Wensleydale bread

We love a good country show.  Farm animals on their best behaviour,  sheepdogs out to impress with their skills in rounding up sheep, horses in the ring neatly jumping a clear round, country crafts, tough-guy tractors, food to sample, all in some pretty slice of countryside with the sun (maybe) beating down.

At Wensleydale Show, Leyburn Auction Mart went for animals made from  gaffer tape and oddments.  So much more biddable.
At Wensleydale Show, Leyburn Auction Mart went for animals made from gaffer tape and oddments. So much more biddable.


Since we got back to England, we’ve failed to go to the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate – too crowded, and the Ripley Show – way too wet.  Would it be third time lucky at the Wensleydale Agricultural Show?  Well, yes, we did make it there.  And just after we arrived (this was the 23rd August, remember) we found ourselves scurrying for cover to avoid a heavy hail storm, with sharp icy crystals slashing at our faces and battering at the marquees.

It didn’t matter.  The sun soon came out again, but in any case, we spent much of the day inside.  We were there to work.  Bedale Community Bakery, where we continue to enjoy volunteering every Wednesday, had a stall, and there was bread to sell.  Some of the team had worked through the night to get loaf after loaf mixed, kneaded, proved, baked and loaded up for the journey from Bedale to Leyburn and the show.  By the time Malcolm and I arrived, some of the team had been there several hours already.  And here’s what the stall looked like….

A tiny part of our stall.
A tiny part of our stall.

We sliced and buttered loaves to provide samples for an eager public who wanted to talk to us and to try before they bought: sourdough; spicy chilli sourdough (soooooo good); cheese and onion bread; another cheesy loaf marbled with Marmite; harvester loaves; wholemeal loaves; bloomers; rosemary and pepper loaves; ‘seedtastic’ spelt; a loaf made using a locally brewed beer; a Mediterranean bread, all made the traditional way, proved long and slowly over several hours.  There were spicy vegetable pasties; tomato and onion focaccia; roasted vegetable focaccia; four different types of scone (Jamie and I had made quite a lot of those on Friday, and they were baked off in the small hours of Saturday morning).

Try before you buy.
Try before you buy.

It all paid off.  We were in the food marquee, surrounded by other small food businesses offering bread, pies, jams and curds, cakes and biscuits, chocolate, cured meats: all good stuff.  But we got first prize in the ‘Food from Farming’ category, for the quality of our products and (buzz word alert) our community engagement.

And here's the certificate
And here’s the certificate


There was almost no time to get away and enjoy the show, but it hardly mattered.  Serving on the stall to an appreciative public was all good fun.  But here are a few shots from the times I did escape.  Here are shire horses, beautifully decorated in the manner traditional for the area.  Yorkshire horses, apparently, sport flowers, whereas Lancashire ones wear woollen decorations (very odd, as we had a  woollen industry in Yorkshire, whilst Lancashire did cotton).


A Yorkshire shire horse, her 80 year-old owner's pride and joy.
A Yorkshire shire horse, her 80 year-old owner’s pride and joy.


Here are sheep.


And here are children working sheep.  There seemed to be opportunities in every category for smartly-overalled and seriously skilled children to show off their prowess as animal managers: it’s clearly important to encourage the next generation of farmers.


And here, oddly, are stunt bikers.  We saw them as we left somewhat before 5.00, every single loaf sold, as the show slowly started packing up for yet another year .P1150980

There are quite a few more shows left before the summer’s over.  We’ll get one into the diary.

Outside the showground: on our way home now.
Outside the showground: on our way home now.

13 thoughts on “Wensleydale bread”

  1. Something so wonderfully British about these sorts of shows. Don’t miss the Masham Sheep Fair!
    Your bread stall looks amazing.


    1. That was quick! Masham Sheep Fair unmissable. I’ll never forget the year the sheep escaped, and were last seen with a disgruntled shepherd puffing up the hill behind them trying desperately to call them to order.

      I can get you bread when you want….. 😉


      1. I’m sitting in our van in the middle of a field in the North Yorks Moors and managed to get some 3G and your lovely post popped up. Pete adores fresh bread – must try your bakery.


  2. What a spectacular day! I’ve never been to one of these shows but now I want to go–everything looks delightful (except maybe that very dark sky in the photo of the sheep!) Congratulations on the food prize–from the looks of the pictures and your description, it certainly sounds like the judges made the right choice!


    1. Oh, even the sky was quite moody and atmospheric: it wasn’t actually cold at all. Yes, do go to one of these shows if you can – I bet they’re the same but different with you, but equally good.


  3. I didn’t know you were a bakery volunteer, what does it involve? The South of England show has pig obstacle racing! We are decorating as it’s Bank Holiday Monday and pouring down.


  4. Such a delightfully British sounding farm show and the bread stall looks scrumptious so no wonder you took first prize! The photo of the shire horse is charming and the fact that she’s her owner’s pride and joy shines through.


    1. I’d love to have included photos of other shire horses too. Less ornate, but still with fine ribbons plaited into their manes and tails for instance. You must have shows something like this too though? Wish I could send you a loaf of bread …..


  5. We have some wonderful farmers markets and horse shows but the authentic shire hoses decked out in their finery are your specialty…thanks for the kind thought on the loaf of bread!


  6. We were regular agricultural show goers but haven’t managed one up here yet. We do have the Sandringham Game Fair in a couple of weeks but I think that may be a bit posh for me! Bread looks fabulous. I was kindly given Hugh’s bread book for my birthday last week and I’m determined to give the sourdough a go. I just need some time in the diary…


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