In the month run up to the Fair, roads for 20 miles around Appleby are decorated with wooden posts and Police signs, similar to this one. This particular sight of a horse flagrantly ignoring The Law is not a rare one.
The grass verges and laybys of East Cumbria are additionally strewn with granite and limestone rocks, about the size of a car engine, as a further welcome to the travellers that come with the Fair. It’s fascinating that nobody seems to drag them away with their transit vans and horses. . If travellers and gypsies are as bad as everyone says, you would have thought they wouldn’t be bothered by signs and rocks. These measures might be a pain in the neck, but they’re not really stopping anyone from camping, or not literally, anyway. I theorise that it’s more of a psychological deterrent. What those posts and rocks are really saying is,
“We’re the Police. We know this layby/field entrance, grass verge is here. We’ve been here (you can tell by the posts and signs) and if we come here again and find you here, we’re going to make trouble for you while on holiday.”
If my theory’s correct, it’s a smart measure. Who wants to put up with the police while on holiday?
The best bits for me were:
the staggering through ankle deep mud, ever in danger of slipping and bringing each other down! It’s funny and everyone’s in the same boat, whatever fancy gear they’re wearing/driving.
and the trotting as they race up and down the lane running across Fairhill. I utterly failed to capture the feeling of excitement as collision looms … then is averted by underwhelmed, skilled drivers.
There’s a juxtaposition of ‘traditional’ with ‘modern’ gypsy culture; modernity tapping into its past for financial benefit:
Girls in scant clothing with beautiful tanned bodies (and some less so) revving up their little sports model Corsas and CV1’s past rows of beautifully decorated bowtop caravans;
Young blokes dressed in chavvy Nike training pants or jeans, riding bareback on ‘coloured’ horses.”GenuineRepro” bowtops, trotting harnesses, black cooking pots, flashy costume jewellery and horse tack.
It makes a good show whatever the provenance; gives you gypsies, horse clobber, half naked girls in mud and harness trotting. And foals. And a kid got run over by a harness buggy. And an old man was thrown from another harness when one of the five standing ponies tethered to it decided to shag one of the others. Hopefully both people were fine.
It isn’t posh.