I love the Bansha Show. It is one of the highlights of my year and so looking forward to Wednesday 28th August....a chance to meet old friends and chat idly for hours watching the dog show, sheep trials, show jumping events, eating homemade cakes, and poring over flowers, vegetables, fruit, arts and crafts etc. Bansha show is considered by many to be one of the best village shows in Munster. I believe it's success is due to an overwhelming sense of community. Meanwhile, I'm in the UK and whilst driving yesterday, I read a poster on the side of the road advertising the fact that Nantwich Show was on today. This morning I decided I'd go as it had been many years since I had been able to go. Nantwich is a beautiful little town, 4 miles from my home town of Crewe. Nantwich has beautiful black and white oak-timbered buildings dating back to the Tudor era, not unlike those in the city of Chester, the county town of Cheshire. Nantwich was a Roman salt-mining town and the miners were paid for their work in salt. Salt, of course, was a very important commodity in those times, as it was used to preserve food, as an antiseptic, to clean utensils and even teeth. The inhabitants of Nantwich were called 'dabbers' because their 'wages' wrapped up in a sack, were 'dabbed' up on to a counter or the like. To this day people from Nantwich are called 'dabbers'.
After purchasing the biggest 99 ice-cream cone I have ever seen, my next port of call was the cheese tent. Now cheese is undoubtedly my favourite food. Give me a selection of cheese, some crusty bread, Danish unsalted butter, olives, grapes and assorted chutneys and I am in heaven. Nothing could have prepared me for the array of cheese that I saw today however. I've never seen anything quite like it. Rows and rows of cheeses from all over the world; stands of cheese, that you could sample. It was mind-blowing.
Imagine my absolute delight though, when I saw a Bord Bia stand promoting Irish cheese in the middle of this tent in Nantwich. I was so excited about seeing Irish anything, but cheese....this was special. I know that Ireland is currently negotiating cheese exportation to Canada, which does not surprise me at all, given the ridiculously high prices of cheese over there. I bought five smallish pieces of cheese last September, which cost almost 90 Canadian dollars. I was particularly pleased to see Cashel Blue Cheese there and went over to chat to the owner behind the stand, who informed me that they were finally getting their PR act together and were heading to France for another Cheese festival after this one.
From the cheese tent I went into the vegetable and flower tent and saw the biggest cabbage, the longest parsnips and the cutest onions I've ever seen in my life.
Crinoline dress springs to mind!
Rats Tails anyone?
Ah....Daddy, Mammy and Baby Onion!
Next Stop were the Land Rovers. I have loved these since I was 15. The nearest I got to one was a 3.2 diesel Isuzu Trooper, which sadly I had to part with whilst I was doing my degree in UCC, because it was costing me an arm and a leg to drive up and down. I WILL buy my favourite of all which is a Land Rover Defender before I get much older. I saw some new ones today, but I'd prefer one with a few miles under its belt. Apart from a financial point of view, the thought of 'brand new' makes me sick with nerves.
From the new, I ventured forth to the vintage cars....wow! There was an American car there beginning with a 'C', not Chevrolet or Cadillac that was at least 27 foot long. Trying parking that monster!
Then I came across a black Austin 7. My father's first car was a black Austin 7 and I can still recall the first three letters of the registration as FOE.... I looked inside and couldn't believe how small it was. I saw myself and my two brothers huddled into the back and as both of them were poor travellers, one or both invariably puked all over the place. My father Maurice, whose middle name was 'Weaver' after the river, that runs through the hamlet of Nantwich, was a 'dabber' and a mechanic, who knew everything there was to know about car engines, that was until the advent of electronics.
Then to my surprise, I came upon some vintage bicycles complete with paraffin lanterns on the front. I had a 'sit up and beg' or 'high Nelly' bicycle as a young girl and I remembered the times that Diane and I travelled to our first discos on it. I'd cycle and she'd run, then we would swap over. I had to be home by 9.30pm in those days. How things have changed.
I saw massive bulls, sheep, shorn and otherwise, and the most beautiful shire horses. Wandering back through tents and stalls towards the exit, I came across a stand of fun loo seats.
Thought this was hilarious and would have bought it, had I room in my case to bring it home. Thought it would be great fun to put it in the upstairs loo for the friends that stay over. Definitely not for downstairs viewing and the more formal visitor.
I meandered back to my car along the canal bank, looking at the barges and pictured myself living on one of them. I'd had a lovely day that had brought back many happy memories, but as shows go, Bansha Show still stands head and shoulders above the rest....even Nantwich!
Ciao for now!