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Meet the Members: NorthernWrites



Meet another of our founder members and someone who has also been an active member of our extended ‘community’ via Instagram for some time too - oh, and learn about his very clever gift idea

Meet the Member: @NorthernWrites

As usual, we ask a short set of standard questions, and get each interviewee to answer some ‘fun’ questions that give us an insight into them particularly.

I’d love to hear from all of you at some point, and I will be in touch, but if you have a burning desire to introduce yourself, please send me a message to let me know.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or send him a “hello” at the end - it is always nice for the member who is willing to be open like this to know that others are reading their interviews.

Tell us very briefly about yourself, and what fills your average day

At 42, in a happy, long lasting relationship - married 11 years - and with two “glorious” (they have their off days) children (girl 8 and boy 4), my days tend to blur in to a hectic mess of making coffee (always freshly ground), getting breakfast ready, packed lunches made and rushing out of the door.

I am a Deputy Chief Information Office for the National Institute for Health Research. My job is to understand how people in my organisation and organisations that share information with us work, and to see how we can improve that work with better processes and systems. I get to travel a lot, which means meeting new people and eating on my own - which is something I really like doing.

How long have you been a member of The Wine Society and what made you join?

Five years. I joined because I saw a number of wines reviewed from Victoria Moore and Fiona Beckett and thought I would join up to see what other wines I could find. I tend to order wines from areas I am confident buying from and experiment with wines elsewhere. I’m never going to be an EP buyer, but I do occasionally buy a mixed case of the latest “vintage of the decade/millennium/lifetime”*
*delete as applicable

What would you say is your favourite wine style or region, and what do you pair it with?

I love Piemonte. There’s an affinity with the region - especially the industrial towns of Turin and Vercelli. I follow a football team there in Pro Vercelli and the wine flows whenever we are out there. Lesser unheralded DOCs such as Gattinara and Roero, or grapes like Freisa and Grignolino. However, there are days were Sicilian, Alsatian and Austrian wines are high up in the pecking order. However, you can’t beat an autumnal Sunday with Brasato - beef braised in wine - and another bottle of the same wine alongside it.

If you had to list your major NON WINE-RELATED hobby, what would that be?

Currently life is about “I used to…”. I used to play bowls, representing both Yorkshire and Lancashire to a high standard. I used to be a freelance journalist - writing nightclub reviews and sports columns for national media outlets. Since having kids I have backed off a little as a game of bowls is often an all day event, and working nights on writing when I have been at work all day was getting too much. I guess my main hobby now is devouring cookbooks. Trying to bring a recipe/memory/location to life through the words on a page is what I tend to do as I hide away in the kitchen most weekends.

What was the last gift that you gave someone (that YOU chose and bought)?

We took my mum on an Inspector Montalbano pilgrimage to Sicily early in the summer. I’ve contributed to other presents since, but that was all my idea. A surprise that she still goes on about.

Tell us something that you’ve done that you are pretty sure no-one else in the community has done (yet)?

As I said above, I’ve represented Lancashire and Yorkshire at bowls in the Middleton Cup (a regional league then a national knock out competition) and I was the Crown Green Bowls correspondent for the Yorkshire Evening Post. I also delivered my son as the ambulance didn’t arrive in time, but that’s fairly common these days.

What app on your phone right now makes the biggest difference to your life, and how?

Twitter. It pretty much answers any question you need from all angles - good and bad. If I am travelling with work and I need to eat somewhere, someone on Twitter will tell me in 140ch why and where I should eat. Likewise, most of the wine reviewers I follow now are not paid by the word in broadsheets but are just normal users who share similar tastes to me. Yes it is an echo chamber, yes there are horrible people on there and yes, it could be gone in a few years - but isn’t that life?

At your niece’s 18th birthday party, she asks you for advice on learning about wine. What advice do you give her?

Talk, ask questions, seek advice, never buy the same bottle every time you are in the shop. Find your sweet spot your way. This could be a £250 bottle of rapper’s delight champagne or it could be a £6 Wednesday night glugger. Go off the beaten track where possible. Experiment with the same grape from different regions and try to visit some of those regions to try the grape in bottles that never leave the country. Oh, and if you want to drink a bottle of port with a toasted cheese and ham sandwich or something from the left bank with a bag of percy pigs - if it works for you, do it. But, and this is important - always try to share a glass with someone else. It’s better that way, more sociable, more of an event - plus the money goes further if you split the bill

Your questions wanted

@NorthernWrites Aw, this is lovely - especially the wine advice. :slight_smile: Maybe I’ll try the Port and cheese toastie combo at Christmas. :grin:

:scream: Cor blimey! That is INCREDIBLE. Well done you.

Hoping to hear some more of your restaurant recommendations from your time travelling around/Twitter shout-outs - always looking for new foodie pilgrimage ideas? :yum:


Two standout hits were Benedicts in Norwich and Bellita in Bristol from trips earlier this year. Both came as recommendations from sitting in a hotel room and asking where I should go.


Great bit of advice…:} Nothing better than sharing a great bottle of wine with an equally interested party.

I wouldn’t say its fairly common… Holy S***!!:scream::scream:… Well done on that front, that would make anyone man up in 2 seconds flat!


@NorthernWrites Respect, seriously…


You just sort of click in to “I need to do this” mode.

Phone was on speaker. Really helpful midwife talked me through it (you don’t push, you just breathe through the contractions) and you never tell your partner what you can see. Other than that you simply put on a pair of oven gloves (joined) and pretend you are standing at second slip. Nature does the rest.


more like silly mid-on


@NorthernWrites… I am a Deputy Chief Information Office for the National Institute for Health Research

…Does this mean you get to put out the awesome studies into why drinking wine is better than surgery, antibiotics and improves dancing skills? :grinning:


Unfortunately it means I avoid the guidance from the Chief Medical Officer, who is my boss’s, boss’s boss.


@NorthernWrites I’ve not played since going to Uni and then moving down to flat green country, but I used to play bowls and represented Yorkshire at U18s.
Which club were you at? Or which leagues in or around Leeds? I recall the Barkston Ash, Castleford and Tadcaster leagues at various points.


I happen to know that @Alan also knows an international bowls champion or two :slight_smile:


In chronological order:

West Ealing BC (Flat - London)
Century (indoors - London)
Kingswood BC (Flat - Glasgow)
West of Scotland (Indoors - Glasgow)
South Leeds (indoors - Leeds)
Yorkshire County Indoors
New Wortley (crown green - Leeds League)
Holbeck (crown green - Leeds League)
Manchester Commonwealth (Flat - Manchester)
Lancashire County Outdoors
Holbeck (Flat - York)
Yorkshire County Outdoors


My sister is currently the National Ladies Champion of Cyprus and was recently in Christchurch, New Zealand for the Worlds.
She and her husband are the current Doubled Champions.
I used to play - but only indoors - in Tonbridge in Kent. Won a local medal or two, though.
It’s amazing the memories you can conjure back when you have a nice glass of wine in your hand…!


Who knew an introduction on a wine site would stir up memories and wants re playing bowls again. I’ve played county level, with internationals - but I miss the camaraderie of the teams i’ve played with. One day, when the kids no longer care if I am around


Feels like we should create the first Society Community bowls and wine event


I’ll move this to the Sports Chat… just kidding


Surely you start at gully before moving to the covers …?

As Richie Benaud might have said: “What a marvellous delivery from @NorthernWrites that was.”


Good thing too. Who in their right mind assesses the increased risk of cancer every time they contemplate the glass of wine in front of them - apart from Dame Sally, obvs! I used to work for part of NIHR too before I took early retirement in 2015, having come to the end of the project to launch the NIHR Journal website.