Thursday, 29 August 2013

An abundance of apples, pears and fruit of all kinds

What a display - fruit to perfection
What could be more Autumnal – and more in tune with the Three Counties – than the apple and pear harvest? And it is celebrated in style at the Malvern Autumn Show; you cannot escape the wonderful produce that producers from the counties of Worcestershire,  Gloucestershire and Herefordshire bring for your delight.

No room for fruit trees? How about a potted orchard?
Such bounty, such enjoyment, and just about everything you may need to know about growing your own orchard, even if it is no more than potted fruit trees on the patio.

Perry Pears in serried rows - a three-counties speciality
The exciting news is that this year many previously diverse aspects of the fruit harvest will come together in The Orchard Pavilion. So now, in one location, you will find a veritable cornucopia: the Festival of Perry, the Commercial Apple and Pear show, the Marcher Apple Network, the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, the Herefordshire Year of the Orchard Group, plus the apple juice competition, and what’s more, learn how to manage your orchard.

Buy from specialist nurseries during the Show
Celebrating the Year of Orchard: Orchards not only cover apples and pears but stone fruits – damsons, plums and sloes (have you ever made – and drunk – sloe gin? Goes down a treat on a cold, frosty evening). There will be stands selling dessert and cooking apples, tree nurseries, and small stands selling preserves made from orchard fruit.

Remarkable honey-bees
Don’t miss the Bee Exhibition – it’s always fascinating; bees are critical for pollination, or their would be no fruit; Also covered will be nut orchards., which were once prevalent on every country estate and even in cottage gardens, for nuts were once part of the staple diet; hazel nuts and cob nuts, walnuts and the sweet chestnut encased in hedgehog-like prickly green case. Roast chestnuts round the fire on bonfire night.

Lots to try and buy; locally produced and delicious.
Our Nuffield Scholar, Ali Capper, will give a talk about apples “from the tree to the fruit bowl”. With the late Spring and thus absence of late frosts, it’s been a bumper year for fruit, so if you come to the Malvern Autumn Show for no other reason, come and celebrate nature’s harvest and earth’s fruitfulness.

I just love this golden perry pear and had to fit it in somehow! I'm now taking a short break but will be back well before the Show (28th & 29th September) as there is still so much to tell you about.  Please check back the week after next and make sure you book your tickets, and come as early as you can, for there is SO MUCH TO SEE AND DO.

Meanwhile, as we have more images than we can publish in one short post, here's another of my collages to whet your appetite even further.

From judging fruit juice (I was roped in one year) to Merrylegs 
perry pears - and more - there is always so much to enjoy at Malvern

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Top of the bill in the 'Good Life Pavilion'

Mary Berry, CBE
(image credit: Tim James/Mabel Gray)

It would seem that celebrated author, columnist, teacher and broadcaster, Mary Berry CBE, is flavour of the month in more ways than one. Bookshops have a number of her latest books on display, and another title is scheduled for release two days before the Malvern Autumn Show. And she is coming to Malvern - top of the bill and special guest on the Saturday (28th September).

Best known most recently for her part in the TV baking revival, and for her practical and healthy recipes containing lots of fresh ingredients, Mary is a household name, having hosted seven cookery series for Thames Television, and several others since. She is known for her views on family food for healthy living, so was the perfect choice of guest for the popular ‘Good Life Pavilion’. Said Sharon Gilbert, Communications Manager for the Three Counties Showground: “Home-produced food is one of the main themes of our Autumn event, particularly the grow your own lifestyle, which is still very much in vogue.”

A smiling Joe Swift
Although she will be sharing her top tips for delicious family cooking, Mary will also be talking about her passion for her own lovely garden, on stage with television gardener Joe Swift. Check your Show Guide on arrival for details. The ‘Good Life Pavilion’ is just one of a whole host of features planned for the Show. Indeed, the Malvern Autumn Show is now renowned as a celebration of country life, food and nostalgia on account of its charming mix of flowers, fruit and vegetables, exquisite crafts, local food with taste, and quality shopping. The Show organisers are anticipating a big crowd on both Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th. 

The Good Life in an edible show garden
The Pavilion is also home to five lovingly designed edible gardens this year, and there’s a brand new, complementary Plant Fair, for those with a real passion for unusual species grown by small specialist nurseries. The whole area is dedicated to promoting the secrets of living a happy, healthy life, beginning with the benefits of sowing, growing and eating produce from your own ‘back yard’ – even if that back yard is just a small collection of patio pots. The Show is only five weeks away - don't forget to book your tickets!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Animals - and more animals

Awaiting instructions
There is just so much to see and do at the Autumn Show that I am hard pressed to share it all in the short post scheduled for this weekend, so I will focus on animals and activities in just two arenas.

"We're lonely."  Do they want a pat?  Or maybe a hug?
Teme Arena: There will be daily parades of dogs, horses and other animals from the World of Animals. This year, carriage driving classes are to be part of the programme.

What a snooty look!
Indeed the World of Animals is always a popular area of the show, with many different breeds of dogs, horses and goats on display, much loved by children.

Patient, and well-trained.
Activity Arena: The programme this year includes Dog Agility on each day, plus an exhibition from Lamb National and the Inter Gundog team event.

Animals in many guises
Of course, there will be much more animal-wise to see and do than is listed above, and it all comes under the zoned areas designates as 'Enjoy It'. We hope you do.

Next week we will be back to growing and harvesting and fruit in particular. And please be aware that the images depicted are from last year’s Autumn Show so are representative of the sort of activity you can expect.

All images reproduced courtesy of Ray Quinton

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Taste it! Glorious Food at the Malvern Autumn Show

Local produce to tempt you

Fresh and local is the key for FOOD at the Malvern Autumn Show – and why not when it is held in an area so renowned for some of the finest produce this country has to offer. From fruit to vegetables, meat to pastries, preserves to sweetmeats and bread to chutneys, the three counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire benefit from an equable climate and a tradition of excellence in food production.

Doing the Continental -
tasty morsels from far afield, as well as local to Malvern
But being a cosmopolitan nation, the Autumn Show attracts exhibitors from far and wide, and beyond our island shores as well. Whether it's chillies or olives, continental meats or curries, or something even more exotic, your taste buds will tempt you to go sampling in the various areas of the Showground devoted to TASTE.

Let them eat cake! (It was delicious, too)
Head for the Avon Hall where the WI (Women’s Institute) are staging a ‘Bake Off and Crafts-Village Show’. It’s also home to the celebrated ‘Festival of Food and Drink’ and all related exhibitors; dozens of them. Come early if you can, these stalls will be packed, though the vendors never seem to run out of produce. Moving from stall to stall, your shopping bag will soon be bulging! And there are plenty of stalls to whet your appetite in other locations, notably a Local Arts, Crafts and Food Market sited on the hard-standing  area off Row 2 between the Wye and Avon Halls. 

Wot's Cooking with Katie Johnson and baker Rob Swift
Centre stage in the Avon Hall will be Cookery Theatre where Wot’s Cooking (with lovely Katie Johnson) will be hosting a series of cookery demonstrations throughout the Show. The theatre itself is a work of art, and Wot’s Cooking use different stages for the various events they attend around the country. The Autumn Show schedule is currently building, but following his appearance at 'The Malvern Royal', baker Rob Swift will be returning on Saturday with his entertaining bread making demo;  the Swifts family Bakery  celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.  Also on the Saturday, Katie has a super chap demonstrating all about fish including identification and sourcing (Tom Court from The Granary Restaurant, Shenstone, Worcs). On the Sunday Liz Knight, a fascinating foraging expert from Herefordshire, will feature ingredients she has foraged for in the lanes and at her home, and no doubt at the Showground too. We’ll provide an update on other demos as news arrives.

Refreshments courtesy the WI at reasonable prices
Watching food demos is hungry work, or at least one craves food afterwards, or at any time of the day. There are plenty of refreshments on offer around the Showground, clearly marked on the map that accompanies your Showguide. As these are all conveniently located, there’s no excuse for not stopping for a bite and a cuppa – indeed, your visit may well benefit from so doing when you arrive, allowing you time to glance through the Show Guide and formulate a plan of what you want to do. Familiarization can save time and possible frustration, allowing you to pack more into your day out.

Joe Swift (left) learning how to cook in the Good Life Pavilion (2009)
Hosting both days in the Good Life Pavilion (alongside the edible show gardens) will be the inimitable Joe Swift conducting an audience with Mary Berry – Saturday only. Mark Diacono, from his Otter Farm smallholding in Devon, will also be appearing: head gardener at River Cottage and author of the amazing ‘Taste of the Unexpected’, he is both knowledgeable and amusing.

Have a coffee when you arrive, or before heading home
(or at any time during your visit)
Shop till you drop! But if you’re seriously stocking your pantry and even freezer, do remember to bring along a cool bag, or even an icebox. More previews will follow in the weeks leading up to the Show. But please note that the images used were taken in previous years, and as every year is different, with different themes, there is no guarantee that a specific exhibitor will be at Malvern in 2013. Oh, and don’t forget to book your tickets now and save money – which of course you could spend on food !!

More good eating from other Malvern Shows
Don't miss this year's Autumn Show - 28th & 29th September, 2013

All images are copyright Ray Quinton and Ann Somerset Miles.