POCO is Italian for tiny, Caf Poco abundant proof of what they say about good stuff and little bundles. It's in Wolsingham, one of those eating places - there are too few - which doesn't just help put in the day but positively enhances it.

Though the menu is cosmopolitan - cannelloni to corned beef pie - if we knew the Italian for terrific, it would translate to that, an' all. The flaw, if flaw there must be, is that they can't spell for tofu - not omelette, not lasagne, not even Mediterranean, which is a principal influence.

Formerly the Beehive, it was recently re-opened by brothers Alexander and Richard Lomas, who had La Stalla off Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, but lived in Rookhope, about four villages and several hundred feet up Weardale from Wolsingham. Pilgrim Street was being redeveloped; the Lomas boys seized the chance to think small. "We always worked together as a family," says Alexander. "We wanted to put our personality on a place, to make friends."

Breakfasts - get this - include English, French, American (scrambled egg and bacon, pancakes and maple syrup) and the misspelt Mediterranean (ham, cheese, croissants, baguettes); a daily changing four course dinner menu (Thursday to Saturday) is just £9.50.

We lunched, the Boss starting with a bowl of olives for £1 (nice touch, that) and a glass of red wine which must have been half decent because she didn't for the remainder of the afternoon make her perennial attempt on the Welsh all-comers sneezing record.

The column, warfarin ever closer to a ceasefire, drank mineral water; Sinatra caroused the CD player.

"Who's that singing?" a neighbouring father asked his well behaved children.

"Tom Jones," replied a still-small voice.

"His initials are FS," persisted dad.

Frankie Skinner, said the child.

"Not quite," said dad, probably relieved that they'd never heard of Freddie Starr, either.

It's a true caf: seats outside in summer, blue and white checked tablecloths, big mirror like they used to have at the barber's. No minimum charge.

Alexander cooked, Richard served with adroit informality. Sinatra turned to Rambling Sid Rumpo, that rude fellow from Round the Horne.

We both ordered enchiladas - she vegetable, we chicken, both manifestly fresh and served in Tex-Mex pairs with sauce, fragrant rice and excellent re-fried beans.

A single, substantial piece of chocolate cake followed, with two spoons. "Almost as good as my mother's," The Boss insisted. Her mother, for reasons which may be obvious, only reads The Echo on Wednesday and Friday. Occasionally it's just as well.

The whole lot - the olives, the wine, the delicious enchiladas, the wonderful cake, a couple of mineral waters, couple of coffees - tottered to £16.

Everyone smiled, it was that sort of genuinely nice place. Bellissimo, as probably they say in Wolsingham.

* Caf Poco, Market Place, Wolsingham Co Durham (01388) 527940. Closed Monday and Tuesday in winter. Best to book evenings.

THE piece two weeks ago on the posh new Thai restaurant in Durham helped perpetuate a common error.

It's in the Millburngate Centre, not the Milburngate, named not after sundry Northumbrian heroes but after the humble Mill Burn which runs in a culvert beneath it.

"The city and county councils usually get it right but unfortunately nodded when a plaque was placed on the new Millburngate Bridge in the 60s," writes Martin Snape from that fair city.

Headed "Quibble corner", it's a friendly note from a familiar correspondent. "A trivial mispelling," concedes Martin. Or misspelling even, old friend?

STILL in Durham, we wrote last week of Jumbo's, the pile 'em high Chinese buffet restaurant at the other end of North Road.

Paul Dobson in Bishop Auckland was already aware of it, £6.99 in the early evening, sent one of his intended party round for a Christmas menu and was surprised to discover it was £12.99.

"On telephoning Mr Jumbo I was told that prices went up on December 1 for the festive season," he reports. An ancient Oriental custom, no doubt.

KEITH Dufton was in the inky trade, perhaps best remembered as television writer on the Sunday Sun. An appraisal (or whatever the damn things are called) described him as "eccentric", a badge which - like his earring - he wears with pride.

Possibly it was his eccentricity, possibly rather a lot of ale, which prompted a late night observation to the landlady of his local in Staithes, near Whitby, that if she ever decided to move on, he wanted first option.

"Did you mean what you said last night?" she enquired the following, Phensic fuelled, morning.

"Course, I did," said Keith, unwilling to acknowledge his amnesia. The brewery area manager was round next day.

One fling led to another. After the Royal George in Staithes, he and his partner Shirlie Stone - a former record company executive - ran the Railway Hotel at Rothbury, Northumberland.

Now they're at the Quarry Burn at Hunwick, between Bishop Auckland and Willington. The Burn flows, he admits, only fitfully. The village has three other pubs and a workmen's.

Formerly the Wheatsheaf - which is what it still says on the bus tickets, though locals just call it the Corner House - it's run as a friendly local with adjoining restaurant, the pub dog barred from one though conspicuous in t'other.

Crossed more times than Newton Cap bridge, the animal is said by its owner to resemble a fruit bat and to have the happy knack of barking at those who don't put their hands in their pockets. It would have a field day after Northern League management committee meetings.

The restaurant's hung with work by local artists, a poster from something called the Staithes Group and a theatre poster from the Grand at Brighton, featuring Marie Martin.

Ms Martin, the Boss questionably observed, was responsible for the line about 'Dead, dead and never called me mother'."

Four of us ate, otherwise alone. Mr Brian Hunt, the virtual opposite of a vegetarian, asked that his chips might be burned black.

"It'll just be like being at home," said the cheery waitress.

The menu's international, portions generous, Strongarm and Banks's bitter well kept. The chips weren't even dark brown. "New fat," they said. "Very nice," said Mr Hunt.

That fishcakes came with a chutney so sweet it might have been marmalade, an inch thick pork steak arrived with a rich mustard sauce, we finished with meringue and Belgian ice cream. Three courses for four £48.

Like the fruit bat, Keith remained in the bar. There isn't a television; that's another story entirely.

WHILST the leaders of Britain and France dined on English lamb at the County in Aycliffe Village, Beryl Wilson in Darlington was researching her family tree. Bartholomew Kent, her great great uncle, had the County for several years in the 1870s. His father, another Bart, kept the Ram Inn - now a private house around the corner.

Bart the elder was also a butcher. "I'm sure that had Mr Disraeli or Mr Gladstone had cause to call in at either establishment," writes Beryl, "beef would definitely have been on the menu."

....and finally, the bairns wondered if we knew what contains sandwiches, an apple and a bottle of something invigorating and goes around shouting "The bells, the bells."

The lunch pack of Notre Dame.