Alison Leith

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Looking back I realise what a strong influence my mum was, particularly when I was a teenager. As a working single mum to me and my sister she instilled an excellent work ethic in me and encouraged me to be independent, confident and determined. As for the rich and famous, a hero of mine was the late Victoria Wood, such a talented and funny lady whose performances and shows never failed to make me laugh.

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For a weekend > I love nothing more than a relaxing break by the sea, preferably somewhere warm and quiet, with my husband. We have found a few lovely places in Spain and Portugal which are perfect for a weekend or short break, for example the Tivoli hotel in Vilamoura.

A long holiday > I don’t often take long holidays, the longest being ten days for my honeymoon when we went skiing in Tignes. I would happily do that every year. I absolutely love being in the mountains and nothing beats the exhilaration of flying down a slope towards a cosy little bar at the bottom. A week’s skiing is not long enough and taking a few extra days takes the pressure off from trying to cram every single minute’s skiing out of every day. I would also recommend South Africa, especially Cape Town and the vineyards around that area.

A treat > I am lucky to have been able to have many lovely short breaks abroad over the last few years, so I see somewhere close to home which doesn’t really justify the cost of staying overnight as a treat. For example, the Crab and Lobster or Rockcliffe Hall, especially with its lovely golf course.


Best food > I love Italian food, especially pasta but I am also very happy tucking into Indian, Chinese or Mexican. I was very picky growing up so maybe I am making up for lost time now.

Best wine > Prosecco or a Rioja.

Best restaurant > I really love Gaucho, the meat is always fantastic and the cheese bread and chimichurri dip to start with is sublime.

Perfect weekend > Live comedy or music on Friday night. Saturday morning would be a game of golf followed by a trip on the train to York or Durham with my husband for a meal and a few drinks. Then, on Sunday morning, we would have a long walk on the beach or through the countryside with our four dogs and then have friends and family round for a fantastic Sunday lunch.

Downtime means > A book, a glass of wine and some good music.  When I was young I used to read all the time but it is harder to find the time to do so now. When I do therefore it feels like a real break from everything.

Best telly > I watch very little television generally but do enjoy things which make me laugh, such as Come Fly With Me or Phoenix Nights or cookery shows like Masterchef. I also recently finished watching Breaking Bad which had been recommended to me by a friend and I thought it was fantastic.


Best shopping city > I am not really keen on shopping, especially not trawling round lots of shops. If I have to then Leeds or Manchester would be the places I would visit as they have a wide selection of shops in a relatively small area and plenty of places to pause and refuel. However, I much prefer to shop online from the comfort of my own home.

Favourite shop > Barkers in Northallerton – a proper, traditional department store. Every town had one when I grew up and they were usually independent. It is a shame that many of them have had to close over the years as I think there is something very special about them.

Luxe relax retreat > Wood Hall Hotel and Spa at Linton near Wetherby is perfect for a relaxing retreat and holds great memories for me as we got married there in glorious sunshine five years ago.  We have been back to enjoy the fantastic food, relaxing spa and beautiful Yorkshire scenery.

Best buy > I love to find a bargain but I think my best buy would be Jimmy, a three foot wooden giraffe that we bought near Cape Town a few years ago. I don’t think it was a real bargain in itself but carrying it back on three flights, via Johannesburg and Heathrow, without once being charged extra for the strange shaped hand luggage was pretty impressive.


A memorable night out > It is hard to pick one. We often travel to see live comedy or music and stay over so have had some great nights out over the years including watching bands such as Wet Wet Wet, The Killers, Deacon Blue and Paul Heaton or comedians like Sean Lock, Ed Byrne and Alan Davies.

Perfect party > Friends and family, good food, drink, karaoke and a good old fashioned disco until the early hours.

Best dress > It would have to be my wedding dress. I’m sure I am not the first person to say that when you try on ‘the one’ you know it. I would love to have the chance to wear it again and have discussed with friends organising a wedding themed charity ball just so that we could all get them out again!

Dinner date > Anywhere with my husband, John.  Especially if it is somewhere with a sea or mountain view. A couple of years ago we found a beautiful little restaurant next to a tiny beach near Palmanova in Mallorca for our anniversary. It was bliss.


My dogs. We have had three Labradors for a few years and recently took a one year old Jack Russell from a rescue. She terrorises the other three who take it all very calmly. These are the first dogs I have had. I spoil them all so much and couldn’t imagine life without dogs now.