My great day out at the Suffolk Show
PUBLISHED: 19:00 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 19:24 29 May 2019
Day one at the Suffolk Show dawned fine and town and country were out in force to make the most of what the county has to offer.
A light breeze, warm sunshine and scudding clouds greeted visitors on the first day of the Suffolk Show 2019.
Although there are hundreds of attractions from all over the region and beyond, at heart this is a county show, headlined by Suffolk's farming heritage and countryside activities. Alongside the tweeds and trilbys, the coloured corduroy trousers, the quilted jackets and checked shirts are the smart suits, ties and bowlers of the Suffolk Show stewards (male) and the picture hats and fascinators of the Suffolk Show stewards (female). The visitors bring waterproofs, just in case, and enjoy all that is on offer: the chance to buy garden furniture, plants; clothes, art, locally source food; to hold a day-old chick, watch the events in the grand ring, look at the impressive array of tractors and farm machinery, admire the craftmanship in the Suffolk Skills zone, and enjoy Suffolk family life.
By 9.30am, the avenues are getting busy - groups of friends, dogs with their owners, babes in arms, toddlers in buggies, and half-termers with no school this week. I set out on my first day mission, first the new viewing tower.
I am reliably informed by seven-year-old Tom that there are, in fact 99 steps up to the top tower so you will forgive me, I'm sure, for not tackling the climb myself (not with my dodgy hip). But I am told that you can indeed see right across to Felixstowe Docks and over to the BT research tower at Martlesham, the water tower at Rushmere and the maternity unit at Ipswich Hospital from up there. Rather like visitors to the top of the Empire State Building, everyone was taking selfies - although against a backdrop of East Suffolk rather than New York.
As always, the floral designs in the flower show showed some amazing talent and creativity and a number of the county's top growers were there too.
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Potash Nursery, at Bacton, put on a stunning display of fuchsias (they have more than 100 hardy varieties). Mike Clare, from Potash, said it was a slightly smaller array than the one in the Grand Pavilion at Chelsea, last week, which won a silver gilt award - continuing the nursery's successes at the RHS show.
Without making any sort of political point, I salute Easton and Otley College for creating a number of European flags in flowers - not always easy to match colours - for their display outside the flower tent.
At the schools' gardens Daniel Revell, 12, of Gorseland, talked me through the garden created by pupils of the school's specialist support centre. Titled "Protecting the Natural Gardens of the World" Daniel said the garden, with its four global areas, highlighted deforestation, pollution and environmental damage.
Inspired by author Todd Parr, whose Earth Book explores environmental protection and conservation, Daniel's picture of a solar panel focuses on renewable energy. "We have just had solar panels on put on the school roof," I'm told.
It isn't the Suffolk Show without a visit to the WI and, as always, the women of the Suffolk East Federation has been baking for Britain with more than 400 sausage rolls, 200 Suffolk rusks, and 600 scones - 200 cheese, 200, plain and 200 fruit. This year there are gluten free and vegan options on the menu and I was given a piece of vegan chocolate cake to sample... with, said its baker Di Chilver, a surprise ingredient. I admit my cake hovered by my mouth for a moment before I ate it but it was absolutely delicious and there was no sense of it being anything other than delicious chocolate cake. And that surprise addition? Beetroot.
Outside at the back of the WI tent is another surprise ingredient - men. Terry Hurren and Peter Chilver are at the barbecue cooking the bacon for the butties, supporting the Women's Institute.
It is the 100th anniversary of the WI's Suffolk East Federation and there was a party theme for displays in the marquee plus demonstrations of paper craft, yarn craft and creative stitch.
There is just so much to see and do - why not make a day of it on Thursday?