Cottagers Lane in Hordle is a gorgeous tree-lined road, today dappled in the sunlight. A house we had seen on a website led us there. Still in the forest, at a pinch this thatched beauty could be affordable. Our usual external viewing didn’t disappoint. In tip-top condition, with a newly thatched roof, as evidenced by the still golden decoy pheasant up above, this was an attractive prospect, with additional (library) accommodation in the garden. That side of the road backs onto open fields. As I took a selection of photographs, a female group, with horse, and dog in tow, ambled past.
The Frys Lane house in Everton, previously under offer, is back on the market, so we had another look at that too.
After an errant drive back we visited the Minstead Flowers, Fruit, and Vegetables Show at the Village Hall. According to Oz, whom we met there, the event was a major success, having attracted far more entries than for many years. Every kind of produce imaginable was carefully and artistically displayed with explanatory labels, some indicating the award of prizes. We didn’t stay for the presentation of these latter, but there was a vast assembly of silver trophies shinily filling a table on the stage.
When paying our 50p each for admission we were enjoined to assist in the final judging. If I understood Steve Cattel correctly this was the selection of some kind of Victor Ludorum for the floral displays. I suggested getting us to do this was a cop out. He said it was. We had to place our ticket in the tumbler of our choice. Mine had already won first prize as a novice exhibit. There weren’t many other tickets in the cup.
As well as the eponymous flowers, fruit, and vegetables, a table was laid with preserves and cakes to make your mouth water; another of cracked eggshells alongside their contents; models made by children; and novelties like the weirdest vegetables. One pair of prize-winning vegetables also looked pretty weird to me. That is why I photographed the turnips. As I raised the camera, a hand slid across the image in the viewfinder and was abruptly withdrawn. Its owner apologised for spoiling the shot. ‘I didn’t take it’, I said. ‘Please put your hand there again. It will make the picture. It looks as if you are snaffling the turnips’. Who knows? Maybe that is what she had been doing. She was happy to humour me, but was inevitably somewhat tentative, and looked a little less like a child grasping for sweets.
I was particularly intrigued by the ‘Tray for a Royal Christening’ displays. These required baking and flower arranging skills; a suitable choice of tray, china and cutlery; and an artistic presentation. As Jackie pointed out, the bootees on the winning fairy cakes perhaps influenced the judges’ choice of number one, but they were all noteworthy entries. Personally, I think anyone who has the courage to enter such a potentially disappointing competition, relying on the somewhat arbitrary judgement of others, deserves a prize. Jackie was incensed that the vase of roses she had thought best hadn’t even been placed. Unfortunately that’s not how life works.
Athletics at school wasn’t my thing. I always wanted at least a ball, if not a bat, and I was no sprinter or jumper. And if I were going to be a sweater, I wanted it to be in a game. We had an annual sports day and everyone was expected to enter three events. I wasn’t going to enter the hundred yards race; and I hadn’t developed my Fosbury flop. What could I do? Well there was a javelin, a discus, and a shot. It didn’t seem to require much effort to stand there and chuck them, especially as no-one else fancied their chances and there were never more than three entrants, so I was assured of at least bronze. I have to admit to being rather dangerous for any peripheral spectators when it came to the javelin. It would also have helped my points rating had I thrown it straight.
I’m not sure if I mentioned at home that a gold medal gained in the discus one year required less than even my normal desultory effort, for there were no other competitors.
Jackie once went to a show similar to today’s at Minstead. She admired a cake that had won second prize. Searching for the winner of the gold, she realised there wasn’t one. There had only been one entry not adjudged good enough for the prime accolade. When she told me this I considered myself fortunate that my schoolmasters had not been inclined to take the same stance.
No matter how many entries there had been for tonight’s chicken jalfrezi contest, Jackie, with her delicious offering, would have won hands down. Any self-respecting Bangladeshi chef would have been proud of it. Particularly appreciated were the delicate aromas of her pilau rice garnished with toasted almonds. Although the meal didn’t really need it, I spiced mine up with Naga relish given to me either by Danni or Shelly. I finished the Ogio merlot, myself.