I've fallen for the work of many other Yorkshire makers and manufacturers since starting Vanroe. Here's my pick of the gifts you might like to give or receive this year, all from the great companies right here in our county...
1. Chocolates from Harrogate's Famous Tea Rooms
How could anyone resist this pretty box of handmade chocs from Harrogate institution Betty's Tearooms (above)? It's beautifully decorated with a Christmas robin from a 1870s greetings card (and I love vintage greetings cards...)
2. A Hamper by the Queen of Yorkshire Parkin
Queen of Parkin, Lottie Shaw, is somewhat of a role model for me. And her products are ridiculously delicious. So stuff Harvey Nicks - here's the hamper that I'd most like to find under the Vanroe tree*.
*Note for non-Yorkshire/Lancashire readers: parkin is an oaty-treacly cake that could be used by sherpas (and our regional shepherds) to survive the harshest conditions. It lasts forever and has the 'hit' of several espressos. Small furry animals called Treacle Miners used to make it in Sabden.
3. Liqueurs by North Yorkshire's sloe hunters
I've always wanted to hunt hedgerows for sloes. It's a part of our Pennine country tradition, like bilberry-ing or brewing odd-tasting elderberry wine. But this Christmas I'll outsource the hunting and importantly, the alcohol, to North Yorkshire's liqueur specialists Sloe Motion. Just look at those gorgeous bottles!
4. Man Things in Sheffield Steel by Mamnick
Yorkshire makers Mamnick are super-impressive, combining slick design with contemporary British manufacture. I especially like their chic but manly gadgets in Sheffield steel, including the Everyday Double Knife (£35.00) or Chippie Fork / Bottle Opener (shown - £27.00). Gifts for Mr. Vanroe sorted.
5. Father & Son British Tweed Bow Ties by Holmfirth's Moaning Minnie
Shopping for British tweed can be rather overwhelming. I'd like to support the industry locally, but sometimes it can seem as inaccessible to the lay-person as fine wine, tartan or, dare I say it, real ale (see below)? So it was with delight that I ran across Holmfirth bow tie maker Moaning Minnie on my Yorkshire internet trawls. Just how cute are these father-son tweed bow ties?
And even if the British tweed you choose isn't made right here in Yorkshire, the ties most definitely are. Easy.
6. A Fairy Tale or Two by York's Heather Alstead
Heather Alstead is a York designer who makes beautiful things with a fairy tale twist. All are manufactured in Britain, and all would make me very happy this Christmas. Her 'Once Upon a Time' collection of notebooks and laser-cut bookends edges ahead as my favourite.
If Mr. Vanroe has already done his shopping, I'll settle for this mug.
7. A Case of Ilkley's Finest Pale
Now I know absolutely nothing about ale. Pale or otherwise. But these bottles are beautifully designed, are brewed just down the road in Ilkley, and you can order them easily off Amazon. And The Ilkley Brewery has a cute animated website. That's me sold.
(If you do know your ales, you'll know that West Yorkshire's having a brewing renaissance. Other brewers to check out include our local, The Saltaire Brewery, Halifax's Oates Brewery and Bradford's Salamander Brewery. But I can't point you to a case of their beer easily on Amazon (or other)! Dear lovely brewers: please sort this out for next year?)
8. Cult Shaving Stuff from Bradford's Woolly Soap Makers
Mitchell's Wool Fat Shaving Soap is made to a traditional recipe invented by Bradford's Fred Mitchell in 1893. It's still made just down the road in Wibsey, and exported to the world's shaving enthusiasts from Japan to the USA. I love the gorgeous packaging, Mitchell's gloriously lo-fi website, and the fact you can buy it among the plastic dinosaurs in Bradford Council museum shops. A proper local gem with an international following.
9. A Yorkshire Magazine Subscription to Blow Their Minds
Who hasn't been tempted to give those awkward relatives a magazine subscription? Well here's one to leave Yorkshire Life et al standing... and may well blow a few minds. Hack Circus is a quarterly magazine and events series on 'fantasy technology and everyday magic'. Designed and edited in Sheffield, printed in Leeds, and tackling the all-important questions like 'what do particle physicists know about ghosts?'. It looks beautiful and is filled by great thinkers... from Yorkshire to the edges of space-time.
10. Something Chic from Saltaire's The Art Rooms
The Art Rooms designer Jacky Al-Samarraie uses block colour and graphic images, bringing her landscape-inspired homeware right up to date. I love these striking table mats of rural scenes from Leeds, Harrogate and The Dales. You'll also find cute little stocking-filler coasters, including one of The Art Rooms (and our) local skyline, Salts Mill, Saltaire.