A couple of weeks ago the organisers of the Tour de France announced this huge sporting event will start right here in Yorkshire next year.
This is a huge coup for the country, still basking in the post-Olympic glow, and for the region, due in no small part to Welcome to Yorkshire. Yorkshire beat off bids from the likes of Florence, Berlin and Barcelona. Not even the British government thought we could win it – they backed Edinburgh.
But win it we did and, perhaps to prove the organisers right in putting their faith and trust in us, hundreds of people turned into Leeds to celebrate after the routes were announced.
Leeds will host the start or Grand Départ and the first two stages will cross some of Yorkshire’s most spectacular landscapes.
Reader, I was among those braving the freezing temperatures and snow to be part of this pretty historic moment.
I was there to watch the well-heeled (or perhaps just well-connected) trot through the crowds and into the warmth of the city’s town hall for a gala dinner.
I was there through 57 minutes of waffle and not much else – unless you count a couple of fire eaters and unicyclists and a line-up of interviewees including Rosemary Shrager (possibly the most un-Yorkshire person in the country), Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter films, Leeds Rhinos players and some of the less well-known Emmerdale cast members.
At three minutes to 7pm the fireworks came. This is what most people had come to see and – there’s no doubting – they were spectacular.
There’s also no doubt that, since we found out we’d won the Tour de France, a pride and feel-good factor has begun to spread that seems sure to do for Yorkshire what the Olympics did for London.
But it’s a good job the Tour is in July because after standing on the street for just an hour it took me several hours to warm through.
The meal we had at Reds True BBQ helped – a lot. If you haven’t yet found this place it’s fast becoming a Leeds institution and it’s easy to see why.
The smell hits you as soon as you walk in, making your saliva glands demand to be satiated. There’s a buzzy but laid-back atmosphere. There’s live music and you can watch your food being prepared. They use some of the best local suppliers and most dishes are under a tenner. For a lot of food.
It is Americana at its best. A bit like being in an episode of Man vs Food, but without so much gluttony (most of the time).
I embraced the caveman in me and went for a half rack of baby back ribs, while hubs chose pulled pork.
Comfort food while you watch the snow fall outside over the iconic Corn Exchange? Perfect.