Dear Reader: Supporting the indie revolution + Sat Nav disaster
A regular column by Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser
All things change, including this newspaper and, indeed, this column which you may have noticed has made the mighty leap from page two to page three.It’s all part of a freshen-up for spring in this season of daffodils and new life.In that spirit, I’d like to state that the recent growth of independent bars, cafes, restaurants and shops in our district is something to be welcomed whole-heartedly.Not that ‘independent’ is necessarily better than ‘chain’ on every occasion.Well known names don’t usually become well known names without a reason.What independents offer when they’re good, is something the chains often lack - individuality, originality and a personal commitment to something that belongs to them and no one else.For anyone who believes in choice and competition, which, let’s face it, is meant to be all of us these days, this is surely a good thing.It’s undoubtedly an attraction, too, for the many visitors who come to our district looking for something distinctive rather than something ten-a-penny.The world seems to become a smaller place each year.But what’s the point of travel if, when you arrive at your destination, you find the same bars, cafes, restaurants and shops as the place you’ve just come from?I make no claims to be the king of the Instagram generation. In fact, if the digital era was a train, I’m happy to admit I’m currently sitting on one of the carriages towards the rear.Still, it’s slightly embarrassing to admit I only used Sat Nav in my car for the first time on Easter Monday.I was heading for the Hepworth Gallery at Wakefield but it wasn’t long before I came to regret joining the Tom Tom club, albeit belatedly.What was described as the ‘quickest route’ came with a whole set of unexpected obstacles.The delays between junctions 38 to 36 on the M1 to Leeds were bad enough.But the entry into the centre of Wakefield and its rag-tag jumble of dual carrigageways turned into a disaster.The female voice offering me directions from the tiny device slotted into the dashboard sounded authoratitive enough, a little like a BBC Radio 4 news presenter.Still, there was no getting away from the fact she’d led me into the car park of the Trinity Walk shopping complex.Earlier in the same journey, her expert advice had taken me through the back roads of the small villages near Kirk Deighton.The GPS system clearly hadn’t factored in Storm Katie. This wiggly-wiggly route turned out to be flooded in two, deeply water-logged places.I might as well have been in the previous day’s Oxford-Cambridge boat race.