Last month, (July 2014), my family and I were very lucky to be invited to visit the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells.
Not having been before, we were a bit sceptical, (and a little intrigued), about what to expect. The first thing that we noticed was how completely organised and well planned the event was, even from a visitors’ arrival. There were a large number of attendants, who guided visitors into a field where a park and ride system was in place. We noted our field number, then had a very short walk to a queue of buses, with only a few moments wait before we were seated and on our way to the showground. It was a brief drive to the venue, during which the driver kindly informed us what time and what bus stop we should attend when we wanted to return.
Walking through the entrance gates, we were totally overwhelmed. We were presented with so much to see and to do, that we decided to spend a short time just wandering around to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We did invest in a programme, which was very fairly priced and a great help. It included very useful map, along with details of everything that was happening that day, including the times and locations of venues of the attractions or demonstrations that we wanted to visit. It helped us plan everything in the day with ease.
Delicious smells of freshly-cooked foods wafted on the light breeze from the various stalls, enticing us here and there to taste little samples of this or that. This is a great way of showing people how produce from Wales is picked, packed and ultimately presented in various supermarkets. We sampled little pots of lovely curry, miniature pasties, cheeses and pickles, various ice-creams and mixed berries, all offered by different producers, sellers or supermarkets. There were also lots of cookery demonstrations, which all contributed to a great interactive experience for children to understand about Welsh produce. This was a good way of linking what we eat and where it comes from, how farmers work, and how produce arrives on our shelves.
One of our favourite displays was the put on by the RSPB. This took up a huge area offering fantastic learing opportunities and interactive activities for families. My daughter had a wonderful time pond-dipping. She was given a net with a pot, and the very friendly staff showed her how to safely dip her net into a pond, to try to retrieve some creatures to put under a microscope. She spent ages transferring her creatures into little dishes, observing their movements the microscope, and then working her way through the “spotting sheet” to identify her finds. Then we simply had to “Make A Bug Hotel”. She was given a piece of piping and natural materials to make her own Bug Hotel, that could be put into her garden to allow various wildlife to come and live in her hotel. We moved over to the tree section, where we learnt about the different trees that could be found throughout the country and their contribution to our eco-system, Finally, we were given our own Elder tree, to take home and plant in our garden.
We learned that trees don’t only produce oxygen and fruits etc, as well as habitats for wildlife, but also that if managed properly, they become materials for this like fencing, building and decorative features. We saw fantastic traditional Welsh fencing techniques, with the men building fences made from the indigenous bushes and trees etc. I loved this display of traditional crafts, and I hope that this skill won’t die out.
We watched the young farmers (ie children), showing their sheep in competition, and we were amazed to hear how some families had travelled from London and beyond, just to compete in the show. The young farmers were very confident displaying their sheep, and it was one of my daughters’ favourite parts of the day.
Another fantastic part of the day was that I was very lucky to have been sent some vouchers for Joules. For a link to the Joules site please click:
Joules are a high-quality brand that celebrate British heritage through their clothing styles. Joules started producing and selling clothes over two decades ago, when the founder, Tom Joule, started out by selling robustly-made, functional and stylish country clothing at equestrian and outdoor events. Joules had a marquee at the show, and so we decided to look in.
Thoughout the day, I’d seen and overheard so many people talking about their Joules bags full of goodies, so I was excited when I eventually found the marquee. Upon first glance at the queue of eager visitors, my heart sank a bit. I looked at my husband and thought “should we just keep going” but he said to join the queue as it was moving very quickly, and I’d been looking forward to visiting. We only queued for a few minutes and then we were in the door. It was a really good system, allowing only a limited amount of people in at a time, and it didn’t feel too busy or too full of people, especially on such a hot day.
We were able to wander around the store at our leisure, looking through the fantastic bargains. The staff were very friendly, helping people find different sizes and keeping queues down with kind words and engaging conversation. There were a huge variety of items on offer, all in every different size, which is something not normally found when hunting through bargains on this magnitude. I found two beautiful jumpers which will be really functionally warm and stylish when camping. Also, my daughter chose some comfy fluffy bed socks, which she immediately wore during her snooze on the journey home !!
My bag of goodies are wonderful, and I was very pleased. I was especially happy with my stunning yellow jumper, that I can’t wait for our next camping trip !! It’s colourful and bright, it’s not baggy but fitted, and I can wear it with a pair of jeans to glam up an outfit, or throw it on with a pair of shorts while camping. I love it !!
The clothes were beautifully-made, in a fantastic range of rich country colours and, what I liked, was the variety of styles. It can be so difficult to find outdoor clothing that’s fit for purpose, colourful and flattening for women, while still being very fashionable. Joules ticks all the boxes !!
There’s so much more to write about, including the fact that everything at the Show was very fairly priced. Usually, with events such as these, visitors are viewed as a “captive market” and subjected to the inevitable price-hike for food, drinks, etc. But everything was made available to suit a range of budgets, from the Members Tent a the top-end of the facilities, right through to outlets offering home-made pork sausage or vegetarian hotdogs for kids, priced at £1 !!
All in all, we enjoyed an amazing day, full of interactive displays and events for all ages. My daughter learnt so much about Welsh culture. She can’t wait to get back to school, to show and tell about everything she learned.
I was sent tickets for the Royal Welsh Show and vouchers for Joules for this review. My opinion is honest and unbiased.