Sunday August 30th 2009, 3:44 pm

prize winning marrow

I’m finding it hard to speak about, but yesterday was the Aylburton Horticultural Show and despite my best jam-making efforts, I came away empty handed. Last year at least my jam entry, of crab apple jelly, won a 3rd prize rosette, but this time round I didn’t even manage that. I am trying to be brave about it and keep saying to myself ‘it is the taking part that matters’ bla di bla… Of course that is true and my disappointment does not make the event any less charming.

a funny looking tomato

The trouble is that I have not come away with any idea of what to do differently next time. The laid back nature of our show means that there are seemingly no hard and fast standards to adhere too and no feedback either to learn from. Next year I will be as much in the dark as this, regarding what to enter, but thankfully time is a great healer, as they say….
Last year my crab apple jelly was clear as a bell and a wonderful colour. The taste was nice but no more than you’d expect. Some slightly more unusual preserves seemed to have done well; category 49 (chutney) was won by pear ketchup and the category 46 (jam) by blueberry jam for the second year running, so I surmised that it wasn’t necessary to be totally straight-laced and conventional. Perhaps that is where I went wrong this time? My wild greengage and vanilla jam, with a ‘softish’ set, was perhaps a step too far. Anyhow, I shan’t bang on about it or bring the subject up again, until next year by which time my angst will be a distant memory.

prize winning marmalade

Everyone was saying that this years show was the best ever. There seem to be more entries year on year and the calibre of the produce gets better and better. I always love the funny-looking veg category and the childrens, ‘make veg into a creature’, category. The highlight for me was a potato wearing a bobble cap, which made me laugh out loud, which was a good thing under the circumstances.

dahlias at the village show

The cut flowers were utterly lovely and it was nice to see that traditional show blooms, such as dahlias, have moved with the times, shown in beautiful shades of deep red, sharp orange and shocking pink. My neighbour, Jane, whose Country Bunches I have written about before, of course scooped a first for her mixed bunch, as did her eggs, which she told me could not have been any fresher. She had waited for the eggs to be laid that morning, moments before bringing them along to the village hall. Her attention to detail stood her in good staid and for another year, the ‘eggs for sale’ sign on her front gate can claim the added caveat, ‘award winning’.
It is a joy to photograph the entries and as our village show isn’t so uptight as others I’ve come across, the pictures do, I think, capture the idiosyncratic nature of English village life. You can see more pictures here.

prize winning eggs