The grey gloom of dawn didn’t exactly look promising.
At first light we bid ‘pob lwc’ (good luck) to friends Pete & Barbara from the Gluten Free Company, who were heading for the Pembrokeshire Show to promote their delicious frozen gourmet meals via the support of Food Centre Wales. Then after a snatched breakfast, we milked the goats & fed & watered all the animals & poultry.
However with the inevitable delays caused by issues with the Dairy Complex build, we eventually left for Pembrokeshire far later than we’d intended. It was still a grey day over the valley; so we opted to leave the girls indoors as they really do not appreciate rain. However by the time we reached Haverfordwest the sun was blazing & actually warm.
We squelched our way across the makeshift car park (pity the poor farmer, whose field it was) & paid the £12-per-head entrance fee. Then came the difficult bit – finding the marquee housing the Dyfed Smallholders’ Association, which was nowhere to be seen. Cursing the inaccuracy of the map as we fruitlessly searched, we bumped into our friend Quae who advised us that as their marquee had been swept away by the violent weather on the first day they’d been rehomed with the Pygmy goats (also relocated); indeed the Dairy Goat tent had literally been washed away & all the exhibitors had long since departed.
So we made our way over to the Association’s excellent display area, in order to introduce ourselves; as although we’ve been members since the New Year we unfortunately haven’t been able to attend any meetings or events as we’ve been so incredibly busy. Suffice to say after a lovely chat we’re looking forward to attending the annual Harvest Lunch in a few weeks’ time, hosted by Nick & Glyn who run a holiday cottage business on their picturesque smallholding near Blaenffos.
We made our way over to the Food Hall where we caught up with our friends from Food Centre Wales, as well as several other traders with whom we’ve built up a rapport over recent months. Pete & Barbara treated us to lunch; with Tony sampling their pork cassoulet & I enjoyed the lamb ras-al-hanut which is a delicate dish of prime shoulder of Welsh lamb, blended with subtle spices. It was gorgeous, hints of fruit & spice mingling perfectly with the lamb & beautifully balanced with a serving of plump quinoa. Meanwhile Tony was immeasurably impressed with his wholesome & satisfying cassoulet, declaring that the marriage of prime pork shoulder, Chorizo sausage, cannelli & butter beans was the best he’d ever tasted – & considering he’s spent a fair amount in Toulouse (where the dish originated) that’s praise indeed.
The sun shone, & the Showground was buzzing. Nevertheless I was relieved to have donned my wellies as with no breeze the groundwater wasn’t draining as swiftly as could be hoped. As ever Wales was well equipped to deal with the problem & plenty of bark chippings & straw had been laid to counteract the more muddy areas. Nevertheless we felt very sorry for the competitors in the Private Drive classes; whose elegant turnouts were soon spattered with mud as horses & ponies hauled the carriages around the arena. But it was a great show with many interesting & entertaining things to see (including an 8ft-tall robot which walked, talked & even serenaded the crowds). However I gather attendance over the first two days was not as high as had been hoped for, owing ot the inclement weather – let’s hope that today made up for it as it really is worth a visit.
We headed for home & on arrival immediately tended to the animals, giving the goats their supper. However they had other ideas; & as Tony gave them their hay & I shovelled feed into the big rubber buckets, they took full advantage (as ever) of an insecure gate & bust out into the mild evening air of the adjacent pasture, high-tailing it through the long grass with snorts of glee; to such an extent that we left them out for the night, which we’ve never done before.
As the evening’s light left the sky we sat in the darkening garden, our only illumination the glow of candles as bats danced for insects with aerobatic ease. So: another show, another unavailable opportunity; another day of silence in the new milking parlour…..I look forward to the noise & chaos of what is soon to come.