BBC Look North presenter Amy Garcia reflects on her Yorkshire homecoming
PUBLISHED: 10:47 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:47 12 August 2014
Wakefield born presenter on motherhood and her love of the countryside
‘Are you the lady off Calendar?’ A voice comes from the trees as I jog across Yorkshire Sculpture Park with my little girl in the pushchair. (It’s a London craze I thought I’d try here, although the nature trails aren’t designed for such southernisms so my baby girl is giggling at the bumpy ride.)
A couple from Barnsley are watching me intently as I struggle to stop the pushchair on the cobbles. I politely tell them I’m from the other side – Look North – at which point they stride over and the woman throws her arms around me like a long lost niece. It’s not the first time this has happened of late. Frankly, you’d be cautioned for this sort of behaviour in London but it’s a Yorkshire trait I have missed.
The man says: ‘You’re Harry’s cycling partner. Didn’t you do well on that bike?’ He is of course referring to the Tandem Tour de Yorkshire, a gruelling 250 miles up hill and down dale cycle ride round the Tour de France route. It was a defining moment for me and, happily, for the viewers too.
So here I am, presenting the show four nights a week and juggling ten balls behind the scenes as a new mum in a new location.
I was born and brought up in Wakefield. Most of my family have never left the county, but I lived in the south for more than ten years. My husband Tim grew up just 15 miles away in Mirfield, yet we met 200 miles away in a dingy music studio in Chiswick.
But now we’re back in the north, this time as responsible parents. Nights out in Leeds have been replaced with strolls around Cannon Hall. We are discovering Yorkshire with fresh eyes and although many things are the same, a lot has changed.
You take for granted how special it is; something I began to appreciate on that tandem. Our unique landscape rivals many in Europe, which probably explains why we were selected for the most prestigious cycling race in the world. It’s been suggested Chris Froome and his ilk will soon be speaking of the Yorkshire Dales with the same admiration as the Tuscan Mountains; something I can’t dispute having experienced the route at first hand.
The picture postcard setting of the Dales has surely also contributed to the region’s growth in the arts in recent years. There’s been a surge in filmmaking with dramas like Four Lions, Death Comes To Pemberley and Last Tango In Halifax being shot here, clearly demonstrating that you don’t have to be in London to build a successful career in the industry.
The Hepworth Wakefield has drawn the most discerning art lovers from across the country and just a few miles down the road (on my doorstep) this success is echoed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Not many cities can boast one internationally-renowned sculptor but we have two with Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
Since returning to the region, I have been staggered by the popularity of farm shops and tea rooms. The once family-worked farms have been expanded to offer trendy food halls selling everything from home-reared beef to chutneys, speciality wines and cheese – all homemade or produced in Yorkshire of course – to attract a younger generation of foodies who have an appetite for fresh local produce.
In the south, I wouldn’t give a second thought to popping to a supermarket for a pint of milk. Yet here I have become a farm shop convert, paying just a few pennies more per litre in the knowledge that I’m doing my bit to support local dairy farmers – and it’s the freshest I’ll get short of milking the cow myself.
Our new northern retreat is in a beautiful spot nestled between the village cricket club and a working farm. It’s truly idyllic.
We’re embracing rural life (without getting our hands dirty of course). Every morning, my daughter points to the cows and sheep in the field at the bottom of the garden and lets out an excited shriek, and I can’t help but share her enthusiasm.
In the past, when people asked where I wanted to be in ten years, my answer was always the same: anchoring a live programme and bringing my family up in the countryside. It’s nice when a plan comes together.