POLICE are appealing to motorists to help catch thieves who stole Christmas presents from an isolated house near the A66.

The intruders forced their way into the property sometime between noon and 6.45pm on Thursday, and took a PlayStation 2, videos, jewellery and other electrical appliances. The house is close to the A66 and its junction with the A1. Detectives hope passing motorists may have noticed something suspicious. Anyone who can help is asked to call (01748) 789357, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

LOCAL HISTORY: The Northallerton and District Local History Society will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, February 11, at 7pm, in Northallerton library. Clare Jobling will give an illustrated talk on the changing village life of Danby Wiske during the past 60 years. For details, call (01609) 883267.

VALENTINE'S SPECIAL: Visitors are invited to mark St Valentine's day with a romantic stroll around Fountains Abbey on Friday, February 14, and end the evening with a meal for two. The abbey will be open between 5pm and 8.15pm. From 8pm, the restaurant will be serving a three-course dinner from £22.95 per person. To book, call (01765) 643196.

FREE SWIM: Three swimming pools in York have announced they would provide free Sunday sessions to youngsters. All children under the age of 15 will be able to swim for free every Sunday afternoon this month, between 1.30pm and 3pm at York Barbican Centre, Edmund Wilson swimming Pool and Yearsley swimming pool.

BUS SCHEME: The Hambleton District Council bus pass scheme is to be extended. From April, men over the age of 60 will be eligible. Previously the qualifying age was 65.

VIKINGS EXPERT: TV archaeologist Julian Richards will be giving a lecture, Blood of the Vikings, at the Yorkshire Museum, in York, on Friday, February 14, at 7pm.

WINTER CONCERT: A performance by Kirill Gerstein opens the Harrogate International Festival Sunday Series tomorrow. The concert begins at the town's Old Swan Hotel at 11am, with tickets priced from £11.

ROAD CLOSURE: The minor road linking Burrill Road and Sinks Lane, in Bedale, will be closed from Monday until Friday for repairs. A diversion will be signposted.