I wrote half a post about this a couple of years ago and never posted it. The show is now an important fixture in our calendar and we went to this year's show last Saturday. This post covers a mixture of two years ago and last Saturday.
Agricultural and horticultural shows are a major feature of life here. It's possible to spend every weekend of the summer relaxing in a different field, watching horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, and other animals paraded around a ring for your entertainment. Any idiot who organises an event in the same week as the Royal Welsh has only themselves to blame when no-one turns up (yes, we've done that). Our local show is in Capel Bangor, a village about ten miles away, and we've attended for the last three years.
Whilst there are sheep...
... and the shearing competition is well worth watching...
... the show mainly features horses.
Unfortunately, I'm not terribly interested in horses.
The lady to the left of the caravan talked to me at great length about peanut butter cookies (her recipe is very rich), ballet (her teacher cried when she gave it up to do A levels), drinking champagne at the Playboy club, and flummery, amongst other things.
I arranged for our friend Keith to drive a tractor for the first time. It went like this: We were chatting to Brython when his son Sion, who's in charge of the vintage and classic vehicles section, came over and spoke to him in Welsh. After Sean had gone Brython said, a little grumpily,
I suppose I'm going to have to drive a tractor, then. Last time I did, I got covered in oil. (He was quite smartly dressed at the time.) Then, to me,
Would you like to drive a tractor? Me:
No, but Keith would. (He'd told me so earlier in the day.) I went off to find Keith, and told him there was an opportunity to drive a tractor if he wanted it, and he did.
Sadly, the 2CV is off the road at the moment. Well, it's not really sad because she'll be in much better shape when she comes home, but we had hoped she might be back by now. Ian still takes part in the old vehicle display, in whatever vehicle he has at the time.
Ian's Mitsubishi Colt, bought just a few days before the show. I blame Tim Minchin.
Did I mention tractors?
There was a competition to guess the weight of this one...
... and there was even a little one for children to sit on:
There were other stalls as well. Our friend Mavis had a cake stall.
While Ian gets involved with the old cars, I'm more interested in the produce tent.
In here may be found competitions for all kinds of garden produce, baking, crafts, photography (Most of which had separate classes for children) and - my favourite section - home brew (no children's class).
At the far end is a class for
Vase of herbs, which I entered, but I think I misjudged the criteria. I went for aesthetic appeal, but the others seemed to be more about usefulness of herbs. I suppose I should have worked that out from the fact that it was in the produce section. Also, I may have been marked down for including weeds in my vase. How can you say rosebay willowherb isn't a herb? It's in the name!
I had a suspicion that the pickles and preserves were judged more on appearance than flavour, and filled a narrow jar of pickled samphire very carefully (it's the one with the luggage label, which rather hides how nicely all the samphire is lined up), but to no avail. My friend Jane explained to me that jars should show no signs of having been used before, should have white lids, and white labels should be on the lower half of the jar, but this isn't written down. My samphire came nowhere.
My two entries in the wine classes (rhubarb in the dry white; sloe in the sweet red) both won, in spite of poor presentation (I didn't even clean the old labels off the bottles). This led to me being awarded the cup for wines, which was nice. Honesty forces me to confess that the reason was that the entries for wine looked like this:
Two years ago, the first time I nervously entered a single bottle of wine (nicely presented in a clean bottle), I arrived to find an older couple unloading a crateful of homebrew: Three entries in each category. I felt a bit intimidated by this, and was over the moon when my oak leaf wine came first in its class. I haven't seen them since.
I was more pleased that my bog myrtle ale came second, as there was more competition in the beer classes:
I also entered an
interesting fir cone ale, which came nowhere, but the judges drank an awful lot of it in coming to that decision.
It's a lovely day, and very relaxing because there's almost nothing to do apart from mooch around and chat to people. Relaxing, that is, apart from the excitement of the produce competitions!