Salad days!

Here’s my latest column for the Highgate Handbook and Muswell Hill Flyer:

It is that time of year – when I get invited to all the wonderful summer activities that local people put on. Street parties, summer fairs, school fetes, strawberry teas, horticultural shows, carnivals and parades nearly takeover my engagements diary over these summer weeks.

The Fair in the Square in Highgate was a raging success. The sun shone and it was thronging with smiling people. Stalls galore and food and drink was flowing. There were entertainments for children and friends and neighbours strolling around – just like a picture book really.

My role was to judge the dog competition. Images of the judges at Crufts came to mind in advance – feeling haunches and judging stance were my only knowledge of dog competitions. Happily this wasn’t required and I had two co-judges – knowledgeable about dogs – to help.

When I saw the categories – any nervousness about my ability to tell a ‘good’ dog from a less good one evaporated. The first category was a looky likey one – i.e. how alike dog and owner were. And there were two that really were almost identikits of each other – and I mean that in the nicest way! There was even one game lady who had covered her face with false tufts of hair to look like her dog. And there was cutest dog, waggiest tail dog, best behaved dog and best looking dog – so I needn’t have worried about my professional judging ability after all.

The Hillfield Park Olympic Games are another annual must attend – as one of the oldest and best developed of street parties that I go to. During the day there is fun and games – mainly for the children with races, dog agility courses, football dribbling and so on – culminating in the whole street – and neighbouring street – ones mucking in for a tug of war.

One of the outstanding races of the day is the bike race up the hill. Hillfield Park has a gradient to die for – this is tough, tough fun. I don’t know how anyone could get up it on a bike at all – but they do. In threes – as the ‘Olympics’ are always done in teams (red, blue and white) – both children and adults attack the hill – and most do arrive at the top. The evening is full of music and food and fun.

And such a successful party – as with the Highgate Fair – and all the shows and events over this period (too many to list them all) owe everything to those who do a mammoth amount of work to make the events the wonderful success that they are.

Congratulations to everyone in Highgate and Muswell Hill who have put in so much effort and love to giving all of us such a good time. Have a happy rest of summer!