13 September 2010
The 2nd Phoenix Garden Agricultural Show & St Giles Fayre
8am: The set-up for the show went surprisingly well and the early-bird volunteers had turned out in force. We really do have tent erection down pat these days, which is just as well as extra time was needed for the mass bunting installation. Tottering about up a ladder while synchronising poles, gaffer tape, 300m of bunting and frayed nerves, with the clock ticking, could so easily have turned nasty - well done team, blessed are the peacemakers! Even the last minute changes to the site plan didn't get us off track and all the tables and tents were soon up and out and ready for the exhibitors to arrive.
All the attractions for the show managed to arrive in good time and it was a treat to see the months of planning come together in time for the midday opening. The animals announced their arrival with excited grunts and cock-a-doodle-doo-ing from the trailer, the church bells pealed as the last knot was tightened on the hand-made bunting and the show could open.
The show entrance, and behind,
the hand-made bunting installation from the Phoenix Garden Bunting Project -
The bunting makers showing their bunting at the show were; Jaqueline Hollande, Oscar Quiroz, Pauline Ferris, Christopher Raeburn, Jane and Dominic and the London West End Women's Institute. I think it looked great!
Up the steps and into the churchyard and there was the showground,
and the market with a small selection of stalls selling 'country show' themed produce;
Neal's Yard Dairy with a selection of fine cheeses,
Vicki's Vegan Bakery with beast-free pastries,
BonCoton, with pretty patchwork pieces,
Edwards and Todd, and country style homewear,
The London Beekeepers' Association with a full range of bee products and a show hive.
and the fundraising stall for The Leprosy Mission.
(St Giles is the patron saint of lepers and outcasts, and St Giles-in-the-Fields church is on the site of the original leper hospital built in 1101 for the city of London, so it seemed appropriate to invite the Leprosy Mission to the Fayre. The Leprosy Mission works around the world with those afflicted with this terrible disease).
We planned for the garden to be a quite area with refreshments and food on sale. Through the gate, in the shade of the tulip tree, were the London West End Women's Institute and their cake stall.
The fine selection of biscuits, cakes and preserves soon had them queueing.
A whole lamb was to be roasted on the BBQ and James, our chef, enthralled visitors with a butchery master class
and soon beautifully prepared portions were sizzling on the grill.
Served up with barley salad and salsa verde it was delicious. The non-meat option of roast, dressed aubergine was fantastic.
Peter and Elizabeth are stalwarts on teas,
which is just as well - it soon got busy.
In the churchyard the animal attractions amazed and delighted visitors and the rolling schedule of performances; the London Pride Morris Dancers, Punch & Judy and the St Giles Bellringers, kept everyone entertained.
The Fancy Pigeon tent was a great success with a display of 24 varieties of fancy pigeon brought by John Ross, a national pigeon judge, and fellow pigeon fancier Colin. John and Colin were only too happy to explain the intricacies of their art to visitors and the birds were definitely a cut above those we're used to - many people were amazed that they were all the same species!
The tent had rows of display cages each holding an immaculate bird.
a Short Faced Viennese (sounds like a pastry, and my favourite!).
and I think they found some new fans.
The farm animals were a great attraction too. One pen had a flock of Call Ducks,
a vocal, rosy-wattled Cuckoo Marran rooster
and hen - tame enough for touching,
a rabbit and some much petted Guinea Pigs.
In another two very handsome Suffolk Sheep grazed their pen,
and both seem to relish company (I suspect there was some illicit feeding going on!)
A Shetland Pony was popular with everyone.
(Well, not quite everyone. I am not a horse fan but can possibly be convinced they are not all bad - at this scale, I'm certain, they're much less bloodthirsty)
But best of all, and my star of the show, was a rather lovely Kune-Kune Pig called Peppa.
Most of the day she was horizontal, accepting pats and belly rubs with faint squeaks of pleasure. A rattle of her food tin would see her up in a second but otherwise a day feigning sleep and being rubbed silly seemed to be just fine by her.
Oink! Oink! Love her!
The Falconers had brought a range of birds of prey to show, these spectacular birds proved crowd pleasers.
A rather sleepy looking Barn Owl,
a fiery eyed Eagle Owl,
and a tiny Barred Owl.
Some lucky visitors even got a chance to hold the Buzzard.
(I didn't, I was far too busy!).
In the middle of the busy showground we had a space for traditional performers.
Accompanied by traditional instruments the London Pride Morris Dancers danced a range of dances.
Some with flags, and some with sticks
They even managed to get the audience to join in on a number of dances.
Exhausted, the Morris Men took a break in the garden and really looked very fitting. It may have to be leg bells at work for me in 2011!
The Punch & Judy show began with a warm up boxing match which certainly set the mood and got them giggling.
Master puppeteer, Geoff Felix, gave an entertaining short talk on the history of Punch before launching into the show.
It is easy to forget just how much fun Punch & Judy is.
Old and young were soon laughing out loud.
That really is the way to do it!
The St Giles bellringers, led by Dennis Ellisdon, rang peals of bells between the shows.
The Bellringers had a stall outside with information about the bells at St Giles (some of them are hundreds of years old).
Visitors could go up into the belfry to find out more, Dennis' enthusiasm for bells is infectious,
so having a go was very popular.
At the end of a very busy afternoon the award ceremony for the St Giles and Seven Dials in Bloom Competition was held in the garden by our master-of-ceremonies, Alex. With the winners clutching their certificates and rosettes the show ended with a last resounding peal of the bells of St. Giles ringing out "ding-dong-well-done!"
It was a very good event and definitely fulfilled our aim to put a proper country show in the West End for our community. The day had a lovely relaxed 'village' feel to it and it was great to see so many people enjoying the event, we had over 800 visitors, and the responses from visitors were really positive.
A very big thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the day such a success - it really was a team effort.
Special thanks go to Jane PG, Cllr.Sue Vincent, Rev. Bill Jacobs, Dragon Hall, Nicolette @ St Georges.
Just think, next year it will be even better!