Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton marked the Queen's recent 90th birthday celebrations with the launch of its new personalised pies. The in-store bakery will provide its award-winning pies, complete with a personalised message on the top. And to launch the new idea, it produced one for the Queen, and sent it off to Buckingham Palace to arrive for her birthday. The shop says its usual customers can order one of the £12.99 pork pies with a message of up to 20 characters, which will form part of the pastry top. And it suggests the personalised pies are just perfect for any special occasion, whether it be a birthday, wedding, or just a celebratory get-together. “We knew that our customers were buying pies for all sorts of occasions and family get-togethers, so we thought we could help the pies be the star of the buffet table by adding special personal messages on request," said Keelham's Victoria Robertshaw. “Sometimes only a savoury celebration hits the spot and, as we launched our personalised pies during the week of the Queen’s birthday, the least we could do was to send her the first one. Now our customers can have some fun suggesting their own wording for family and friends. These pies are the perfect way to send someone a foodie gift to spell out, in golden pastry, that you care. The best part is, they taste delicious too.”

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the darkest in England when it comes to night skies – and that’s official. The most detailed satellite maps of England’s light pollution and dark skies – released last week by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) – show that the national park is ranked as the third darkest behind Northumberland and Exmoor. And the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s new Local Plan contains policies that will help to keep it that way – recognising that the levels of light pollution elsewhere make the dark night skies here increasingly special. Judith Donovan, the authority’s member champion for promoting understanding, tells me: “This latest research confirms that this national park is one of the best places in the country to appreciate the wonders of the night sky. We think that there is a real opportunity for local businesses to exploit the potential of our dark skies to expand their ‘offer’ to our millions of visitors and attract people to the Dales at quieter times of the year. We want to build on the success of our first Dark Skies Festival held in February half-term and we will be running further workshops for businesses later in the year.”

Craven CVS, based in Skipton, is inviting everyone to take a look at its newly-launched website - It details the support and services it offers to community, voluntary, and social enterprise groups across Craven. These include training, governance support, development support, funding advice, admin services, equipment loan, small room hire, hot-desking and networking opportunities. To be added to the mailing list or to become a member, email or call 01756 795838.

Rural businesses have until the end of the month to enter this year’s Rural Business Awards. The awards - run by the CLA - are aimed at recognising and rewarding the most innovative and successful businesses based in the countryside. Awards will be made across 13 categories including: best rural start-up; outstanding rural diversification project; social enterprise/community project of the year; best rural tourism business; rural employer of the year and rural entrepreneur of the year. Regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Rural businesses manage our landscapes, provide homes, build communities and create jobs yet they are too often the unsung heroes of our region’s economy. These awards are a great opportunity to formally recognise their contribution.” Entries can be made online at and the deadline is next Thursday, June 30.

Do you know that over half of all rabbits in the UK are lonely and stressed? That is the startling fact released by leading vet charity PDSA ahead Rabbit Awareness Week. The week - which started on Saturday - has the theme, BuddiesForBunnies. PDSA veterinary surgeon Rebecca Ashman says: “Our figures highlight that lack of mental stimulation can have a huge impact on pet behaviour. What’s most frustrating is the fact that many of these issues could easily be avoided if rabbits were given the right conditions, diet and companions to live alongside.” The BuddiesForBunnies campaign aims to get solitary rabbits paired up with suitable companions from rescue centres. For more information, visit

A colleague is currently distraught at having her first homegrown strawberry of the year snatched at the last minute. Having nurtured several strawberry plants in her garden for some weeks, and watched as they progressed from flower to fruit, the very first, plump strawberry had gone from white to pale green to pink, and just needed one more day to be ready to eat. But then, disaster. The blackbirds in the garden must have been watching also and had themselves a tasty snack. The remaining strawberries are now covered with netting, so I'm told.

Skipton-based Yorkshire Cruise Club proudly sponsored a fence at this year’s Bramham International Horse Trials. The Yorkshire Cruise Club Trakehner was one of 27 fences which riders had to tackle on the challenging cross country course. Juliet Archer, managing director of Blue Water Holidays Ltd, which runs the cruise club, said: “We were delighted to sponsor a fence at such a prestigious event. It was great watching the riders take on our fence, they made it look a lot smaller than it actually was.”

Buskers are being sought to help at the atmosphere of the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne. The festival, now in its 27th year, will again feature the world’s leading blues artists on several stages around the town. But a massive part of the festival is the vibrant atmosphere enjoyed between the seven official venues. All street performers are invited to line Colne’s Main Street during the August Bank Holiday weekend, as well as perform outside venues and alongside the International Stage. Email or call 01282 661231 to register an interest, so that slots can be allocated.