Were you among the tens of thousands who converged upon the Royal Cornwall Showground last week? I was, and despite having been many times in a journalistic capacity, I was surprised to discover that there were still a few firsts to be racked up.

For starters, I went on the Saturday, dragooned into helping the Other Half out on the Citizens Advice Cornwall stall. Perhaps I encouraged you to be a volunteer, or sold you a raffle ticket to name a giant teddy bear or to win a spa treatment. The younger customers were dazzled by the Rubik’s Cube sets, which we could have sold 100 times over; it was slightly alarming to think that they might wind up winning a flying lesson instead.

Or you might have encountered me shaking a bucket at the exit. Contrary to popular belief, Citizens Advice Cornwall is a charity, and it was really heartening to see people put their hands in their pockets because they or a loved one had benefited from the wise words of its volunteers at some point.

I can’t remember the last time I went to the Royal Cornwall on a Saturday. For a start, it’s by far the busiest, the favourite with families who have the day off work and school.

My preferred day is Thursday, when business networking comes into its own and you can get around easily without being jostled by the crowds.

I dress nicely for shaking hands with the great and good, unlike on Saturday, when I dressed for comfort. “Are you wearing legwarmers?” asked a friend upon seeing my hiking socks on social media.

Reader: I did not care. I would much rather avoid blisters than look fashionable – although I did feel inclined to apologise once the bucket hat went on in the sunshine. I went to see “safe” people I already knew, rather than introducing myself to new people who might expect to be impressed.

I was interested to experience the weekend vibe, and so was Daughter. Last year, she went on Friday with her secondary school; the emphasis was on careers advice, with the teens encouraged to visit the NHS, the military village and other purposeful stands. They were strictly forbidden from attending the fairground, which is what Daughter and her best mate made a beeline for upon arrival.

I have never attended the show with Daughter, and was somewhat aghast to get a call to say she had run out of money at, ooh, not even half past nine.

It was a wake-up call to the fact that, while I buzz around rubbing shoulders with contacts and perhaps get fed along the way, for any normal punter, the show can make for an expensive day when you factor in food, fairground rides, any number of delectable things you might like to buy.

I was heartened to hear a conversation between a friend and her daughter who was keen to “borrow a tenner”, leading to an involved discussion about whether this would be repaid in full. “Not just us, then,” I thought wryly to myself.

I pointed them towards the free events which form the beating heart of the Royal Cornwall: the animal tents, the Grand Parade, the dog show, the street entertainment (Titan the robot was on good form and surrounded by crowds as usual).

It was a long day, especially for the girls, who were prepared to leave at 6.45am and didn’t get home until around 8.30pm, factoring in a couple of hours to empty the tent. At least we knew where the car was, unlike last year when it took me half an hour of near panic to locate my ride home in the still-busy field. In short, a good time was had by all, and a return visit is already planned for next year.

I might rethink the socks, though.


It was a real honour to cover Truro’s D-Day commemorative events. From town crier Lionel Knight delivering the proclamation at 8am, via the Royal British Legion gathering at the war memorial at 11am, to mayor Cllr Carol Swain presiding over the lighting of the beacon at 9.15pm, it was truly humbling to remember the men who fought against tyranny so we could enjoy freedom in future.

I only wish I could say we learned from such events, but when I look at headlines from around the world, I am not so sure.

I also have something to say to the man who told me how annoying I was with my phone and to show some respect. If you admired and were moved by TV reports that night, do remember how they were obtained. They might have had a bigger camera than me, but we were essentially doing the same job so others who weren’t able to be present could feel part of the action.