Homemade marmalade at English summer fairs makes me all nostalgic: Blaise Tapp

The traditionalists – the types who eat fish on a Friday and always stand up for the national anthem even if the tune emanates from a novelty toilet roll holder – will tell you that Britain has lost its soul.

Friday, 5th July 2019, 2:43 pm
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 1:45 pm
Dave King's prize winning Bakewell tart at Rowlands Castle Village Fair

I’m talking about the beige wearers who hanker after the days when we only had three television channels and every home had a 'best' room, only ever used on Sundays.

They harp on about how our national values have been eroded and decry the fact very few families sit down together for a meal anymore, and woe betide anybody who doesn't wear a tie to the office. 

Although these Luddites need to step out of 1955, I do occasionally get their point. Sometimes I yearn after an England which probably only ever existed on train company adverts.

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Whenever I drive into a newly discovered village it is usually accompanied by a wave of nostalgic contentment as what’s not to like about tearooms with lace doilies?

I am a sucker for manicured lawns and a well-kept beer garden. But there is one English staple which will forever have a home in my heart – the summer fair.

The fact so many people tip out to country shows, open gardens, fairs, and festivals means we aren’t yet done with the outdoors.

I write this having just spent a glorious day in my local park, a place I visit at least once a weekend, but occasionally it is transformed into a hub of fun and activity. There aren’t many places where you can sit in a fire engine, buy homemade lime marmalade or be made up like a panda but that is the beauty of a good old fashioned summer fair.

The British mentality is such that it doesn’t really matter if the weather is good or not, people will generally tip out to an event if they know there will be a singed sausage on offer or a second-hand teddy stall.

This coming weekend, it will be my turn to roll up the sleeves when I help out at my daughter’s school summer festival. The blood, sweat and tears will be worth it if the punters go home with broad smiles and emptier wallets. 

Helping to maintain the nation’s soul can be more fun than it sounds.