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A refuge for Methodists where drink flows freely
2:39pm Friday 26th August 2011 in Spectator's Notes
AT the opening of Thirsk’s new tourist information centre on Wednesday, Spectator was able to solve a little mystery.
Three weeks ago, we reported on the opening of the White Horse Lodge Hotel on the road to Sutton Bank. We said the hotel was now owned by the Methodist Holiday Hotels Ltd which seemed rather odd.
Why would the Methodist Church be in the business of running hotels?
The hotel group’s director Diane Uhalde was able to enlighten Spectator. Back in the 1920s, the church went into the hotel business to provide getaway destinations for Methodists who wanted to stay in pleasant places with a Christian ethos without the demon drink being available.
The group, which includes Raven Hall at Ravenscar, still aims to do that and not just for Methodists. The alcohol ban is now over. “We do now serve alcohol – and lots of it,” said Ms Uhalde.
A number of speeches were made at the Thirsk centre opening, including a good one one by Peter Rush, one of the stalwarts responsible for getting the volunteer-run project off the ground. He spoke of how important it was for the area to have a tourism service and that it was also an important service for local residents, the more so when the 900 homes were built at Sowerby. Mr Rush said this as if the Sowerby Gateway scheme was set in stone, which it isn’t quite. The remark prompted a frisson of murmurs among the assembled dignataries.
One of Spectator’s favourite actors – Bill Nighy – was interviewed in the The Times Saturday magazine a couple of weeks back. Quizzed about his career highlights – which included his defining characterisation of the ageing rock start in Richard Curtis’ Love Actually – he spoke about his love of pies and specifically the memorable one served up by the Friends of Darlington’s Civic Theatre (which he described as beautiful) during the post-run party. “You’ve never seen a spread like it,” he said. “There were pies that would make you cry.”
We presume the pies were Taylor’s – and await an invitation from the Civic Friends.
As readers may have noticed, Spectator’s been away on his jollies. They have taken me from one end of the country to the other and included a day in Edinburgh just before the start of the Fringe Festival.
It’s a time of the year when some amazing sights can be witnessed as the talented and not-so-talented take to the streets to sell their shows. But the most startling thing we saw was not human at all.
Just 30 metres from the packed Royal Mile, in an elegant side street, a fox sat on the pavement and allowed the tourists to take photographs before sauntering off towards Princes Street.
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