Giving a lift to a stranger plus the Shepton Country Show

by | Aug 20, 2023 | Latest Post | 0 comments

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Giving a lift to a stranger

For some strange reason yesterday evening I felt we should not go by car to the Shepton Mallet show but to go by bus. We duly walked the ten minutes to the bus stop in the centre of Midsomer. No one could work out the timetable and asking Google gave no further information.  The 174 bus was due to leave  from the Hollies  at 9:43 which came and went. A lady who we came to know as Shirley plus a young couple were also waiting for the bus.   After 20 minutes it was clear that it was not going to come so I said to the gathered threesome that I would give them a lift. If they could give me 10 minutes I would be back with the car

I duly went home and returned with my Volvo. Only Shirley was there, in spite of my offer the couple had decided to make other arrangements. So she got in the car and off we went. The fact that she had mobility difficulties was clear. She said that she needed both knees replacing and was on the waiting list for one knee for six years and another knee for four and a half years. Evidently the life of a replacement is ten years maximum and the operation to replace a joint is more difficult than the original operation. She was told by the hospital that she was too young. She went on the first list at the age of 45 so she was not considered a priority.

Anyway we chatted away for the duration of the journey and we  dropped her off outside her door which was in a housing estate in Shepton. She walked with a stick with great difficulty and I realised that if she had got off at the bus stop she would have had to walk the best part of half a mile to get home. We tend to forget about the suffering on a daily basis of others due to the fact that they do not make a noise, attract little if any publicity, and are  generally invisible. I did hear that she had an electric bike which she obviously enjoys. She says that the bike does the work and all she does is to twiddle her legs around.

If I had decided on a whim without any rational reason to go by bus then that experience would not have been available to us so’ the universe moves in mysterious ways’. Need we say more.

Shepton Mallet Show

I have to say right up front that I am very impressed with the organization of this one day show. It does not suffer from giantism as The Bath and West Show which is held at the Showgrounds  annually in June. The model here in Shepton is to make no entry charge. The Bath and West charges 23 pounds per adult just to give you some idea.  I don’t know why Shepton makes it a one day show because I think there’s enough potential footfall to make it worth having a two-day show but that is a matter for them.

Three years ago they moved to a new more spacious venue which gives plenty of room for everybody and we had the usual mixture of vintage cars, the judging of all sorts of animals, quite a large commercial vehicle section,  many industrial gardening machines, support services such as insurance, local services such as the local Women’s Institute and plenty of large arenas for competitions. I did meet one person who complained  about the lack of competitions with tractor pulls etc. Many of these people have been coming for years and remember the old days very clearly.

 You can tell a lot about the management from the type of exhibitors that were there and they seem to make a moderate charge because there were very small entities there that could not have afforded such events as the Bath and West.  The show managers I saw were correctly attired and clearly on top of their game.

First an anecdote:   I noticed the price of coffee which I take as my standard, a latte,  has been steadily creeping up.  To back track – When you go up the lane from the centre of the town towards the event you will find it is in two parts. If you turn left you will find that all the suppliers of coffee have decided to fix the price of latte at 4 pounds. This is above my comfort zone especially as I noticed that some of the plastic cups were very small. I ‘get it’ that people must turn a profit but I think they could do well enough at three pounds.

I was in the vegetable and flower judging tent (very large) when I came across the organizers’ table. I noticed that there were cups and supplies of tea and coffee. I did ask them if they were for exhibitors only and she said yes they were, but since I was the first person to ask I was quite welcome to have a cup of coffee which I did with a biscuit. In return I decided to fill in the form for the possibility of exhibiting next year.

I enjoyed the coffee and then went to the other half of the show which is slightly smaller and I found that the average price of a latte was three pounds instead of four. Coincidence? I don’t think so.  I reckon the suppliers agreed with each other about what to charge and the word had not spread throughout the whole encampment.  I’m not complaining

So off we go on a visual tour.

As I have said previously the picture speak for themselves so I will do a little bit of commentary here and there.  If you did  not manage to go to the show this year than it is worth noting the show date next year which will be about the same time.

Young Farmers Clubs – It is quite easy to tell who are the sons of farmers. They are normally lean, tall, alert, and comport themselves in a way that is difficult to define but shows a certain amount of authority over what they are doing. The Young Farmers Club is one of many that exists in the UK and gives a comforting and supportive environment to those who want to follow in their fathers for steps.  Watching such people, you can see that there is very much an atmosphere of sharing, equality  between the sexes, mutual respect and quite a lot of maturity which shines through.

Every type of farm animal that could be judged was there with the exception of chickens who are still suffering from the protection rules of chicken flu.   When you herd pigs  for some reason you hold a white board between yourself and the pig to direct it where you want it to go to. The animals were certainly very well turned out and not the smelly dirty ‘pigs-in-shit’ that we read about as stereotypes.

The exhibitors spend days preparing their animals for the shows- they are washed, brushed, pampered look handsome, beautiful and show their feature to the their best advantage.


It must take some courage to handle an animal that is probably five times your own weight. This handler is not quite sure if she is in control but hopefully it will all turn out well on the day. The stance of the animal is fairly aggressive and I would not want to take on her job.

This young lad is looking after some sheep and feels comfortable enough to sit on one of them. They do not seem to mind. It looks like they have accepted the boy who is no doubt a farmer’s boy. I feel that such youngsters  grow up much more balanced than those who spend their entire time staring at their mobiles and making elementary communications with others.

In the fleece tent there was some lovely woven material. These were subtle colours that I really loved.  Maybe when I become more sedentary I will take a greater interest in such things. We saw spinners at work. Francoise also  looked at this shawl and spoke to the woman who made it – the wool was dyed with herbs from nature that’s why the colours are softer than the chemical dyes which tend to be brighter.

There is a very lively Festival and show scene here in Somerset but you have to keep your eyes open because there is no one central way of finding out what is what. That which comes closest is the Mendip Times which at the back has a list of events but alas not everything is included and that is probably because The Times do not have the resources to ring up everyone to ask them to announce themselves.

My goodness I wonder how much this tyre costs. I grumbled when my little Volvo car tyre costs 50 pounds or so plus fitting.  This one is about 6 foot 6 in diameter.  If it requires eight nuts to keep it in position then it must weigh a considerable amount.

This is a 1960 Victor V8,  immaculately clean, a simple engine and probably better than the day it was purchased. We wont ask about petrol consumption. It looks like new parts have been added and the owner can justly be proud. I always get very sentimental when I see such cars. My father used to have an Austin 7.

Only the English can make such a contraption. It was built Heath Robinson style, a unique model, and something to spark endless conversation. The owner was quite a large man shall we say, with a beard to match and I just enjoyed the whole thing quietly from a distance. I did not feel quite confident enough to approach him. I did not know what to say.

Into the flower and vegetable marquee where judging has obviously taken place. The quality was extremely high at least to my eyes. I have attended literally hundreds of shows and the perfection in the vegetables is high. I won’t even go into the flowers because I’m not a flower expert, nor indeed go to the prize cakes which I wanted to run away with on the spot and consume them.

There was a lot of junk food and this was a doughnut and coffee stand. This is what I call Sugar Bombs and I would not give them to my worst enemy far less consume them myself. Don’t even get me started on sugar. I admit to having small quantities myself but I know it is basically bad for you. Ask yourself how much sugar primitive tribes consume and look how healthy they are. Anything manufactured should be treated with caution and that includes alcoholic and soft drinks particularly the latter which are designed to make you want more.

I love these two tone sheep both with pure even wool munching enthusiastically away at the grass in their pen. I did not see if they had won any prize or not but I love the Tweedledum and Tweedledee imagery anyway..

This was an interesting image. The owner of the calf was encouraging his very young son who looks to me about five years of age how to guide an animal round for judging. Talking to the chap in blue pictured we agreed that he was a bit young for this sort of thing and seemed to me to be a bit frightened. For all I know, the father may have been doing exactly what he knows best and who am I to comment but I’m just telling you my first impressions.

Throwing people in the deep end is okay if you know they can swim

It’s a no-win situation really. Popular stands selling good food have long queues. If there is no queue it implies that the food is not very good. There was a stand selling pork slices in a bap for six pounds I never saw it without a long queue. This illustrated was one of the coffee bars that I saw in the cheaper section. Word seems to get around subliminally that something is good value. I paid £3.20 for a large latte

Some absolutely lovely hats of brilliant colors, all the more brilliant for being together in a set piece. Francoise is seen trying one on for size. I did see a lady who had a wonderful hat on at a rakish angle and I said it was absolutely right and  bought out the best in her and she should wear it all the time.

I do outrageous things like compliment complete strangers, I love doing it and they are surprised and pleased to receive a compliment from a complete stranger that they will never see again.

It reminds me of Dynamo, the TV magician who alas has fallen ill. He used to do a great trick to dazzle everyone and then just walk away without expecting any feedback or comment. I have learned not to speak to anyone and subsume myself in advance to what they might say in reply. In other words  I want to be a walking art installation and let the art speak for me.

This is an interesting stand which immediately caught my attention. It’s about the Children’s Air Ambulance and I did engage with them saying that I did not see much of this aspect of the air ambulance work because I had been focused by TV programmes on the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and it’s focused on adults who suffer horrible accidents in the Yorkshire Moors.

CAA said that they had two air ambulances, one in the midlands and one in Yorkshire and they use them to ferry children, anyone up to 18, who needed to be flown directly to hospital not necessarily after an accident. Some of the money goes to specialist pediatric equipment. So they are midway between calling 999 and a young patient who needs to go to hospital for treatment.

I joked that they needed a therapist to calm the parents down as well because I know some parents get over exercise by a symptom of their beloved child and the role of the therapist would be to keep this in proportion to the displayed symptoms.

Anyway I gave a donation and also took part in a quiz to guess how many sweets there were in a jar. It was a harmless thing and a pleasure to talk to them. I promised that I would give them a plug so here is their website

Such bands do not often appear in a city environment. It is a feature of country life and brass bands are part of the culture. We had the pleasure of listening to very competent professionals playing in tune the familiar melodies that tradition dictates.

There are few country crafts more satisfying to me than watching a stone wall being built and as you see this society has their own website, fan club, competitions and events. Their official title is the Dry Stone Walling Association whose head office is in  Milnthorpe in Cumbria.  I would recommend this craft as a therapy for those who could consider working with nature and with the bonus of a convivial bunch of people. The equivalent for doing good work with ‘like minded people’ is Men in Sheds but then of course they do something completely different.

Anyway folks I hope you enjoyed my description. The best thing you can do is to come along to the next one which will be middle to late August next year. I’m sure they have fixed the date already but I just don’t know it.


Deborah Tavares of Stop the Crime net talking at length about the fires, weather control and the agenda planned for us all.

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