Yep, Himself and myself are on our way for a day out at an unconventional event; Appleby Horse Fair! The below image shows just one of the fields on Fairhill which are covered in caravans and horse wagons. Check out the line of bowtop caravans at the top of the image! We went up on Thursday night to see what was going on; there is a general feeling of lawlessness; shrieking from groups of tweens, pushing and shoving each other; a child trying to ride a Shetland pony, flicking it with a riding switch until it shook him off; police walking about in groups of four and hanging around conspicuously in unmarked police cars outside crowded pubs in the town.
Appleby-in-Westmorland is a well to do, pretty little town. It used to be the County town and is the ‘capital’ of a Royal Borough due to its history. It has the unusual feeling in Cumbria, of being a walled town, although it isn’t technically one. Appleby has a very old stone building structure and a castle. And right now it has about 6000 gypsies, travellers, horse people and salesmen.
The people who live in the town get a feeling of being unsafe at this time, not without foundation. However, in recent years, there has been efforts made by both the police and the travelling community to make things a little less terrifying. My friend, Jane, tells me tales of being hustled by gypsies from when she was a teenager, to justify her irritation at the Fair (she tells the same tales every year!), but this is the oldest and biggest horse fair in Europe. It has been going since around the middle of the 1600s. Why shouldn’t it still keep going? Gypsies and travellers have never been welcome on a wide scale. It’s never stopped them.
So, safe on the arm of a very big man, I am going to watch the races and the carnage and walk through the mud and try not to get run over by brand new little cars filled with gorgeous teenagers.
But first: an English fry up of the finest dimensions. Watch this space!
Image C/O: Slippy