Monday, 31 July 2017

Martin and his prize winning gooseberry and cup
 A novice grower pipped his rivals after graduating from the award of the wooden spoon to beating all comers with the heaviest berry at Goostrey Gooseberry Society show. After one of the worst growing seasons for years, Martin de Kretser tipped the scales with a Blackden Gem berry weighing 23 pennyweights 19 grains. Martin, who lives in Goostrey,  came last in the competition at The Crown Inn at his first attempt only four years ago. The enthusiastic newcomer was not downhearted in defeat and on Saturday proved determination wins. His premier berry, a tiddler compared in years when entries were heavier, beat longtime growers, including Terry Price, the reigning champion, placed fourth.
Alan Garner and his wife Griselda
Junior champion Joe Banks Williams
But it was another relatively new grower, Griselda Garner, who surprised members when she walked away with four silver trophies, including the Frank Carter Cup for most points in the show from various classes. Her premier  Edith Cavell berry of 20 pennyweights 05 grains was placed seventh. She put her success down to the quality of soil tilled for 4,000 years at her Blackden home,  Toad Hall and the Medicine House, where the late Frank Carter, a legendary Goostrey grower was born and raised award-winning gooseberries. Weights in surrounding villages fared much better than Goostrey with world champion Kelvin Archer defeated at Lower Withington by John Porter with an entry of 34 pennyweights 08 grains.  Ironically the show stopping berry named Ann Archer was from a variety originally raised by Kelvin and named after his wife.
The three top berries in the show
 Eight-year-old Joe Banks Williams won the junior place for the second year for the Dave Garrett Memorial Cup, just beating entries from two other youngsters, Grady Alderdice and Cori Lee. Show president  Terry's hope of retaining the silver trophy for the premier place was thwarted when a berry of more than 30 pennyweights burst a little more than a week before the century-old annual event.Martin was awarded the C R Griffiths Cup for the premier berry, the prize for the most improved grower and the Frank Carter memorial plate.
  Emma had the satisfaction of gaining the G E Capper Cup for the champion show plate and Martin took home the John Egerton Cup for the heaviest red berry.The only other trophy winner was Gareth Buckley, whose top berry a Jodrell White of 21 pennyweights 16 grains came fifth. He was awarded the cup for the heaviest sets of four twins of each colour on the same plate and the challenge cup for the top plate of assorted berries. The cups were presented by Griselda's husband, Alan Garner, the children's author and writer, who said his memories of the show sixty years ago were of being lit by paraffin lamps.
  "It was like a Dutch oil painting," he added.
 After the weighing, Emma Williams said although the size of the berries this year was disappointing, the show itself had been well up to its usual competitive spirit and enjoyable.
  "We would certainly like more younger members to get involved in the show, but anyone living in the parishes of Goostrey and neighbouring parishes would be most welcome whatever their age to help to retain this village pastime," she said.
**Copyright pictures Emma Williams
**Click images to enlarge

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A heavyweight or not?

Goostrey show in action
Kelvin Archer with world beating berry
  A Dunkirk spirit will be needed by growers poised this week for the annual battle of the bushes as gooseberries come under attack from a combined force of weather, disease and pests. Only several weeks ago all looked well as the fruit ripened and grew gently under their protective netting for the Mid Cheshire shows beginning on Saturday. But fickle weather, blowing hot and cold and late season torrents of rain, is doing its best to dampen the prospect of weighing in with a world-beating berry. Now, it will be a case of standing firm and rescuing the best from the trees before they burst. Terry Price, Goostrey Gooseberry Society's  current champion and show President, says reports suggest that all growers in the area are struggling to keep berries on the bushes. "I don't think there will be any records this year," says Terry. "They are busting all over and the heavy rain is finishing off a lot."  Terry, whose Just Betty gooseberry of 24 pennyweights and 22 grains, won the show at The Crown Inn last year, is hoping for a better result this time. Several weeks ago a berry from the same tree weighed 30 pennyweights but now like other growers the prospect doesn't look good. He added: "I think if someone can hold on to a berry of 28 pennyweights it is likely to be the heaviest in our show or any other. They are all struggling" Best of the bunch is expected to be among yellow berry varieties such as Woodpecker, Millenium or Montrose. Later shows in August may have the smallest berries of the year to put on the scales for the annual heavyweight whopper. And the overall champion in the fiercely-fought contests might be decided by a whisker! Visitors are welcome to watch the Goostrey Gooseberry Show - as all other shows - at The Crown starting on Saturday at 1 pm.A Junior Show won last year by Joe Banks Williams, eight, is again open to all under 16-year-olds who live in Goostrey and the surrounding area. His winning Woodpecker berry weighed 16 pennyweights and five grains. A prize draw on the day includes dinner for two at the Yellow Broom, Twemlow Green.
**The world record berry is a Millenium of 41 pennyweights 11 grains grown in 2013 by Kelvin Archer, a member of the Marton
and Lower Withington shows.