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.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bakewell Show

Last week my friend J and I went to our local Agricultural Show at Bakewell. The weather forecast was bad but in actual fact it turned out to be a nice warm,dry and often sunny day. The photo above is a magnificent Hereford bull being judged. I never normally get to see the farm animals because the friend I usually go with isn't interested. She's away this year though so I asked J if she'd like to go with me and as she's a real countrywoman we saw and did all the bits of the Show that I normally miss.

An Ayrshire calf waiting her turn for judging.

We went inside the building where the cattle were kept, it's normally the cattle market so the surroundings are ideal for them, it's cool and dry and so much better than the marquees where they were housed when I first started going to the Show. On hot days it must have been miserable for them inside those canvas marquees.
When I was taking photos many of the farmers invited me to go inside the pens with the animals. In this case I had a close encounter with another of the Hereford bulls, I like cattle so I'm not at all nervous around them.

Isn't she lovely? This is a two week old Dexter calf, they are the smallest British breed of cow standing only 36-42 inches high at the shoulder. They are a really interesting breed and come originally from South West Ireland. They are descended from the predominently black cattle of the early Celts so have a very long history. Dexters are very hardy and are used for both beef and milk.

Here she is in the judging ring with mum. You can see from the height compared to the people in the photo how small the Dexters are.

A Hereford cow with her calf. I like Herefords, they are gentle animals and an old English breed coming originally, as their name suggests, from Herefordshire.

J and I were delighted to discover several ladies spinning on various types of wheel. There is talk of us going over to Edale in the autumn to have some spinning lessons. J is planning to have a couple of sheep and her plan seems to be that she raises and shears them and I get to spin the fleeces!

This is a walking wheel which has come from Maine in the USA. The young lady using it told us that in the old houses you could often see a groove in the beaten earth floors where the woman doing the spinning had spent hours every day walking back and forth using this type of wheel.

The ladies in red were all members of one family - five in all - who keep alive the crafts of spinning and natural dying and associated crafts. This is a picture done in felting, my photo doesn't do it justice but it will show up better if you click on the picture to enlarge it.

I just love the wonderful soft colours that are achieved using natural materials, many are surprisingly bright and vibrant but the colours are never harsh. This is another craft I'd love to try.

Appropriately enough, right next to the spinners was The Sheep Show. The New Zealander who presented this was both amusing and informative. He was an ex-sheep farmer so really knew what he was talking about. We were introduced to various breeds of sheep and first on stage was Nobby the Norfolk Longhorn who was one of several rare breeds that we met. I'm afraid that most of the sheep were decidedly male and attempts at discreet photos were doomed!

I just love Lenny the Lincoln Longwool - who could resist anything as cute as this?
This breed is a very old one and was certainly around in the mid 1700s but sadly is now one of Britain's rarest breeds, there are only 1500 breeding females left.

The last one onstage was Harry the Herdwick who was another really attractive chap. These are the native sheep of the Lake District and incredibly hardy, they graze the fells as high as 3000ft. Their name 'Herdwick' actually means sheep pasture.

Our New Zealand friend then gave a demonstration of sheep shearing on a reasonably willing 'volunteer'. The really sad thing is that the fleeces, once the source of England's great wealth, are now so valueless that they barely cover the cost of shearing. I have a post planned about my visit to Suffolk to see my two grandsons, that part of England is full of the most wonderful churches all built in the Middle Ages by wealthy merchants whose fortunes were all based on sheep and the wool they produced. The finale to the Sheep Show was the sheep dancing to disco music - each had already come on to its own particular theme music, Lenny the Lincoln Longwool came on to Jimi Hendrix for instance :):) When the music started nothing happened for a minute or two then gradually each of the sheep started jigging about in its own individual (very individual in a couple of cases) style. It was absolutely hilarious and J and I had tears running down our faces. No-one was making fun of the sheep at all, it was the pure entertainment value and they got a huge burst of applause at the end.

The next stop was the centre ring where we sat in the Grandstand and watched the carriage driving. I always enjoy seeing this glimpse of the past. This elegant equipage was this year's winner.

This is my favourite event, I've always loved the heavy working horses and it's encouraging to see that each year there are more and more of them at the Show. Ten years ago there would only be 3 or 4 entries but this year there were ten. I don't care who wins, I love them all. It's quite unusual to see the horses harnessed in tandem like the ones above but there were two entries using this style.

A beautiful pair of grey Shire horses.

This shows several of the heavy horse turnouts and also gives an idea of the lovely setting that Bakewell Show has.

Next we wandered up to the area where the vintage cars were, passing this great old machine on the way. I'm not sure whether it's just a baler or whether it is both threshing and baling. If I'd had any sense I'd have asked one of the men working on it! I didn't photograph any of the cars because there wasn't anything really outstanding for once. If I had unlimited money the first thing I'd buy would be one of those wonderful 1930s cars with running boards and picnic hampers strapped on the back.....

....something like this for instance! A gorgeous 1937 Bentley. Not my photo in this case I hasten to add.

However, back to reality and the inside of the Horticultural tent. This is part of the display by the National Vegetable Society. I look forward to seeing what they do every year, these displays are just as artistic and pleasing as any of the exhibits in the flower arranging classes. More so really, I see very few flower arrangements that I actually like, they are all too artificial and arty-farty to appeal to me I'm afraid. I realise that they take great skill and freely admit I couldn't do them myself - but they just aren't my thing.

J and I thought this was great, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that it's a chicken with some eggs. It didn't win a prize in the vegetable animal class but we thought it was the best one.

Finally back to the Grandstand to see the Four Shires bloodhounds. Bloodhounds are so called because of their superb bloodlines which go back hundreds of years. Their quarry is human not animal and they are incredibly friendly dogs.Do follow the link to find out more about these great dogs and the sport of hunting the clean boot.
Above is the huntsman remounting his horse after a huge crowd of children had been in the ring to meet the dogs.

Finale - the huntsman riding at full tilt and blowing his hunting horn. After watching the Pony Club games for a while - such fun and sheer pandemonium! - we decided it was time for home after a really wonderful day out.


Janet said...

This looks like one of our county or state fairs. I haven't been in years but always enjoyed them. My (English) grandfather raised cattle in Kansas and I believe they were Herefords. I know he was fairly well-known in his area and considered very knowledgeable about cattle.

The veggie displays are fantastic! I agree with you about flower arranging....I much prefer wildflowers plunked into a vase!

I thoroughly enjoyed your day at the Bakewell Show.

Jenny said...

What a wonderful post. I would have loved to come along for the show, and I think CJ would have enjoyed it as well! I particularly enjoyed the picture of the Herdwick sheep as I know they're the breed Beatrix Potter had on her farm and I've never seen a real photo of one. Also, I'm not a "car" person, but the picture of the one you included reminded me of one of my favorite mysteries on DVD- Albert Campion. I believe he had a car very similar to the one in your post. Sorry to ramble on- I'll be looking forward to your Suffolk post!

rel said...

A delightful trip as usual and a reminder that I haven't been to any "Fairs" Since our young ones departed the nest.

PAT said...

Rowan, this was fun!

Our niece and nephew showed steers in our county fair for several years. We spent many very hot July evenings in the stands during judging. They showed Angus or black white face steers. Our herd on the farm was mixed. Hereford, Angus and Charolais, I can't remember how to spell that last one. They are white.

Rosie said...

It's years since I went to the Bakewell Show but I feel from your photos and words as if I have been again. I love the Lincolnshire longwool sheep - we learned all about them for the agricultural gallery in the Museum I used to work in and used to see them when we had a stand at the Lincolnshire Show. I love all the huge churches in the eastern counties built and endowed usually by rich wool merchants - indeed the Museum I worked in was in a hall built by just such a rich wool merchant. I was amused by the connection between the Lenny the Lincolnshire Longwool and Jimi Hendrix whom I saw perform live almost as many years ago as I last visited the Bakewell Show. Thanks for bringing back many happy memories for me:)

Sheila said...

I love the Hereford Bull, he's magnificent.
I hadn't heard of Dexters. I imagine them to be the bovine equivalent of Shetland ponies..?
Most of all I would have like to have seen the sheep dancing, it makes me smile just to think about it..!
A wonderful day at the fair, and I'm glad the weather so-operated for you.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Dear Rowan

I've been enjoying your blog for a while - thank you especially for the beautiful walks you've taken us on. I sent my parents a link to your blog so they could enjoy it too. They love the Peak District but can't now walk in the dales and moors as much as they used to. And I live in Sussex now so I don't get there very often either.

A few weeks ago I walked with them through Bradford Dale and Youlgrave. We began the walk at Middleton and on the descent from there into Bradford Dale stood an intriguing piece of sculpture with a poem inscribed on it about sheep dipping. It looks like a rackety pile of books. Do you happen to know anything about it? There's a photo of it in my
latest blog post

Thanks again from Sarah

Lynda (Granny K) said...

My Mum took me to the Bakewell Show in 1959 - I especially loved to see the horses.

Annie Jeffries said...

This is so much like like our local and state fairs but with some marvelous differences like the huntsmen and the carriages (which I don't recall ever seeing). Liked the spinners too.

Miss Robyn said...

I love country shows like this. Ours are held March to May in all the little country towns out west.. ending in the Easter Show in Sydney. I adore the cattle too.. and seeing the sheep shorn is marvellous. here they have races to see who can do the most sheep in a set time. the guys are amazing.
this is a fantastic post Rowan, thankyou xo

Carol said...

Thank you Rowan for your kind words. xx
Well there was something for everyone there ! what a brilliant day out you must have had.
I do like the cattle, such big but soft natured animals.
All of your pictures are great and it is so nice to see these things still happen and traditions are passed on.
Carol xx

Peaceful/Paisible said...

what gorgeous photos ! have the impression of being there ! just need a good cup'a !

Unknown said...

Hi Rowan,

What a delight to see the Bakewell Fair through your camera lens. I especially love the sheep and the basket of fleece in all of the soft ethereal colors were so unique. I have never seen anything like it.

What a treat to visit you. Thanks so much, Janice

Tess Kincaid said...

There's something very friendly about cows. Lovely fair photos!

Tea said...

Really enjoyed another of your adventures, Rowan. That fleece looks lovely too!


Bovey Belle said...

Fabulous show - I feel like I've been there with you. I love county shows like that, with plenty to interest you.

If you check out my blog, there is something over there for you. Jennie xx

Breezy said...

Thank you Rowan that was really fascinating. I followed your bloodhound link too that looks like a good day out doesn't it.

smilnsigh said...

I never realized that a bull would stand still, for judging.

My daughter spins...

Miss Mari-Nanci

Sue Seibert said...

Wow, I love seeing these people animals. We used to have a "Fat Stock Show" here. Then "fat" became not pc, so now it's just the Stock Show. I loved seeing all your photos. Spectacular. You guys in UK really know how to put on a fair. At our last state fair, none of the artisans were on hand to show how they worked, and all the pieces had already been judged before the fair began :( . Anyway, thanks so much for sharing.

Ragged Roses said...

I love days like this Rowan, it seems you do too! I agree totally about those wool colours, they are so much prettier when dyed with natural dyes. I really enjoyed your Brief Encounter post, I read about this station recently and have put it on my "wish list"

hen said...

Thank you for fantastic post!! Just like being there!


Andylynne said...

Thank you for the trip to the show it was lots of fun. I think I'm going to have to have one of those Bloodhounds LOL. The ears look like they would be like pure silk.

Andylynne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BloggyMom said...

Thank you for your comment about crab apples. Unfortunately the worms got to the apples before I did. I had to throw them all out. :(

nita x said...

the bakewell show looks wonderfull, fun had by all :)
ive also left an award for you on my blog ;)

nita xx

Heidianne said...

Iam having my morning coffee and enjoying a visit to the show. I love that I can share this trip via the net. It really is an amazing thing this internet.. Great pictures, wonderful post and blog, thanks for day out!

Goosey said...

Looks like a great show, I saw the Sheep man a couple of years ago at the Great Dorset Steam Fair...he's really funny!Lovely blog too.

Monique said...

Great pictures. I love those kind of gatherings. We have a little one where we live once a year and it's always very busy.
I love the naturally coloured fleece too, such marvelous colours !!!
Have a wonderful weekend !!!

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

We don't have many shows like this local to us, I'd have to go to Bordeaux or Paris and they're a long way away.

So thanks for the wonderful commentary and great photos !

(Lovely blog!)

Tea said...

Hi Rowan

Just popped by tho say that I`m thinking about you and hope all is haven`t posted in quite a awhile.


uphilldowndale said...

The lad with the calf, he was at Hope show!!
I love Bakewell, but we were away on holiday so I missed it.