My Favourite Places: Tricia Stewart
You might not necessarily recognise the name Tricia Stewart straight away — but, sure as jam is jam, you’ll know about the whole Calendar Girls phenomenon. The original calendar featuring artfully-concealed ladies from the Women’s Institute, the hit movie with Helen Mirren, the West End show, and so on. Tricia Stewart was the brains behind the original calendar — and the body behind Miss October — and wrote about it all in her best-selling book called, well, Calendar Girl.
Next month, she’s coming to St Albans to talk at a fundraising lunch for Rennie Grove Hospice Care at the very swish St Michael’s Manor, sharing her story, the highs and lows of getting your kit off in a very public way, and what she’s been up to since. There are tickets left, I believe, but you’ll not want to wait long as they’re selling like hot cakes. Hot, delicious cakes baked by the redoutable ladies of the WI. When they’re not running marathons or raising millions for charity or doing zumba or campaigning for political reform. Y’know, in their spare time.
I took the opportunity to talk to Tricia about her favourite places, and she’s got some gorgeous choices to share with you, my lovelies.
Roker Beach and the Cat & Dog steps in Sunderland
I grew up in Sunderland and moved to Yorkshire when I was 22. We lived near the seafront and I spent most of my younger life on the beach with my friends, usually on the prom at the Cat & Dogs.
I love to swim in the sea and at the very least paddle every time we visit. The Yorkshire Dales are wonderful, but I love the beach.
Capernwray Dive Centre, Carnforth, Lancs
At 55 I did the Great North run, at 60 the London Moonwalk, and at 65 decided on a new challenge: the Great North swim in Windermere. This dive centre, which was a disused quarry, became our training ground and we spend many hours swimming around above the divers below. I have done two Great North swims in Windermere and the Great Scottish swim in Loch Lomond last year and still swim regularly in my favourite ‘quarry.’
Bamburgh Castle & Holy Island
The Northumberland coast is magnificent, and two of my favourite places are the stunning Bamburgh Castle and historical Holy Island. We visit regularly, staying in Bamburgh or on Holy Island itself when the tide is in and the causeway covered at full tide.
The Angel of the North
This is my favourite sculpture looking over the North East. A huge Angel who seems to be protecting all he sees. My heart lifts when we drive up the motorway and he comes into view.
Lake Chelan, Washington State, USA
In November 2001, our son went to Seattle to play rugby organised by friends we had met when the calendar was published in the USA. The Seattle rugby team raise funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma society of America and we met them on our US tour promoting the US version of the calendar. He was only going for 6 months, but met a girl, got married and now has three children and coaches sport.
We visit a lot and Lake Chelan is one of our favourite places over there. The sun always shines, and the lake is wonderful and surrounded by mountains.
Cracoe Fell, Skipton, Yorkshire
The sheepens at the edge of Cracoe Fell is my favourite Yorkshire place. We moved to the village of Cracoe in 1984, Angela came and knocked on my door to ask me to join the WI, which is how years later the idea for the Alternative WI calendar was born.
Every morning, we walked up to the sheepens with our dogs. When the calendar was launched in April 1999, walking up there was like a breakfast meeting discussing the furore which surrounded the calendar. It is a very special place for me.
Want to buy tickets for the lunch? Click right here.