before another day in the DGR tent with, firstly, Richard Benson, author of The Farm and The Valley, who we were pleased to see looked more like the Yorkshire farmer’s son he is than the London journalist he has become. Not that you can tell – it could be anyone behind that foliage! I think I got a bit carried away by the “it doesn’t have to be perfect” ethos…
And then Martin Parr, who drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, once we could get him to stop photographing the audience.
As it was Sunday, a trip to church was in order. The church on the estate was open to visitors and one Happy Camper, a Pre-Raphaelite fan, was delighted to discover that the windows are from Morris & Co, designed by Burne-Jones. Fellow team dovegrey member Barbara has done a full account of all that so we will leave that lovely surprise for her to share with you.
With time to spare before the final event, it was back to the elephant to spend some time covering one of his ears with the fabric provided...
And finally, Peter Beacham, a lovely way to round off a wonderful weekend.
Peter was Devon’s first Conservation Officer, and is the author of the new Pevsner’s Guide to Cornwall. He also wrote, in collaboration with James Ravilious, Down the Deep Lanes, a series of essays on Devon, illustrated by photos from the vast Ravilious archive.
As the weekend progressed some odd figures gradually appeared near the main entrance to the house, fanciful interpretations of 'Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it Infamy!'
Yes it was the Port Eliot scarecrow competition, and the Happy Campers assessed all the entries with their usual discrimination and artistic knowledge... ahem ahem I do not think. There were some amazing figures (one seemed to be made of small inflated metallic pillows attached to a stake with brushwood hair atop) and some clever use of ordinary materials to maintain the traditional eclectic approach to construction. We strolled past the Big Bad Wolf from Red Riding Hood, some sly interpretations of a favourite Chancellor and Education Minister, The Hound of the Baskervilles made from flowers and greenery, the Kiddycatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dr Octopus from Spider-Man (although the latter was more octopus from Holby rather than Alfred Molina in a tentacley cloak, as you can see from the picture).
However, our two favourites were Marie Antoinette – her outfit made from transparent plastic complete with a stunning headdress adorned with toy cows...
and Crowzilla. This much maligned bird was a marvel, who would have thought black bin bags could achieve such a great effect?
When the judging was complete, we were gratified to see that the expert Scarecrow assessors agreed with us and placed them first and second respectively.
The whole episode was a lot more satisfactory than our comical visit to the flower show, after we had been told that Fran from DGR had won a second prize.
First problem was actually gaining access to the house at the right time, which seemed to take us two days at least.
Then on Saturday afternoon we were finally there, eager to see 'our' entry.
After tramping impatiently round and round the different exhibits, we had to retire to the DGR tent, confused.
We hadn't found anything with Fran's name on, or that of Hatwell, or Rocky - only a Jane Churchill, who seemed to have scooped quite a few prizes......
Imagine our embarrassment when we were told that the successful Jane was the judge, that all entries are anonymous, and that we were total chumps who knew nothing about the arcane arts of flower arranging competitions.
Clearly, the HCs need to join the WI to learn some proper skills.