As we stopped at the end of our drive to lock the gate, I felt the familiar worry creep in; what had we forgotten.
We set off in convoy with Paul’s brother, both trailers full of sheep, both vehicles crammed with buckets, bales of hay and way too much beer!
The excitement felt by all of us made the drive to Harrogate fly by, John-William singing away in the back, a mixture of Elvis and Glen Campbell. As we sat in the show traffic, all queuing to get in, I wondered how many were feeling the immense pride and sheer joy at being back on that beloved showground.
To me, this hugely spectacular display that covers a few days in the height of summer, is everything that is great about Yorkshire and the deep connection we feel with our magnificent and unique county.
From the hustle and bustle of the endless craft, food and gift stalls to the wonderful displays and of course the cattle lines and sheep sheds. Nothing makes me surge with pride, with awe and gratitude.
Like the majority of sheep at the show, ours had not been shown for quite some time. Usually by the time the Great Yorkshire Show comes round, our show team has been to several shows and they’re all used to being washed and handled.
As the time came for our breed classes, my nerves soared. I couldn’t see how John-William would be able to manage the big tups. He didn’t want my help in the ring but reluctantly agreed to let me shadow him.
With the pocket of his white smock bulging with corn, he was dwarfed by the aged tup with his heavily spiralled horns. I stood close by in case I needed to grab a horn, but I needn’t have bothered.
A few mouthfuls of corn and endless tickling under his chin did the trick. The tup never moved a muscle, not even when the judge checked his manhood!
The rosettes soon started coming and before I knew it he was clutching a reserve male champion card and a reserve female champion one as well. Despite beads of sweat trickling down his hot face due to the overwhelming heat, he loved every minute.
The crowds, the clapping and the endless congratulatory pats on the back made it a day to remember. As Paul’s brother had taken the overall breed championship, there was much celebrating that evening, before we all clambered into the trailer and fell asleep.
The following day we stood in the blistering sunshine watching the Interbreed championship. Hebrideans, Gritstones, Jacobs and Cheviots were amongst the huge line up of champions.
It was wonderful to watch and no doubt incredibly difficult to judge. The eventual winner was the Blue faced Leicester, who stood as proudly as his owner.
As we prepared John-William for his young handler class I glanced around at the smiling faces, the rows of sheep. I felt so grateful to be a part of it all and so proud to be from Yorkshire!