Over the stable door: Approval of Wetherby's upgrade

Having a runner at Wetherby races last week gave us a chance to inspect the newly opened Millennium West stand which has taken a year to build at a cost of £3.5m.

Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Along with bars and restaurants it houses the new owners’ and trainers’ suite offering a great vantage point of the paddock and winning post. I normally grab some food at the delicious staff canteen but we were keen to see inside the new stand so went in for lunch and enjoyed a complimentary hot meal. It was a great improvement on the previous provisions provided for owners by the course (a small unappetising sandwich).

The new stand, and the extensive provisions it provides, will prove a huge asset to the popular Yorkshire track.

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We visited Countryside Live at the Yorkshire showground last Sunday afternoon. An event I had not attended for years. Wharfedale Farmers Auction used to have a trade stand where the parentals tended to hungry farmers who called in for a quick drink and ended up lingering for their lunch followed by afternoon tea. My son accompanied them as he has always loved the event.

So, as the livestock market no longer has a stand, I promised I would take him and a friend along.

Judging by the huge crowds it didn’t appear the damp murky weather had affected attendance figures. Large families spilled through the gate. I had forgotten quite how entertaining and educational the event is on all things rural. Outside the boys were glued to the sheep dog training and the ferret racing (which resurrected Felix’s ferret obsession. ‘Mum, can I have a …’. No. No. NO.)

Along with the cattle, sheep, poultry, rare breeds, dogs, horses and all types of creatures competing or demonstrating, there was a hands-on country craft section where the children got thoroughly involved. Experiences we took for granted whilst growing up, watching parents or grandparents at their daily tasks, are completely alien to most of the younger generation and unsurprisingly it was one of the busiest areas of the showground.

The indoor buildings were full of kids learning to make bread, spin and weave wool, try circus tricks, make candles, sausage rolls, taste honey and handle huge creepy crawlies. I have never seen so many ages, from babies to teenagers, as excited and involved in learning as I did on Sunday.

On leaving we had to fight our way through a tailback of people which snaked around the building, it turned out to be a queue for the Yorkshire Vet’s book signing. It looks like half the county might be finding a copy in their stockings this Christmas.