The Lambeth Country Show

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's a gorgeous July day as I write this - warm but not too hot, and the sun is shining, and it's pretty much perfect.  Unfortunately, today is NOT the day of the Lambeth Country Show.  The Lambeth Country Show was last Saturday and Sunday, when the weather was like this:

 Great for a nice day out in the park...
Despite the fact that the skies alternated between long stretches of ominous threateningness, brief moments of tantalising sun, and short, frequent and violent episodes of absolutely CHUCKING it down, I still ventured out on Sunday to see what it was all about.  After all, it was just in Brockwell Park which is a mere hop from home, and I'd been walking past the poster near the Tesco since about February, so I thought I really ought to make an effort. (It had a duck on it!  The poster, that is.  Not the Tesco.)

The Lambeth Country Show is sort of an odd thing.  Apparently it started life as a simple village flower show, but  it expanded in 1974 and now it's still got the horticultural portion, but it’s also part rural fair, complete with livestock showing and best orange marmalade competitions and such, and part music festival, including a couple of live music stages, and part food festival (oh, the food…), and part amusement park, and part community gathering place and part, I dunno, everything.  I'm not sure how a little flower show grew to become a huge annual fair in the middle of Brixton, but I think it definitely qualifies as "off the tourist track". After all, how many tourists are going to travel to the end of the Victoria line to ride bumper cars (here called "Dodge'Ems”), view champion beetroot, and either pet a goat, or eat goat.  Or both.  In fact, you could probably have taken your plate of curried goat over to the goat pen, which would have been weird. Like munching a sausage roll while visiting the heirloom pigs (which you could also have done).

I wandered over after waiting out a particularly vicious spell of rain from the comfort of the couch, and then spent most of my time just wandering and waiting to work up an appetite.  I happened on the food stalls first, and there were ZILLIONS of them.  Here's a partial list of what was on offer that day: cookies, curried goat, malt drink, jerked chicken, real ale, salt beef on a bagel, roti, onion baji, popcorn, cupcakes, cheese, jerked chicken, cakes of all kinds, pizza, calzone, Guyanese cuisine, Pimm’s, noodles, sausages, strawberries and cream, strawberry tarts, jerked chicken, paella, whole roast hog, ice cream, toasties, champagne, fresh-squeezed juice, coffee, burgers, jerked chicken, fudge, cider, chips (of course), tagine, crepes, and jerked chicken. (It is Brixton, after all, the the Carribbean influence is dominant.  And there really were a LOT of jerked chicken stalls.)

So you can see why I needed an appetite.  Eventually, after an appropriate amount of wandering, I opted for a slice of pizza, and a stick of liquorice.  Oh, and how could I NOT have one of these?
Two GIANT chocolate chip cookies, sandwiched together with an obscene amount of vanilla icing.
I also hit the fun fair, which was a pretty typical offering.  I've seen this kind of thing in Brockwell Park a few times before - a fairly standard mix of spinning, twisting, hurling, flinging, bumping sort of devices for inducing nausea, along with a liberal sprinkling of impossible-to-win game stalls filled with equally impossibly large stuffed toys.  Still, there is something charming about encountering this kind of travelling fair in a large green space instead of in a shopping mall parking lot, which is where you'd normally encounter that type of outfit in Canada.  I makes the whole thing seems more festive and less pathetic.

A long shot of the fun fair.  And check out that sky. I told you the weather did not cooperate!
And a lovely Horsey-Up-And-Down.  (Or at least that's what they SHOULD be called according to the lovely and talented CB.)
The more country-ish bits of the show were particularly charming.  I liked seeing the rows of tables showing the entries in the baking competitions, and the vegetable growing competitions.  The winner of the cupcake decorating contest was a favourite:
 Monster cupcakes!
And the vegetable carving competition was also fantastic:

Cauliflower and eggplant poodle
Warty squash crocodile
The livestock tents had petting areas for little kids, and a show ring where people nattered endlessly about the charms of artisanal swine and demonstrated sheep-shearing and gave pony rides and other such rural delights.  The pigs were actually quite nice, and it was a bit like seeing "Babe" live.

 See? Cute!
I also really enjoyed the Owl Tent, where they had at least a dozen birds calmly sitting on perches (tied down, of course).  You could pay £2 to have an owl sit on your arm, which seemed very popular and allowed great close up photo opportunities if you happened to be standing right next to a young person sporting an owl.  Very Hogwarts.

Look!  It’s Pidwidgeon! 
The music stages were less interesting to me, as they generally seeming to be equipped with a sort of generic reggae kind of thing most of the time.  Perhaps I’ve just been overexposed since moving to Brixton, but I quickly grow weary of the stereotypical Rasta-Mon vibe that seems to accompany any gathering of more than 15 or 20 people in this area.  (Though the steel drum band that sets up outside Brixton tube station every once in a while is a cheery change from the mega-phone sporting evangelists who are there most of the time but have yet to succeed in saving me from eternal damnation.)

There were also some more activity-based areas, including the mandatory climbing wall, and I found these people!
The Streatham Chiefs 
It turns out that just half an hour’s bus ride up the road from me is Streatham Ice Rink, home to the Streatham Chief’s men’s team AND the Streatham Storm, London’s only female hockey team.  And here I’m talking about proper  hockey, played on skates and ice, and not the infinitely inferior, sad British variety which is played on a field and requires far too much running, employs annoyingly short, oddly curved sticks, and seems to be mostly about bashing other players in the shins.  Nope, there is genuine hockey within striking distance, which was an exciting enough discovery to have made the whole sodden trip through the Lambeth Country Show worthwhile, even without the enormous chocolate chip cookie.  I might just have to get my skates sent over…

And that was the Lambeth Country Show.  Other than that it’s been a relatively quiet week, but for one overly exciting bike trip home from work last Tuesday, which was really much, much more exciting than called for.  As my friend P put it, “How the Hell do you get run over twice in one go?”  To clarify, I didn’t actually get run over at all (I’m fine Mom!).  But I did end up on the pavement twice, and once there was a moment of airborne acrobatics, and my bike’s rear derailleur and hanger is now at a jaunty and less-than-perfectly-functional angle. 

What happened was this: I was riding home having just left work, travelling on a very quiet street parallel with Waterloo Road.  As I was going south a car approached going north and, to my great surprise, decided to turn right as if he hadn’t even seen I was there (which of course he hadn’t).  I executed a very last minute braking maneuver and was silently congratulating myself on stopping just before hitting his front bumper, thus preventing my bike’s front wheel from being turned into a Pringles potato chip, when I realized that while my bike may have stopped moving forward, I had not.  I was continuing to accelerate, which vaulted me off my bike and over the front right-hand side of the car’s hood.  I’m not exactly sure what kind of move I did in the air, but I ended up landing on my butt, just outside the driver’s door.  Luckily, that’s one of the more well-padded bits of my anatomy, and even as I landed I was thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m ok” (And yes, I do wear a helmet.  I’m not stupid.)

The driver got out with a stream of “I’m so sorry"s and “Are you all right?”s and “I didn’t see you”s and “I thought it was a dead end road”s and more “Are you sure you’re all right?”s.  Then he helped me get the chain back on my bike, and apologized some more.  I was just interested in getting home at that point; the bike seemed fine, I was in one piece, and I just wanted it over.  So off I rode, only to realize that the bike wasn’t really fine, since it made awful grinding clunking noises whenever I tried to shift into any gear lower than four.  And it turns out I wasn’t really fine either.  As you might expect I was actually bit shaky and pumped up on adrenalin.  This meant that when I was remounting my bike after a stop on Kennington Road a mile or two later I ended up losing my balance and toppled over sideways (in the rain, of course) and lay on the wet pavement for a moment thinking, “Seriously?  AGAIN?”  And then I got up, and put the chain back on my bike AGAIN, and kept going.  I did have to get home, after all. 

And then the most chilling part: traffic was blocked as I got closer to home due to an accident involving a car stopped in the intersection of Brixton Road and Stockwell.  I say it involved a car but it also must have involved a very unlucky person because the car had a disturbingly deep person-sized dent in the windshield that gave me a real start, considering the events I’d just experienced.  Part of me was grateful to think that I was not  the person who’d made that dent, and part of me was thinking about how close I’d come to making my own dent.  And then I got back on my bike and made it home without further incident, and poured myself a large glass of wine and sat very still for a little.  Then next morning I yanked my gearing mechanism back into some semblance of order, noted the deep ache in my right butt and, oddly, my right shoulder blade, and got back on the bike and rode to work.

And that’s how things stand.  The bike still needs work, and so does my shoulder, though neither is a cause for great concern (and yes, I’ve seen a doctor).  I’m sure I should have taken the details of the careless freak in the car who started it all, if only so I could maybe squeeze a few quid from him towards bike repair costs, but I really couldn’t be asked at that point.  Really, it’s all FINE.  But would someone pass the ibuprofen, please?

1 Comment:

Kathryn said...

Jiminy cricket, Pam! Hope you got the paracetamol you needed!
Thanks for the pics of the vegetable carving - that made my day!

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