A strange combination, you might think. But apparently not at the Devon County Show. I had never experienced this hugely popular event before, so when I found out that I’d won two tickets just by entering a competition on Twitter, I was over the moon.
Being the geek that I am, I printed off the bus times and the programme ready for the weekend. I even highlighted (yes, with an actual highlighter pen) the events I particularly wanted to see. Luckily, as well as being a bit of a geek, I’m also quite unorganised so on the actual day I forgot my colour-coded programme, much to my boyfriend’s relief. So he only had to suffer the embarrassment of me squealing with excitement at the livestock and whipping the camera out at every given opportunity to capture each bovine beauty that we came across.
But before we went to find the cattle, we went to find…the bar, of course. With halves of Dartmoor Brewery’s ‘Legend’ in hand, we made it just in time to see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police preparing to perform. The Mounties really do look impressive in the flesh and I felt like I was in the middle of an episode of Due South. Until, that is, a local couple were called into the ring after apparently winning a prize to meet the Mounties.
The prize, however, was simply a disguise and when a microphone was handed to the man, ‘John’, we could all guess what was going to happen before the words came out of his mouth: In front of thousands of people (not to mention the 30 or so Mounties towering over him on horseback) the guy got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. Naturally, the crowd went wild and thankfully, the lady in question said yes. I sighed a huge sigh of relief for him – that kind of rejection in front of the Canadian national police service would be something no man could recover from. He’d never be able to enjoy maple syrup again. Anyway, it turned out to be happy every after and was a great act for the Mounties to follow.
Utterly synchronised, they performed various moves across the field set to a selection of music which really got the crowd going. It was definitely an impressive spectacle to behold and just watching helped us to work up an appetite for some of the food on offer at the show.
It was a bit like a mini Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink, with a small selection of the same producers selling their tasty wares. Even with just a few options to choose from it was still a tough decision, but I eventually tucked into a whopping steak pasty. In typical ‘me’ style, I embarrassed myself by accidentally under-paying the lady by a pound and had to be called back by the people in the queue to cough-up the rest. This faux pas failed to ruin my appetite however and the pasty was very enjoyable indeed.
A quick spot of people watching (essential at these kinds of events) then it was off for a look at the livestock. There were some fine beasts on show, from the smallest calf to the largest bull, with every breed imaginable being judged. It was pretty interesting to observe the people, too. Of course there was a fair share of the typical ruddy nosed mature farmers there, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of young people involved too. With the average age of the UK farmer now being around 60, it’s encouraging to see that here in Devon at least, the younger generations are taking an interest in this livelihood.
I’d honestly never seen such an impressive array of rare breeds before, some of which were so huge that it was almost intimidating. Yet the way their owners led them with such natural confidence was unbelievable. I even saw one teenage girl controlling a beast twice her size with ease, whilst texting on her phone. Now that’s multitasking if ever I saw it!
I was in my element and could have watched all afternoon, but after a while we got hungry again and headed back in the direction of the food before catching the bus away from this patch of concentrated countryside and back into the city.
So after admiring those bovine beauties, what did I choose as my parting snack? A sizzling, sumptuous beef burger, of course!