With our own livestock sorted on Monday 6th (A Bank Holiday here in Ireland), Mum and Dad are off to local town Castlerea's Agricultural Trades and Craft Show. This is promised to be like a mini County Show and the biggest event in Castlerea's year. We have been advised to eschew the 'Family Fun Day' at local GAA ground, Éire Óg, (You Brits, pronounce it 'Airer' and then with a long 'O' as in The Pogues) in favour of it, and it does not disappoint. The Show has taken over the whole grounds of the cattle market and overflowed into a couple of grassy fields alongside. There are 4x4's pulling livestock trailers everywhere, people thronging and the air is full of the echo-ey calls of cattle and sheep in the covered market-pens. Impressively clean and primped cattle and horses are being led hither and yon by the halter, and some big bulls being led around by the nose, each with a small entourage of white coated handlers moving the public out of the way. Areas of the fields have been given over to marquees and awnings for holding the animals, and a number of show rings. The organisers were obviously expecting rain and many tracks have been laid with straw and chipped wood, but they needn't have worried as the sun shone, no rain fell and the grounds did not turn into the Somme.
Dad has been to many Agricultural Shows in Kent and Sussex and in Nene Valley (The East of England Show) and his ex wife’s family used to show Suffolk sheep but Mum, although she'd attended Kent Show for work reasons had never been able to find anyone to take her across to the livestock areas, so she was keen to see some sheep and cattle judging. Dad was keen to find the goats and poultry sections and they both wanted to look round the "Flower Show" bits, trade stands and townie/public bits.
They loved it and had a great time as well as finding and getting talking to a) mythical near-neighbour artists who do framing and are good painters and b) 'Oliver Splits', local tree feller, logger and log-splitter man with chain saw about 3 times as long as Dad’s. Chainsaw envy? They bought the obligatory burger (Dad) and hot dog (Mum). They went in to see some lamb classes through the judging, with Mum proving to be remarkably good at picking winners. They moved outdoors to the cattle ring areas to see some very nice glossy/velvetty black Angus cattle get judged. Mum was not quite so good at those, but they both think that an Angus is a good honest very attractive beast. They are proper cow-shaped, not like these ridiculously double-muscled Belgian Blue freaks with their arses looking like they are wearing distended jodhpurs. They are big too, the Angus cows. Mum and Dad watched a cow-with-calf-at-foot class and those ladies are enormous. Never mind getting charged by the bull if you got too close to the calf, 'Mrs Angus' would be quite capable of doing you some damage.
And so home to a mad house blitz and garden tidy prior to The 6 Silverwoods arriving with “John the Bass Player” (teenage friend of Em-J; John is not her real name!) for a holiday here till at least the next weekend. As we predicted, we “may disappear off line and not post for a couple of days”, buried under the demands for breakfasts, child-wrangling, dog management and the occasional glass of wine. Bear with us. We will return.