Monday, 28 July 2014

The Mid Devon Show

Last Saturday morning we all piled into the jeep and set off for the Mid Devon Show. Now I have to confess that I love county shows; I guess deep down I'm still a country girl at heart. There were three generations of us on board: my husband and me, Emi, and my parents and we were all pretty excited about our big day out.

In country circles the local show is one of the high points of the year. I have happy memories of my grandma and my mum entering their Victoria Sandwich Cakes, jams and flower arrangements at our own local Clogher Valley Show back in Ulster. One of my father's cousins still goes along with her best Aberdeen Angus cows every year.

And the Mid Devon Show certainly didn't disappoint. It was brilliant. The sun shone, the cider flowed and everyone had a ball.

The boys made a beeline for the tractors. We're not in the market for a new tractor, but they just like to tyre-kick. I can't say I blame them; some of the modern tractors are such leviathans. Just look how tall the small front wheel of this monster is: Emi could fit comfortably under the mudguard.

But then I guess they've always been keen on bigging up the horsepower for work around the farm.  Just look at this fine chap, all decked out and ready for action:

It must have taken a day and a half to get him brushed and cleaned and into his finery. And I'd really rather not have the job of polishing all his horse brasses.

My father remembers having a gentle giant like this on my grandfather's farm. Back in Ulster each small-holder would have kept a dray horse, and then at ploughing time they did a horse-share with their neighbour, bringing their horse to the neighbour's farm to make up a pair to pull the plough.

There were lots of other horses on display as well. I was particularly taken with the carriage driving competition.

I especially liked the old London rag and bone wagon with its wonderful prancing horse, and the bucket on behind to pick up the poop to bring home for the roses.
I also admired this very elegant lady in her carriage with a groom on behind to open the gates as she drove along.
Emi and his dad were much more in awe of the stunt motor bike riders. I watched them with bated breath, thinking all the while about how one miscalculation could cost them their lives.

I much preferred the relaxed domesticity of the fowl enclosure. For many a long while I've hankered after a few chooks of my own that I could keep in the back garden, but the thriving London fox population and my gypsy lifestyle have held me back from getting any. Don't you think Mr Rooster and his hen are just about the most handsome couple in the chicken coop?

Or how about a couple of crested ducks? They'd be sure to prettify any duck pond that they graced with their presence.

There were any number of exotic, pristine birds, many of whom were for sale - so very tempting ... .
Then we went to take a look at the cattle enclosure. Now I have to say that I'm a really big fan of the moo cows. Those big bulls are the top animals in any farmyard so far as I'm concerned. Maybe it's my Irish background, and all the old stories from the Táin about Queen Maeve of Connacht's attempt to capture the great Brown Bull of Cooley to match her husband's White Bull of Connacht and her battle with Conchobar mac Nessa, King of Ulster, and his champion warrior Cú Chulainn. Whatever the way of it the bull is my undisputed king of the farmyard for whom I have total respect.

Now who would pick a fight with this majestic Limousin bull? Isn't he amazing?

Or how about this wonderful Angus bull? He seemed to be eye-balling me when I dared to take his photo. He's not a lad to be messed with, that's for sure.

I love the little Dexters who come originally from County Cork. Aren't they the sweetest little fellas?

Or how about the Red Devon? What a beautiful family: Mr and Mrs out for the day with junior in tow.

At the risk of being very boring I could spend all day showing you photos of my favourite cows, but how about those lovely calves that were led out by the children?

This sweet little girl was only 8, and she led her beef calf into the arena like a total pro.

This little girl was a very grown-up 10. You could tell that she'd been doing this for a few years.

And this handsome young farmer-of-the-future was a canny 12.

They were all amazing, and I'm sure their parents were really proud of how well they all performed.

After the amazing cattle Emi decided that he'd have a go on the bucking bronco. Everything went well ... for a while.

He won a rosette, which Maxi wore proudly for the rest of the day.

And then we went to have a look at the WI flower arranging, just to change the tempo and shake things up a bit. And being country ladies they used country props for their arrangements. Check out the bailor:

Inside they had a selection of amazing competition winners. This was the best Victoria Sandwich cake.

And here are the winning entries from the flower arrangement competitions:

Next we took a quick turn in the bunny tent, where lots of very cute noses were twitching nervously at a very excited Maxi,who had never met a rabbit before. We decided not to hang around too long in case he out-stayed his welcome.

We left him outside with the boys who wanted to take another turn around the tractors and went to check out the goats and the pigs.

It was really hot down with the pigs, who were suffering just to stay alive in the heat. But the rather grand dame below looked like she could have been cast as the Empress from Blandings - or, well, she could have been if she'd been a black Berkshire.

The goats, on the other hand, seemed to be coping just fine with the hot weather.

And this little chap actively wanted a chat with us. He came right over and bleated on for several minutes about whatever was on his mind.
Outside Emi had a go at a few rural pursuits. Here he is working hard on a handle for someone's scythe.

There were lots of wonderful country crafts on display from bee-keeping to Honiton lace-making, ironwork and knitting to field work with hunting dogs. Sadly the ferret racing was called off owing to the heat, which was a shame as I was especially looking forward to that one.

As you've probably gathered we had a brilliant time. There was something to entertain all three generations. These shows have a timeless formula, which is a real winner. If you'd like to have a great day out, see the animals and get a window into country living, they're the real deal. There are a raft of them taking place up and down the country over the remainder of the summer. You can find the calendar for forthcoming events here: Country Shows.

All the best for now,

Bonny x


  1. We -- DH and I -- spent an entertaining half hour scrolling through and enjoying your photos! My husband grew up on a farm and is still smitten with all things to do with machinery and livestock. It was so fun comparing your photos with our Midwestern USA experiences! My favorites were the black and white rooster and the ducks! thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Charlene. I'm glad you and your husband enjoyed them. I think it's true the world over: if you're born a country boy/ girl you never really change. Thanks for stopping by. All the best, Bonny