The countdown has begun

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it's hard to believe, but it's that time of year again, when all roads in Wales seem to lead to Builth Wells.

The Royal Welsh Show is only a few days away and you can already sense the anticipation in the air.

Backstage, everyone is getting their animals ready for the mass exodus to Mid Wales, competitors are dusting off their show clothes and trunks and trailers are being packed to bursting with everything needed for a week at the biggest agricultural show in the UK.

When you actually think about it, the whole thing is a little crazy. More than eight thousand animals from chickens and goats to cows and sheep will be transported from their homes across Wales in trucks, vans and trailers all the way to the showground.

Once there, they'll be unloaded, put in pens or on straw beds then pampered and preened to their hearts' content until it's their big moment to step into the spotlight. Then, they're all loaded up again for the return journey.

I spoke to a friend yesterday who is taking Holstein dairy cows to the show and was in the middle of cleaning out their show caravan. "Why do I do this every year?" she asked plaintively, "I never learn!"

But that's the thing about this show - it gets to you, and its faithful followers wouldn't miss it for the world.

I went to interview a young farrier last week who is being honoured at the show this year. Dorian Lewis from Machynlleth is working flat out with his mobile forge, trying to get all his customers horses shod in time for the show. He said "There weren't enough hours in the day left to get them all done."

Even when I called in to the accountant's office in Carmarthen today, Bethan (the accountant) was preoccupied with getting her Lleyn sheep ready for show time. It's all anyone's talking about.

What's new at the show this year? Well, for starters the main ring has been re-turfed, after taking a hammering in recent years thanks to our wonderful wet weather.

The Welsh Black Cattle Society will unveil its new building on the edge of the cattle ring and the Young Farmers Clubs (YFC) will be celebrating their 75th anniversary in style with a black tie dinner on Saturday night.

No doubt there'll be a few sore heads around on Sunday morning but not me though, I'll be presenting Country Focus live from the showground at 7am so I hope you can join me then for the start of the show.

I'll also be presenting the highlights from the show on BBC 2 Wales every night, along with Sara Edwards and Dr Rhys Jones.

I'll be concentrating on the main livestock competitions - from the Beef Team of 5 to the supreme sheep championship. By the way, did you know that the Royal Welsh can claim to be one of the largest sheep shows in the world?

The only thing left to sort out now is what to wear....the annual dilemma.

To everyone travelling to the show this weekend - have a safe journey and see you in Llanelwedd!

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