Last Saturday we went to a Sweet Pea Festival at a place called Sprouston, a tiny village with a beautifully kept church, but no pub, a village green, pretty yellow stone houses huddled round the green, and a smart new village hall (lovely and insulated, but lacking the character of the old crumbling village halls you still see standing occassionally).
To say I was excited when I heard about the Sweet Pea festival is an understatement, I was very very very very very excited, though I didn't shout about it.
You know that excited tension you get, when you're about to visit a shop selling a particularly nice yarn or fabric or whatever it is you love, and you're getting closer and closer to it, and then you're opening the door of the shop, and then you're there standing infront of the shops displays? That sort of tension.
The Sweet Pea Festival was celebrating the Centenary of the Reverand Denholm Fraser winning first prize in a national competition for the best bunch of Sweet Peas grown by an amateur gardener, back in 1911. The Daily Mail newspaper organised the competition, and was offering a huge money reward to the winner.
The Reverand sent two bunches of Sweet Peas off to Crystal Palace in London IN THE POST (!!!!!). They travelled all the way from the Scottish Borders to London in the post, amazing. One of the bunches was in the Reverend's wife's name, the other was in the Reverand's name.
The Sweet Peas were grown from seed in the Reverand's garden. The bunches he sent to London won third and first prize! And the total prize money came to £1050, that's the equivalent to about £400,000 in todays money!
The walled garden where the Reverand grew his prize winning Sweet Peas was open to the public, but wasn't as glorious as I imagine it once was, though there are some Sweet Peas being grown as specimens by a volunteer from the village.
For me, the tent with the Sweet Peas in their jam jars was the exciting bit. I did like that they were displayed in jam jars, there was something very charming about that. Some people even left the labels on their jam jars, which gave their displays a quirky touch.
You would have thought the tent would have been overpowered by the scent from the Sweet Peas, but it wasn't, though if you smelt the flowers close up, you did catch their heady scent. I find that if you leave Sweet Peas in their vase on a window sill in the sun, it brings out the perfume, the smell can be quite powerful.
There might not have been a strong scent in the room, but the jewel colours were enough to make me dizzy with delight. It was pure visual gluttony.
It felt very old fashioned and loveable. People showing their prize Sweet Peas in humble jam jars is very wholesome and endearing. Both Hugo and I left feeling we'd attended a special event, it was tremendously satisfying, especially as there was tea and cake to be had too.
A tent full of Sweet Peas in jam jars, plus tea and cake, it doesn't get much better than that.
I'm off to do a bit of knitting now, my Coraline Cardigan is increasing in leaps and bounds, I'll have to show you in my next Tuesday blog post. Have a good weekend. Vanessa xxx