Last day at the Royal Welsh Show
It's 7.40am on the morning of the last day of my first ever Royal Welsh Show. Low cloud hangs menacingly over the natural amphitheatre in which the show ground sits, and a morbid light is permeating the site. It's chilly. So far, we've escaped the bad weather, bar a couple of showers.
I hope today's forecast rain doesn't materialise. There's a lot to be said for not walking around with claggy mud caking one's boots.
I was asked a couple of days back what happens at the Royal Welsh in the evenings. I've been retiring to the half-Fawlty Towers, half-League Of Gentlemen B&B early, so I've not had first-hand experience of the night-time entertainment, but walking through the carpark this morning I saw a pair of boots, a pair of jeans and some knickers in a pile, so that answers that question.
It has struck me, though, that in addition to the young farmers and their wild excesses, and in addition to the serious-faced old hand exhibitors, the number of 'normal' people here is immense. People with an interest rather than a livelihood in rural life have flocked here in numbers.
There's a real enthusiasm for the wide range of the displays here, from yesterday's Welsh cobs, to the flower displays and the vintage farm machinery.
I've very much enjoyed seeing Elfyn Thomas and his small pack of gundogs (five spaniels and a labrador) doing retrieval work on land and water, and I've 'enjoyed' the atonal efforts of a singing trio yesterday on the Young Farmers Club stand. Heaven Is A Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle was a particular highlight.
Just a little way down the hill on the bandstand was The Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh Infantry blasting out a brass version of Angels by Robbie Williams. It takes all sorts, I suppose.
Horses at Liberty
One particular highlight for me has been the displays by Jean François Pignon, which he calls 'Horses At Liberty'. Imagine a man with the air of Michael Praed as Robin Hood in Robin Of Sherwood (a great 1980s series, ask your parents), riding bareback, controlling his white steeds with seemingly minimal effort to perform tricks. All accompanied by music that - like that old Robin Hood soundtrack - sounds like Clannad.
All a load of hippy guff of course, but entertaining nonetheless. Just as entertaining has been Meirion Owen and the Quack Pack - ducks being herded by a sheepdog. I may try to locate him later on and find out how his Royal Welsh has been.
I've got a 12 hour stretch in front of me today so I'm going to be finding things with which to fill my last day. Glancing through the programme, I see pole-climbing, the Interbreed Sheep Group Championship and the Wrought Ironwork Live Competition. I know nothing about any of those, so that's a good start. If there's something the Royal Welsh lacks, it's not variety.