Tag Archives: Thame

Recalcitrant owls


Go away, it’s Monday and I’m not coming out to play

Well, where do we start this week?

Weather-wise it’s been absolutely fabulous over the weekend…unless you’re called the Pink Chilli Hobbit and have headed off to the wettest, windiest place in the UK – the Isle of Mull.  It’s her annual holiday destination these days, and I expect to hear tales of whales and discussions on puffins when she gets back next week!  It does look great up there though, it just tends to catch what the Atlantic weather systems throw at the UK square in the teeth.

So I’ve been let loose from my normal habitat of the south of England this weekend just gone, venturing up to the vaguely northern climes of Cheshire.  I know that’s not really very far north, but when all the place names are redolent of rugby league teams it must be far enough up to warrant the description.  Tatton Park just outside Knutsford (City Limits) was the destination, for a country show that turned out to be distinctly less tweedy than Thame a few weeks back.  I’m guessing it’s because the area is much more premier league footballer than rich landowner, but the comparisons are fascinating:

Thame – lots of labradors. retrievers and spaniels

Tatton Park – yappy little handbag dogs and posh terriers that have never seen a rabbit outside of the Waitrose meat section

Thame – tweed everywhere, plenty of it functional

Tatton Park – Hollyoaks chic in abundance, fake tans and tattoos on conspicuous display

Thame – accents varying from Mockney to West Country, with an abundance of Home Counties

Tatton Park – Scouse and Manc accents, with the occasional Black Country frontier gibberish thrown in to remind me of my days at North Staffs Polytechnic.  Nearly needed a phrase book at one point.

SignThe one thing that was markedly different from Thame was that my renewed lollipop supply remained firmly in place, although it was severely depleted by the end of the weekend.  Maybe it’s my sign that helped keep the felons away!

It’s certainly gained a few retweets today via Planet Rock radio.  It seems that my  attempt to ensnare a straying WAG put a smile on a few Monday faces.

And did it work?  That’ll be an emphatic no 😦 Will just have to keep putting the sign out.

What’s with the owl reference, I hear you all cry?  Alright, alright, maybe not all of you…but someone must have thought it.  Well it’s like this…there was a falconry display held in the main ring a couple of times each day, and what became apparent after watching it from King Gazebo is that:

  • Gyrfalcons are really fast, incredible agile and stylish
  • Harris Hawks are really smart
  • Barn owls are the dumb blondes of the bird world – gorgeous to look at but nothing between their perfectly formed tufty ears
  • Owls can be stubborn, ornery cusses

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The last fact was very apparent with one owl that was – to be fair – just coming back to show work after a long period on the sidelines.  After being released from his training line for the first time in 2 years he just sat on his perch and looked as confused as a UKIP politician trying not to sound racist.  After much cajoling, offers of tasty morsels and noises designed to encourage owlish types he sill sat there, refusing to budge.  In the end the handlers had to go and carry him back to his box.  Well, it was hot – why fly when someone can carry you?

As well as the falcons there were some serious outbreaks of cute…I give you…drum roll please…FLUFFY BUNNIES!!!

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I love the fluffy bunny huddle in the second picture – it’s like they’ve seen me with the camera and suddenly gone ‘sh*t, he’s seen us – how do we get out of this?’ 😀

Another thing that struck me about the area around Knutsford is the ostentatious wealth.  The houses are seriously upmarket, and the de rigueur architectural feature appears to be a bloody big front gate, preferably wedged between pillars of some considerable size.  And you know what I didn’t see whilst passing any of these houses?  People!  All the houses appeared locked and uninhabited, although immaculately maintained.  I guess when you have enough money for a house like that, you have enough money for several houses like that.

20140518_081418This was in the car park of the B&B I stayed at – a gorgeous, beautiful old Bentley.  I saw it on the road as well, and the noise from the engine was just wonderful.  It may not be economical to run, or meet EU emissions rules, but by ‘eck it has soul.

My 5-mile journey from the B&B to the Country Show took me past Range Rover, Bentley and Rolls Royce dealerships, huge cubic behemoths of showrooms with millions of pounds worth of vehicles inside.  I could almost feel my trusty 145,000-mile Peugeot van shrug with Gallic haughtiness as I drove past 🙂

Some final shots from the weekend – more hook-beaked raptors, and the guys from the Seven Dials Rapscallions – possibly the best-dressed shoppers I’ve ever had.

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Back to the farm this week, lots of production to be done to stock us all up for the next couple of weeks, which will include the Royal Bath & West Show, one of our flagship events.  For this weekend though you can find me at Royal Wootton Basset, Bath Green Street and possibly Salisbury (still awaiting confirmation on that one!).  The Pink Chilli Hobbit will be in Bradford-on-Avon on Sunday (if she doesn’t trip over a puffin on holiday, that is).  We’ll also been in our usual haunts of Bath, Swindon and Oxford, as well as Petersfield, Crabstock in Northampton and Marble Hill in Twickenham, the home of odd-shaped balls.  Blimey we don’t half get about.

Have a great week and look forward to another bank holiday weekend!

Blizzards of tweed


Well, that was the weekend that was.  A busy old few days to be fair, and your friendly hobbit bloggist needed a bit of a slow day yesterday to recover, hence the tardiness of this weeks post.

So why so busy?  Well, Wednesday was, as usual, a day spent at the Farm…occasionally stirring the pot…occasionally filling large numbers of empty bottles…but mostly fighting with my nemesis that is the labelling machine.

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I have discovered a new condition – Bottler’s Thumb.  This is caused by many, many twiddles of bottles on the labeller causing some of the ink from the heat-shrunk caps to rub off on my hands, making it look like I’ve been fingerprinted by the rozzers.  It weren’t me Guv, you can’t prove it, I weren’t there, besides it was some geezer from Peckham what dunnit…

Trading wise it was a case of TCH on Tour – three events, none of them in Wiltshire.  Thursday was a visit to my old professional stomping ground at Temple Quay in Bristol.  Some former team members popped along to say hello, which was much appreciated (hello Nick & Jonathon!) and a pleasant market was spent observing the huge queues at the hot food stalls.  It was a bit slow, but I know from personal experience that the Thursday before Easter can be a bit quiet in the offices there.

Saturday saw me in Nunney (which still sounds like a Sarah Millicanism to me) for a craft fayre.  Nice place, lovely people, no-one came…luckily I had the foresight to take a book with me!  The best bit of the day came with a Dark Ghost chocolate eating competition – Sefy and Josh bought a bar and had a race to see who could eat their 50g bar the fastest, and more importantly with the least show of heatstroke.  As you can see from the pics below Sefy won.  Josh had a few tears in his eyes (I don’t think it was the emotion of the defeat) – and hence had to eat the lollipop of shame to recover from the heat 🙂


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The Pink Chilli Hobbit was at Sherston’s lovely market on Saturday – a very pleasant event, frequented by plenty of Easter Egg hunters from the event next door!  Martin and Jane always run a lovely, friendly market and despite it not being a huge event in terms of sales we just love doing it.  The one thing we’ve found out since we’ve started doing markets is that it’s hard work, physically quite demanding, but it’s also really lovely to meet people and sell stuff we believe in, often in lovely settings such as Sherston.  It somehow doesn’t feel like a proper job, even though it seems to keep us busy 24/7.

My first big event of the year was on Sunday and Monday, the Thame Country Show in Oxfordshire.  This was a much bigger event than anything else I’ve done before and I learnt a few things as a result:

  • a 4 metre wide pitch is quite a lot of space to fill up
  • the day goes amazingly quickly when you’re busy
  • hobbits can last surprising lengths of time between comfort breaks
  • Thame likes Chipotle Chilli Salt and Hellish Habanero

I was next to a pie/pasty/sausage roll/pork scratching seller who was very friendly, but who spoke auctioneer-speed East End frontier gibberish that left me completely baffled for much of the time.  He could have been a time traveller giving me hot tips on tomorrows races for all I know, but frankly I didn’t have a bloody clue what he was saying half the time.  I suspect he thought much the same of my West Country tractorese.


The biggest shock to me was a bit of a reality check, and a sign that nothing is sacred.  All us traders keep a close eye on our stock ‘just in case’, and the vast, vast majority of visitors to events are as honest as the day is long.  Those of you that have visited my stall will know that I keep a supply of lollipops to hand out to small children/single women/people that need relief after trying the hot stuff.  I give them away for free.  I gave loads away for free over the two days in Thame.  So I was rather disgusted to find that, halfway through Monday afternoon, some larcenous scrote had stolen the jar with my remaining lollipops in it.  Now I will repeat – I give them away free – yet some lowlife had seen fit to scarper with the jar.  It’s not often that I’m lost for words, but for a period after discovering the Great Thame Lollipop Robbery I was just a bit flabbergasted.  Of course the words I was then capable of using are not fit for publication in a family blog such as this, but you can guess a few of them I’m sure.  Don’t think I’ll be submitting an insurance claim though!

Looking forward (a looong way forward) I’m pleased to say that our application for Salisbury Christmas Market has been accepted.  This is the single biggest event of the year for me, and will entail 24 days trading in a row in a chalet in Guildhall Square.  I’m really, really chuffed to have got in and am already looking forward to setting up a chilli hobbit hole for the event.  We’re also confirmed at Winchester, with other applications pending – it’s a hugely busy period for us and will doubtless cause logistical nightmares, but we will prevail.   Somehow 😉

So this weekend sees me in Lechlade Garden Centre (Friday), Royal Wootton Bassett (Saturday) and Salisbury (Sunday)…the Pink Chilli Hobbit is in Bradford-on-Avon on Sunday…and our other itinerant chilli peddlers are in Oxford Gloucester Green (Thursday), Blackpool (Saturday), Swindon Designer Outlet (Sunday), Oxford Summertown (Sunday) and Bath Union Street (every day).  You have no excuses to run out of anything these days, you know.

20140416_173257Finally, another image warning of the effects of repeated exposure to hot chilli sauce.

You have been warned.

Laters dudes.




Today’s blog co-authored by Fudge.