Onions as big as my head!

WHY are some potatoes better than other potatoes?

It’s been bugging us ever since we came back from the Dorset County Show. We wandered round the horticulture marquee marvelling at the giant killer tomatoes, leeks as long as my leg and onions, yes, as big as my head.

The horticulture tent made us long for a patch of soil so we, too, could lovingly tend legumes and plot to sweep the board at the longest runner bean, heaviest pumpkin or most massive marrow contests next year.

The judges have a hard job. While in some cases it seems pretty straightforward to pick the winner of Best Carrot In Show…

Little - and large

…how, oh how do you choose who gets the trophy for Dish Of Five White Potatoes – when they all look exactly the same??

…or buckets of straw…

or bags of wheat?

It’s all deliciously lo-tech – children get to win a fiver in categories such as ‘make an alien out of fruit and veg’ or ‘decorate a flower pot’. Why is there an age limit on this stuff? Not fair!

In the farm produce tent we sniff different bags of silage (no, really) and see who won the ‘Contents of a Hen’s Egg’ competition. There are also the winning hay bales, kale stalks and skyscraping maize plants.

As well as vegetables, there are animals and minerals. We met the Purbeck and Bovington Beagles…

…a trio of alpacas curled up in a pen…

…and gundogs splashing into the lake enthusiastically, chasing bits of I don’t know what – stick? Brick?

It’s by the Lakeside Ring that I double my money betting on the ferret racing (pay 50p, win £1). The dam of a litter – called Little F – is pitted against her three boisterous 12-week-old kits and comes good for my yellow ticket, scuttling out of her drainpipe in pride of place. Go, mum, go!

As it’s quite late on Sunday afternoon, we’re too late to try our hand at milking goats. But we make friends with Kune Kune suckling pigs and limpid-eyed Devon Ruby cattle.

Just before we head to the Main Ring to watch the Dancing Diggers do their stuff we sit down on the grass with a wild boar pasty in one hand and a pint of Bridge Farm Cider’s Dorset blend in the other. Sadly, I’m not allowed much more than a sip as I’m driving us home. Should’ve got the bus…

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