The beginning of September has a different feel.It's been cold in recent nights, and although the weekend was warm and sunny, there's a different feel and smell in the air. Autumn ...and then it's the oh so fast slippery slope to winter.
Of course , there are compensations! Harvest! At the allotment there's an abundance of apples and plums, the runner beans, although slow to start, are now in full production and I've been picking climbing french beans for a few weeks now. I'm still digging up up potatoes too, although it's the last row now as I only planted some first and second earlies.
The beginning also marks the joint annual village show of a number of villages close by. I have an allotment at one of them, and Monica , the wonderful allotments organiser, encouraged us to enter the show.
I didn't consider it initially - after all, I don't grow the best vegetables or the most on the allotments, and I'm still learning. But no one else apart from Monica and Christine seemed game, so on Friday I rang Monica . "What classes are you entering" she asked. "Fruit and beans" I answered.. So, I was told to turn up at the village hall , pay my entry fees for each class and then display them.
The entry fees were nominal, 20p for each class! And the organisers were so friendly, showing me where to go, and were so encouraging.
I was looking at the exhibits already displayed and almost decided to go straight home, but then Monica came over, and gave me a few tips.
"Good, you've got the strings on your beans" she said and advised to get six the most compatible in size. I'd bought lots in my basket and started measuring them.
Then it was onto the plums and apples sections with more advice.
Everything displayed and my number attached to each exhibit, it was time for a chat with everyone else. , who were all very friendly and welcoming. There was just time to have a look at all the displays, but by then the judges were arriving so we were all shooed out of the hall.
When I returned in the afternoon, I couldn't have been more surprised if you had slapped me around the face with a piece of wet fish.
"Come and look" said one of the organisers with a big smile..."you've done well for your first time"
I received a third for my dish of three plums.
There was even better news for my beans
And I burst out laughing when I got a first and a best in section for fruit.
Now I'm one of the least competive people I know, I like the buzz of doing things for pleasure not for winning, but I genuinely was so pleased.
And it's all thanks to Monica who encouraged me to enter, and who was so helpful. I shall now call her my mentor Monica, not just because of this weekend , but all the helpful advice she gives to everyone on the allotments. Not so long ago, she lost the sight in one eye after a really nasty car accident. Many would have given up running the allotments, or let somebody do all the work for a while. Not a bit of it, she carried on regardless, and I for one, am so grateful for the work she does on our behalf.
Now, this is may be just a small village show, and it's only the second I've attended , but what I loved was the genuine warmth and camaradie there. Everyone admired what was displayed, it brought the three villages together, and I couldn't get over what talent there was in the cake, bread, and bottling sections.
But this year, there weren't so many entries as usual I'm told, and this is worrying for some. If no one enters, then shows like this could come to an end. And that's a crying shame. In the old days, these shows were a focal point for all the villagers to get together and celebrate the food they had grown for their families, to find beauty in the flowers and fruits of their labours.
A Saturday in a lovely rural village, celebrating time honoured traditions, meeting up with like minded people who like growing and making things, all made an entertaining afternoon.. And I shall be back next year!
Meanwhile next Saturday I'm off to another village show at the other end of Leicestershire. This is quite a big show - but I'm not there to enter. I'm making an hour long edition of BBC local radio's longest running gardening show , finding out what goes on behind the scenes, and it will be great to get some tips for next year's village show near where I live too.