This week marked a big event in my social calendar. My social calendar is virtually non-existent (I’m an incurable introvert), so you might argue that any event is a big event, but you would be being rather churlish.
It’s the weekend of the 30th Annual Allotment Show. I have entered the show every year since I first got my allotment in 2014, from starting out in the novice sections, to making tentative attempts in the ‘grown up’ growing classes, and also entering in the photography and cooking classes last year, but this year was the big one.
I entered all of the things. Cooking? Every class. Photography Every class. Crafts? I’m having a go at that. Vegetables? Anything I had, I entered it. Even the dahlia classes, I entered as many as I could. This year has been the first year I’ve tried growing dahlias and I’m left wondering flabbergastedly why I never tried it before. True, many of my tubers didn’t quite go to plan this year, indeed several of them are yet to bloom at all (I stubbornly blame the lengthy dry spell) but I’m most definitely hooked and already planning an expanded dahlia collection next year. In all honesty, I’m already dreaming of creating my own varieties, but I’m an unapologetic dreamer (Pisces!) and that reality is a long way away. I will most likely write a whole post on my newfound love of dahlias in the future.
My main focus this year was the cookery, and – full disclaimer – I did give myself the luxury of a day off work on the Friday before, to allow myself time to prepare all my bakes. Friday and Saturday passed in a sticky, glossy haze of butter and sugar, followed by the usual, frantic, last-five-minutes panic of getting everything onto the show bench before the 4pm deadline. I felt my dahlias had really let me down but I resolved to enter them anyway. I was throwing dahlias into show vases with seconds to spare. Husband Tom was running back from the plot with potatoes, our ‘heaviest beetroot’ entry and entry cards we’d left behind there in a rush. My mother-in-law was taking my bread and bara brith out of the pretty tins I’d left them in and placing them on village hall plates, roundly stating that if it wasn’t presented ready to be cut, I would be disqualified. And she’s a veteran of the WI, so she knows these things!
In the end, we made it just in time. There were several entries I had to abandon (a few dahlias were not open, my ‘Peter Rabbit’ scarecrow for the crafts was present but not assembled), but all the categories I’d really set my heart on entering were there.
The judging took place immediately afterwards, and I had no time to worry about how my entries were faring as I was involved in recording proceedings, writing out show cards and making cups of tea for our volunteer judges!
We returned the following afternoon for the Prizegiving ceremony, where the trophies for the most points in each class are given and winners of the special categories are announced. I knew as I walked into the hall that I must have done well, as several gentleman veterans of the show (and frequent prizewinners themselves) made encouraging comments about my cookery! I was staggered to find I won first prize for my Victoria Sponge (a hotly contested class) and many prizes in the cookery and photography sections. I even got a third place for my dahlias! I walked (very embarrassedly) up to shake the President’s hand and receive the salver for most points in the Cookery classes and trophy for most points in the Photography classes. I also won third place for my autum-themed showstopper, and first place for the special class of Largest Sunflower head, and if I may brag just for a second, I swear mine was at least double the size of the next participant. I came away with far more than I expected and it just goes to show that you don’t need to feel fully confident in your abilities – it is worth having a go anyway. I look forward to trying again next year.
If you’d like to see the full list of all the categories I entered and what places I achieved take a peek at my next post, 30th Annual Allotment Show 2018 Part 2 – The Results!