Brandesburton, North Yorkshire
Chris Titley joins the busy bees of bustling Brandesburton<br/>PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL HOLMES.
The handsome brick nameplates found at either end of the village don't carry a slogan. But if they did, it would be this: 'You'll never be bored in Brandesburton!' There is much to do in and around this East Riding settlement - enough, in fact, to exhaust the most committed fun-seeker.
Fancy skipping across a lake at 50mph? No problem. The Fosse Hill Jet Ski Centre on Catwick Lane has 25 acres of water for your sporting pleasure. Maybe a round of golf is more to your liking. Hainsworth Park Golf Club has a championship length course, not to mention a 19th hole where you can assess the players' putts and drives over a spot of al fresco lunch. A popular place, Hainsworth - it was packed on the day of my visit, with the Ladies Open Fourball well underway. Still not worn out?
Well, let's get off to the Star Carr Angling Ponds to see what we can reel in. Or go boating on the picturesque River Hull. Then there might just be time to relax in the hot tub on the veranda of your wooden holiday lodge at Dacre Lakeside Park.
All this lot and more can be found on the outskirts of Brandesburton. They are testament to the alluring location: a white milestone places the village eight miles from Beverley and 15 miles from Bridlington, close to beautiful countryside, winding waterways and the coast. But the bustle does not stop once you leave the leisure attractions and walk down Brandesburton's Main Street.
This is a thriving village filled with facilities, a community busily going about its business. It boasts not one, but two pubs, the Dacre Arms and the Black Swan. The Fun Ho restaurant serves Peking and Cantonese dishes while a chippie dishes up the traditional one of each. Brandesburton not only has its own stand-alone post office - an increasingly rare village possession - but a convenience store too.
One of the most popular shops is the butcher and deli, Charter's. Established in 1896 by Richard Prescott, the business passed into the hands of his nephew Ron Charter and is now run by his granddaughter and her husband, Sarah and Kevin Vickers. Kevin joined the firm at 16 as an apprentice butcher and delivery boy doing the van rounds. In those days, Charter's had its own abattoir. Today delicious pies are cooked in the shop's own bake house.
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'At Christmas time we can sell in the region of three or four thousand pork pies,' said Kevin. 'We have people come for pies and meat from all over including Beverley, Hull, Bridlington and Scarborough. And we've been known to despatch stuff to Scotland. It wasn't long ago that we sent some pork pies to Cornwall to someone who's moved down there.'
Brandesburton has a lot going for it, says Kevin, which explains why it has grown in size in recent years. 'It's quite a well soughtafter place. Over the years, as more people have come into the village, it's become a commuter village as well.We've got plenty to do. But we've still not lost that small village feel.'
The weather-worn market cross, standing on the small village green, is a reminder of the days when a regular market was held at Brandesburton. The oldest building is St Mary's Church, parts of which date back to the 12th century.
Nearby the smart, brick-built Victorian primary school sits behind a row of mature trees. But the building with the best story attached must be Brandesburton Hall. According to the excellent village website, www.brandesburtonvillage.co.uk, this 18th century building was owned for many years by the Harrison family.
'The last and best known of the Harrisons was Col James Johnathon Harrison, the adventurer who housed in the hall a collection of birds and animals he had shot in Africa and America,' recounts the website. 'In the early years of this century he brought several Central African pygmies to live at the hall.'
There are no Brandesburton pygmies today, but it has plenty of other visitors. 'It's a very busy village,' says parish clerk Margaret Cundill. 'You do get a lot of activities going on. There's a lot of sports - football, tennis, cricket, bowls, about every sport you can imagine, available to everybody.We've a lot of people in their 30s and 40s who will join in and run these things.'
From playgroups to a Darby & Joan Club, every age group is catered for. The Parish Palz are collecting cans to raise funds for a new oak-framed village noticeboard, and events are chronicled in quarterly magazine the Brandesburton Buzz. A parish council action plan for the village aims, among other things, to tackle the problem of traffic congestion. Parking on Main Street has so often brought buses to a standstill that the bus company has threatened to pull out. This predicament has been brought about by Brandesburton's popularity.
Few places of this size have so much to offer. 'It's a lovely place and people are very friendly,' says Margaret, who has lived here for 30 years. 'There's a good village spirit.'