My wonderful escape to the Norfolk of the north

PUBLISHED: 18:29 19 September 2018

A typical Dales village show with the marquee in the background, slightly on the huh

A typical Dales village show with the marquee in the background, slightly on the huh


David Clayton can see the parallels between Norfolk and Yorkshire - they even seem to contain the same happy people

I’ve just enjoyed a couple of weeks in the Yorkshire Dales where, to be honest, you’ll find me if I’m ever not in Norfolk. The scenery is in stark contrast to our own because pretty much nothing is flat. I’ve been heading to Swaledale, for pretty much all my life. It’s just over the fells from the better-known Wensleydale.

Years ago, there was a tradition for most of the small Dales villages to have their own annual agricultural show. A chance for farmers to show off their livestock and people from a few miles around to grow fine specimens of vegetables and fruit. Some serious prize-winning baking went on too.

One of the small villages in Swaledale, called Muker, still has an annual show and given my professional life has involved microphones, I could hardly say no when invited to be the Show’s announcer, so I spent a joyous day telling folk that the sheepdog trials were now under way in the bottom field, the dry-stone walling demo had begun and could the toddlers for the fancy dress please assemble. I desperately wanted to announce in the style of “All Creatures Great and Small,” “Could Vet’n’ry please go t’Secretary’s tent,” but sadly no one needed me to.

I’d just uttered my first public address welcome, when a man came bounding up to me, “I said to my wife it was you when we heard the voice, but we thought how could it be?” Richard and his wife from Frettenham said they’d been hearing my voice on the radio for years and couldn’t quite believe they were listening to it again high up in a remote Yorkshire Dale. We spent a few minutes revelling in the coincidence and said, 
“It’s a small world,” a few times too. We encountered each other a few more times over the 
day at which point Richard listed people from North Walsham and Horning he’d just bumped into, too.

It’s here I’d better claim “dual-nationality.” I was born in Yorkshire but moved to Norfolk when I was 10, so I can appreciate the idiosyncrasies of both dialects.

Eventually the two large marquees in different parts 
of the showground were opened-up after the nail-biting judging had finished. There then tends to be a good-natured stampede as people flock to see who baked the best sponge cake and which beetroots had taken the judge’s eye. “The horticulture tent is now open, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the blue and white marquee at the bottom of the field.” Then, in locating the other identical marquee which was perched on the hilly field hugging the sloping contours, I heard myself saying to two thousand or so Yorkshire Dales folk, “The produce and handicrafts marquee is at the top of the field. That’s the one on the huh!” I quickly added, “And that’s for anyone here from Norfolk!” I heard a few random cheers across the field, clearly the Norfolk contingent.

A lady I know from Muker came over to me. “What did you say?” I repeated it off-mic. She explained she’d been to Norwich a couple of times, hadn’t heard it before and could I enlighten her. “Did you go to the famous Norwich Market Place?” “Oh yes,” she said, enthusiastically. Then channelling the wonderful Nimmo Twins, I proudly proclaimed, “Well it’s on the huh, as well!” “Oh, I see,” she said with an expression that suggested she really didn’t.

As you can imagine the stunning Dales scenery inspires lots of entries in the photographic and art sections, so you can guess how surprised and delighted I was when I wandered around the now famous marquee on the huh, to see a painting of Lowestoft Beach Huts had been awarded a first prize. Well done John from East Carleton!

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