Sunday, 29 September 2013

Memories from the Malvern Autumn Show - and signing out

General activities around the Showground (Saturday afternoon)

Day Two of the Malvern Autumn Show and the weather is still perfect. What a bonus; so much easier to take pictures without umbrellas obscuring the scene! Though gardeners and outdoor people never mind that, do they? Dry and warm conditions just make it all more pleasurable.

I found time to enjoy the many exhibitors demonstrating their creative
skills, which fed my passion for both nostalgia and creativity

It's time for me to sign off for now, at the end of a very busy season at the Malvern Three Counties Showground. There are more Shows to come this year with which I am not involved - details on the TCAS website. It has  been such a privilege to get to know so many of the dedicated team who put together the events about which I have written since beginning this Blog in February; their support has been invaluable in bringing you news and images - all the previews, and 'blogging live'. YOUR support as reader and follower of what has appeared is also so very much appreciated, as is that of the many exhibitors I have interviewed and featured. Thankyou to you all.

With a second day at my disposal, I was able to re-visit the 'growing' areas
Whilst I've been working in the Press Room creating this last post, my
photographer husband, Ray Quinton, has been out and about taking
many more images through which to remember the Show.

Plans are already in progress for 2014 with some imaginative and exciting innovations. It may be trite  to say so, but WATCH THIS SPACE.

Memories of a splendid two days

Saturday, 28 September 2013

At the Autumn Show - First Morning

Just a few from this morning (and the mist has gone)

The Showground is heaving!  I'm off-duty really, post-previews, and doing my own thing; dashed to buy pumpkin seeds from Pennard Plants in the Good Life Pavilion (an under-cover marquee filed with the edible gardens and seed/plant companies and always a magnet for me). Alongside spotted the Westons Cider vintage display (top right), enjoyed the vintage merry-go-round and the gold-medal Rockford Rock Garden (middle left). It features the urban and rural landscape of Rockford City, Illinois, USA - an irregular grid seen from the air. I'll be writing about this elsewhere. Then spent over an hour listening to an informative talk in the Harvest Pavilion on 'Amazing Edibles' - fruit, vegetables and wild plants (weeds, actually) given by member of the RHS Council, Jon Wheatley. Did you know that in 20 years we'll be eating hostas? Now to more hours of enjoyment as I quarter the show ground, in search of this and that, making a few purchases here and there. It's so beautifully warm, encouraging one to linger.

On the Showground – Autumn Show

Towards the Malvern Hills - a beacon to the Malvern Autumn Show
The long-tailed tits were back again, as we left home; and a robin, perching on the fat-balls. The sun shone – the road out of the village epitomized Autumn: crab apples and elderberries, sweet chestnuts and rowan lined our cross-country route.  Blackberries and sloes, perry pears and rosehips – an edible harvest accompanying our 50-mile journey. The hills blue in the distance drawing ever nearer. It was good to be back.

So many things to do and enjoy 
How much more is on offer than my previews over the last weeks had indicated, and what a marvellous mix of all the components – grow, harvest, experience taste, discover, relive, enjoy, buy. Positive enjoyment clearly a key factor – as a quick walk around the Showground demonstrated, encapsulated in my first photo-collage.

Spectacular 'growing things' - plants and gardens
Grow and Harvest were also spread throughout the Showground, the edible gardens in the Good Life Pavilion such a joy with much ‘food for thought’ in each concept; no pun intended. Not a leaf out of place as the designers awaited the judges. Giant Veg were arriving all the while in the Severn Hall, floral art was still in the process of creation, finishing touches were being put to nursery displays and exhibitors’ stands, sound systems in three theatres were being tested, awaiting a long list of prestigious speakers and all the while, a stream of heavy haulage vehicles arrived, unloaded and departed, all a mammoth feat of organisation. The gates are open; it's going to be a marvellous Show.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

One Post - two Shows ...

Show One is of course the Malvern Autumn Show which I have been previewing for the last couple of months - that marvellous mix of growing, experiencing, tasting, discovering, enjoying, and nostalgia. This is the last of my pre-show reports for the gates open this Saturday and Sunday (28th & 29th September) welcoming visitors once more onto the immaculate Showground beneath the Malvern Hills. Opening times are 9.00am to 6.00pm on both days; free car-parking, or continuous shuttle bus from Great Malvern station.

Loads of delicious food, and other shopping opportunities throughout 
the Show (I couldn't resist the cakes!)
I have not been able to make my usual pre-show visit but know that much frenetic activity is ongoing morning till night, as happens before all shows. But come Saturday, I will once more be out with my camera and notebook-cum-sketchbook, recording my favourite aspects, posting for those who follow this blog but for reasons of distance cannot visit. A true celebration of the harvest, set in a beautiful location - just remember your shopping trolley; and a raincoat is alway advisable. 

Mammoth or giant ?
And watch out for the monster pumpkins descending on the Showground - they will need industrial-strength scales at the weigh-in! Ten mammoths are appearing along with 270 other giant vegetables, ranging from parsnips, onions and marrows, to leeks, carrots and runner beans – all of them entered into the prestigious ‘UK National Giant Vegetables Championship’. The competition is taking place at Malvern for the first time, following its move from Somerset’s Royal Bath & West Showground, where it has been staged since 1997.

Images from past Autumn Shows (2007-2012)

One week later and the Showground plays host 
to the Malvern Caravan Show
Show Two is the Malvern Caravan Show which follows less than one week later - what a task for the showground staff to make ready for an influx of new exhibitors and visitors in motorhomes or tents, or with caravans in tow - or none, for day visitors are equally welcome, as is anyone in a motorhome or camping under canvas. Friday 4th - Sunday 6th October. 

Time to enjoy myself - mapping the local area 
with my trusty notebook still on hand
It's a great opportunity to relax and unwind, meet up with friends, view new models that could become your desired home on wheels, buy supplies and generally soak up the atmosphere and camaraderie of touring. (Having just returned from ten days with our motorhome touring Brittany, and next month will be in Shropshire with our caravan, I can thoroughly recommend touring as a means of 'getting away from it all'.)

Family fun of an evening
Latest news from the Showground is now to hand: Daytime activities include ‘Doggy Day’:?Fun Dog show (Waggiest Tail, Dog Most Like Its Owner etc) Good prizes for the dogs (Saturday morning). Adventurous visitors can enjoy free Laser Shoot and Crazy Golf, both available throughout the weekend. Those caravanners feeling creative can enter the Bake a Cake in a Van Competition! in the Showground’s very own bake-off. Evening activities include a fantastic line-up of entertainment from the fabulous 50s and Swinging 60s!   ?’Dream Boats and Petticoats,’ a Rock and Roll sensation! (Friday 4th October, 8pm) then ‘Dusty Miss 60s Springfield’ and the ‘Good Vibrations’ on Saturday 5th October, 8pm. ?Food is available in the Severn Hall on Friday and Saturday Evenings from 6.30 - 8pm.

Eating well on local food prepared in our two-berth motorhome kitchen
(sorry - not at Malvern, this was Brittany two weeks ago)
Go Touring: As well as the new and second hand models for sale, check top of the range caravans - don't miss your chance to see the new models from Swift, Coachman, Bailey, Elddis, Adria and Lunar plus caravan accessories - from awnings to towing equipment. Think nostalgia and look at models in the Vintage Caravan display, and share fond recollections of caravanning holidays - enjoying the British weather rain or shine with all the comforts of home!  (Note, they’re still just as comfortable today!)

Group Tour of the Morgan factory during the 
2011 Malvern Caravan Show
Explore the local area: Tour the local attractions - why not try a fully guided tour of the Morgan Motor Company factory and watch the traditional skills of the craftsmen and women hand-making Morgan Sports Cars, and the cutting edge technology that goes into the latest models. Limited spaces - Friday am. All tours must be booked in advance. Phone (01684) 584580 for details. Or tour the local Westons Cider Factory? Phone (01531) 660233 for details. Please note: All tours must be booked in advance.

Spring water - unequalled
And last but not least, Walk the Hills: glorious views, way-marked paths and carparks in various locations. See if you can find the Evandine Spring from which you can still enjoy the fabulous natural Malvern Water, for free. Or explore Malvern Town with its range of shops and two good supermarkets if you have run out of food. Above all, join the fun and enjoy yourselves!

Such a lovely Show in a superb area of outstanding natural beauty

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Celebrating Autumn

Time to enjoy yourselves
We’re only just over a week away from this year’s Malvern Autumn Show and it looks to be a cracker –a captivating celebration of country matters: food, gardening and nostalgia. Over the last three months, I’ve been previewing the Show; this post should act as a reprise of the exciting mixture of activities and exhibitors that you will find over the weekend of Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September. And if this is your first visit to Ann’s Malvern Jotter, then it will serve as a useful introduction.

Juice, cider or perry?
Celebrate in style: “taste it, relive it, grow it, buy it, harvest it, experience it - and love it!”  You surely will, as I have done for all the years I have been visiting and reviewing the profusion of delights that this Show always offers. Keep calm – it’s show time and you only have a day (or two if you are staying in the vicinity) to take it all in. So a few teasers to whet your appetite - and in no particular order, for all visitors will no doubt make a beeline for their favourite aspect and it would be inappropriate for me to focus on what I love most. 

Enjoying a pint
Free dance lessons
Feeling nostalgic? Seek out the Vintage Village. Why not pick up your dancing shoes and learn to jive, or if a sedate afternoon tea is more your style, seek refreshment from the World War II Village Hall & Tea Room. Stop by the Vintage Pavilion or take a stroll around the vintage cars, caravans and machinery. And there’s an Old Tyme Victorian Fair, too.

Perfect veg
Harvest It: The Harvest Pavilion showcases prize-winning blooms and perfect veg. New for this year is the UK National Giant Vegetables Championship. Also NEW is the Vegetable Trug National Championships where avid gardeners can fill a trug with a selection of finest vegetables from their autumnal haul. And learn how to grow your own as well. 

Experienced already ...
... and stepping out
Experience It: There’s plenty to see - step into the World of Animals where you can interact and learn about different breeds. There is something for everybody including the entertaining ‘Lamb National’, animal parades, elegant carriage driving, gentle heavy horses, fast paced dog agility and gun dog displays. Visit the Cafe Plaza the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere and relax to the sounds of Indigo Kings in the afternoon.

Ready for tea and cake
Katie Johnson of
Wot's Cooking
Taste It: Don’t miss the cookery theatre run by Katie and Glyn Johnson from Wot’s Cooking, with demos from the region’s top chefs. Also check out the delicious local produced food & drink, artisan food market, Orchard Pavilion with cider and perry - and the WI bake off.

Apples are sure to feature in an Autumn edible garden
Grow It: Malvern is always a plant lover’s paradise presenting charming edible gardens, including an outdoor kitchen, a Cornish tea garden and the Rockford Garden, showcasing the landscape in Illinois. Experience the RHS Flower Show with hundreds of beautiful plants from Britain’s best nurseries as well as Alan Gardner’s ‘Food Versus Flowers’ garden and David Neate-Stidson’s ‘Out of the Red into the Green.’ Mark Diacono of Otter Farm will be talking about seasonal recipes, and Mary Berry is the headline guest on Saturday 28th in the Good Life Pavilion, where she will be talking to TV gardener Joe Swift about their joint love of all things gardening.  And Landscaping Live returns showcasing the art of garden design, featuring two identical gardens, one complete and the other a work in progress.

Pumpkins are always in evidence at this Show
Never too young ...
Discover It: There’s plenty of fun for the young and the young at heart. From taking the mystery out of mushroom-growing to pumpkin carving workshops from the 3 Shires Garden Centre, together with the chance to make a ‘Jack O Lantern’ in time for Halloween.

You are invited ... book your tickets and join the celebration
Enjoy It: Last but not least, discover the high quality, diverse shopping experience with 600 trade stands selling plants, crafts, garden gadgets and home effects, including the Countryside Shopping Pavilion and the opportunity for first class Christmas  gift shopping. 

All images used in this post are reproduced 
by courtesy of Stuart Purfield.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Inspiration – and hello again!

Come to the Malvern Autumn Show for a day packed with enjoyment
The gap in posting has been occasioned by my brief travels with my husband around Brittany, leading me yet again to realise that inspiration is all around you no matter where you are. And nowhere more so than at the Malvern Showground and the imminent Malvern Autumn Show (Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September).

A nostalgic corner
So much going on – and for me I just love the aspects of nostalgia that pop up around the Show, in celebration of the harvest, autumn gardens – or gardens all year round for that matter, and the opportunity to buy your own part of it. I know what I will be seeking in two weeks’ time and am sure to find what I am looking for. For I have yet to return disappointed over the years I have been visiting, and never know exactly what will take my fancy. Which is of course half the fun.

Plenty of ideas here for a formal garden
Inspiration lies in the Show gardens as well as exhibitors’ stalls. It may not be the garden itself but the little tweaks and juxtaposition of plants and ‘furnishings’ that a clever designer offers. Thinking of how a design will look on different planes, remembering that a garden is for twelve months enjoyment and not just one day. They need to work, and most do.

Decorative kale adds drama
Clever, too, are those experienced designers who make use of a cohesive variety of plants to create a stunning display. Categories not segregated but mixed for leaf shape, height and colour, whether they be ‘edible’ – purpose of the Autumn Show Gardens, or also floral and from the wild. (I so admire the use in France of public spaces with garden annuals along the roadsides attracting pollinating insects – the UK is not good at this, but we could all benefit wildlife by incorporating plants to attract bees and hoverflies into our own patch.)

Pumpkins displayed to perfection
Even our allotments and vegetable plots can be decorative; we spend so much time tending them, so why not ‘think display’ – add a scarecrow with a difference, or a willow structure, or anything that you will enjoy whilst out their on your knees thinning and weeding. Take your camera to the Show if you don’t already do so, and record what you see to act as a reminder.

Taking photos is always enjoyable - keep your eyes open 
and camera at the ready
Have a bit of fun with your imagery! No two Shows are the same and creating a photographic record means you will not forget your day out. Build your own library. Photographs will remind you of those aspects that inspired you; jumping-off points from which to broaden your gardening horizons. Enjoy your day at the Show – and have you yet booked your tickets??

All images used in this post are reproduced 
by courtesy of Stuart Purfield.