Sunday, August 31, 2008

Practising in case.

I imagine that an MP's weekend is a frenzy of opportunities to meet constituents. So I had a trial run yesterday. Started at a coffee morning to raise funds and awareness of Alzheimer's disease. I went because of my growing interest in neurological diseases. Next up was the Montgomery Canal Festival. The Canal has been an interest for the last 25 years. I went along in the company of the Mayor of Welshpool, and joined the group at the official opening. When the Mayor did her bit, she insisted that I be given the 'mike' to make another speech. I was a bit embarrassed but high profile slots like that are not to be refused. I talked about how important the restoration of the full 'Monty' is to the economy of Rural Wales. Well, I was the Conservative 'canal man' when I was an AM, so I did have some status. And then it was a 10 mile dash to Llanfair Caereinion Show - an occasion that I always enjoy. The thing about Llanfair Show is that the same people go every year. Its like a big party of family and friends. Left with several planning and housing issues to discuss with county councillors on behalf of show visitors.

The finest animals at the show are the shire horses. Not many shows still have classes for these magnificent beasts. They are worth the entry fee on their own.
My first competitive forays into local shows, many years ago now, were in the dahlia classes. I still find myself drawn to judge the classes today, often disagreeing with the judges. This particular vase of 3 medium decs was grown by my Uncle Cliff, who lives near Pontrobert, and it was judged 'Best in Show.
A rare sight these days is an old fashioned Thrashing Box. This one is owned by Jim Pickstock, and he demonstrates how it used to work at Llanfair every year. These huge machines were owner by a contractor, who towed it around farms to thrash the grain from the straw during the winter. It was the dirtiest, dustiest job of the year, and visited lung disease on many farmers. It probably killed many of them prematurely. I used to collapse after about 8 hours and go to bed with the shakes. Hard to believe that we didn't wear masks. They came in later.
There's always a wonderful display of old tractors at Llanfair Show. There were many much older than this grand old Fordson. I've included it because it was the first tractor that I ever drove myself. I was probably about 8 years old. Lots of young people were killed on these things, before safety cabs were made compulsory. Most farming families lost friends and family in tragic accidents - usually when they turned over on top of the driver on sloping ground. Safely just wasn't taken seriously enough.

And finally I just about made it to the Glansevern Hall Food Festival, near my village of Berriew. Well over 3,000 people attended yesterday, the first day of this two day event. One of the chefs on display this year was Neil Roberts, who is the current Wales Chef of the Year. Neil and Jackie run the excellent Waggon and Horses in Newtown. Coincidentally, we had been there for supper the night before. This blog has recommended the Waggon before. Its outstandingly good.

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