David Parkin freezes in London, blows up a balloon in Leeds and runs out of words

A TRIP to London last weekend underlined the gulf that now exists between certain parts of the capital and the rest of the country.

Spend some time walking the streets of Knightsbridge, Mayfair or Kensington and you see plenty of examples of what now makes modern London.

From Kazakh billionaires sipping Coca-cola at a pavement cafe near Harrods to well groomed hedge fund managers unloading Louis Vuitton luggage from their supercars outside a gleaming hotel, parts of London now have more in common with Manhattan, Moscow or Milan than boroughs down the road.

If you go shopping in Mayfair or St James then you would certainly struggle to buy a newspaper or some chewing gum amid the luxury fashion boutiques, cigar and wine merchants and yacht brokers.

We stayed at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel which is opposite Gloucester Road tube, straight down the Piccadilly line from King’s Cross Station.

Not just well situated, the hotel is well run and welcoming and a great base for a visitor to the capital.

I felt at home as soon as I arrived, but it also helped that on leaving the hotel to explore the stunning squares and mews nearby I heard the shout of: “Parky!” and was embraced by a bloke on a mobile phone on the steps of a nearby restaurant.

It was Simon Padgett, one of the original investors in TheBusinessDesk.com.

Wandering the streets you can sample a myriad of eclectic cuisine including nitrogen ice cream, which is flash-frozen at -198 degrees centigrade by liquid nitrogen smoke and, I’m assured, the only way one should now eat a molecular frozen dessert.

Round the corner I browsed a shoe shop while the sales assistant explained to me that all their stock was made by hand in Northampton “or somewhere near there up North”.

Northampton is 67 miles from London and 50 miles south east of Birmingham.

God help her if she really had to venture into the true frozen North.

Like Walsall.


I’M determined to make this year’s Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate the most successful so far.

Over the last three years we have doubled the number of attendees and the amount the event makes for the charity and we are keen for that momentum to continue.

Given no one had heard of the Balloon Debate five years ago that’s not bad progress, but there is always room for growth.

With a great line-up of speakers including former England and Yorkshire cricketer Ryan Sidebottom, BBC football commentator Guy Mowbray, Great Britain and Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Danika Priim and Paralympic cyclist Steve Bate, the event has a format that makes it different to the usual charity dinners.

The audience are in control – they vote for who they think is the best speaker on the night and our sporting and media stars face the prospect of being booted out if they don’t engage the audience well enough.

As compere I’m committed to giving everyone who takes a table a mention on the night and the event has grown because many who come as guests have such a thoroughly good time that they take their own table the following year.

Whether you want a couple of tickets or a table of 10 you will be most welcome and, I guarantee, assured of a great night out among an audience of great Yorkshire business people at the Queens Hotel on Wednesday, May 23.

Further details below and click the link to book tickets.



AN invitation to a dinner hosted by wine merchants to the Queen and the Prince of Wales is not one to be sniffed at.

This week Corney & Barrow, wine merchants since 1780, hosted a dinner and wine tasting at Crafthouse restaurant in Leeds.

I sneaked in as bag carrier to Leeds legal luminary and cultural ambassador Rodney Dalton of Lupton Fawcett.

We were welcomed with champagne by Adam Ketteringham, the founder of Boss Burgers in Leeds who is now working with Corney & Barrow and among the guests was Robert Chamberlain, owner of popular Leeds restaurant Sous le Nez.

Robert has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of wine, food and good companies to invest in.

Sadly after chatting to him I tend to invest in the wine and food rather than the share tips.

The starter was roast Scottish langoustines accompanied by a Sancerre and an Irouleguy which comes from the northern Basque country in France made by a winemaker responsible for 44 vintages of Petrus.

That was followed by 48 day aged Orkney beef and truffles with a Pomerol and an Argentinian wine called Quimera, which is, apparently, made in the Bordeaux style.

Robert and Rodney approved of the cheese being served before the dessert and we enjoyed a passito dessert wine from Fruili in Italy.

Given that before the dinner we had warmed up with drinks in the very smart but welcoming bar of the Dakota Deluxe hotel you must be quite impressed that I remember such detail about the evening.

So am I.

I’m also glad I took a copy of the menu home with me.


FAREWELL then Dale Winton.

As the camp host of Supermarket Sweep and the National Lottery he appeared on our screens as a big, cuddly best friend but it seems that privately he faced plenty of challenges.

I never met Dale Winton but in the late 1990s when he was presenting Supermarket Sweep, I was working for the Western Mail in London.

When my parents and sister came to visit me in the capital I took some advice on where to take them for dinner and was told Joe Allen’s in the West End served great food and was the haunt of many showbiz stars.

We duly arrived at the restaurant and for most of the meal my sister nearly cricked her neck gawping around the basement establishment to spot anyone vaguely famous.

But there weren’t any celebs in sight.

Disappointed, she settled down to order dessert when several people sat down at the next table, one of which was Dale Winton.

She couldn’t have been happier.

The only thing that could have made it better was getting a selfie with Dale.

But they hadn’t been invented then.


WHAT’S this new obsession with the phrase: “No words…”?

It tends to accompany a photograph posted on social media of a person, a pet, a holiday or even a meal.

I wouldn’t mind but most of these posts entitled “No words…” are accompanied by lots of words explaining why the person has “no words”.


THERE won’t be a blog next week as I’m off on holiday.

Cyprus seemed a great destination when I booked it on a chilly winter evening a few weeks ago.

Given we’re staying at a resort just around the coast from the RAF base in Akrotiri where the Tornado squadron took off from to bomb Syria, I’m now not so sure.

Mind you, it is probably safer than the notorious fleshpots of Ayia Napa.

So, barring World War Three, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

Have a great weekend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top