Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Devon County Show 2018

On Friday, I was delighted to feel well enough to go to the Devon County Show with my hubby and this year we took a neighbour as well. He had got tickets some time ago and when I was so ill, it was something to aim for and a real incentive to get better as quickly as possible! It was a long day but I held up remarkably well, sitting on my buggy all day. The weather was glorious and we had a really great time – for me it’s one of the best days out of the year, with so much to see and do, and being part of a large crowd of people all out to have a good time, producing a really happy atmosphere.

I took simply loads of photos as usual, and can’t show them all but here is quite a large selection.

A general view as we arrived.

01 General View

Judging the alpacas. They are pretty creatures with such sweet faces, and incredibly soft fleeces.

02 Judging the Alpacas

Inside the alpaca tent, showing some of the products on sale, made from their fleece.

06 Alpaca Products

Judging the cattle.

07 Judging the Cattle

We are always amused by the seriousness of it all, with the farmers in their white coats, and how clean, groomed and polished the beasts are for this annual special day out! Some of the comments made by the judges made us laugh too, all done with the rich Devon accent, “This is Daisy… had her second calf… a fine, firm little udder… there’s a good dairyness about her…” – not a word we’d come across before!

Moving on to the angora goats, inside the tent we found Jan Tillett with her stand. She usually makes an appearance, and at the craft shows too. She is a textile artist and I always enjoy her work.

09 Jan Tillett

Here are some of the angora goats, which produce mohair.

13 Angora Goats

One of the finest local herds is the Corrymoor herd, which usually carries off all the prizes, but I was told that this year they haven’t done so well. This is because their competitors have recently bought in new blood from South Africa and have been producing larger animals. The number of herds in the UK is small, and every now and then it is good to introduce new blood to prevent inbreeding, but Corrymoor have to take special precautions to avoid compromising their organic status. They said that not winning for two or three years was a small sacrifice to make in order to maintain their integrity. They always have a stand selling their socks, and I have frequently added to my collection over the years – they are simply the best socks I’ve ever worn and I never wear anything else now. They are soft but incredibly hardwearing (I bought my first pair years ago and have worn and washed them countless times and they have not worn out), warm in winter and cool in summer, and they come in such a huge variety of colours and I have pairs to match all my outfits!

As usual, we visited the blacksmiths’ tent where we again saw some amazing pieces of wrought ironwork that they had made, including this elegant chair.

16 Wrought Iron Chair

This beautiful mirror surround won first prize and reserve champion.

22 Wrought Iron Mirror

For the first time in my experience, there was an example of the blade maker’s art on display. I am very interested in this, and was particularly thrilled to see that it was a Damascus blade. On the photo on the right, you can see if you look carefully, the patterns made by the folding and refolding of the heated billet (a stack of different steels which are forge-welded together) – several hundred folds are made. Some blades end up with an intricate pattern which is quite beautiful, and the technique makes the blade extremely strong but flexible, and able to maintain a keen edge.

19a Damascus Blade Pics

Going into the large craft and flower tent, we saw a similar display to last year’s, with the knitted poppies everyone had made to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. They were selling quite a few of these poppies this year, in aid of the Haig Fund, this year marking the centenary of the end of WWI.

28 Wartime Memorial

Incorporated in the display was a display celebrating the work of the Women’s Land Army during WWII. I was very interested in this because my mum was a Land Girl and she often spoke about it and how she loved her time in the Land Army, serving her country in time of war by doing farm work in the absence of the men who had gone off to fight.

29 Land Army Display

In the craft tent there was a new display for this year, of fabulous hardwood kitchen boards. I was sorely tempted to buy one… The loaf of bread at the front was made of plastic!!

33 Hardwood Kitchen Boards

This was our favourite board, made of English burr oak, and the texture of the edges, and the grain were stunning. The cracks had been filled with copper and resin, and the whole surface sanded smooth. If it had not cost £350 I would have bought it!

34 Burr Oak Cheese Board

I loved the little laser-cut wooden tag attached to it as well – here’s a detail shot.

35 Burr Oak Cheese Board Tag Detail

It was made of two identically-cut thin slices of wood with a thicker border piece sandwiched between, so that you could see through the laser-cut holes. I thought it might be possible to make something similar in card. It was so attractive, and would make a very pretty hanging decoration.

Having looked at the website before coming, I knew that my favourite watercolour artist would be there – Karen Thomas. I first met her at an art exhibition where a friend had some paintings, and we had a nice chat then, so I was keen to look her up again. I’d seen her at other events in between as well.

36 Karen Thomas Watercolours

I love her bright vibrant colours, and her skilful use of white space, and the spattering technique she so often employs. She has written a beautiful book, and I really wanted to buy this for my hubby as an extra birthday present to thank him for all he’s done for me in recent months, and for all the anxiety he suffered on my behalf recently. The trouble was, he wouldn’t go away! I desperately wanted to get rid of him so I could buy the book without him seeing, and afterwards he said he thought I was staying too long and wanted me to leave! Eventually he wandered off and I conducted a super-quick transaction which also included Karen signing the book for him, all in the nick of time before he reappeared! My heart was thumping! Karen and I exchanged amused glances as we left.

Another new addition this year was the Moth Man. His name is Andre Daniel, and his flier states, “Andre Daniel is the creator of the unique Devon Moths. Each moth is individually crafted from English hard woods and occasionally other native timbers, polished to enhance the beauty and variation of the grain.” Each moth is unique. The wings of each, being sliced from the same piece, are mirror images of one another.

38 Moths 1

42 Moth Collection

I thought these were absolutely exquisite. Again, I wondered whether it would be possible to create something similar with hand-embossed card… Ideas racing through my head!

The central display in the tent was again provided by Lifton Farm Shop. Again they carried off all the prizes, including Best Exhibit in Show. Last year’s was on the theme of Shaun the Sheep and was the best ever (see my blog post here for photos) and this year the theme was Peter Rabbit and several other Beatrix Potter characters.

44 Peter Rabbit Display

The dry-stone wall was made entirely from potatoes!

45 Potato Wall

Here is the angry gardener, Mr. McGregor, having caught poor Peter Rabbit (Peter gets away in the book). I remember my mum reading us the story (and many others) when we were little.

49 Mr McGregor with Peter Rabbit

Mrs. Tiggywinkle, another character – she was a hedgehog, and her spines were represented here by asparagus spears! Here she is, doing the weekly wash. I love the use of gypsophila (one of my favourite flowers) to represent the soapsuds.

51 Mrs Tiggywinkle

Mrs. Tiggywinkle’s house.

53 Mrs Tiggywinkle's House

Another character – the Foxy Gentleman. He was NOT what he seemed. He inveigled poor innocent Jemima Puddleduck to his lair, ostensibly to share afternoon tea with her, but in fact his aim was to eat her. Fortunately she escaped this awful fate.

56 The Foxy Gentleman

Here is my hubby laying a protective hand on the head of Jemima, safely out of harm’s reach!

57 Jemima Puddleduck

At the further end of the tent were the flower arrangements. This is always a stunning display. I can’t arrange flowers to save my life, and am in awe of those who can.

This was my favourite one in the class “Country Garden.”

63 Country Garden 1

In the miniature class entitled “Lullaby,” I simply loved this delicate little arrangement with the single frond of fern gently curving over the top of a tiny cradle. There are some tiny rolls of music underneath. It won 2nd prize.

65 Lullaby 2nd Prize

Another in the same class, this time winning 1st prize. There are tiny little music notes cut from music paper, hanging from the branches of the little tree, and the little cradle is made from music paper too.

67 Lullaby 1st Prize

I loved this one in the class “Strings and Things.” Unfortunately the judges didn’t agree with my choice and they did not award it a prize!”"

68 Strings and Things

The display of arrangements in the theme “Wind Chimes.” Some very clever ones.

72 Wind Chimes Class Display

There were lots of displays of beautiful flowers, including this one of sweet peas, one of my favourite flowers.

77 Sweet Peas

A bit of fun – “Plants with Modified Jeans” lol lol!

78 Plants with Modified Jeans

My hubby rushed me out of the tent just in time to see two people on stilts, dressed in costumes made entirely from silk flowers! They were stunning. They moved so elegantly and the effect was dramatic.

79 Stilt People

You never know what you are going to see at the County Show. I nearly had a heart attack as I narrowly escaped being exterminated by a dalek! You can see the man behind, speaking through a special device to alter his voice. He was able to operate the radio controls to make the dalek move.

81 Dalek

Outside the Young Farmers’ tent was the usual display of altered objects done by the different Young Farmers’ groups. This year the theme was altered benches. My favourite was this really fun cow – she has a fluffy tail on the left, and just look at those wonderful pink udders. That judge would surely say, “Great dairyness there”!

84 Young Farmers' Altered Bench - Cow

Around the walls of the tent were the usual displays done in boxes by the Young Farmers. This year the theme was Magic and Mystery. Here are a few of my favourites, the first being Alice.

87 YFC Alice in Wonderland


88 Bow YFC Narnia 6th Prize

They had to incorporate various elements such as cooking, fabric work, use of foliage, etc.

Judging the sheep.

89 Judging the Sheep

Finally, we met the Exeter Morris Men and walked with them on their way to the Beer Tent, outside which they were going to do their display. Such lovely chaps and we so enjoyed this traditional display of an ancient English custom.

92 Morris Men 1

94 Morris Dancing

I took some video footage of the Morris Dancing, too.

The day was too quickly over, so filled with lovely things to see and do. A perfect day, and I’m so thankful I did not have to miss it.


  1. Hi Shoshi, I so love a good agricultural show especially when the weather's nice. You've reminded me that I need to get the tickets for the Lincolnshire show which is not far off now. Have a great week, Angela xXx

  2. wow, what a day! I don't think I've ever been to a proper county show - loved all the photos, and especially the food board.. but £350...... no way jose!! you need to take up wood turning and polishing next!!

  3. Well what a fabulous show, and Oh My Goodness those moths - I have taken a note of his name and will definitely be investigating further - I just loved them. I have to say if anyone can replicate that look with card, embossing folders, inks and die-cuts then you can!! I've enjoyed your post so much, thank you for sharing your wonderful day and I'm so glad you were recovered enough to get there and have a great time.
    Diana x

  4. What a show! Lots of interesting things to see - what really stood out for me were those amazing wooden moths! I thought they were real - they certainly look real! Thanks for sharing your outing, Shoshi - looking at your photos is the next best thing to actually going there!

  5. Looks like a great county show and you had the weather too. The Pembrokeshire County Show is fairly good, but not the best (I was spoilt by going to the Royal Show in my childhood - can't remember when that stopped) - and it is held in August, when it often rains! Wonderful photos. Ali x


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