I recently helped to organise the second Bampton Plants and Produce Fair in aid of Hospice at Home. It’s a great event, a lovely day for the village, young and old and those from further afield.
Vickie and Jane, local ladies, spearhead the Produce and do a wonderful job. They and lots of locals make delicious confectionery, home baking, preserves (some from Jeannie’s Kitchen Garden of course) and a fabulous new range of natural beauty remedies. Their sea salt and lavender scrub is a joy – my gardening and cooking ravaged hands really love that stuff.
I’m i.c. Plants. I grow about 500 plants for the Fair, herbs, veg plants, annuals and perennial, all from seed. OK, it’s not Chelsea, but getting things to a size and state of health in time was a close-run thing, nerves were frayed in the build-up. The bitterly cold, wet Spring had all the little plants confined to my recently-extended but certainly not huge greenhouse, plants on every surface and in serried ranks on the floor, very little space to gingerly navigate. It all pulled together well in the end. On the morning of the Fair, Arnold (who helps me in the garden) and his trusty Roomster ferried dozens of wooden trays of plants over to the Village Hall which was a right old hive of activity. Vickie and Jane turned the Hall into a scene from the Darling Buds of May, the plants on their sacking-covered tables looked very appealing. People bring plants for the Fair along on the day, some unusual things appear. It’s fun seeing it all come together.
Hazel, in charge of the prettily-presented Country Café, marshalled her team of indomitable local ladies, serving up Nine Veg Minestrone, other soups, old-fashioned sandwiches, cream teas with proper scones (baked that very morning, natch) and yet more fabulous home-baking. Aileen’s Ginger Beer was a big hit.
Husband Richard did a fantastic job on the raffle. Local businesses and individuals came up trumps with splendid prizes. A generous voucher from nearby Askham Hall, a lovely historic house hotel with an excellent restaurant, Allium. Other great prizes came from the Haweswater Hotel, an original painting by local artist Christine Longmire, a hamper from J&J Graham of Penrith and quite the best chocolate cake in the world from Penrith man George Bowman to name but a few.
Marion, another local lady, played her harp throughout the afternoon. Charming. The Bampton Choir sang countryfied songs, nice touch. Local artists and craftspeople showcased their work.
Friends of ours, John and Carole, came up from Cheshire to man the Dalefoot Composts stall, compost generously donated by Simon and Jane at Dalefoot. The compost is made from bracken, sheep’s wool and fell pony muck. Totally natural, peat-free, feeds for two years and cuts down on the watering. Magical stuff. Their new Bulb Compost was a Product of the Year Finalist at Chelsea this year.
Hospice at Home is a groundbreaking charity here in Cumbria. They provide palliative and end of life care to people in their own homes. We raised a magnificent £3000, a 50% increase on last year.
Bampton’s only little, but it’s got a big heart. We publicised the Fair quite well, more people came from further afield than last year but it was still a small local affair. Multum in Parva.
We’re planning next year’s Fair. 19 May 2019. Come along if you live nearby. It’s a great opportunity to snap up well priced high-quality plants, produce, those natural beauty remedies, have a lovely lunch and a jolly nice day out in the beautiful Lowther Valley.