A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
I didn’t expect much when I picked up the phone the other day to interview the ‘Yorkshire Shepherdess’ at Ravenseat Farm, her family farm at Keld in North Yorkshire.
Amanda Owen’s new book, A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, is undoubtedly a good read, a little in the style of James Herriot whose books inspired her to swap urban Huddersfield for rural Swaledale.
From what I’d already seen of her on TV and in the press, Amanda manages to combine running a farm with her husband, raising nine, yes, nine children, while writing books, starring in documentaries and being pestered by journalists like me.
To be honest, she sounded too good to be true.
But I was wrong.
In person, the Yorkshire Shepherdess is a character and a half, speaking ten to the dozen, saying whatever comes into her head with a galloping excitement and refreshing honesty.
In age of empty celebrity the Yorkshire Shepherdess lives a full life.
She even gave birth to her last child at home alone. Well, almost.
“My birthing partner was our terrier dog,” she told me as if this was the sort of thing that happens every day.
With age comes wisdom. That’s what I kept telling myself in a well-known store in Harrogate last week.
It was 8.15am and I ‘d popped in to get a coffee and a croissant on my way to work.
The store was quiet save for one fellow early morning shopper standing in the wrong place at the wrong time between the bread shelves and the pastry section.
“Excuse me” I said politely wihout much reaction, then squeezed through the tight gap.
Not that this helped. My new found friend had managed to position himself in a way which blocked all access to the actual croissants.
Then I spotted my chance and pounced, grabbing a single pastry and deposting it in a paper bag in a swift, single manoeuvre.
“What do you think you are doing? You’re supposed to use tongs,” the stranger blurted.
“You’re a rude man,” I replied.
He barked something about hygiene and I barked something back about how I’d only picked up a croissant and how he could sue me if he liked.
The stranger was still muttering angrily as I headed for the tills so I decided to give it my best shot across the aisles.
“You, you, you rubbish talker,” I said eventually.
You can’t swear in Waitrose.
After paying for my goods, I found myself standing at the coffee machine next to another customer. Guess who?.
Should I say something?
Would he? Was I about to get a cup of coffee thrown over me?
It’s then I realised I wasn’t a middle-aged man getting a coffee and a croissant on my way to work.
I was a small boy in the school playground waiting for the fight to start.