The Melplash Show

I have that feeling that I am taking a step back in time, and yet only by a two or three weeks. How quickly summer slips in to Autumn, but what a beautiful Autumn it is. We went for a glorious walk today with our friends Caddy and Kate across the hills from Eype to Seaton; the coast bathed in hot sunshine, the sea blue and sparkling. I wish I could show you it all, but for once (and intentionally) I’d decided to leave my camera at home and enjoy things in a different way – through looking, and not photographing.

And partly, too, because there’s a story I want to share, and I know I must write it this weekend or never. The Melplash Show.

I suppose it’s probably true to say that the real reason we didn’t go away this summer was the Melplash Show. Charlie was making sure that his dahlias and vegetables were as beautifully looked after as the most cosseted pooch in the upper east side of New York city. Care and attention reaps rewards, I always like to think, but as the day drew close I can’t help but admitting that we were full of trepidation.  New Zealanders from Charlie’s home town of Mayfield are very well aware of his incredible skills in the agricultural and pastoral shows; but this was new territory, and one never quite knows if the locals will be friendly to newcomers.

Early on the morning of the show entry day, Charlie picked and gathered. The flower room came into its own, and a host of ‘bikini vases’, as I have now learned they are called, started to do their work.

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By late afternoon the crop was well-edited and beautifully presented:P1040273 P1040274 Perfect vegetables were carefully boxed ready for transport:
P1040277 P1040282 P1040288All deliveries must be made by 8.00pm on the Wednesday evening; we had Zoe and Chris from the office staying, and were heading to Bridport for supper, to Charlie had to leave just a bit early with a car filled with incredible wares. The delivery was carefully and safely made.

The following morning we arrived at the show ground to find hoards of visitors and ominous signs outside several tents.P1040291

But the horticultural produce tent was open – and had been judged. At an immediate glance the competition was going to be tough. Frankly terrifying. This, for instance, was a massive cabbage.P1040293 P1040294

But we found some of the dahlias and realised that all that hard work was not quite in vain. FIRST PRIZE, Charlie McCormick.P1040295

And again!P1040297

And again, and again. Second prize for the beautiful bunches of flowers….P1040299 P1040304

Second prize in the hotly contested sweet-pea section (where to be honest the first prize winner was rather show stopping).P1040306 P1040308

Third in Gladioli.

Our friend Caddy who excels in the unusual vegetable category had done beautifully in the edible flower category:P1040312

Runner beans, and marrows; moments of great beauty:P1040317 Charlie won in Rhubarb!!!

This was the BEST IN SHOW:P1040325

Charlie: FIRST PRIZE IN ONIONS, another very hotly contested area.P1040328 P1040332

Caddy’s incredible carrots:P1040334 P1040336

And her insane pumpkin, by far the heaviest.  Unfortunately for Caddy she had brought in three incredibly heavy pumpkins, only to find that there was just one prize, ‘heaviest’. P1040343 P1040345 P1040348

Insane begonias.

Scenes from the Show:P1040350 P1040360

Judging in the honey tent:P1040371 P1040374 P1040377Show jumping:P1040391Cattle judging:P1040395A happy prize winner:P1040397 P1040404

Tense moments…P1040405

The subtly happy face of success…P1040407

And even bigger smiles when the Charolais herd won the best in show:P1040411 P1040412 P1040413 P1040418 P1040423

Super star:P1040425 P1040426 P1040431 P1040432 P1040433

In the sheep pens:
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Inspecting the winning cattle:P1040448 P1040451 P1040455 P1040458 P1040459 P1040463 P1040465 P1040472 P1040474

Sheep and young keepers:P1040477 P1040478 P1040479 P1040481 P1040483 P1040488 P1040490


Charlie never told me he had a line in tractors….P1040495

Caddy’s son Ted, aged 16, had won several prizes in the Honey tent!P1040501 P1040502

Faces of success!P1040505 P1040510

Children’s art:P1040511

Children’s baking:

Vegetable and fruit creations (make a robot):P1040513 P1040515 P1040517

Miniature garden:P1040518

Flower arranging tent:P1040520 P1040529But back in the horticultural tent, an exciting moment….P1040530 P1040531

it turned out that Charlie had won the Percy and Elise Bowditch Trophy!  For most points in Dahlia categories.P1040532 P1040534

Some serious inspection was going on.P1040536 P1040538 P1040539 P1040541

Prize giving. Mr Hillier, best allotment. P1040548 P1040551 P1040553

Bill Howarth cleaned up nearly every single category, a true winner. We were told he enters eleven shows each spring, nineteen each summer. A true champion.P1040554

Charlie receiving his cup!P1040557 P1040559

Winner! I was so, so proud. Of course it’s the taking part that really counts, but it’s pretty nice to get the recognition that Charlie is growing the best dahlias – a fact we all suspected but is good to have confirmed.P1040564

Another winner! Caddy and her giant pumpkin.P1040567 P1040568


Slightly harsh words in the egg judging.P1040570


And more intense inspection. Completely blissful to watch.

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Parting scenes from Melplash…P1040613 P1040615 P1040618

… and then we were heading home, with the quiet flush of success and a raft of awards to put on Charlie’s flower room mantlepiece.

As a postscript, I thought you’d like to see a couple of photographs of the dahlia border this weekend.p1050014 p1050015 p1050016 p1050018 p1050019 p1050022 p1050025 p1050026 p1050027 p1050054 p1050056 p1050063 p1050064 p1050067 p1050081 p1050085 p1050086 p1050104It’s been a serene, gentle evening. I hope you’ve had the best weekend.

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