Growing up in an Oxfordshire village, I used to get my fill of country shows and fairs. In London, however, they are a little harder to find. There is the Bermondsey Street Festival, of course, but that's more smart village fête than a rural affair. The Lambeth Country Show, an annual two-day event that takes over Brockwell Park in south-east London, is rather different.
One of my friends lives near Brockwell Park, so we met at her place, had a few drinks and then wandered over in the late afternoon. It was a lot bigger than I was expecting, with a couple of stages for music acts, and then different zones for food and drink, wildlife, shopping and even 'complementary therapies. We had, it seemed, missed the jousting, but there was some kind of sheep demonstration taking place — they were really putting the 'lamb' in Lambeth Country Show.
Next, we headed for the horticultural zone, where there were quite a few competitions in progress, including the classic 'best rose', as well as what seemed to be the 'best punny fruit and vegetable construction'. Jon Snowbergine for first place!
There was a good selection of plants and flowers for sale too, which was nice, given how hard it is to buy decent plants in central London. I picked up a few succulents and some cheery sunflowers, which I will probably kill promptly.
There was quite a lot going on in the wildlife areas too: with owls on hand, if you could stand the long wait, bees, and some animal representatives from Vauxhall City Farm. Perhaps most entertaining was the sheep shearing event, where a cheerful Kiwi gave us a brief history of the selective breeding of sheep (more interesting than it sounds), with live representatives from each of the breeds. This was followed by a sheep shearing and then a little sheep boogie to the sound of Abba's Dancing Queen — each of the sheep had its own dance move, and it was pretty impressive.
I hadn't heard of the headline act, Odyssey (perhaps they were looking for Jason's Golden Fleece), but the soul disco music seemed to go down very well with the happy show attendees. There were also plenty of rides and slides to keep the kids (and adults) entertained. It didn't hurt that the weather was near-perfect on Saturday. Best of all, though, there was just a really nice, chilled-out, family-friendly atmosphere you don't often see at London-based events. I'm keen to go back next year, although I think I'd probably go earlier in the day so the queues for the more popular activities aren't so bad.