Monday, September 7, 2009

North Show and the Battle of the Flowers

The North Show and Battle of the Flowers were on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th of August. There are three shows held in Guernsey each year; the South Show, which is held in a hall, the West Show, which is held in a field and the North Show, which is held in Saumarez Park. As their names suggest, you need to live in a particular region of Guernsey in order to enter and I believe they are quite strict about the boundary lines for each show too. The South show is an opportunity for people to enter their cakes, jams, craft etc. but there are no other attractions. Both the North and West Shows have rides, side-show alley, stalls, large animals, small animals and demonstrations. I find it quite amazing that a place the size of Guernsey can support three separate shows but they seem to attract the crowds, none the less.

The West Show competition tent.

The ‘carni’ people come over from England in their caravans and set up shop in the West Show, the Donkey Races (which we were unable to attend this year), the North Show and then during the weekend which follows the North Show they are still at Saumarez Park for anyone who has not had enough stomach churning, spinning on the rides already.

I suppose they need to make it worth their while to cart all their equipment across the Channel so they hold all these events during a two week period. This makes for an action packed end to the summer break; but a rather expensive one!

The North Show Tomato competition.

We attended both the North and West Shows. The kids absolutely love them. In Brisbane they have a show which is affectionately called the 'Ekka', short for Exhibition. It is 20 or more times larger than the Guernsey shows but I used to love it when I was a child; an enthusiasm which has continued through to adulthood. My own children have attended the Ekka every year since they were born. B1 was just four months old when we first took him.

One of the few sheep in Guernsey.
He was not the prize winning ram but a most obliging photographic subject.

During our first August in Guernsey in 2007 the children were very sad indeed not to be attending the Ekka. I was so relieved and pleased that they would be able to attend the Guernsey Shows instead; to sort of continue the tradition. The Guernsey shows may not be as large but they still contain all the ingredients for a fabulous day out.

The French Markets came to the North Show this year.

We live in the 'catchment' for the North Show. The children were very keen to enter this year as last year they missed out as we were away on the weekend they accept entry forms. Between B1, B2, B3 and myself we entered 21 categories. I do not know WHAT I was thinking!! Thank goodness my Mum was here to help me organise all their entries.

I will have to try some anchovies next time the markets come.

In order to enter the competition you are required to join the Society. By joining you receive 'free' entry into the show both days. It is a great idea really as it keeps the show financially viable and it is much cheaper to buy your tickets this way than paying both days. We went with friends on Wednesday to see if we had won anything.

The French sweet seller stall is always a popular stop for our kids. The sweet available here are not found elsewhere on the Island. Yes, the lolly Papa Smurf was here again. OOHH, all those hypercolours!

This year there was a charity painting being done. It was free; you just chose a square and copied the picture they provided of the square. Sorry, I didn't get a photo of the finished product. What a fabulous way to get young and old alike to participate and promote your charity.

B2 won second prize with her collage.
None of our painted pebbles won a prize but the kids had a lovely time doing them.

B1 and B3 entered the '25 Blackberries on a Plate'. I picked these ones from the car park at my gym. They were from a wild, unloved, tangled and quite vicious mess of brambles but judging by the size of some of the winning entries quite a few of the cultivated and fertilised variety made their way onto plates.

B2 won a second prize for her 'Edible Necklace'. The kids assembled their necklaces on a plate and then Nan and I sewed them together for them. It is not easy to sew sticky sweets I can tell you!

All three kids entered in the 'Animals made from Fruit or Vegetables'. B3 made the Cat (with a little help from Nan; it was Nan's original design with some helpful instruction from B3), B2 made the Turtle (I made the mistake of printing some ideas off the internet, the turtle being one of them. There were four other turtles entered - but of course B2's was the best ;). B1 won a third prize for his rabbit; he designed it himself. Next year we will definitely not be looking for inspiration anywhere other than the kids imaginations.
At my Mum's insistence I entered a bunch of Dahlias and inconceivably won third prize. When I went to drop off all our entries on Tuesday night I was amazed at the lengths people were going to with their flower entries. There were about eight competitors in my category.

They had florist foam with was cut to fit into the competition vases. There were buckets (I mean buckets and buckets and buckets) of flowers with competitors painstakingly selecting their best blooms and examining each one before carefully placing it artfully in the florists foam. I had quickly picked what I thought were our five best blooms just half an hour before we were due to take the entries in. I stripped the stems of leaves (I thought I was supposed to do this but after seeing some of the other entries I think it didn't matter either way) and most importantly I washed all the bugs off the stems! We were under siege by a black fly plague at the time and I hadn't gotten around to spraying them yet.

When I went to place my entry in the vase I excused myself as I pushed through the crowd of flower arrangers and plonked my flowers into their vase. So there you go, if you have a bug plague, don't know what on earth you are doing and are totally unprepared for the reality of flower shows then just have a go and you never know what may happen ;)

I entered a cake in the 'Decorated Children's' cake section but failed to get a prize. There is a bit of a story there which deserves its own post so I will blog about that tomorrow.

I loved this Bear float. You can just see the salmon they are fishing for swimming up the front and the side of the 'water'.

We went to the Battle of the Flowers on the Thursday afternoon. I had prepaid for seats in the front row. When we arrived only two of our seats were in the front row with the remaining three being one row back and five seats to the left, so we couldn't even talk to each other. I was not impressed to say the very least. The kids decided that they would prefer to sit on the grass in front of the front row so I moved down to sit with my Mum but the other front row seat was broken!! I ended up squatting on the grass with the kids. After two hours of having a small child perched in my lap I was lucky I was able to walk. I must be getting old and crotchety.

But regardless of our less than ideal seating arrangements we had a lovely time and the floats were absolutely fabulous.

There are different categories of floats; decorated bicycles, decorated trolleys, decorated motorised floats (ie. lawn mowers, kids powered cars, small earth-moving equipment - no I am not joking!), trailers pulled by cars, decorated cars, I think there are a few more but I can not find the program to list all the categories. The parade lasted for two hours. There were also a few fancy dress categories, some marching bands and the majorettes (marching girls who twirl batons and pompoms. They have quite a large club here in Guernsey).

Some floats are decorated with fresh flowers and some are decorated with paper flowers. It is true that Jersey's Battle of the Flowers is far bigger, more glamorous and spectacular (we went last year) but Guernsey's Battle of the Flowers has a homey and more family friendly feeling. Both certainly have their place; Jersey's is a major tourist attraction whilst Guernsey's is more about the people who live on the Island. Well that is just how I see them, not actually being from either Island.

This was a fun float and it played the theme music from Dr Who as they drove around the arena.
B3 was very excited to see the 'In the Night Garden' characters. She was calling out to all of them, Makka Pakka, Uppsie Daisy and Iggle Piggle. She was waving so hard I thought her arm might fly off at any moment.

As the floats go around the arena you have a voting form for each category. Kids come around with collection baskets during the course of the parade and the votes are counted. I voted for this Star Wars float. There were a group of Storm Troopers and Darth Maul following along behind.

Even Yoda came with his Mummy.

This was the Spec Savers float.

If you are in Guernsey during show time I can highly recommended all of them. They are a wonderful family day out. There is enough to see to keep even the busiest little people occupied whilst the crowds are not so huge (as they can be at the Ekka) that you are in a constant state of anxiety about loosing one of the kids amongst the throngs of people. It was a reasonably priced day out; which we will no doubt attend and enter each and every year for as along as we call Guernsey home.

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