Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Bakewell Show Again

Bakewell Agricultural and Horticultural Show takes place on the first Wednesday and Thursday of August every year and has been going now for 180 years! I've been going for over 30 of those years but regrettably it is no longer the lovely rural event that it used to be. The farm animals and country crafts have been pushed into the background and the whole thing has become more and more urbanized. I feel that the Show committee are losing touch with their rural roots which seems a pity when there is so much interest these days in the countryside and the old rural crafts and skills. The cattle are now in a permanent building at the side of the Showground which is normally the cattle market and all the judging takes place in the area at the front. If you go early enough you can go and look round inside and the farmers are happy to talk to you about their animals. The photo above is of a lovely Hereford calf. As always, the photos will enlarge if you click on them.

An English Longhorn with her five week old calf. English Longhorns are a very ancient breed, they were used in the medieval times both for ploughing and as a source of milk for butter and cheesemaking.

A closer look at the Longhorn calf who was as interested in J and I as we were in her!

A Red Dexter having her tail combed and fluffed before her big moment.

A Limousin posing nicely for the judge - not necessarily always the case, one or two of the cattle were decidely frisky...

...such as this Black Dexter who obviously could think of more interesting things to do than walking round the judging ring!

This Eagle Owl is at Bakewell every year helping to raise funds for the sanctuary for injured birds of prey. Injured birds are treated and then released back into the wild apart from those who would no longer be able to fend for themselves.

A Harris Hawk was another of the birds of prey on the same stand. I'm hoping to have a closer encounter with one of these soon as a friend of mine has got one that he flies and he's promised to bring her to meet me. She's a working bird though not a pet so how close I get will depend on whether she like s me or not! I'm hoping to be able to wear the glove and hold her on my arm though.

Neither agricultural nor horticultural I admit but oh! how I love these wonderful vintage cars. The next few photos are just a personal indulgence:) This is the one I'd drive off in given half a chance - a fabulous 1936 Aston Martin. Racing green too, my favourite car colour.

1926 Bullnose Morris Cowley Tourer - not as dashing but kind of cute.

A 1936 Rolls Royce and very nice too. There was a really good turnout of vintage cars this year.

A different kind of horse power here, a lovely Shire horse decorated up to the nines. This wasn't work-a-day gear of course but is a reminder of May Day celebrations when the working horses were decorated with garlands of ribbons and flowers, and paraded through villages and around the countryside in order to encourage the health of the horses, and the fertility of crops and fields.

My favourite part of the whole Show is watching the heavy horses, each year there seem to be more teams entering and it's great to think that these wonderful horses are gradually regaining popularity again. This is a pair of grey Percherons pulling what I think is a vegetable cart.

Not a very good photo but it is in because the Suffolk Punches are my favourite heavy horses. Until the 1930s the Suffolks were very much an East Anglian breed and of course it was just as they were beginning to be used in other parts of the country that mechanization took over and the heavy horses became redundant. The Suffolk Punch is the oldest breed of heavy horse in Great Britain and in the 1960s they came very close to dying out. Even today the Suffolk Punch is on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's critical list.

These are Belgian heavy horses pulling a lovely old Yorkshire Wolds waggon,the horses were lovely but definitely didn't do speed:) I loved the whole turnout because they weren't all professionally done up as all the other entrants in the class were, they looked as though they'd come straight off the farm which appealed to me very much.

I enjoy watching the carriage driving and the Concours d-elegance too.

I always enjoy seeing the display that the National Vegetable Society produce, it didn't seem quite as bountiful as usual this year and we did wonder whether it hasn't been a very good year for vegetables. It isn't a good photo as there was a constant crowd of people in front of it.

Finally some of the prize winners waiting to take part in the Grand Parade, that brief appearance in the main ring is about all that most of the public see of them. J and L both feel that since I'm a Patron of the Show I should write to the Committee and voice my reservations about the direction the Show is taking - not that I think they'll take much notice of a lone voice. On the other hand it may turn out that others agree with me so I shall send them a letter and see what the response is!


Derrick said...

Hello Rowan,

I'm glad you enjoyed your day. It must be a difficult decision, getting the right balance in the show and I imagine that gate receipts will be the ruling factor. If the traditional aspects were not drawing the crowds and the newer features have improved matters, the committee may well believe they are keeping the show alive. More and more of us are becoming divorced from the countryside it would seem. BUT you are certainly right to write! They need all the feedback they can get whether they like it or not!

Wanda..... said...

I enjoyed your post of the Bakewell Show very much, Rowan. On a lighter note though, those were awfully long carrots and very massive cows in the last two photos!

Piecefulafternoon said...

A wonderful day - so much to see. Do write and give your opinion - they'll never know unless someone speaks up.

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Rowan, I'm so impressed that you know the names of all those cars and animals! It looks like a wonderful show and your pictures are just beautiful. As always though, the narrative just makes it -- thanks so much for taking all the time to share with us!

FireLight said...

Rowan, 'wouldn't it be luverly' to tour around in that carriage with those two black beauties leading the way? I would absolutely adore attending The Bakewell Show! Thanks for all the fabulous images!

WOL said...

I'm with you, Rowan. I love the heavy horses, too. If I had been there with you, I would have been over the moon! Beautiful, beautiful animals, the heavy horses! (Though I love them all, I must admit I'm the tiniest bit partial to the Clydesdales and the Percherons, especially the dappled greys.) I am definitely putting some of your lovely pictures of them into heavy rotation on my wallpaper changer software. The irony is, while tractors are less labor intensive to operate and make life easier for the farmer in certain ways, they are very hard on the land, compacting it and squeezing the air out. Also, even though taking care of them means more work for the farmer, the heavy horses provide a much better class of fertilizer than the chemicals used now. There are pockets here and there in America where those who have managed to hold onto their family farms are going organic and have started going back to horse drawn farm implements. Horses are cheaper to acquire, a lot cheaper to fuel, they can save you a bundle in fertilizer costs, and if you choose them carefully, you get next year's model for free!

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely day out. I feel as if I were there too! I agree with you about the rural aspect though - I think it is vital to keep that side alive, especially as there is a growing interest in rural crafts and life. No harm done by voicing your opinion.

Mac n' Janet said...

Loved your Blog. We always went to the county fair when I was a child, loved the animals and homemade crafts and food. But as I've grown older the fair has changed, more for drinking, roving packs of teenagers and loud music. Stopped going years ago. We thought it might be better here in the rural south but it hasn't been. Guess I'm just getting old!

George said...

Thanks for the lovely tour of the Bakewell Show. Quite elaborate and very interesting.

Dartford Warbler said...

I did enjoy this post, especially the Heavy Horses. Those Belgian horses look very solid animals!

PAT said...

Love this post, Rowan!

Your photos are wonderful.

Our niece and nephew showed steers all the while they were in high school. We spent many hot July nights sitting in the show barn at the county fair. They always had blue ribbon livestock and a couple of grand champions. Your post brings back those happy memories, for me.

Thanks so much for coming by the Back Porch. I told J, yesterday, I was taking today off, put my feet up and visit my blogs. I have been a tad slow visiting, this summer.

SouthernHeart said...

Oh, how I would have loved this show! Great pics! I especially would love to have the English Longhorn calf...what a face!

Diane said...

I used to go every year when I was little with my Grandma and Grandad (It always rained!!!) The last time I went would have been about 10 years ago - we always seem to be on holiday when its on these days. The grand parade looks lovely - what magnificent beasts! I hope you get a response from your letter. xxx

Hollace said...

The size of the animals in the last photo is amazing!

Your blog is so well spoken and expresses both the love for the show and the consequent disappointment with changes that I think you should send a copy of the blog itself to the committee.

I had no idea there were so many kinds of working horses. Here, we just see the Clydesdales in parades every so often.

Anonymous said...

Hello Rowan,
Such an interesting show. 180 years tradition, that's something.

About three weeks ago I was on holiday and several times we were passing by a place where new modern tractors were parked. They were blue and rounded and I admired them in a way I would never believe. I still regret I didn't take a photo of them. They replaced horses and the countryside looks different today but I liked that. But it's true that there are not many individuals breeding cattle or horses and you don't see pigs and hens in village house yards, this "home agriculture" has changed a lot.

ruthie said...

I especially love the horse & cart! what a wonderful way to travel.

Anonymous said...

Great photos of the show. As you know, I love the heavy horses the best. If only I had the land, I would keep Suffolk Punches, gorgeous, graceful beasts that they are.

Do write to the Committee, I'd be interested to hear their reply.

Shirl xxx

Morning's Minion said...

Thank you especially for the photos and remarks about the horses. I would turn out for them any time.

Anonymous said...

This year we had our first red dexter calf born, we have always have black or duns before, and so is so lovely!

Anonymous said...

How did I miss this post. Love the Longhorn calf and the little "Deckies". My wife's Grandad use to keep Dexter cattle.