EARLY to rise, the Breakfast Club was at Lewis and Cooper as they threw back the bolts, followed upstairs the allure of fresh ground coffee and found a table by the window.

Mr George H Lewis and Mr B B Cooper set up shop in Northallerton High Street in 1899 - telephone Northallerton 8 - early advertisements promising discount coupons on any item over threepence and that they'd exchange goods "and not look cross".

Often called the Fortnum and Mason of the North, it remains happily independent, though there's no longer much for threepence.

The shop even features in the Yorkshire version of Monopoly, prompting an early doors debate on the great game's etiquette. Mr Macourt is ruthless, apparently, applies something called inter-probability theory, which he learned at university. The reverend gentleman, forever on Old Kent Road, now refuses to play him.

The shop's also proudly Yorkshire, of course, all fat rascals and parkin metre. There's Botham's pies and Greengrass Old Rogue stout, Wensleydale cheeses and dry cured Yorkshire bacon.

The front window also offers tea towels of "Yorkshire expressions", like "She's as thrang as Throp's wife".

Translated it means she's always busy - but who, or what, was Throp?

Amid all the Tyke it or leave it, however, among the famous china - a department begun when Mr Lewis brought a trunk full of chamber pots from abroad and hoped the bottom wouldn't fall out of the market - among the ham and the hampers, they sell union jacks, too.

It seems wholly, patriotically appropriate. There'll always be an England and, it's to be hoped, a Lewis and Cooper an' all.

The Centenary Tea Room is pleasant, civilised, happily unhurried. There are flowers in the fireplace, prints on the walls, pristine waitresses, eager to please.

Though it wasn't on the menu, The Boss wondered if they might run to smoked salmon and scrambled egg. "Certainly," they said. The rest of us had the "Yorkshire start breakfast", £4 95 or £5 50 with toast and marmalade. They sell sausage and marmalade sandwiches, too; Northallerton loves them.

The bacon was as ample as it was brilliant, so crisp you could eat it with the fingers like, say, parkin. Lewis and Cooper managing director Tony Howard is particularly fond of the bacon muffins - "I couldn't start the day without one," he says. If they cured bad legs like they cure Lewis and Cooper bacon, we'd be running for the bus again. Mr Macourt, perhaps huffed at the suggestion of Monopoly megalomania, raised a question mark over the sausages but was deemed a chancer and sent directly to jail.

The black pudding - "local" said the menu, though none would have doubted it - was also from a master of those saturnine arts, the fried eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and what have you all far beyond reproach.

Perhaps heretical of such an establishment, but the coffee seemed a little bland. A great start, for all that.

Downstairs again, The Boss asked for some dry cured bacon to take home. "Sorry, you've eaten the last" said the assistant - a shame, of course, but bah gum we'd rart enjoyed us selves.

OMELETTE Arnold Bennett, as we'd almost supposed last week, is made with smoked haddock, cheese and cream and was much loved by the author during his sojourns at the Savoy.

But who, we'd wondered, was Gordon Bennett?

James Gordon-Bennett Jnr was the son of the founder of the New York Herald, a headstrong young man who at a party at his fiancee's parents' home mistook the fireplace for a toilet and thus put out the fire.

The younger Gordon-Bennett took over the Herald in 1867, when he was 26. An autocratic leader - "If I say the feature is black beetles, black beetles it's going to be" - he was also a noted philanthropist and innovative sportsman.

The expletive, apparently, came into use because whenever anyone opened the paper, Gordon-Bennett was in it and whenever they thought of something, Gordon-Bennett was foremost, or faster, or first.

Remember when next tempted to utter it, however, that it really should have a hyphen.

AMID the higgledy-piggledy delights of Robin Hood's Bay, where all four pubs offer real ale, we lunched in the Dolphin and quaffed Nellie Dene, a gentle summer ale (1035) from Old Mill, near Goole.

The lobster soup (£2.50) was dark and distinguished, the salmon with prawn and cucumber sauce greatly resembled what at home we call fish pie, but was pleasant for all that.

Unless living within 100 yards of the cliff edge, however, there's a feeling about Robin Hood's Bay that really, you can't fall off...

LAST week's note on being refused lunch at the otherwise almost empty Four Alls in Ovington, Teesdale, has aroused much comment - not least from the feller drinking brandy on a tab.

Michael Patterson from the Daleside at Croxdale, near Spennymoor, wrote in amazement. "There are an awful lot of us who have a torrid enough time getting folk through the doors without turning away the most respected food sampler in the region."

The brandy snapper suggests we never again darken the door. It doesn't seem likely, that's all.

...and finally, the incorrigible bairns wondered if we knew what a whole apple can do that half an apple can't.

Look round.