I went to see a friend of mine for WI business today. She lives in a fantastic place, overlooking the Charlesworth valley across to Manchester. Stepping out at about 4pm, I saw a mist-shrouded valley, the sun peeking through – it was all very surreal, like a painting, or a movie. My snapshots don’t do it justice, but I thought I’d share anyway.
Eeeee! I won! I won I won I won!!! 😀
As I said this morning, I was off to this today:
It sounded like a fabulous idea to me – just what the Inspire Festival started out meant to be. This one, with only a few weeks’ lead time, though, and focused on Charlesworth and Chisworth (two of the small villages that make up Glossopdale), was bound to be smaller. It’s also the first time anyone’s attempted anything like this – at least as far as I can recall in the past five years!
I gave the competitions some thought, and feared there might not be many entries, so decided to enter some of the classes, mostly to do my bit towards there being a decent amount of entries. I thought about entering the photo competition, but couldn’t think of any photos that answered the prompt, so gave that one a miss. Of course I’d be entering the cake class and the sewing class – I’ve made one handmade sewn item, which you’ve all heard about by now.
Just Friday, I decided I would try to enter a loaf of bread as well – this braided one I do looks nice, so I thought that’d be perfect. Mind you, I haven’t baked bread in ages – kneading it this morning, I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d kneaded bread dough – I was just hoping I’d still recognize the point where the gluten chains all line up and the kneading has done its job. Thankfully, I did. I made no promises to myself or anyone else that the cake and the bread would come together in time – and the bread making it was looking kind of doubtful at 9am this morning, with my departure time due at 10:15, and it just starting its final rise. I must fix that recipe – I had to knead in an extra three cups or so of flour, doubling what I started with, in order to get it to a kneadable state – so kneading it took longer than it was meant to this morning. Thankfully it did rise and bake quickly enough, so I had entries for three classes for myself, plus one for Chris.
Turns out I needn’t have worried!
There were a good number of entries, in nearly every class. Yay! The cake and the scone classes each had four entries. The above flier was all the information there seemed to be on the criteria, so there was some wide variation within each class – looks like a fruit cake, a Victoria sponge, another sponge, and my coconut cream cake were all in the cake class.
Scones are what Americans call crumbly biscuits (as opposed to the flaky kind; pondering what the Brits might call flaky biscuits earlier, Chris and I decided we weren’t sure that they’d fit into British vernacular at all, which means – seeing as they’re flour-based – they’d call them cakes). I suppose there’s only so many ways to make those, but we did get plain and fruited varieties.
The sewn items category attracted lots of entries, including some absolutely stunning patchwork. My pictures do it no justice at all – but be sure to click on them to see the detail.
The loaf of bread category also got four entires. The one in the basket was there first, and was the only other one when I went to place my entry. I looked at that basket and thought, “Oh, yeah, presentation. Shoot.” Later, when the glass cake stand appeared with that raspberry cake, I kicked myself there, too: I do actually have a nice cake stand that would’ve done; I just didn’t think about it. So yeah, I decided I wouldn’t present my bread in the foil I’d wrapped it to bring it, and propped it in the cake box top as artfully as I could manage. D’oh.
I didn’t think of just setting it on the tablecloth directly, but since it is a crusty kind, I perhaps should’ve done that.
The children submitted several sets of decorated cupcakes.
The gingerbread man class only got one entry, I think; the decorated rock class got quite a few. My picture of those isn’t brilliant, sadly. I quite like the three spelling out Charlesworth at the top. 🙂
I failed to get photos of the photo (adults) and picture (children) classes, sadly. They were set up on the red boards to the right in this picture. There were some stunning photos, but there were too many people in my way to get decent photos of them, argh! There was also an absolutely lovely picture put together by the kids at one of the primary schools.
I’d entered the necklace holders Chris has made for me (in his name!) in the handmade wood/metal item class. They were the only entries, so he now has a first, a second, and a third rosette! 😀
I really don’t envy the judges having to decide about these stunning works of sewing.
My coconut cream cake came in first in the cake category!!! Woohooo! I cut some up before I left so others could try some. I always think it’s such a waste, all this food that’s prepared for competitions, and then the judges have some, and then it just sits there looking pretty until it’s thrown out. I also think that a good way to improve one’s technique is to enter competitions and learn from what others do – not being allowed to taste the thing hinders that learning process a bit! I could at least control my own entries, so I let others have a taste – after judging!
Best of all – my cardamom bread got Best In Show!!! WOOHOOO!!!
Mind, I’ve never entered one of these things before, and I’ve never been around them, either. I’ve seen the entries on display well after judging, at Bakewell Show and others like that, but I’ve not been involved ever at any level.
At some point, Rachel got everyone’s attention to announce best in show (she didn’t announce any others, which is just as well: there were so many, really!). I was on the far side of the room from her, so struggled to hear at first until the chatting died down. She impressed on all of us that the judges had a very hard time choosing a Best in Show, since the classes were all so very different (comparing apples and oranges, basically). Then she said which class the Best in Show came from – I was fully expecting it to be one of those beautiful pieces of patchwork from the sewing class. I didn’t understand what she said, because my brain did that thing where it didn’t hear what it expected, so it couldn’t make any sense of what it heard.
Then she called out my name, and I started, and I’m sure I uttered something, and started walking towards her, on auto-pilot. After a few steps, I came to, and wondered if I was meant to go to her or what – wait, I don’t know, what am I supposed to do?! Everyone was applauding and smiling at me, though, so I carried on, and Rachel gave me the Best in Show Rosette, which I took in a daze.
See? That’s me in shock. Happy shock, of course. I really didn’t expect that when I decided at the last minute to make some bread. Especially not up against that patchwork! We were told, however, that when the judges tasted my bread, it was “like a slice of heaven.” O.O
There’s a whole nother story to tell from today, of course — the people, the day, the groups, the connections — the actual point of the day. I was going to make that part two of this entry, but this has gotten long enough that I shall close this here and post that part as a separate entry. Stay tuned!
This is where I’ll be today:
I’m entering Chris into class 6, and if all goes well, I’m entering classes 1, 3, and 5 – fingers crossed the baked goods come out okay! I’ll be representing Glossopdale Time Co-op while I’m there, and then afterwards covering the rest of the regular time brokering shift this afternoon at The Oakwood.
Then I’m going to come home and collapse, I’m sure.
Get ready for some time traveling … or at least posts that I should have made ages ago, really. One thing I want to use this blog for is to share my photos and stories of what I’ve done – and part of that is motivated by my desire to get my photos in order, which have been woefully neglected for a long time.
Whilst getting ready for another Charlesworth event coming up on the 15th (the Charlesworth and Chisworth Village Get Together – facebook, flier), I’m reminded that I meant to post here about the Charlesworth Carnival, but haven’t yet, so here you go!
(Note: For all the images, just click on the image to see a larger version.)
Charlesworth Carnival is always on the second Saturday in July. It was the second of two carnival weekends in a row for me (Glossop Carnival is the weekend before). Thankfully, this second one was a whole lot less work for me (and Chris). I was only helping with one stall, not two, and what I was doing for that one was a whole lot less involved: I just needed to bake some cakes/etc for the Charlesworth WI stall. This was my first time being involved with this one; last year the carnival was cancelled. There was too much rain, and the field is on a slope, so it was a quagmire.
This year we had perfect summer weather the entire month of July, though, so the carnival was definitely on. I put my baked goods in my shopping trolley and Chris and I set off together: we needed to stop by the market first, which was having its monthly farmers’ market, to see if we could find a certain gift. We found a lovely one, yay. Then I set off to the carnival, and Chris picked up a few other bits for us.
It was a glorious, sunny day. When the bus started coming into Charlesworth, my mood was lifted by all the cheerful bunting strung along most of the village. I was so distracted, I nearly missed my stop! I snapped a few photos along the way to the village green. The first thing I noticed was another lady taking photos, looking absolutely delighted. I saw these scarecrows, and I remembered Charlesworth’s scarecrow competition should be about the same time as the carnival (turns out it’s organized by the same lot), so I asked her what the theme was this year. “Adverts,” came the reply. “Oh, right, who are these guys then?” I asked.
She explained to me that when they deregulated the phone service, 118 118 was one of the first directory assistance numbers launched. Their ads always had these twin runners, she said. Most of all, she was just delighted that the church who’d put these up had linked this to the bible – she thought it was very clever. It was a lovely, upbeat conversation which I do no justice to in the telling. Anyway, after our brief conversation, we parted ways. I’d been there a few days ago, in this church, helping put together the well dressing. It has such lovely grounds.
I also found this garden full of interesting and delightful things.
And a lovely bush full of honeysuckle – one of my favorites!
I’d not been to the Charlesworth Village Green before, but had a good idea of where it should be. I was pretty sure this was it.
This was across from the village green. The bunting is from McDonald’s and says “I’m Lovin’ It.”
I was amused by the sign on the village green.
Then I went up onto the village green.
It looked really empty to me for something that was supposed to start at 10am … and this was about 11:15. I later learned that I’d been misinformed: it doesn’t really start til the parade arrives at the village green, and that doesn’t set off til noon. Anyway, I found the WI stand. This WI owns at least one gazebo, but this time opted to share a marquee with a church. A marquee’s a large tent, and many ladies commented on how much sturdier the marquee seemed than the gazebo.
I was quickly set upon by someone asking where the display board was. Chris and I have made two display boards, which we used first at the Glossop Carnival – one for Glossopdale Transition Initiative‘s stand, and one for the WI’s cream tea stand. No one had asked me if the WI could use it again at Charlesworth Carnival. Apparently it was meant to go on that small table at the back. They were in luck: it was available this day, so one of the ladies quickly drove me home and back again to get it, and up it went.
Both of the large tables forming the L-shape were filled with baked goods – as a group, we did produce quite a bit. I’d made apple muffins, banana nut muffins, and bran muffins. There were early promising sales of these, but then it dropped, and in the end these were some of the last to go. I’ll take them again next year – maybe the people who had them this year will want them again, now that they’ve tried them – but I’ll take less, and probably some different things. I’m also pondering adding “American” to the name (since they are) and see what that does. I’m hoping it’ll change them from being “weird things I’ve never heard of” to “Oooh, that’s exotic! I’ll have that!” Companies plop “American” and “American-style” on enough labels here to make me think there must be some benefit to it.
Display board dealt with, I was bored on the stand, so I wandered around the green to see what there was there. The bouncy castle was inflated by now.
I’m thinking of making some bunting – Chris and I currently string ribbons up to decorate the ceiling for various holidays, but I can sew now and all, and bunting looks easy enough to make, and I think it’s more fun. I paid special attention to all the variations in bunting as I walked around the field, and concluded there’s no right or wrong way to do it, really. My eye was caught by this bunting:
In particular, I noticed how the sewing around the letters was done. When I did it around that banner I made for Glossop Carnival, my stitching came out perpendicular to the line I was sewing along, but here it’s angled. Can you see it? If not, click on the image for a larger version. The angles look good, and I haven’t a clue how to do that. Do any of you?
I did ask the lady in the stall, but she said her friend made it, so she didn’t know. She then told me her friend’s sewing machine is “as big as an airplane,” so I wonder if it’s just a feature my machine doesn’t have. Hm.
Leaving there, I found the refreshment tent.
After my tour around the green, the PA system announced the parade would soon be arriving, so I went to watch that. Lots more photos to come in the next part!
Once I’d finished touring the ground, the PA system announced that the parade would soon be at the bottom of the field, so I made my way down there to see the parade. Turns out I picked a lousy spot – they nearly all stopped once they got to me – but I got a few pictures anyway. The crowd waited rather restlessly (but at least we had shade – it was a rather warm day).
Eventually, the parade arrived! It was led by the police tractor. Unfortunately, they don’t really use this tractor in policing – we sure have the escaped sheep for it, as well as the marshy ground in parts of Derbyshire, and the occassional unpassable-because-of-snow parts. Nope, they’ve borrowed it to promote their new Farm Watch scheme (I love how the government here always comes out and admits it does nothing but scheme, by putting scheme directly in the name). Farm Watch is like Neighborhood Watch, but for farms. They only plan to use it in shows, carnivals, parades, etc.
Anyhoo, after the tractor was the band.
I think this was one of the carnival queens with her attendants, probably Charlesworth’s. Here’s another queen and attendants.
Next was this horse and rider – two riders, I see now – they’d used chalk to decorate themselves and the horse as skeletons. I was vastly amused and thought it was terribly clever; just wish I’d gotten better pictures!
Then there was the Walk Like An Egyptian crowd. 🙂 I quite liked these costumes! The music sure livened up the parade; hopefully there’ll be more next year.
Then there was the one and only float of the sort I’m used to seeing – towed behind a truck of some sort, built up on a trailer. This is for one of the churches in the village. I do wonder why this type is so rare here.
Immediately after they passed, the last part of the parade – three floats – pulled up and stopped. These were of the style usually seen here, where they get a large lorry (semi truck / 18-wheeler) and use the back of the truck as a place to stand/sit, and decorate it. The closed up trucks here have sides that can be rolled up, so they roll those up and have a small bit of roof over them. There were two like that, plus one open flat bed trailer.
Once they stopped, the people on them started trying to get off them, onto this sidewalk that was already crammed with people. It was quite a scrum. I liked the decoration of the first float, so went about trying to get pictures of the floats. They didn’t come out very well at all, but here are a few snippets. The first one had a Where’s Wally? theme.
The second one had a Bugs World theme.
The last one was from the Boy Scouts.
After the parade, people poured onto the green – now it started looking much more like a carnival!
This band was really good!
You can see and hear a video of them here (warning: it’s kind of loud because of the background noise, so take care with headphones).
Anyways, I spent a bit more time in the WI tent …
… but quickly got bored (I wasn’t serving), so I set off to see that well dressing I’d helped make.
On the way to the well dressings, I found the only other scarecrow display I saw at all: another 118 118 display.
I also passed this warning sign, and this woman and child. He should be on her left! – that’s why it was scorching hot instead of nice and cool like a snowflake suggests. Clearly.
I found the well dressings!
The small one on the left and the big one were the ones being worked on in the church when I went; the small two on the right were made by the two local primary schools. One of the parents came by to have a nosy at ours after helping the kids make theirs next door, and the way she talked about it, I thought it’d be awful, but actually, it’s very well done!
Anyhoo, so closeups, going from left to right. My friend Ruth apparently did most of this one herself – they were really short-handed. She did a brilliant job!
This big one is the one I helped work on. It’s huge. This picture from when we were working on it shows the scale better:
On the right is what it looked like when I left Tuesday afternoon. That’s Ken spraying water on it so it doesn’t dry out. Between working sessions, he sprays water and covers it in plastic. To make a well dressing in these parts, you press natural things (leaves, petals, stones, peppercorns, pine needles, etc) into a big board of clay. Then you hope it’s not too hot and dry so it lasts the week once it’s up.
Here’s the finished board!
The design is Britain & Ireland plus a few of the smaller islands, with some national symbols: rose for England, daffodil for Wales, thistle for Scotland, and I really have no idea why the wheat(?) is there. Anyone know? I should remember to ask the lady who designed it sometime.
The primary school next door to the church made this one on the left. The other primary school made the one on the right.
After ogling the well dressings for awhile, I headed back to the carnival. I crossed paths with Ken, who I met while working on the well dressing. He is a friendly man, and we stopped and had a bit of a natter.
When I got back to the WI tent at about 3pm, this was all that was left!
While I was helping to sell off the last few, I saw this lady using a parasol – an actual parasol – I’ve never seen one in use in real life!
Once everything was sold, I let the others pack up since they knew what they were doing – too many helpers in things like that always annoys me, because you spend more time asking what to do and tripping over each other than anything else. I took my display board and headed home. A bus came before too long, and then I managed to catch a bus the rest of the way home after that (only because it was running 20 minutes late!). That display board is heavy, so I’m glad I didn’t have to carry it the mile home from where the first bus dropped me!
As I recall, once home, I peeled off my sweat-soaked clothing and promptly collapsed. 🙂
All in all, it was a lovely day, and I’m so grateful to the committee of Charlesworth Carnival for putting it on. Looking forward to next year’s!