FINALLY the big thaw has put paid to the beastly interloper which brought the big freeze storming in from the East. But we hear from that renowned country house hotel Simonstone Hall, near Hawes, that they're desperate for more Managing director Jack Dinsdale said several guests were stranded when drifting snow made it impossible to leave and neighbours had to seek the refuge of the well stocked larder and piled up heating supplies.

He waxes lyrical about how traditional dining was ditched in favour of a gathering round the big table, as they prepared for power cuts with candelabras and plentiful offerings from the wine cellar, swapping stories about childhood winters. Mr Dinsdale,28, was born and brought up nearby working as a youngster at the country house before taking over two years ago as Manager. He adds:"It was built in the 1700’s to host guests and friends, it was wonderful to share all that is great about the Hall and surrounding area. It was a delight to host our stranded guests and neighbours."

Acknowledgement too for another local business which featured in the photograph on the front of last weeks Darlington and Stockton Times, although you would have been forgiven for missing it in the snow blown wasteland of Northallerton's Wednesday market. Carricks Fishmongers was the only stall to turn out and stay put and won the admiration of the Leader of North Yorkshire county council, councillor Carl Les. "It was very impressive, the only stall to turn out in the snow and freezing cold, the fish supplied was also very impressive," he added. The plucky traders were also one of the few out on Tuesday, for the equally windblown market in Bedale. But they've said nothing about wanting the big freeze to return.