East of England
Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
129Trip End Ongoing
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John and I had our own celebrations yesterday, when we went for a superb meal in a local Thai restaurant - chicken massaman curry - mmmm!!
Today we're off to the East of England Show. The East of England Show is an annual event which takes place mid June - How to describe it, well, it's a huge event with pretty much something for everyone and it's usually really good fun. There are various forms of entertainment, displays, stalls and a wonderful food hall where there are cooking demonstrations and a chance to try and buy the best local foods, directly from the farmers and producers.
We are taking mum and dad with us - so they arrive at our house around 9am and we set off in the direction of Alwalton. We haven't seen them for a couple of weeks, so there is plenty of banter as we go along in the car and the usual incriminations of how long it will be before John suggests something to eat!!!
The entrance we go in through this year brings us out directly in front of the food hall - no one makes any pretence of wanting to do anything else first, so we head straight in there for some testers and tasters. Mum, Dad and John get engrossed in trying lots of different wines and local ciders and I wander off and find an organic stall to try various fruit drinks - some of which were delicious - in particular an apple, pear and ginger one that I tried. This section is much bigger this year than when we last came a few years ago - so we spend quite some time walking around trying various cheeses, meats, breads, preserves, sauces and chocolates. We all decide on various things we are going to come back and purchase at the end of the day rather than now to save carrying them round with us.
Eventually we pull ourselves away from there and go outside in the fresh air to investigate various stalls and side shows as we walk along. There is the main arena where they have a whole range of events going on all day such as an artillery display, motorbike stunt driving, a motor show and an assortment of other activities, plus another 6 different arenas where they have horse jumping, sheepdog trials, birds of prey displays, ferret racing, and other parades of various kinds. Once we've ambled around a bit - we come to a food stall cooking and selling jumbo sausages in hot dog rolls, the only vegetarian food they did was a fried egg roll - John says he's happy with that so we decide upon this for lunch. The sausages were absolutely delicious, made from lamb and real good quality ones - topped with onions and of course tomato sauce. We sit on the grass bank with our lunch as we watch on with great amusement at the dog agility course.
We're just in time for the 'run what you brung' section - where anyone can just turn up with their dog and have a go. There are people walking the course beforehand when we arrive there so they can pre-empt any tricky obstacles etc. - in all honesty, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference if they walk it or not - last time we came, one particular owner could be heard shouting "Henry", "Henry" in various tones at her dog as Henry obviously thought sod this and all that was to be seen of him was his backside disappearing into the nearby food tent - didn't listen to a word she was saying and literally had to be dragged out - this year was no different - no food tent nearby, but a lot of the owners taking it far more seriously than their canine companions, getting really frustrated that their ball of fur wouldn't do what they wanted them to do and instead just ran around full of the joys of spring, tongue flapping about all over the place. It really is hilarious to watch.
Next we wander round the steam area, looking at all the old steam engines and farming machinery then the vintage car section - where my dad was pointing out some of the old cars he had when he was younger. He said that when he was a kid there were hardly any cars on the road - mainly horse and carts - it was hard to imagine that those days were in my parents lifetime - my mum and dad lived next door to each other as kids and it led on to discussions about who in their road was first to get electricity and who was the first to get a TV. Seems incredible in the world we live in where most people (certainly in the UK) automatically buy a TV and have never known any different.
We walk through the fair ground to get to the livestock area, where there are competitions taking place for 'best in breed' etc. - on the way John and Dad have a go at the coconut shy, which proves unsuccessful, even though John hits one a cracker square on - I reckon they are glued to the stands!!!
There is a rural crafts area where we watch as they make horse shoes and fit them onto the horses before having ice creams and mooching around looking at the prize pigs, bulls, sheep etc., before going into the 'touch and feel' tent where we stand and pet a huge rat - I know many people get put off by rats, but I think they're real cute, so we stand talking to his owner, stroking him (the rat, not the owner!!) and feeling his long tail (also the rat!!), which is really prehensile and he likes to wrap it round your finger.
We're passing just as a birds of prey display begins, so we watch that and then look round at a variety of stalls making and selling all sorts of crafts from silver jewellery to pottery wares, candles, paintings and the like.
All of us enjoy watching the scurry racing, which is essentially a rider in a very small cart being pulled along by a pair of ponies around a laid out course. Its all very competitive between the riders, so they blast along as fast as they can trying not to knock anything (including their cart as they go round the corner on two wheels!!) over with cheers from the crowd while someone commentates on their driving, somewhat mockingly over the loud speaker. We find a space right in front of the arena where there are four deck chairs in a row free - its half an hour before it's due to start, but everyone's happy for a rest, so we take the opportunity to sit down with some fresh strawberries and cream and soak up some of the sunshine. The sun is like medicine to me, I could feel it warm on my face and I drift into a daydream - I was soon brought out of my contemplation as they announce its time for the heavy horse cart races??? Whaaaaa, what about the scurry racing we'd been waiting for?? I look once, twice and a third time at my program before I realise I've been looking at Friday's scurry racing timetable and TODAY was Saturday. I quickly look down the table to see that today's scurry racing took place much earlier in the day and there wasn't any more of it today!! I had to admit my mistake to the others and came in for a whole load of abuse about it!!! (all in good fun of course).
We all decide that as we've sat there and waited and everyone was comfortable that we'd watch the Shire Horses racing the carts round the course instead. It wasn't quite the same cause it's not mad and crazy in the same way as the scurry, but nevertheless enjoyable.
It's the last thing on in any of the arena's - apart from motorbike stunt driving in the main arena, which only had five minutes more to run, the stalls are starting to pack up and so we head back over to the food hall to purchase the goodies we had our eyes on earlier. After which John and dad head straight for a seafood stall where they agree that they are having some cockles - mum tries to remind them that we'll be going for dinner somewhere on the way home, but they brush her off with the fact that this will be their starter - amongst laughs and plough ahead with their mission.
There are some chairs nearby that we make use of while they eat their cockles and as we sit there this flippin spider descends from I don't know where and plants itself on me - I detest spiders and so went into a blind panic to get it off me, I didn't catch it and disappeared down my top - I went into a complete frenzy trying to get this damn creature out and in my terror I didn't realise that I was actually pulling the front of my top right down - I just wanted to get it off me - but I suddenly came to the realisation that my boobs were now on show to anyone and everyone who wanted a gaup!!! I'd stretched my top completely out of shape and John, mum and dad found it totally hilarious and were making real supportive comments such as "quick Pol, get that tarantula off you" - so it wasn't the biggest spider ever, but I really don't like em. I couldn't complain though, cause I would have laughed just as hard if it had been one of them.
As we were leaving the show we decided we would go to our local pub for dinner - it gets full in there on a Saturday night, so John phoned on the mobile to see if they had a table available - they did have one, but only at 6.30 - we had just enough time to drive home, park the car on our drive and walk the 10 minutes to the pub.
I was in for a lot of stick this evening - they weren't letting me forget the scurry racing incident or the fact they said I was an exhibitionist - I don't think my top will ever be the same again!!
We toasted mums birthday and had a great meal in there. A glorious day in the sunshine a beer and a liqueur coffee and John is glowing - he looks carefree and content, it's been a brilliant day.