams were being accompanied by police for their own safety. (Not true). Now it's the big thaw, and guess what? Everybody seems to be surprised that river levels have gone up, and there's some flooding! As far as I'm concerned the snow, ice and flooding are inconvenient, but at last we seem to be having a proper winter! Kids have been out on sledges for the first time in decades, having a whale of a time, we've got some fabulous photos, and hopefully next summer we'll have a lot less bugs and nasty stinging insects around. What we probably WILL have though - is a hosepipe ban!