Saturday, 10 September 2011

William Sitwell and Aldo Zilli open country show

Harvest time and decades of vegetable growing tradition meet in a field in the small village of Lois Weedon in south Northamptonshire. I am standing outside a marquee and inside is a fabulous display of rural life. There are giant carrots, enormous turnips and perfect beetroot on display.  Jams, chutneys, pickles, cakes, dahlia’s and every conceivable local produce you could want have been judged by an panel of experts and now they adorn trestle tables for all to admire.

This it the Weston and Weedon horticultural society annual show, and this year it was opened by renowned chef Aldo Zilli. He is charming, witty and clearly impressed with the dedication of the growers and standards of the competition.

Aldo Zilli & William Sitwell (mp3)


The weather holds and people gather outside the tent.  The show has previously been opened by the likes of Derek Nimmo and Dame Edna Everage.  It’s not surprising that it attracts such celebrity’s when you consider that it has been going for 71 years and the village is the stomping ground of William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Illustrated. With his children pestering him for pocket money, delicious food, friends and neighbors of all generations delighting in their produce William is clearly in his element. The show opens following Aldo's declaration that there are the biggest carrots he's ever seen in the tent.


There is a buzz of conversation. Laughter and handshakes.  I watch people greet each other and listen to them chatter about which jam was the best and who’s beetroot were evenly sized. Children laugh, ladies serve cake and tea and I find myself smiling. It’s so good to see this quiescently English gathering ..  it brings a rural community together. The banter gets a bit competitive as the chap standing next to me promises to grow even bigger onions next season.  His friends roll their eyes in amusement.  I look in amazement at the largest onions I've ever seen and catch myself wondering just how big can an onion get .. and who will be opening the 72nd show next year?

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  1. Love this post. Those onions are huge and you're right about the community .. it brings all sorts of people together.

  2. They are some huuuge onions!
    I just hope events like this don't die out in future years, though with the growing trend for grow your own, hopefully it will continue,

  3. This typifies all that's best and quirky about England. Love the sense of community that this sort of event brings.

  4. FAB! These are the things I love about England and look at that WI tea table! O-M-G! Just loaded with goodies!
    Great photos too......loved this post.


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