North and East of the area we have been discussing is Tatton itself.I have written much about this show which has given me happy memories. Tatton is a show for horticulture so there are no cattle, sheep or other livestock.But what Tatton misses in terms of animals it more than makes up in its plant life. It has a glorious abundance of a wide range of ornamental flowers and vegetables and the market of high quality goods is superb.
I did like the Chatsworth Show, set in the hills of the Peak District in the family estate of the Dukes of Devonshire. Chatsworth is a good experience. Maureen had won a voucher for a night's stay in a hotel, which we gladly accepted, so we drove across the Pennine Hills, crossing the stark beauty of Tideswelĺ Moor, to reach the renowned spa town of Buxton, where we were to stay. But the Chatsworth Show is more than just a flower show. When we went there were talks about a variety of subjects. There was a display of military parachuting and one of WW2 military vehicles .It was a vain try, but I looked for my father's old armoured car, whose name I know, Hunter, but to no avail. It went for scrap metal, I suppose, and Dad was glad to see the back of it. What impressed me was that the Duke himself came out of the mansion, along with the Duchess, and greeted the assembled visitors. He need not have done that.
Shows with a warm welcome are not restricted to Chatsworth with its friendly duke. The Southport flower show, while not considered one of Britain's most important shows, impressed me with the diligent way in which the show chair went round the stalls before the show welcoming stallholders. We were two in number, Horticultural advisors sent by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture to give guidance on gardening matters to the general public. There were no medals available for us that day, but the atmosphere at Southport was warm and friendly. I was delighted by a group of women who gave a display of spinning and hand knitting. The knitting reminded me of my mother, a fine knitter.
Southport is set in a narrow park which extends along the sea front adjoining the Lancashire town's expansive beach. It is a pleasant place where many elderly folk seek retirement properties, and the show is a cultural attraction in a town that is a very civilised place.
Poynton is a pleasant little show set in late August and lasting for one day only. I attended as a volunteer on a display stall run by my local district association of the National Vegetable Society. It is a Cheshire village and as a small district it is too small to concentrate exclusively on flowers and vegetables, so it has displays of the crafts in which there is local expertise. These include wine making and keeping poultry and small animals. I enjoyed sampling the wine, but for legal reasons purchasing wine from an unlicensed vendor is illegal in Britain. There is a display of local cattle and a competition for the best presented cow. I remember once standing outside the horticulture tent when a woman ran up and asked was I a judge. I told her that I was not and that I was a horticultural consultant. She was late for the cattle show and needed to be in the ring. Farmer's wife in a hurry. I directed her to then show ring and she sped off to seek her agricultural destiny.