by Althea, Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth, aided and abetted by Cathy Ace, author
|Competitive vegetable display, Royal Welsh Show|
How lovely of you to join me, as I set about celebrating the 100th Royal Welsh Show, which begins today, 22nd July, and will run for the next four days.
Back when it started, the agricultural landscape of Wales looked was very different to the way it does today. Except for the sheep, I suppose...though there must have been many of more of them then, before the dreadful blight of disease.
The show looked different, too – it was held in dozens of locations all over north and south Wales until, in 1963, its new home, just outside the lovely market town of Builth Wells, was created.
|Builth Wells High Street|
It’s more or less on the doorstep of the Chellingworth Estate, so the Twyst family has always done what it can to support the show. It's a huge boost to the local economy, being - as it is - the highlight of the British agricultural year, and a great chance for a bit of ceremony, as well as a lot of fun.
I don’t have an agricultural background, so I’ve never been an agricultural judge. Dogs and horses are my favourite creatures, and I've been involved with the dog show in the past - a win at the Royal Welsh can put a dog on the path to Crufts, so it's a jolly serious dog show! And the showjumping is a delight, to be sure, as well as a display team who undertake some perilous riding activities. This year, I'm sorry to report, there's an outbreak of equine flu in Wales to be considered - well, it's across much of the rest of Britain too - and it's been decided that only horses with a certification of a vaccination will be allowed into the showgrounds. Better than cancelling all the equine events, I'm sure.
|Atkinson Action Horses...in action!|
With a background as a dancer in the West End I wish there were some activities like that I could get involved with, but I’ve very much enjoyed having an input into the flower arranging competitions over the years. We do have such a lot of floral work done for Chellingworth Hall – especially when we’re open to the public – that I do feel I have achieved at least some level of ability in judging that particular skillset. There's also great excitement about the naming of a new variety of sweet pea this year, because it will have a Welsh name. There are hundreds of varieties of sweet peas, but none of them has a Welsh name. The Welsh National Sweet Pea Society has been involved with choosing the name, which will be announced by the breeder - who is Welsh - at the show.
I've also been involved in judging the baking in the past - though I must admit one can get just a little overwhelmed with all the tasting one has to do. I’m hoping the new Duchess, Henry’s wife Stephanie, will step up to take over my duties at some point in the not too distant future, but – with this being the 100th show – of course I’ll be involved again this year.
|Some delightful little cakes!|
I must be off now. I hope the women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency can manage all their investigations without me this week, I’ll be busy, or tired…or both, I should think. And cross your fingers for good weather for us, would you? The cattle and sheep can cope with a good soaking, but it can get rather warm in the marquees when the weather closes in, and the competitions heat up!
For more info about the Royal Welsh Show - click here. (You'll find the photos in this blog post have come from that website.)
You can find out more about Althea Twyst, Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth, and her four friends who run the WISE Enquiries Agency by checking the author's website by clicking here.