A walk didn’t seem so appealing after ice-cold sleet started belting down while on our way to The Dales so we abandoned ship, aka the Ford Focus, for shelter… and what a great decision that turned out to be.
We swung into The Courtyard, which is just off the A65 before Settle. It’s a collection of lots of my favourite things: good food, good wine, great cheese and three stores featuring work by some of Yorkshire’s best artists and makers.
The Courtyard was born from an old farmstead that has been skilfully converted into a rural retail gem with the added bonus of a large, free car park. www.inthecourtyard.co.uk
First stop was the brasserie for lunch. It was busy and no wonder. The food, much of it from local producers, is excellent and the prices reasonable. There’s everything from a dry cured bacon sandwich for £3.95 and soup, which on our visit was potato and watercress with a poached egg, for £4.95. Mains are from £9 to £14.80 and a scone and cream is £1.90. They also do Friday steak night, £25 for rump steak, chips and salad plus a bottle of wine. Shame I am vegetarian! www.brasserieinthecourtyard.co.uk
Anyway, my daughter Grace and I managed to get a table, the service was great and the room was lively and felt relaxed. It’s also visually interesting as it’s on the first floor, which has exposed trusses and beams, and there are fabulous felted pictures by Andrea Hunter.
After lunch and a chat we ambled round the shops. First was The Lime Gallery. This is my kind of gallery because it’s inclusive. As well as original artwork and sculpture, which rightly comes with a few noughts on the end, it has a selection of gifts and affordable treats. There’s everything from ceramics, glass and jewellery to books, cards and wrapping paper. My favourite affordable buys are felt pebbles by Lindsey Tyson. Imprinted with flora and fauna, they cost from £11 and would make a lovely present.
The Ordnance Survey map fabric featuring the Settle area is also fab. Tea towels are £13.50 and would work well in a frame, while cushions are £60.
I’m a would-be “Twitcher” so I adore David Cemmick’s tiny ceramic birds.www.thelimegallery.com
Next stop was Dalesbred, local furniture makers who I met a few years ago through my day job. It’s great to see that they are going from strength to strength and that their craftsmanship is reaching a wider audience. They make everything from sofas and chairs to kitchens. www.dalesbred.co.uk
A quick stop off for wine at BuonVino, which specialises in biodynamic wine and has a dazzling array of choice – some of it in my price range. I picked up a bottle for £6.50 and enjoyed listening to the owner helping a customer match her evening meal with a suitable tipple. You don’t get that kind of service from supermarkets www.buonvino.co.uk
Onwards and into the Abraham Moon shop. It features everything from throws and cushions to fashion, all made from the wool fabric it manufactures in Guiseley www.moons.co.uk There’s a bargain basket with 100% wool throws for £30 and I am lusting after a baby blue wool coat, £180. Only 10 months until my birthday!
Last and by no means least… the Courtyard Dairy, which is surely one of the best cheese shops in the world. Andy and Kathy Swinscoe select the very best cheeses from small, independent farms and artisan producers then give them a magical touch of maturing, learnt first-hand from years of experience working with some of the most famous cheesemongers in France and England. The service is truly excellent and in case you forget what you have bought, the name is printed on the receipt. I’ll be back in cheese heaven soon with Grace’s twin sister, Annie, a true connoisseur. www.thecourtyarddairy.co.uk