TERRY GARNER has been serving the nation’s favourite food to the people of North Yorkshire from his mobile fish and chip business for nigh-on four decades.

Despite his longevity, his mentions in the D&S Times – at least in the last 20 years – have been limited to a disagreement with Masham Town Council over the location of his pitch in 2006, and a fire which destroyed his van while serving villagers in Hutton Rudby in 2013. It took Terry and partner Jean Stubbs just two weeks to get back on the road after that dramatic mishap.

It’s no secret that opportunities for culinary ventures to fill this column are limited at the moment, particularly in the small village on the edge of the North York Moors that I call home. The village pub briefly operated a delivery service, until full lockdown came into force, and we are so far out that other takeaway options are non-existent.

I say that not to denigrate Terry’s fish and chips in any way, but instead to explain the excitement in our small household when my sister and I remembered that when Wednesday rolled around, it meant the possibility of a takeaway.

A quick telephone call to Terry confirmed he would indeed be at his usual spot at approximately 7.20pm that evening. We even managed to drum up another customer when happening across a friend in the woods while out for our daily walk. From opposite sides of the forest track, we shared details of our locked down lives, from the challenges of home schooling, to the size of the queue outside Tesco, to the latest on the spread of this horrible virus. A mention of our call to Terry saw her just as excited as we were for the possibility of a fish and chip supper for her family. Having a life-long compulsion to be early everywhere she goes, when we ventured down the village at 7.19pm, she was already in line, despite there being no sign of Terry or his van.

The queue was very well spaced, with everyone maintaining impeccable social distancing, but as time went on, we worried that demand in the village before us would mean... no chips left for us. To have got this close to a takeaway only to have our hopes dashed would have been truly crushing.

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Still, standing at opposite ends of a chilly layby at dusk felt like the best night out we’d had in ages, so all was not lost.

But Terry didn’t let us down, and at about ten to eight, there he was, honking all the way up the village to announce his arrival, with fish and chips aplenty. Okay, he had run out of mushy peas, but no matter, we got a bag of scraps instead, passed the time of day, and scuttled home.

And what a treat it was. Mountains of chips, crispy batter and fluffy fish, with a slice of bread and butter on the side (our own addition). A liberal coating of salt and vinegar, plenty of tomato sauce, and a cup of Yorkshire Tea to finish.

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If we shut our eyes, we could be sunning ourselves in Whitby, not sitting by the fire wondering whether to continue with our mission to re-watch the entire five series of Line of Duty, or to continue reading the same chapter of a book about James Hunt I’ve been trying to get through for about three weeks (it’s not the book at fault, it’s my concentration span).

Is it possible that my judgement of the quality of the meal was affected by the fact I haven’t been anywhere for nearly three weeks? Quite possibly, but although this is primarily a food column, it is also about the experiences, and emotions that come with a good meal. (And for a total bill of £11, it was extremely good value).

During this stressful, anxiety-ridden time, it was a brief interlude of near-normality, all achieved within the current government health guidance.

While we haven’t quite devised a scoring system for these new-style eating in isolation reviews, for delivering that welcome blast of nostalgia for a simpler time, deep fried, and wrapped in golden batter, Terry’s fish and chips get full marks from me.

  • Terry’s fish and chips: Delivering to villages around Northallerton and Stokesley: Call 07801 130146