David Parkin enjoys a day out with a moody bird and a good slap and welcomes another event ban

WHEN you put on the biggest agricultural show in Britain every summer, it must be difficult to find things to do in between times.

But the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, whose Great Yorkshire Show is a three-day annual extravaganza every July, has created its smaller sibling in Countryside Live.

The event takes place at the same venue in Harrogate and attracted more than 11,000 visitors over two days at the weekend.

There were plenty of stalls selling arts, crafts, food and clothing, and appearances from Yorkshire Vet Peter Wright and shepherdess Amanda Owen and for the farming community there were also competitions for a variety of animals including cattle, pigs, poultry and sheep.

The marquee housing the cattle show was packed with spectators watching several large beasts being paraded around the ring while a stocky man with mutton chop whiskers circled the cows squinting intently at them.

He was judge Wilson Peters (his name sounds like a firm of agricultural machinery auctioneers) and occasionally he slapped them on their hind quarters – I once saw that happen in Purple Door but the individual was swiftly defenestrated from the networking venue.

Celebrations ensued when, with a final slap, Wilson Peters signalled that a British Limousin heifer called Midnight Star from Pickering had won the Supreme Champion Beef Beast title.

Overcome by the bovine jubilation, I wandered out of the tent towards a birds of prey demonstration where a handler was explaining the challenges she had to overcome with a Tawny Owl called Colin.

Apparently Colin can be difficult, moody and doesn’t have a great deal of success with the ladies.

I really enjoyed my stroll around on Sunday afternoon, and, perhaps surprisingly, most of the visitors were genuine country types rather than the likes of me, who dons Hunters, a Barbour and a flat cap for the odd woodland walk.

Everywhere you turned there were ruddy faced men in ill-fitting jeans and tweed jackets.

It was like the bar at Sous le Nez on a Friday afternoon.


EARLIER this year we organised an event for Leeds-based financial recruitment firm Woodrow Mercer Finance called The Business of Food and Drink.

We brought together a group of entrepreneurs running very diverse businesses but all united by a passion for delivering quality products with incredible service.

One of them was Stephen Fleming who gave up a successful career as an IT director to launch George & Joseph Cheesemongers, the only specialist cheese retailer in Leeds.

Now, five years after opening in the city suburb of Chapel Allerton, George & Joseph has just been named Best Speciality Cheese Retailer at the 2018 Great British Cheese Awards in a prestigious ceremony at Somerset House in London.

Stephen must certainly be feeling like Le Grand Fromage after that honour.


MY Dad’s funeral took place this week – a small service at the crematorium for family and close friends followed by a celebration of his life at the church in the Derbyshire village where we grew up.

I was put in charge of sorting out the music for the service and made the very modern mistake of believing that I could rely on Amazon to deliver me a CD anywhere, anytime.

Anyway, the CD of the Treorchy Male Voice Choir singing Myfanwy (my father was a very proud Welshman) was not going to arrive in time when I searched for it on the Amazon website.

It prompted a rather old fashioned dash to HMV at Meadowhall in Sheffield.

Walking down rows of CDs, vinyl records and DVDs seemed a bit like a stroll down memory lane.

But sometimes the old ways are the best and an enquiry to a very well informed member of staff saw him head off to check the stock list and return track down the correct CD on the shelves.

Seeing my relief in getting hold of the CD, he said: “Can I ask if it is for a particular occasion?”

On being told the reason, he replied: “I’m very sorry for your loss, but I am pleased that we have been able to help.”

How can Amazon do service and charm like that?

Perhaps the end of the high street retailer isn’t quite nigh.


DURING a couple of weeks when laughs have been a bit limited, I have had a couple of titters.

Visiting the funeral directors to make arrangements, I gave them my email address.

That sounds an interesting name, can I ask what type of business you are in?” said Greg the funeral director.

On being told it was an events business, he informed me that outside his day job he is also involved in events.

“Me and my girlfriend have 23 reptiles which we take to children’s parties,” he said.


MY Mum was a bit concerned that given we were kicking things off with quite a traditional song from a Welsh choir, the vicar conducting the service might not be as enthusiastic about the final choice of music – Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballé.

“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that,” said vicar Becky, “I’ve walked into a funeral to Eye of the Tiger from Rocky before. And the children from the village school sang a song about beans during the recent harvest festival service to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody.”


AFTER being banned from the Yorkshire Legal Awards (did I mention it?), I’m thinking of applying to add another event to the list.

This year’s Yorkshire and Humber CBI dinner was drier than an ageing Ryvita.

It featured a panel session entitled ‘We need more magpies: How in inquisitive leadership drives innovation’.

The panel was made up of an academic from the University of Leeds, a CBI policy wonk and a tech engineering manager who has been with SkyBet for six months and who spent the previous 14 years at Leeds Beckett University.

All talented people no doubt, but surely a discussion about inquisitive leadership should have included someone with a smidgeon of entrepreneurial experience who’s idea of risk taking is a bit more than deciding to have an extra chocolate biscuit with their morning coffee.

The after dinner entertainment was stand-up comedian Jo Caulfield who took the mickey out of sponsors and attendees – always a risky approach given the organisers would like to see them back next year.

She ripped into sponsor NatWest for not having any women on their table and then said she thought that law firm Squire Patton Boggs had the most ridiculous name.

Has she never heard of Womble Bond Dickinson?

Have a great weekend.

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