Yesterday my hubby and I went to the Devon County Show in Exeter – this is something I enjoy tremendously, as it’s a splendid day out with lots to see. Yesterday the weather was pretty unsettled and in the middle of the day there was a very heavy rain storm, and it seemed as though everybody on the showground was crowded into one of the craft tents with us!
For the first time I used the buggy rather than the wheelchair, and although it was a lot of work for my hubby, getting it in and out of the car on the ramps, it was very much better for both of us – I got a lot less tired, and in previous years, the wheelchair battery always used to give out at the end, which meant my poor hubby, who was always tired after a day on his feet, had to push me all the way back up to the car park!! On the way to the show, we called in at the mobility centre in Exeter and bought a fabulous rain cape for me to use on the buggy, which will make going to church in the rain a doddle – I can also use it with the wheelchair.
Anyway – to the show. The first thing we saw was the alpacas – they are such gorgeous and unusual-looking creatures with sweet faces. They all have a dreamy smile and look so gentle! Here are some of them being judged.
Alpaca babies. Are they lambs, kids or calves?
What an adorable face!
Alpacas for sale. I couldn’t resist photographing that bum with the legs underneath!
There was a sign which said that they made wonderfully eco-friendly lawn-mowers but despite this, my hubby said I could NOT have one for the garden!
Fleeces being judged. They were separated into different categories, e.g. lustrous, mountain, etc. There are so many varieties of sheep, each producing a different kind of fleece, used for all different purposes.
I loved handling them, and feeling the lanolin on one’s skin, and also that gorgeous fragrance – a powerful reminder of my spinning days… I don’t think I could keep up work on a treadle spinning wheel these days, but there are now some imaginative alternatives available.
I was very amused to see that the main building, where the craft shows and other events are held, is turned into an enormous cattle shed during the County Show. Next time I go to a craft show I shall remember that, and realise just how much cleaning up they must have to do! Here are the cattle being hosed down ready for judging.
Out came a very large bull. Neither he, nor any of the other cattle, seemed to mind the pressure hoses and brushes! I expect they get used to it.
In the angora goats tent, we found Jan Tillett’s stand. I had come across her before online, on Colouricious. She makes amazing things. She had some samples of fabric with free motion machine embroidery on them, and some other techniques, where the fabric was all wrinkled up. She had applied it onto a backing of a special polyester fabric which shrinks when you steam-iron it, giving fabulous results. I bought a small piece of this fabric to try the technique.
She also had several examples of textile created using soluble fabric, for example, the white dress on the left.
The angora goats, which produce mohair.
A magnificent angora billy goat – look at his horns!
I spent some time on the stand of one of the angora goat exhibitors – she sells raw and dyed fleece, rovings, spun yarn etc., and I bought a small quantity of these in their undyed state. Gorgeously soft, and the fleece has a very interesting curly texture which will be fun to use. When we first arrived at her stand, she wasn’t there, and then she bustled past us with her arms full of about six or seven silver cups – she looked like a burglar making a rapid escape with the family silver! When she came back, I asked if she had won all those cups, and she said she had, and listed all the classes, including Best in Show. She said they’d never done so well.
Coming out again (by which time the sun was well and truly shining, and stayed shining for the rest of the day) we saw the Morris Dancers ready to do their stuff.
A mobile sweet stall. Love all the colours.
At last, later on, we found the batik stand – we are regular customers of Calum, who unfortunately is probably not returning again to the Devon County Show. He has a website now (www.boutiquebatik.co.uk) so hopefully I’ll still be able to get stuff! I’ve bought several tops and trousers from him over the years, and absolutely love wearing them.
The first craft tent, where we sheltered from the rain, was not that inspiring, but the second one was full of all the things I love, including the egg craft stand. I always seek out the egg ladies when I go to the shows!
Then I came across something I’d never seen before – “Bonsire” which is bonsai trees made out of wire. The gentleman who makes them has only been doing it for about six months, and on the other side of his stand were all his quite wonderful pencil portraits of people and animals.
I took quite a number of photos of the individual pieces, but seemed to be having some problems with the focusing of my camera and most of them came out very out of focus, which is a shame. However, if you visit the Bonsire website you can see plenty of photos in the gallery, and I think you will agree that these pieces are exquisite.
Here is the Devon Lace stand. Lots of beautiful Honiton lace – this was always the finest, and most expensive lace, when it was made commercially.
There was a marvellous felting stand, with work by several people. This was of particular interest for me, because it is something I am keen to try. I have got the basic equipment for needle felting but have not yet had the chance to try it.
This is a beautiful felted shrug, showing the front view.
The back is equally beautiful.
I loved the detail on this piece, and how the fringes were formed.
Above the display was this amazing three-dimensional picture entitled “Peace in the Valley,” illustrating a famous passage from the Book of Isaiah prophesying the golden age of Christ’s millennial rule, when wild animals will lose their ferocity and co-exist peacefully with their erstwhile prey. This felted picture had incredible depth and was almost disturbingly “real”!
Outside the craft tent, we found a display of heavy horses. I love these gentle giants, and for the show, they were beautifully turned out with plaited manes and gleaming polished harnesses.
Arranged around this particular arena was a marvellous collection of beautifully restored classic cars. I remember so many of these cars in my childhood, in the days when cars had a lot more character than today, and each make had a distinctive look.
My final picture was taken as we came back to the car. The rain storms had cleared, and the cloud formations were so beautiful.
As always, it was a wonderful day out, despite the changeable weather. We were very glad we went on the first day, because apparently today, on the news, they were saying the show had to close early because cars were getting bogged down where the fields had turned to mud. Such a pity, when so many people have put in so much hard work, to make this annual event such a success.