Dear Reader: Grasping the Brexit nettle + spilling Daleside beer!

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

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A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser Graham Chalmers

The question is, are we all on the motorway travelling north in the right direction or are we all on the motorway travelling south in the wrong direction?

Lovers of that wonderfully secluded area of trees in Harrogate on the outskirts of town on the road to Beckwithshaw called the Pinewoods might have gotten used to the idea that a chunk of it was set to disappear in favour of housing.

But this week came news that the council’s horticultural nursery next to this popular nature walk is to be sold, too.

As a result, there’s a possibility even more housing could be on the way in this well-loved, semi-rural stretch of trees and grass, flora and fauna between the Valley Gardens and RHS Harlow Carr gardens.

The volunteers of Pinewood Conservation Group who cherish and support these beautiful woods will certainly do all they can in its defence.

But it’s not too ridiculous to wonder whether there will be anything left of the Pinewoods in ten years time?

As a story, it’s somehow symptomatic of the slippery times we live in.

Rather than the normal political divisions to blame for what ails us, there seems to be a widening gulf between what all the authorities say they are doing and what is actually happening.

Imagine how much clearer things would be right now if the question on the Brexit referendum ballot paper had been:

“Should Britain leave the UK to get proper control over immigration if it means leaving the single market and causing possible economic problems?”

Lack of clarity is something which seems to apply just as much to local decision-making where pressure for new housing developments co-exists with a contradictory desire to do something about growing traffic congestion.

A nettle would wait a long time to be grasped in times like these.

If anyone needs proof that there’s more to life in this district than history and tradition, I need point no further than the popularity of events such as the recent street food festival in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens or Harrogate Comedy Festival at Harrogate Theatre.

The standard of acts at the latter is always high in its annual quest to find the best ‘new’ comedian of the year.

As one of the judges, I can testify that all eight of the finalists in this year’s competition sponsored by local independent brewery Daleside were pretty funny, perhaps too much so.

At one point I found myself bursting out laughing unexpectedly midway through a mouthful of said Daleside beer.

This had unfortunate consequences for the judge sitting nearest to me, who just happened to be a senior member of the Daleside management team.

To be honest, I was mortified but, luckily, this likable fellow did see the funny side of it as he dusted himself down.