Poor Tony’s been burning the midnight oil this week – building a Victorian handcart to bring elegance & chic to the scoop cabinet which has been languishing in the back of what will – one day – be our future Gelato Laboratory & Dairy.
This weekend we attended our first major event of the year: the West Wales Food Festival; & had got to the point where the size of the event had outgrown the limitations of our current equipment. The small serveover & fridges are great for small one- or two-day events; but just not viable for the larger food festivals.
So it was, that I felt it was time to make the scoop cabinet more *ahem* portable; & to decorate it appropriately. Unfortunately we only had a couple of days in which to bring the plan to fruition – & it was darn hard work. First we had to plan what was required, then source the necessary materials (some £200′ worth of wood, wheels, screws, paint etc); then actually do the work.
Tony spent a solid 24 hours building the handcart (during which time I felt so horribly guilty at the magnitude of the DIY task I’d set him that I too stayed usefully employed in sympathy; working in the Dairy Complex Control Room to tackle the hefty task of programming all our goats’ details into the milking parlour’s Metatron P21 computer system – & I’m still nowhere near finished!).
As soon as the basic structure was completed we spent the next twelve hours, painting it; choosing the Lovespoon colours as a smart & appealing livery. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a more advanced vinyl décor printed in time; so had to ‘make do’ with attaching our banner to the front. The final touch was a lovely handcrafted wooden cartwheel which really set the whole thing off & looked extremely impressively when finally in situ at the Show.
The big problem, however, was then getting the handcart out of the building & into our lovely new freezer van, ready for the show – far easier said than done! And once we got there we had to get it off the vehicle (having mislaid our carriage ramps – goodness knows where those handy bits of kit have got to) & get it into position on site – & we discovered our ‘pitch’ was situated on the side of a hill!
But all was well, in the end; & with the first day’s weather proving unseasonably warm & sunny, trading was pleasingly brisk – in fact we almost sold out. Considering the scoop cabinet displays eight full Napoli Pans with the understore freezer holding a further twelve, this was an unusually high turnover; I certainly hadn’t expected to have to refresh our entire stock overnight & I know our fellow traders weren’t quite so lucky.
In fact what was especially flattering was that famous Welsh ‘foodie’ Nerys Howell was holding one of her extremely popular cookery demonstrations; & she asked to have some of our gelato as the accompaniment of choice to serve with the dessert she’d made. Sadly I missed her demo & only caught the concluding applause; but as the capacious marquee was packed to capacity & by the way people were flooding forward for samples, I felt I’d better forego buying us a quick cuppa & head straight back to the stand.
Just as well, that I did; as for the next couple of hours we had a solid queue weaving right the way around the corner & I was scooping like a thing possessed while Tony took the money for our wares. We sold out of Nerys’ sample flavour of Honeycomb, almost immediately; but our other highly innovative flavours quickly disappeared as well – people clearly welcomed a change from the ‘same old, same old’ which are typically offered by producers at such shows. Personally I like to be refreshingly adventurous & flex our professional Gelatière muscles with extraordinary & delicious treats.
However after such a highly successful & lucrative first day, the Festival was blighted by appalling weather on the second; gritting our teeth in the face of the storm’s freezing wind & rain Tony spent half the day hanging onto the marquee to prevent it from taking off, whilst we munched warm Welsh cakes supplied by our stallholding neighbours from Popty Bach Y Wlad.
Nevertheless despite the inhospitable second-day temperatures we did pretty well; selling out of the ever-popular but unusual Dragonfire (dark chocolate laced with the smoky, sultry fire of ancho & chipotle chillies); Chocolate & Ginger (another heartwarming favourite); & our delicious Apple & Cinnamon Crumble, with our own orchard apples poached gently with cinnamon & brown sugar & scattered with crunchy layers of crumble, crafted especially for stormy days such as this.
But it wasn’t an entire washout as we still received plenty of trade enquiries & had certainly proved a hit with hundreds of highly satisfied new customers; not to mention being delighted to chat to many now increasingly-familiar faces who are proving fiercely loyal customers – many of whom are almost evangelical when spreading the good ‘Lovespoon‘ word – we thank you all!
What did make us genuinely unhappy, however – Tony in particular – was the fact that the popular Welsh TV programme ‘Ffermio‘ was broadcasting from the Festival; & whilst the traders to the left & right of us were interviewed, we were not – purely because our grasp of the Welsh language is not considered “good enough”.
I’m a second-year Welsh student; & whilst far from fluent I can at least ‘have a go’. Despite my exhausting working hours I nevertheless feel it is hugely important to integrate with the local community of which I am a part by becoming fluent in the first language; & hope one day to converse as comfortably in Welsh, as I can in English. Meanwhile Tony was of course himself born & bred in South Wales; & was extremely shocked & hurt to apparently be deliberately overlooked in this way.
In fact having both been Equal Opportunities Trainers whilst in the RAF we felt that on this occasion we were actually directly discriminated against – after all, S4C has interviewed English speakers in the past (especially for things like trotting races – where many of the jockeys don’t speak a word of Welsh!). Tony was crushed to feel he’d been racially abused in his own nation; & I felt deeply disappointed that we’ve worked so hard to produce a Welsh product for the people of Wales, only to be overlooked as apparently worthless just because we don’t happen to speak the language fluently as yet.
It’s ironic & poignant that our Welsh neighbours have been so welcoming, & genuinely appreciate our efforts; whereas even though we’re trying so hard we are being snubbed & made to feel we don’t quite ‘fit in’ by those we ourselves support through our work.
Ironically I know of another company who more recently found themselves in a similar situation; we were chuckling about it together, the other day. They were showcased on the programme a few weeks ago but said company’s ‘power behind the throne’ – the General Manager – was not actually interviewed; as he too doesn’t speak Welsh. And yet he’s tirelessly contributing a tremendous amount to the economy of the county in which he lives & works. Surely that should count for so much more, than a few words in the presenters’ native tongue…?!
Ah well. In the end you could catch sight of us in several shots of the programme – however as the ‘Ffermio‘ website archive apparently hasn’t been updated in quite a while unfortunately I can’t direct you there to see how great we looked (shame I didn’t take my camera with me!).
And if the makers of the above programme happen to catch sight of this I’d welcome their comments; as the emails I’ve sent have thus far, sadly, been apparently ignored….