Saw some magnificent birds and beasts at the Tendring Country Show near Manningtree here in Essex last weekend. It was a wonderfully colourful day during which my mother and I watched a host of livestock displays – still a reassuringly traditional affair featuring white coats (and a dashing bowler hat in the case of the all-important judges). Children as well as smallholders and farmers proudly paraded their animals in the rings. The cattle entrants included the beautiful dark-ginger Red Polls and the majestic English Long Horned. We also met an array of sheep including our favourite deep-fleeced teddy bear-like South Down and the confusingly named Badger Faced breed.
But, of course, what topped it all was the fabulous poultry tent. Chicken fanciers and wildfowl specialists from all over the county had entered their feathered specimens in all manner of classes. From adorable Welsummer bantams to lavender-coloured cochins (above) and turkey cockerels and Indian Runner Ducks, a wide spectrum scratched, crowed and clucked before us (some even lay eggs in front of our very eyes), the occasional cage bearings winning rosette.
Despite the alluring birds on display, I managed to resist the urge to buy a clutch of fertile eggs to hatch out chicks: I sensibly decided that our 17-strong flock is enough to keep James, myself and our friends, family and colleagues in omlettes for now (as you can see from the glut we had earlier this week, below).