Holidays with your Horse, and Other Stories, II: the Royal Welsh Show

Bull We are proud to host, in the nearby village of  Llanelwedd (near Builth Wells), the Royal Welsh Show the largest of its kind in Europe and a truly international event in the Heart of Wales.

There is far too much to tell you, in a small post, about the show but it has a lovely website and a great archive of photographs to explore.

Instead, here are some personal impressions and stories for you.

The Cox Plan

Since coming to live in Beulah fifteen years ago we have always been ‘members’ of the show. This means that we have two great advantages: entry for every day and a seat in the grandstand. When we have finished serving breakfasts to our guests we leave for the show, using the excellent park and ride which is strongly recommended.

Day One: Reconnaissance

On day one we come empty handed except for our tickets, securely tied on through a buttonhole. There are so many free samples of food and drink of every kind that it is unnecessary to bring or to buy. We leave our money at home to avoid being tempted by the first things that we see. Instead we try to look at all the stalls and make a list of the special and new.

Day Two: Livestock

On day two we look at the animal sheds. The remarkable dedication of the farming families is touching and inspiring to see. We love the junior pig handling class: tots little taller than the pig and less than a tenth of the weight fearlessly coaxing them round an obstacle course with a board and a stick is wonderful to watch.

Day Three: Merchandise

On day three  we make our purchases. There is excellent produce, craft and clothing on sale along with tempting sweets (we remember when Ivor was drawn in by the lovely sales assistants on the Mediterranean Foods stall, ending up with £20 worth of pistachios, olives, dried strawberries and yoghurt coated sesame seeds).

It is reminiscent of medieval times in the extremes that can be seen! We also look at some of the competitions in the woodland area: scandanavian axe men fell trees with blades so sharp that they can shave the hair from their inner arm, climbers of all ages take their chances at the 90 metre pole – the best literally run up – and the beautiful heavy horse pulls logs from difficult terrain impassible by machine.

Day Four: Food and the Grandstand

The Quack Pack: Demonstrating sheepdog skills with some help from ducks

On day four we spend a little longer at home making sure that all the guests are happy and ready to leave when their time at the show is over. At about midday we depart. We treat ourselves to a lunch chosen with difficulty from all that is on offer.

Favourites have been Welsh Oggies – hot pasties -  with a variety of fillings, strawberries on a stick covered with melted chocolate, hot spicy caramelised nuts, freshly cooked doughnuts and high quality artisan ice cream in wonderful flavours.

When we have our picnic assembled we make our way to the grandstand to see the last showing of all the ring attractions: prize winning stock and machines, the finals of the Pony Club Games, the special guest performance which has been, over the years, the Royal Artillery, the Spanish Riding School, the Cossacks (always something with equine interest in this area famous for Welsh Cobs and all manner of horse pursuits) followed by the Band of the Welsh Guards who play the national anthems which we join in, and put the show to bed for another year.

The Royal Welsh Sow has never closed, except in time of war and in the terrible foot and mouth epidemic of the early 21st century. It has bravely struggled through some truly terrible weather, local farmers towing out cars who become marooned in the muddy car parks.

Even The Archers had a storyline here when David and Ruth showed a prize bull. While even the Royal Show has now given up for ever, the Royal Welsh goes from strength to strength.

All images by Lucy Cox


Tyrannell Hospitality offers welcoming and high-quality Self-Catering accommodation and Bed and Breakfast.

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