A COUPLE who have been searching for the ideal location to start their own business for several years say they have finally found it - in one of Craven's best-loved villages.

Durham natives Bryan and Alison Simpson have just opened the Springfield Tea Room in Grassington, and have embarked on a mission to bring the best of home-made cakes and light meals to villager and tourist alike.

The pair have retired early from civil service jobs to follow their dream - and it's not just a business opportunity they have taken up. They have also bought a house in the village and have been busily putting down roots in the area.

Bryan says: "We had been looking for the right business in the right location for several years and had searched in the Grassington area several times.

"But when these premises came up we knew this spot on Main Street was right for us.

"We sold our house in Durham and are now living in the village. So far it's been great - we absolutely love it here."

The couple are confident they are already carving a substantial niche in the market by putting their focus firmly on producing their own soups, quiches, scones, cakes and biscuits - all made on the premises.

"It's Alison who is the cook and the baker - I'm very much 'front-of-house',"laughs Bryan.

The couple say they decided right from the start that as many of their ingredients as possible would be locally sourced. They use local butchers and local suppliers in a bid to support other businesses in the area - and because it makes good business sense for them too.

Alison says: "People are now much more aware of the idea of 'food miles' than they used to be and they know it's in everyone's interest to keep things local. That usually means better quality too, plus less waste. My personal ideal would be to grow as much as possible of our own produce eventually. I make all the soups, chillis, cakes, flapjacks and scones onsite.

"It is important to us to know what is in the food produced in our tea room, and as a lot is homemade this is easy to achieve. We are currently operating a winter menu which is not huge but reduces waste during this quieter period. In the summer we will expand the choices. The menu will include homemade quiches, burgers, biscuits, afternoon teas, ploughman's lunches, ham, egg and chips etc. "We do already have some gluten free and vegetarian options on the menu."

It's also in its wide range of drinks that the Springfield comes into its own - as the tea room is licensed it can sell beer, cider and mulled wine, as well as teas, coffees, fruit teas and smoothies.

Says Alison: "We opened during Grassington's Dickensian Festival, so in some ways it was ideal. Feedback from locals and tourists alike has been very positive, so we feel we really have got something to build on."

Bryan and Alison have recently been rolling their sleeves up to refurbish the room and have now got it exactly as they want it.

Says Bryan: "It's been very hard work but we are absolutely loving it - coming to Grassington has been one of the best decisions we have ever made!"