Fun and farming in the middle of nowhere

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At a loose end wondering what to do last Saturday, I decided to scan The Southern to see what was on.

Being a lover of such events, I couldn’t resist a trip to the Upper Kalewater Show and Sports.

The only snag was I had never heard of the venue at Pennymuir, so after consulting the map, I set out in the general direction of Hownam, via Jedburgh.

It was a cool, blustery day, with dappled sunshine and the odd black cloud as I drove across the foothills of the Cheviots in search of the show.

After leaving the A68, I was expecting to see the occasional To the Show sign, but with nothing in evidence, I was beginning to wonder if I’d made a mistake with the date. (Not like me!).

Eventually, after several miles along single track byways, I came on a windswept hilltop crossroads in the middle of nowhere with cars parked along the verges and several livestock containers parked in the adjacent field.

This had to be it.

Sure enough, the man on the gate relieved me of £4 and in I went. There were no tents, trade stands or exhibitions, normally associated with such shows, just a few sheep in pens and a small roped-off area where dogs were being judged. There was, however, a burger van and the smallest bouncy castle I’ve ever seen.

As I sat watching the collies and terriers going through their paces, I noticed that there was a corrugated iron building by the gate with an adjacent rough, stone-built annexe with a tin roof.

This, apparently, was the Pennymuir Hall, where according to the catalogue and programme, the industrial section was on display. To get out of the wind, I decided to pop in for a look.

The hall itself was like something out of a bygone era with a timber-clad interior which had seen better days.

The same could not be said about the standard of produce on show on the white papercovered tables, which were groaning with goodies.

For such a scattered community, the number and high quality of entries was amazing.

Every class from jams, cakes, vegetables, flowers, handicrafts and photographs was well subscribed, with around 750 entries in all.

Everything was being closely scrutinised by the locals, marking winners’ names in their catalogues and being ever critical. I had to smile at one local farm worker, who, after studying the walking sticks, remarked to his companion “I’ve skelped bullocks wi’ a better stick than that”.

Once outside again, I discovered that the “annexe” contained the bar which was also being well subscribed. Next door, also with a dirt floor and tin roof, was a small room with tables and pressed white linen tablecloths. I take it that was where the committee would have their tea.

Well, you have to keep up standards!

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the show (I never discovered where the sports were!)

These events are part of our Borders heritage and it was great to see this sparse community coming together to keep their annual show going. Long may it continue.