WIN! A family ticket to the Hertfordshire County Show
PUBLISHED: 13:17 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:24 12 May 2015
One of the biggest draws in the annual calendar - the 129th Hertfordshire County Show - takes place this month, celebrating rural life and artisan produce in the county over two days at the County Showground in Redbourn. Sandra Deeble meets some of the craftspeople who will be selling their special wares in the Made in Hertfordshire marquee at the event - and we have four family tickets to give away to the show!
Nicky Halloran, Dizzy Bee Kitchen
Nicky Halloran is a former chef who started making healthy granola for her children, which led her to set up a business, Dizzy Bee Kitchen, at home in St Albans.
‘I was making granola for friends who came over for brunch and they said, “Wow! This is lovely! You should market this!” And I thought, Yes, maybe I should. It fitted around the ages of my children, who are now three, seven and nine.
‘In the last few years the market has moved towards healthy eating. It’s great to be at the farmers’ market in St Albans because you get immediate feedback. I think people like my cereals because they’re homebaked and natural. You’re getting a nice boost of omega fats and you don’t get any sugar crashes. People come on the bus from Watford and the other day someone drove over from Baldock. I did the Herts Show for the first time last year and it was great.
‘My Paleo Granola is just nuts and seeds. Children love Hidden Treasure – the hidden treasure is milled seeds – but I also put raw cocoa powder in with a tiny bit of dark chocolate.
‘I’m a feeder. I love to see people enjoying their food and to think that they’re getting good nutrition from what I’ve given them. I think love comes through when you’re baking. If you love something you cook, you can taste it; if you’re not in the mood for cooking, it all goes wrong.’
Benedict O’Boyle, Benedict’s Fine Furniture
Benedict O’Boyle is based in Wheathampstead and has been designing and making furniture for almost a decade. He also an inventor - creating the iWood Amp: a wireless, battery-free amplifier for tablet devices.
‘Generally what I do is go into someone’s house and have a cup of tea with them and they’ve usually got an idea of what they want,’ Benedict explains. ‘Often it might be fitted furniture or it might be a freestanding dining table. Recently there was a chap who wanted a hand cut, dovetailed cigar humidor that was absolutely stunning – lovely to make.
‘Burr elm is my favourite wood. It’s really rare now because of Dutch elm disease - a lot of it got burnt. I keep an eye out for it on eBay. I’ve got a coffee table I made from a five feet by three feet slab of burr elm. It’s about four inches thick and it’s an amazing piece of wood.
‘In Hertfordshire, there’s quite a lot of ash and beech around, and a fair bit of oak as well. You can also make furniture from hornbeam, but it’s a very hard wood. I use local timber merchants, such as Ternex in the Ayots.
‘My iWood Amp started off as a wooden stand for tablets so my daughter wouldn’t dance around with her iPad. I cut a log in half and put a groove in it and it actually resonated through the timber and made the sound louder. I make them in oak, walnut and maple. People really like them because they’re simple.
‘Running a business is hard work. Meetings, quoting, designing, making the furniture. Sometimes you’re just sanding and sanding! But then at the end, when you put that coat of oil on and the grain comes out and it all comes to life, it’s like, “Yeah! That’s why I do this”.’
Joanna White, White Wash Soaps
Joanna White used to work for the BBC’s World Service before taking the plunge and turning her part-time business making natural skincare products in her garage in Harpenden, into a full-time proposition. Homemade in small batches, her products have a maximum of six ingredients.
‘I took redundancy about four years ago. I’d already started making the products and selling at craft markets and I thought, “If I don’t do it now I never will”.
People were buying my products and saying, “This is fabulous stuff”. That’s what made me think, I can do it! I can do it!
‘I wanted to make my products as ethical as possible and I wanted each ingredient to be the best possible for the skin. There’s no water in my products. The handcream is 70 per cent shea butter. I’m self-taught and I had to research all the properties of the products. I have lots of friends who were willing guinea pigs! Now I’m getting emails from people in Australia. People are sending my products out to their friends and they say things like “Please don’t stop making your products because there’s nothing like this on the high street”.’
David Nye, Great British Sausage Company
‘I’ve lived in Hertfordshire all my life. I started the company for fun, to fund my travelling. That was back in 2005. And it’s just evolved. We do festivals, food shows and sporting events. We are based in Todd’s Green. This year we’ll be at Rhythms of the World in Hitchin and the Letchworth Food and Drink Festival. We also sell at the farmers’ markets in Harpenden, Stevenage and Hitchin. At the county show, I’m part of a dedicated area: Eat and Drink Hertfordshire, with 12 local caterers.
‘We used to make all the sausages but then the business took off and I had to make the decision to go into selling, rather than production. We still do all the development stuff ourselves. Our sausages are manufactured in Stansted and Maldon. All our pigs come from one farm in Essex so they’re 100 per cent traceable. We’ve got the Churchill, our traditional English sausage, which is 80 per cent lean pork shoulder. The Hot Duchess is pork and jalapeno. The Knebworth is venison and port. We’ve been buying venison from the Knebworth Estate for the last six years from Wocko the deer keeper.
Two-and-a-half years ago we started our 24-hour operation at Luton Airport. We’re now looking for more sites. Stansted would be brilliant. We’ve got the perfect product for people on the move: a good old-fashioned hot dog.’
Other Herts companies to look out for
Chiltern cold pressed rapeseed oil
Grown, pressed and bottled by the Mead family at Wilstone Great Farm, near Tring
Grove Farm Meat
Traditionally reared lamb from Great Gaddesden
Fountain pens and propelling pencils made in Hitchin
Heartwood Candle company
Candles made from sustainable soy wax in St Albans
Craft cider made at Bourne End Farm, near Berkhamsted
Quinoa, beetroot and caraway salami made in Tring
The Hertfordshire County Show is on May 23-24. Save 20 per cent with advance tickets by Friday May 15: Family: £34.80, adult: £14, seniors:£12.40, child: £6.80. Call 0844 850 2122 or go to hertsshow.com
For your chance to win one of four family tickets (two adults, two children) to the show, email ‘County Show Competition’ to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, address and contact number by Monday May 18, 2015. Good luck!
Hertfordshire Life will be at the show - come and see us at our stand by the Jubilee Arena where we will have some very desirable prizes and fun stuff to do!