It’s that time of year again, the ground is supposed to be fecund with the results of six months of rough, lazy gardening, the freezers should be bulging and the soup pan should be constantly on the hob. None of these things have happened. There’s a couple of pounds of beans (cut and blanched), but apart from that there’s very little (beyond chilies and peppers, which are far too risque for a village show) to excite either the taste buds or the casual observer, wandering round a small village show after taking a wrong turn off the A66 and mistaking the hall for a cafe, or, better still, a country pub. Cheese scones “For Men Only” conjures up an image for those of a certain age, but there’s nothing untoward, it’s simply a class in the baking section. I’m reliably informed that my cheddar scones with a dash of paprika would have won first prize, in a strong field of six, if I’d taken them out of the oven a minute earlier. We live and learn, knowing my luck it’ll be back to a cake with vegetables “For Men Only” next year, now I’ve figured out the secret of the (almost) perfect cheese scone. Finely grated cheese, a heaped teaspoon of baking powder and leave social media alone until you get them out of the oven.
The picture above contains the sum total of my entries into the horticultural section of the show. I’ve never presented a green tomato before and I’ve been trying to get more than the few you see here to ripen for a week. As a result of said efforts, which involved banana skins, a shade curtain, and a hefty chunk of guess work and amassed folk myth, I ended up with four very nice Tigrella, which actually ripened on the vine and eight other tomatoes, each one in a different state of ripeness. It’s clear these fruits weren’t fresh picked, the calyx being dried out and brown, bus, as will be revealed, I needn’t have been overly concerned.
It was probably 2017 when the lady who took this years first in “A Pair Of Courgettes” (name withheld to avoid village infighting) took the first prize in the same category with two of the ugliest, smallest (maybe four inches long), malformed vegetables you could ever wish to see. They certainly couldn’t have been considered to be a pair, at any rate. I’d entered what I though were a grand pair of said vegetables, maybe eight inches long, well matched, shiny and obviously from a very healthy plant. I’d removed the flowers too. They didn’t attract a prize of any kind. Bemused, I asked the organiser what the crack was. “The judge” she said, “considers anything over six inches long (stop laughing at the back) to be a marrow for the purposes of this competition, it’s also worth remembering”, she added, “leaving the flower on, if it’s healthy, impresses judges”. I remembered those words and chose carefully, making sure the flowers on my just over five inch long zucchini were closed and intact. I got third for my green variety, my yellow variety not even challenging the judge. The lady in question presented two pairs of identical specimens, dull of skin and obviously fattening with seed and excess water. She took first and second. After the judging I spoke to the organiser; “The judge” she said, “isn’t too keen on the flower being left on and he felt, although yours weren’t bad, they really weren’t mature (big) enough to be considered true courgettes”. “Ah”, I said, “I suppose different judges have different ideas of what is and isn’t a courgette”. “It wasn’t a different judge”, she told me, “it’s the same chap who’s being judging the veg section for years now”. I held my piece, as you would in such circumstances, but a bit of consistency would be nice.
Of course, it wasn’t all disappointment and, just maybe, the judge felt he needed to sweeten the pill a little. The carrots I entered (here you’ll note I haven’t said “my carrots”, make of that what you will) were the only carrots in the show and ended up with the top accolade in the veg section. I suppose, if I put carrots in next year, the roots’ll be too long, or the tops too short, especially if a certain lady of the parish also enters a trio of “Umbellifers”.
Back to the tomatoes, a class I’ve consistently won first prize in since I first started showing. It needs to be remembered I had a great mentor, having never grown anything in my life prior to 2010, unless you count the couple of cannabis plants I grew from seed in one of the tubs outside Deal Town Hall, back in the early 70’s. They were well established before anyone caught on, the town gardener had even been watering them. If I remember correctly, there was a bit on the front page of The East Kent Mercury about it, sadly, they got pulled, but their presence raised a smile every day I passed by them. Any road up, I fancied the Tigrella for at least a second, but they ended up first, with my entries making a clean sweep. Not difficult, when no one else in the whole village has an entry. First, second and third, out of a field of three…..
The broad beans were finished before the middle of July, one of the pitfalls of growing hardy veg under glass, but I’d looked after a pals runner beans while he was on holiday earlier in the year and he’d given me a couple of plants. I didn’t really know what to show, I normally only grow broad and a couple of varieties of climbing, but I had a nice looking equally sized set of six, about a foot long or so. I also entered half a dozen purple climbers, just to keep the numbers up. I was happy to get a first, albeit in a small field, apparently my mate the judge, who ascertains the quality of a runner bean bi its “snap” was very impressed! I remain nonplussed, but may well take up judging myself, if I can find out where this particular chap “shows his veg”.
My red onions took first, again in a small field, but I consistently get good results with cheap sets bought from B & M, they’re called “Red Baron” if I remember rightly. I took a couple of prizes in the photography competition, a category which becomes increasingly competitive, but the entry which gave me the greatest satisfaction was in the “One Vegetable And One Flower” class. I’d planted some sunflowers earlier in the year, for no particular reason, planted half a dozen of them in the garden and kept two in pots, one of which flowered in mid July. My onions haven’t quite reached the size of previous years, apart from one, which I couldn’t show in a trio, for obvious reasons. The sunflower, simply presented in a straight vase, complemented the purple of this large onion perfectly. In a field of six, my mate the judge (apparently) took one look and said “There can only be one winner here”. Another class which I’ll have to work on to make my own.
Village shows are something of an institution in rural Britain, but as with much else in our modern lives, they lead a somewhat precarious existence. One of the local villages, with a population not dissimilar to ours, has cancelled its show after only receiving a total of eight entries. This got me thinking about how our lives and our country are rapidly and inexorably changing. Sadly, there are malign forces at work to hasten said changes, none of which are for the better and none of which, unless we’re very lucky, will ever be reversed.
Wherever one looks there’s something “off”, I mentioned the normalisation of Pedophilia last time, but that’s far from the only problem we face. Thousands of illegals continue to enter our country on a weekly basis and the government does nothing but make noises about Rwanda, an eminently stupid, costly idea; or offer to give France even more of our hard earned to “slow the tide”. It now turns out, to nobodies surprise, that as many as 20% (or more) of those arriving on our shores are Albanian. Most of whom will be either cheap labour for those criminal gang masters and cannabis farmers already here or, worse still, fully aligned gang members wanting their slice of the action. How long before the “rural idyll” I moved up here to embrace becomes a victim of this cataclysmic (not hyperbole) situation? Nobody in government, or the civil service, or the police, or the NHS, or anywhere else has the first idea about how many illegals are here, or whether they’re Albanian gangsters, Jihadi sleepers, potential rapists or just chancers looking to get on the benefit gravy train. In 2020 the best guess for people entering Britain by small boats was 8,400. In 2021 that number more than tripled to 28,500 or so. This year it’s estimated that as many as 60,000 could arrive by dinghy alone. If they aren’t spirited off the beaches to feed the black economy and foster criminality, they’re royally entertained in hotels around the country, causing untold societal problems that can (and will) only get worse.
Ironically, while all this is happening crime, especially incidences of burglary and violent crime, are rising steeply (maybe there’s a bit of a connection) our jolly “boys, girls and non-binaries in blue” form protection squads for drag queen story time, take the knee for BLM, dance erotically and with gay abandon at “Pride” events, paint their cars in rainbow colours and visit people, team handed and menacingly, to arrest them for “offending someone on Facebook”. Knife crime is rampant, murders are an almost daily occurrence (or so it seems) and, if you’re burgled the likelihood of the police even investigating this most pernicious of crimes is close to zero. You will get a crime number though, for your insurance claim.
I’ve long taken the “We’re fooked” analysis with a pinch of salt,but these days I’m not so sure, especially when I start to look at things in the round. I live in an isolated part of the country, we never see a bobby in uniform, and there’s little crime, beyond the usual suspects coming over from the North East to nick quad bikes and/or diesel and the West Yorkshire and North Lancs boys popping up to engage in a bit of sheep rustling, but unless someone in a position of power takes a stand, both against domestic and wider Global incursions and intentions, the genies ain’t ever (willingly) going back in the bottles and we, the ordinary, law abiding, tax paying citizenry, who really simply want to be left alone, will have to take our own stand, or admit we’ve lost and let “Progressive Liberal” and Globalist chaos reign.
Next time; A buyer for my chilies? A plan for winter veg, Tomato & courgette soup? More Hooptedoodle….
© Colin Cross 2022