Sunday, 4 October 2009
It’s been a busy weekend here in Great Somerford. I counted seventeen horseboxes on my walk down to the shop this morning – there may have been more, but Brown Dog was distracted by one that seemed to be whinnying rather loudly, and I found myself wondering what villagers of past centuries might have made of horses being shipped around the village in motorised metal boxes on wheels. Of course they were all bound for the Dauntsey Park Horse Trials, which are held here, at Brook Farm, and down the road in Dauntsey.
In addition to all the horse boxes, the roads were also lined with tractors and pick-ups with trailers bound for one of Graham Singer’s famous sales in the show field at Great Somerford. And as if that wasn’t enough, someone had decided this would be a good weekend to cut the maize. Heaven help anyone who might be trying to get anywhere in a hurry.
Graham Singer’s sales are fantastic – but be prepared for disappointment if you were hoping for a pair of killer heels or this season’s latest handbag. Whenever I see the sign go up, or hear the familiar trundle of ancient tractors and clanking trailers trundling down the road, I perk up and find some excuse to go down there and have a quick shufti.
There are tractors, trailers, mowers, sprayers, discers, spreaders, mixers, feeders… Contraptions for weighing pigs, charming little henhouses, horseboxes, toolboxes full of tools, rusty old milk churns, bits of cattle grid, wheelbarrows, girt big stone water troughs that could only have got there by magic or the brute force of about 30 neanderthal henge-builders; an ancient plough, a once-loved painted pony trap (without the pony)… There are several things that look like – well, I can’t seem to work out exactly what they look like…
“What do you suppose that could be?” I ask Julian, who seems to be examining something that looks worrying like some kind of medieval instrument of torture. Julian looks as stumped as I am, but just then a burly looking farmer who looks as though he might know comes striding over.
“Is there a catalogue?” I enquire, trying to look as though I could well be in the market for a 1950s tractor or a few lengths of fencing.
“Catalogue?” he asks, looking slightly perplexed.
“Yes,” I’m trying to sound like a serious salegoer. Someone who knows the difference between one end of a combine harvester and the other. Which I don’t.
“We were wondering what this – er – thing was…”
Julian looks at me as though I’m trying to rope him into some kind of transaction he had no intention of getting involved with.
The farmer sucked his teeth for a minute or two.
“If you don’t know what it is, chances are you don’t need it.”
I suppose he had a point.
Other little bits of local news
I popped over to see Jane and Guy the other week in Draycott Cerne. They’re in a lovely cottage in a most picturesque spot, and I must say I can’t remember either of them looking so relaxed and happy.
Charlotte the spider’s babies finally hatched – what looked like about 50 of them. I must say, I let Charlotte disappear beforehand. I read in Alex’s spider book that the baby spiders often eat the mother if she’s not quick enough off the mark, and poor old Charlotte only had five legs, so I didn’t altogether fancy her chances.
John tells me they were his bees. I thought they were…