It's a big weekend, this weekend. At least, it is in Somerset. Why, dear reader? Why, because it is the time of year for that mightiest of all Grand Days Out, the Frome Cheese Show.
We've been here before. Ohhhh yes we have. If you hated it last time then you'd probably better go and get a cup of tea and read the paper for a bit. This could be a long post.
Let us begin.
As you walk across the car park, there, shimmering in the distance like Camelot are the fair pavilions of the show. You can practically hear angelic music, can't you?
As you get nearer to the entrance, though, the sobering reality of where you are heading is made apparent.
I took particular note of this warning, as you can imagine. No more disasterous ankle incidents for me, thank you very much.
And then...the Show! All around you in a whirling blur of sunshine, crushed grass, barking dogs, pounding music, fairground rides, cider and spilt chips, there it is. Marvellous.
Later in the day the whole pack was in the show ring, and the commentator invited all the children in the crowd to come and say hello. It was mayhem. About 40 hounds and at least twice that many children, plus a few parents, all romping about on the grass squealing and wagging tails, with a few of the braver ones* escaping out under the fences and running amok in the picnicking parties around the edge of the ring.
After all that excitement we decided to go and look at the Cheese Tent. It's basically a huge tent full of cheese.
Many different sorts, many different prizes to be won. It's highly competitive. As an aside, I would suggest NOT going to this tent with a hangover. It's a bit too aromatic and noisy to be tolerable for long periods without having to go and stand outside to take deep breaths and suppress the vomit reflex. Just FYI.
But the winning cheeses looked lovely. Mmmm. Brown.
I was intrigued by this:
Then I saw them, sitting smugly in their own special little tent-within-a-tent. The Champion Cheeses. Just look at them. Bastards.
A little further on, there was the Poultry Tent. This is another one you should probably try and avoid if you are a bit fragile following a big night.
Multiple cocks crowing, ducks quacking, hens squawking and children shrieking "Mummy! A chicken! A chicken!" is rather a lot to take.
The birds seemed unimpressed with it all.
And there were eggs. Eggs in shells, eggs on saucers, eggs with decorations on them. It was like Faberge's worst nightmare.
Also, if you were still hungry for hen-related exhibits, there were pictures of chickens. They don't dick about, these poultry people. You want hen-related stuff, buster? Right this way.
Delightful though it all was, escaping back out into the fresh air and comparative peace of the showground was a relief. There were many stalls and vendors there, selling farm- and cheese-related goods and services. Some of them, admittedly, were probably only of interest to the real hardcore crowd.
I have no idea what this is all about. I didn't dare ask.
Some things are just too weird.
I liked this car that was on display. I can imagine every farmer at the show exclaiming aloud at the thought of how practical and useful it would be on the farm. Bringing a few lambs down from the top field. Carrying bales of hay to the barn. Taking half a dozen young farmers home from the barn dance. Towing the horsebox. Utilitarian, that's the word.
I spotted this helpful sign on a roundabout in the fairground. Parent, you will pay. You WILL PAY. Every day of your life.
But the highlight of the day, and the thing I know you're all waiting for, was the craft tent, which includes Things Made From Vegetables section. This year, the theme seemed to be trains.
The craft tent is also where you see the stern notes left by the judges, notifying competitors of their many, many failings.
Not as dark as the thoughts that went through that competitor's head when they read that note, I'll warrant.
I like that last one. "Your flowers are just too nice, loser."
This one seemed harsh. Right up until I looked at the exhibit in question.
Never mind the animals and combine harvester...whose is that ginormous boot in the background? Magog's?
Speaking of scale...look at the size of these leeks!
Mr WithaY kindly lent his hand for scale. You'd think they were a freak, a giant abnormality, and wonder where anyone would get the idea, these huge leeks. But wait! What's this? A teeny model garden, made by an apple-cheeked child? Look at the size of the leeks in there! Holy crap!
That explains a good deal. There were a few of these mini farm dioramas. I might have a crack at making my own.
Look at the pigs!
Adorable cotton wool sheep on this one.
I get terribly excited and take far too many pictures, but honestly, I bet you would too.
Sadly, there was evidence of vegetable apartheid. I hate to say it, but segregation was taking place. Segregation on the grounds of colour.
There was a Wurzels tribute band. No, I am not joking. As if. I overheard one of them talking to a fan who was buying a CD: "Yeah, of course a lot of what we do are covers."
I'll stop now, I can hear the groans of ennui from here.
It was a grand day out, and the sun shone on the righteous (i.e. us), Mr WithaY had a free fly-casting lesson from the helpful chaps from the local fishing society, I sat on the sunshiny grass and watched dragonflies buzzing around as Mr WithaY learned how to fling fishing line farther than he'd thought humanly possible. It was all very pleasant.
Roll on next September. Bet you can't wait.
Oh, as a PS, and to explain the hangover references, to the nearest whole number, guess how many people were involved in this dinner party:
*hounds, not children