Sunday, 27 July 2014

Peter and Jamie

It was goodies for the Goode family at Gooseberry Goostrey Show - Peter Goode won the top place for the  heaviest berry for the second year in a row! 
Peter, always somewhat of a dark horse in 25 years of cultivating the fruit, beat all the odds of a season of discontent among growers to sweep the board and  collect most of the silver.
Few gooseberry men believed that size would matter this year as the result of a season two weeks ahead and juice-swollen fruit bursting on the bushes.
 But Peter the Plumber pulled a monster from his box to win the premier prize. He repeated his success of last year as the top grower with another Prince Charles berry, this time even heavier at 33 pennyweights than his previous best of 29 pennyweights and seven grains.
And  to cap it all his son Jamie. a mere stripling of nine, weighed in as a junior contestant with a big  Belmarsh berry of 26 pennyweights and eleven grains raised on his dad's allotment at Cranage. 
Jamie, a pupil at Holmes Chapel primary school,was as thrilled as his dad at the outcome. He has been growing berries for only  three years and this was his first show.
Alan Garner hands Peter a  trophy
But in a day of nail-biting competition at the Crown Inn, two absent members took second and third places for the heaviest berry. In second spot was Tom McCartney, top of the crop in 2012, who is still unwell, with a whopper of a Millennium in a season of bursting fruit of 30 pennyweights and nine grains. 
The late David Heath, another of Goostrey's top growers who died earlier this year, came third with an Edith Cavell berry of 28 pennyweights and seven grains presented at the show by his widow, Kath.
The prizewinners also included Griselda Garner, of the Blackden Trust at The Old Medicine House and Toad Hall, Blackden. Goostrey, where an archive of gooseberry varieties cultivated by the late Frank Carter, a legend among growers,  is maintained. Her husband, the novelist Alan Garner, presented the trophies.
*Click on the pictures to enlarge

A Prince Charles Berry!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Blogs from the Bongs: NOT A BERRY HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR!Kelvin with his wor...

Blogs from the Bongs:
Kelvin with his wor...
: NOT A BERRY HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR! Kelvin with his world record holder  If ever there should be a song "They are Bustin' Out all...

Kelvin with his world record holder

 If ever there should be a song "They are Bustin' Out all Over..." it would be most apt for the Gooseberry men of Goostrey - and all growers  around these parts- poised to do battle in the annual ritual of finding the heaviest fruit of the year. But, what with a mild winter, wonderful spring and now a hottie summer to savour, many of the berries are reportedly past their best for the start of the showing season this Saturday. When the boxes filled with the luscious offerings are opened at the Crown in Goostrey there will be some nail-biting, I guess. Sadly some of the village's most ardent growers will be absent, such as David Heath, who has died since the last show, and Tom McCartney, a 91-year-old champion, still unwell. But their berries will be presented for weighing by proxy, that is if like many a grower the juice-filled fruits have not already burst. Here at BH where a single pen of bushes is shrouded to reflect the burning heat the chief grower dare hardly look under her covers to see how they are surviving! World champion grower Kelvin Archer with last year's Millenium berry of 41 pennyweights 11 grains grown at Rode Hall tells me he can't see any records being broken this time around.. He admits he has a lot of decent berries but  nothing of the order of last year. "I don't think there will be record weights this year because they were ripe two weeks ago and have now stopped growing. There was no winter to speak of, an early spring and then there has not been much rain." However, we will watch with interest to see what Kelvin pulls out of his box at Lower Withington's show on Saturday!The Goostrey show coincides with a week-end beer festival at the Crown, so there will be ample ale in which the growers can drown their sorrows. 
John Dutton
I must end on a sad note as yet another friend has gone to a higher place. John Dutton, of Dutton Contractors, who moved in the recent past from Barnshaw Hall Farm to Middlewich, died of cancer earlier this month. The packed service of a celebration for his life at St Luke's, Goostrey, on Wednesday was a reflection of the high esteem in which he was held and the many friends he made over the years, both as a farmer and for many years as a businessman,as well as serving as a member and chairman of Goostrey Parish Council. I can confirm all that was said about his great sense of humour, generosity and that he was just a hell of a nice guy. I will  miss his cheery greeting whenever he saw me of Hi, Johnny, boy! He was born on Valentine's Day, 1936.