Sunday, 31 August 2014

Lights, Camera, Action - well almost!

Action! Shifting timber (or how it's done now)
Image courtesy Stuart Purfield
Cute little dog (image
courtesy Stuart Purfield)
It’s all too easy to regard the Malvern Autumn Show as being devoted solely to gardening and harvest. But it isn’t. Although those aspects are certainly the main focus, there is so much else going on - in fact if you visit for only one day, you will be hard pressed to cram in all that is on offer. You will need to be selective.

Jumping multi-coloured sheep - it's true ... (or was in 2013)
There’s always a hum of activity in the ‘Experience - Live Shows’ area of the Showground, with a number of small parade rings where you will be able to enjoy all manner of activities. Maybe not the same as pictured here (these images were taken at the 2013 Show) but comparable with the fun I have observed and enjoyed at past Shows. Can you imagine a flock of sheep in coats of many colours jumping over hurdles? Dogs and horses, yes, but sheep? (Or it could have been runner ducks whose upright stance is both comical and endearing.)

Somewhat more traditional - but just as entertaining 
Dogs, supposedly man’s best friend (when well-trained), will be much in evidence. It is fascinating to watch intelligent breeds traditionally used by farmers to herd sheep - enjoy their antics as they are put through their paces. Indeed there is all-day entertainment in the Activity Arena featuring dog agility, and gundog displays. 

What little girl hasn't dreamt of riding - or racing with - a pony?
Indeed, if you and your children / grandchildren love animals, don’t miss the daily animal parades in the Teme Arena and the fur and feathers of the Poultry and Rabbit Marquees! This year the Poultry Show has been upgraded to a Championship Show by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. There are usually horses as well - and there are always knowledgeable owners and trainers on hand to answer questions and point you in the right direction to discover more.

Horseshoes or wrought iron garden ornaments - working with metal is a skill
as old as the hills, and still much in demand today
Horses need horseshoes and making them is an age-old craft which is much the same today as it was centuries ago when the horse was a beast of burden, in peace-time or in war. Farriery is just as much in evidence today (maybe at this year’s show), but smiths also work decoratively in iron - a wrought iron gate, or decorative garden ornament. 

An army of men to plank a tree trunk, with ease and precision
Staggering to see close at hand (within the ‘Nostalgia’ element of the Show), and quite amazing: old and modern machinery used past and present for farm and forestry activities. We are probably all too used to going down to our local friendly D-I-Y store for the odd plank of wood, or decking for the patio, little realising how such timber is transformed from tree to felled trunk to a packaged product. In days gone by, planking would all have been done by hand, often using a pitsaw - one man above ground, the other standing beneath in a pit with the log midway on trestles; extremely hard work.

Cider harvest with mobile facilities for
pressing (it could be straight out of a
Thomas Hardy novel). Image courtesy
Stuart Purfield
Whatever your interest in times past, check out the fabulous vintage vehicles on display including a collection of old commercial vehicles and steam engines, plus threshing and cider machines. Also back in the past, to trigger memories: historic lawn mowers - remember struggling to push those across the lawn? - and caravans that had all the style but few mod-cons. In the ‘Country Pursuits Marquee’ you can discover wood turning, stick making, spinning and other age-old delights at the very heart of the Show. Some of Britain's most traditional rural activities, skills and pastimes that have survived the years - truly a case of Relive and Revive.

Just to remind you: Show opening times on both days are 9.00am to 6.00pm and there’s a free shuttle bus from Great Malvern rail station. There's also no charge for standard car parking.  Book your Show tickets online, or phone the ticket hotline (01684 584924). More next week - so do bookmark this page. (All images are reproduced by kind permission of Ray Quinton, unless credited otherwise.)

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