Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Daddy of Days out Is Pretty Cool; TOON AND COUNTRY

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Daddy of Days out Is Pretty Cool; TOON AND COUNTRY

Article excerpt


ALWINTON Show, away up there in Coquetdale, is the daddy of all days out and my favourite picnic spot for a couple of reasons.

It's the shepherds' show, replete with animals and stick-dressing and brimming with beer tents like the proper county shows of my childhood.

Moreover, Alwinton's the last show of the season (October 11 this year).

It's always a shivery start when Mrs Banks and I motor through the hills in search of pipers, fell racers and wrestlers and there's certainly a nip in the night when I persuade Mrs Banks to drive my beery body back home.

Last year I turned up to receive a pounds 1,000 cheque for the Josie Grove Fund from charity entrepreneurs Brian and Shirley Burnie of Doxford Hall - why weren't they in The Journal's 500 Most Influential list? - and that cemented my relationship with Alwinton.

But The Journal has had a connection with Alwinton for all of the show's 143 years and here's just one of the many memories we've shared. A friend who lives in Heatherslaw, retired GP Dr Alan Holmes, told me his Journal reporter mother, then one 'Miss' Eileen McIntyre, covered the show for her paper in the 1930s.

"She bought a ticket in the Guess the Heifer's Weight competition," said Alan, "and thought no more of it.

"A week later a ruddy-cheeked Coquetdale farmer in tweeds and a flat cap arrived at The Journal with an envelope for Miss McIntyre.

"Here's yer winnings, lass" he said, rather grudgingly.

"What?" laughed the astonished young woman. "Against all those wise old farmers I guessed best?"

"Aye," replied the surly old shorthorn, "but she wor a deceivin' kind o' heifer!"

I DEFY any sensible, thoughtful person to say that she or he hasn't looked into the teeth of a howling gale or watched the swollen waters of a winter river tumbling through rocks and marvelled at the power of Nature.

If only, you might well have thought, we could harness that energy and make it work for us. …

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