Border Shepherds

Last weekend I went down with a cold so missed accompanying Kim to one of our favourite local agricultural shows. Our river rises on the watershed between Northumberland and the Scottish Border. The upper valley at Falstone has proudly hosted its annual shepherds show since 1885. I asked Kim to write a few lines about her experience of the event…

Every year in late August sees the Falstone Border Shepherds Show. Up the North Tyne Valley, along a single track, and into a small sheltered field outside the pretty village not far from Kielder Water, I am reminded of farming days with some nostalgia. Wearing my judge’s badge and wandering past the penned sheep, the steady weathered shepherds leaning over stock, the border collies drifting through to sheepdog trials, the smell of wet grass drying in a surprising day of heat, I head towards the industrial tent to help in the looking over of children’s submissions to the art classes.

Thank goodness the partner is an ex teacher and knows much about childrens’ handwriting stages, while I find it difficult to decide between free and funny watercolours, collaged vegetable faces, and interpretations of northern dark skies on flower pots (though we all agree on the special prize going to a starry sparkly one of these).

I meet many old friends, catch up with news, and happily spend too long marveling at prize vegetables, gardens on a plate, and the beautifully carved shepherds’ sticks. This is a simple uncommercial show, meant for gathering at the end of summer, and I love it. Back home I quietly hang my little badge up at home and smile.

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