I might have been forgiven for thinking, before we moved out of London, that the real village show (not to be confused with the village fete of course) was a thing of the past. Trestle tables laden with prize vegetables set out in the village hall, handwritten certificates for the best flowers, sideways glances exchanged at the jam and pickles tables, rows upon rows of Victoria sponge cakes, could it be that this still existed outside of a Blandings novel? Certainly our local show in London couldn’t be further from this rural idyll. In our new village, however, it appears that we have stepped back into the pages of a Benson story. It was with trepidation that my husband and I spent the evening before the show perched on stools at the kitchen island sorting through dozens of cherry tomatoes in an attempt to find six that matched perfectly.
That was hard enough but courgettes (I’ve learned) are almost impossible to buff to a good shine without ruining the skin, herbs need to be woody rather than soft-stemmed if you don’t want a sad droop and the longest bean has no discretion allowed for obvious reasons so feels a bit predetermined. Don’t even get me started on the carrots. I wanted to enter three well matched carrots of different heritage varieties. He favoured three carrots of a single variety even though they weren’t particularly well matched. Three hours later we had two boxes and a trug full of produce waiting to go, six vases waiting to be filled in the morning and smouldering resentment seeping out in tired jibes over the carrot disagreement.
The morning of the show was a rush to get two children up and dressed, all of the flowers and foliage cut and arranged and then everything to the village hall where we set out our offerings at the trestle table altar of Priapus (with the village matriarchs watching over us with their high priestess gazes) before 9.30am. We’re all up with the cows here.
We then distracted ourselves from the actual judging that was going on by joining some London friends for lunch before we returned to the hall to triumphantly rejoice in five thirds, a second and two firsts! We were absolutely thrilled, and picking up a couple of bags of prize-winning produce auctioned off at the end of the show was the icing on the cake (we’re going to be eating baking apples for weeks). I had an enormous amount of fun and we’ve kept the village programme so that we can plan our growing accordingly next year!