An English country show – get your kicks on Route 66

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There’s no business like show business

After the fabulous Potfest in the Park last weekend, we packed in a visit to the Penrith agricultural show. I can’t resist a country show – there’s always something suitably mad going on featuring assorted animals and traditional country pursuits. The show is an important date in the farming calendar and there is always lots of keen competition showing cattle and other livestock. Leaning on the Dexter sheep pen I overheard an Eden Valley farmer say to his companion, ‘I’ll tell ye summat, that were the only tup worth buyin there!’ in rousing endorsement of his woolly entry. This is sheep country after all.

Speed in tweed

Showjumping and pony showing were happening. Horses of every shape and size strutted their stuff, from magnificent heavy horses to minature versions called Fallabellas only the size of a large dog.
Terriers raced, displaying the infectious enthusiasm of the small dog and Cumbrians wrestled, (based apparently on Norse wrestling brought over by Viking invaders), displaying the enthusiasm of the large muscly man.
The Grand Prix of the dry stone walling championships 2013 kept us enthralled. Each waller gets a specific area and a limited deposit of stone and from that they have to fashion their best 2m dry stone wall creation over the course of the afternoon. It seems that dry stone walling is as much an art as it is a science. You need to fashion your stones with your stone hammer and get them carefully lined up so that gaps are offset and the length of the stone goes through the wall from front to back. The wall should also be battered (sloping) on both sides. It’s hard work alright and one lad had finished his wall way ahead of the others and was already rolling a celebratory cigarette and having a breather. His wall did have a touch of the avant garde art installation about it.

Wonder Waller

The judge confided in us that he already had his eye on the winner, a waller going at a much slower pace but whose wall was beautifully symmetrical and was being constructed with tender loving care and consumate skill. There was one lady waller too, and the judge confirmed that there were a few lady master wallers on the circuit, There’s no glass ceiling in the world of walls.
In the food tent the Eden Brewer Company were celebrating their new beer made in their microbrewery called Route 66 after, not the American Route 66 but our very own A66 which runs right past the brewery. Road trips never seem as romantic in England as they do in the USA. Ours are always more about traffic jams and terrible food in motorway service stations than the wind in your hair on the open road. But having a glass of cold Route 66 on a sunny day in July you can imagine youself booling along the course of the old Roman road from Scotch corner to Penrith across the Pennines looking for action, or at least a nice cream tea.

Get your kicks on Route 66!

There were beautiful bunnies on show and charming chickens, crowing cockerels and poultry with attitude.


Furry friend

Egg judging is a serious business although how you can judge them properly without scoffing them in an egg related dinner is beyond me.

Are you looking at my bird?

The Penrith country show remains part of a classic English tradition and guarantees a few unexpected kicks just along our Route 66!

Shhh…I’m thinking…


One comment

  1. Fascinating to learn about the woolly entries! If there are no glass ceilings are there any glass walls?
    A great read as usual!
    Love from Dear England, Love Canada

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