A grand day out

It was if I’d sat in the chair after a hard days labour and nodded off to find that I’d missed the summer and it was the day of the North Uist Agricultural and Produce Show. Definitely a touch of the Rip Van Winkle!

The North Uist Show marks the end of the summer events and is not to be missed, your absence will be noted! It exists in a wonderful time warp and is about as Hebridean as you can get. Gently chaotic, when everything happens in its own good time in a mixture of English and Gaelic, where everyone knows everyone and visitors are warmly welcome. It is a very special day out and this year we had one of our few sunny days – a day for a goose burger or a hot salmon bap rather than an ice-cream! No fast food, no commercialism, just an old-fashioned country show.

This year the islands’ bakers seem to make a very special effort with more tables than ever groaning with mountains of plain and fancy cakes, scones, clootie dumplings, shortbread, pancakes and oat cakes. Jewel like jars of preserves jostled with hand-knitted socks, the most delicate filmy shawls, and carved horn crooks! Predictably there were hardly any entries in the vegetable and flower sections, a very sad comment on the summer. I’m rather relieved I wasn’t judging this year as I’d given everyone a prize for participating!

18 thoughts on “A grand day out

  1. Chris, this post makes my mouth water. If only to be there to taste and smell the authentic isles…

    • Aye, well the baking is delicious, but you need an agricultural constitution is enjoy some of the islands’ more agricultural and marine odours. Of course, these are all masked by the perfume of the wild flowers!

      • I lived around horses through adolescence, and know many four-legger scents…Cleaning tack and the smell of leather remains one of my favourite all-time scents…yet the smell of the sea sends me too. Cheers!

  2. It sounds like a great occasion. We have baking competitions at our village shows but I think they are rigged. They same people win every year. My son in law had high hopes for his Victoria Sponge but his hopes were doomed.
    Sorry you haven’ t had any Summer. Perhaps you will get an Indian one.

    • I love this show, it is such an old fashioned event. It is highly competitive too – that why the judges are rotated!
      Not much hope of an Indian summer, feels like autumn today!

  3. You’ve painted a great picture of your North Uist Agricultural show (and the photos are great too)..and I enjoy your blog generally… good luck with growing your produce in the polytunnel…I’m thinking we could do with a mini version in our garden.

    • Thank you. The polytunnel is a great resource and refuge from the weather. In a bad year I wonder why we didn’t have two!

  4. These are some of the truly special moments in life that are most precious.

    • You are absolutely right Charlie. Fortunately there are still some places in the world where the values of community and a slow simple life are cherished. Sadlt they’re disappearing far too quickly.

  5. Brilliant that the sun shone for the big event, which looks great fun. But what’s a clootie dumpling, and are they worth making?!
    Best wishes

    • A clootie dumpling is a boiled fruit cake or pudding. Among various secret ingredients it contains suet, oatmeal, golden syrup, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, flour and fruit. It is boiled in a cloth (a clootie) and is about the size and weight of a canonball. Well made, it is light and rich with just a hint of spice. Not for the fain hearted to either make or eat. I’d stick to Dundee cake – that might be heresy!

      • Thanks Christine. Fascinating. I wonder whether you have your own version? Of either a CD or a Dundee cake! A friend here recently divulged his wonderful Bara Brith recipe, which I guess is the Welsh equivalent for a fruit cake, where part of his personal twist was soaking the fruit in Lady Grey tea – rather than the more standard PG tips, or whatever!
        Best wishes

        • I’m not braveenough to tackle the CD. As a fruit cake of any description the secret is to soak the dried fruit, either in booze, tea (anything from Lapsang to Earl Grey) or dilute fruit juice, and add an element of spice. I tend to improvise with what is to hand. Following a recipe often requires strategic planning as ingredients often have to be ordered by mail order!

  6. An event no doubt marked in red on the calendar – did either of you not enter any classes, or are you just not letting on?

    • Even though there was no South Uistr show this year, we were not allowed to enter – this one is for residents of North Uist and Berneray only. However, as non-residents we are allowed to be judges! Island life is more complex than it may appear!

      • It’s good to see such traditional events still continuing with reasonable support.

        • This is THE event of the summer and one just has to be seen!

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