New Columnist: Shropshire Life

PUBLISHED: 12:17 14 January 2011 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 February 2013

So the fastest man on earth can run one hundred metres in nine and a half seconds. Have to say I'm not one for running, I have been known to cover a fair bit of ground when the cows have got out but I'm built for comfort rather than speed...

Having wondered at Usain Bolt's incredible feats I thought I would see what I could do in a very short space of time, so I timed myself putting the kettle on for a cup of tea. Now, we share our home with a border collie and a golden retriever so attempting to go anywhere quickly, all of a sudden, means you find yourself competing in the hurdles. I'm not sure if Colin Jackson would be impressed but I managed settee


to kettle (ten metres) in ten seconds.


Someone who wouldn't have a problem covering the ground as he is so tall is the rather gorgeous celebrity chef James Martin who I had the pleasure of working with at this year's Shrewsbury Flower Show. I'm the one


that warms you up if you're in the audience at his demonstrations and watches you smile when he throws a fish


into the front row. Some facts for you about the man: He owns 26 cars, he's looking to keep Highland cattle and has a Newfoundland puppy called Hector. He works hard, performed three demonstrations each day to a full marquee, mostly filled with women it has to be said. His fan club call themselves 'Martinis' and a calendar is sent to him each Christmas depicting them in the nude with strategically placed items, although maybe held a little lower than they used to be! It's been a busy summer for shows up and down the counties, and, I'm guessing, quite lucrative for those selling wellies and umbrellas. One thing that has been great to see at agricultural shows is the number of animals on display. The preparation that goes into training, grooming, and washing them is incredible. I'm always tempted to have another go but a bad experience 20 years ago keeps me away.


All I'll say is... puncture, hot weather (perms were all the rage at the time, so I'll leave my appearance to your imagination) and one unhappy cow!


At home we've just marked our first full year since registering as a smallholding. We've not got a lot on it as yet, partly due to the fact we're on a hill but it keeps us busy mainly trying to keep upright when it rains. The Highlands have attracted a lot of attention locally and we're looking forward to calves next year. Our free-range hens are ex-battery so to see them develop their own characters has been fantastic and it's great fun watching them jumping up trying to catch flies first thing in the morning. It is said that one in ten gardens has hens in it, I can believe it, as they are addictive.


Something else that is addictive is Strictly Come Dancing, now back on our screens and having danced up close and personal with Anton Du Beke I can tell you girls, he's very firm. I see they've dropped our very own Arlene Phillips though (she has a home in Herefordshire, so she's ours). What is it with allowing mature men on the television but not women? The powers that be see laughter lines, greying hair and experience as representing seniority in men yet in women it's a sign they're heading for the door. I never tried television partly due to the fact I had the perfect face for radio and when you hear the camera adds a stone, there's no point asking 'does my bottom look big in this?'.


It will be interesting then to see what television chef Gino D'Acampo looks like in the flesh as he heads to Herefordshire Food Festival this month.His nickname is The Italian Stallion so maybe I ought to time the audience as they head for the front row. You never know, they might just put Usain Bolt in the shade!


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