Perth Royal Show 2014
Two nights before, I took three allergy pills.

One night before, I took only the regular dose, but I still woke up at 2:30 a.m., forcing myself to get back to sleep, as if it were Christmas morning but far too early to wake the parents. "Try to make it to 3:30, at least," I chastened myself.

Waking again, I checked the clock, unable to stand it anymore.

Midnight. Apparently I'd dreamt waking up at 2:30? Argh!

I was excited.

When I did finally wake, for real and properly at 7:58, Mike was already up and running his traps on the computer. He hopped into the shower. A few minutes later, I stepped into the bathroom.

"Hey, you remember last night's plan where I'd make eggs in the morning?"

We'd driven an hour-plus south to Dunsborough the night before for my birthday dinner, a half-decent take on Mexican food in semi-Australia, which is long enough for me to relay the entire plot of World's Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams as well as to discuss what would get us on the road the fastest in the morning but not leave us helpless and hungry by the time we arrived at the Perth Royal Show. I'd offered my Signature Eggs.


"Remember how we like Hungry Jacks hash browns?"

(He did.)

Me off the hook for kitchen duty, we dressed quickly, hit the road, and soon were admiring the grey skies from the highway.

The original plan had been to maybe visit the show on Tuesday, hoping the crowds would strike during opening weekend plus the Queen's Birthday on Monday. (Not her actual birthday, of course. Australia doesn't do that, and Western Australia doesn't celebrate at the same time as the rest of the country. I'm not talking a few days' difference. The celebrations are months apart. Maybe it's the Texas in me that enjoys living in a state that thinks it's its own country.)

But as soon as I saw the showers forecast for the first day of the Show, I couldn't wait for Mike to get home so I could announce that we were GO! GO! GO! for Saturday. Rain! No oppressive sun! No oppressive people!

Mike read an article this weekend that tries to claim that the only people who like winter/wintry weather are depressed and just don't know it. "Your joy? That's not real," basically. Highly insulting.

First off, Mike barely knows the meaning of depression. Sure, living with me is an education, but I've never seen him in a funk. He has been preoccupied, irritated, overwhelmed, hurt, and disappointed, but depressed? With the exception of deaths in the family, I struggle to think of when he's even been sad.

"But you're excited because rain keeps people away. That's just not right, Shari!" (says the fictitious skeptic in my head).

If you think that it's more fun to go to an expo/theme park/convention/fair/carnival/whatever at a time when you have to steer around and through crowds, compete for seats, and wait in long lines, then I must argue that you're the one in need of therapy.

But I do unapologetically love wind and rain and all its cleansing refreshment, so I suppose that means I'm secretly miserable. I'm sure that as soon as I get my head together, I'll want to get sweaty and sunburnt and sticky. Sure.

So, yay for rain, even though it meant leaving The Good Camera at home. Which means it's time to present This Year's Excuses For Awful (No, I Really Mean It And Am Not Being Coy) Photos:

  • IPhone's shutter has not been quite right for awhile now, unless I'm just paranoid.
  • True story: I dropped my phone the night before the show. Second time I ever dropped it from a standing height, first time on cement. Could be coincidence, but...
  • I know something's wonky with my phone camera because one video I took at the Show is actually scrambled to the point of being unwatchable.
  • My dexterity is not as good thanks to numb fingers/hypothyroid crap/yadda yadda.
  • Rain may have caused some problems with condensation.
  • Rain definitely caused some problems with exposure.
  • I've never had still hands even before all of the above.

We parked on someone's lawn for ten bucks near Gate 8, entering right by the Sheep Pavilion. (It has another name for the rest for the year at Claremont Showgrounds, but for me it's just the building where the sheepies are.)

Perth Royal Show 2014

We could've turned around right here and left. Once I had a fistful of free fleece in my hand, I was set.

I took my fleece from the right side (the brown/cream side), and even as I stand here typing, I wonder how I will work it all into my scrapbook. Or gold. Spinning fleece into gold is a thing, right?

We saw spinners around the corner next, making (ordinary, non-glinting) thread. Watching them was so lulling that I could easily see how spinning is how it could drive one into just suddenly having prophetic visions. (Citation: The Mists of Avalon.)

Last year, this side of the Sheep Pavilion was far too crowded to get near any of the action, and we only saw the "Luv a Lamb" pen from a distance. This year, I was through the entrance before the hostess could finish swinging the gate.

Perth Royal Show 2014

The lamb is extra blurry because Mike was taking a photo of my face, not realizing that it would be cropped out later. I mean, the intact copy still exists for people to remember me by when I'm dead, but the Internet At Large doesn't need every opportunity to mock my odd inch of grey roots that I have going at the moment when it's the fact that I am touching an adorable lamb that really matters. (There will be a chance later in the post, though.)

To be honest, the lamb didn't really care about me, and there were cuter lambs in the pen across the way. (Cuter lambs? How can the cuteness of lambs even be measured?) They came out super-blurry. Well, this one isn't so bad:

Perth Royal Show 2014

(But obviously the really cute one is standing out of frame.)

Mike kept patting the sheep we walked past, who were packed in so closely that when he startled one, a domino wave of live, startled mutton rolled across the pen. I should have reminded Mike of this later when he expressed concerns about the pig diving, that he's a sheep-botherer.

(I know the Show is suspect territory for an animal lover who is also a vegetarian. Mike being an animal lover who is not a vegetarian is allowed to slightly surprise the sheep, I guess? I really don't know where my line of "this is okay" versus "this is me just not thinking about it" falls. Time has not yet told.)

[A week has passed since I typed the above. It's October now.]

After the sheep, we wandered into the Cat Pavilion, which I think might really be called that, but there was some judging in progress. Should we detour into Sideshow Alley? How bad could it be on this quiet day?

The answer is "Not as Bad as Last Year," with only one obnoxious barker with a microphone turned to eleven. We were at the other end in no time, so untraumatized this year that I agreed to turn up a side street to look for the machines where you put in a coin and hope it will knock over a bunch of other coins. These:

Perth Royal Show 2014

Obviously they're a giant rip-off that sets new standards for the House to always win, but they're also a part of the Show that Mike had great fun (and reasonable success) with in his youth, and something I'd heard about for as long as we've known each other. Last year we walked on by, just to get away from Sideshow Alley. This year we changed out a five and kept it going for about that many minutes of fun. Cheaper than a lap dance, anyway.

I was strangely fixated on the green showground grass coming up through the festive-yet-wet mat on which the six banks of machines sat:

Perth Royal Show 2014

From there we looped around and down the next street (I just never get over the way even smaller fairs here are laid out on named streets), which was all cows and raindrops hitting our hoodies a bit harder. We were too cow-ignorant to check out all the side alleys, two breeds in each, but here's a photo of a sign:

Perth Royal Show 2014

I've never even heard of Santa Gertrudis or Salers. If it doesn't rain next year, maybe I'll read all the big "Meet the..." signs and try to learn the differences. Of course, if it doesn't rain next year, I'll probably be inside a pavilion, wimpering from the sunlight. I guess this is why we have Wikipedia.

(Now I have to take a moment to name as many cattle breeds as I can think of. Holstein. Jersey. Angus. Hereford. Santa Gertrudis and Salers - ha. I kind of forgot the Salers until I saw the photo again. Um, the one I can't remember but I like their "Beefy Little Milkers" tagline. O'Leary? Moon-jumper? Brown? Pathetic.)

At the end of the street of cow sheds was a small exhibition area, and we came just in time to see three getting judged.

Perth Royal Show 2014

The winner, at left, was Mike's pick, based on her udders (which the judge commended as well - men!). Me, I chose number three at the far right, but to be fair, I didn't know that udders were a big criteria. I was judging based on cuddle-ability, which I feel is just as valid.

Oh, and in the background there's a banner for Simmental. How could I forget that one? I had a fine Simmental cow on Farmville. Along with Flower Cow, Bastille Day Cow... to be honest, I was really more of a sheep rancher on Farmville. You never forget breeding your first Disco Sheep.

Working a bit in reverse to last year, having parked at the diagonally opposite gate, we were now at the merchandise and IGA pavilions. Last year this was the place to get our retail on after stomping around the grounds all afternoon. Now we could have a less desperate gander and eye-mark some goods for later.

If there was a guest country last year, I never noticed it, but this year a fair amount of the jubilee pavilion was given over to India. At the heart of it was an outpost of Two Fat Indians, aka Our Fave Non-Buffet Indian Food In Perth. ("2FI" is Mike's clear Number One, but I think I prefer Agni, with or without buffet. You could write either on your Perth Itinerary and be completely satisfied, though.)

Perth Royal Show 2014

If you could read beyond the blur, you'd know that no nice vegetarian main dish was on offer, just chicken and lamb. (Oh Aussies and your endless lamb! Why can't it be mutton at least?) Odd, as usually it's the Indian stall at a fair where a vegetarian can count on something.

Oh well, we weren't hungry, and 2FI was on our takeaway list for the evening anyway.

Perth Royal Show 2014

We didn't see some vendors this year (the tall-jar condiment people, the boiling heat-pack people), but the crab and mouse stall was there again. Mike didn't want to look long, feeling too sorry for the little meese in their little tanks, but I felt the Call of the Rodent upon me. Remember our Raisins?

Dutiful Raisins

Remember how unbelievably smelly he was, outstinking an entire apartment of dwarf hamsters to the point where he had to stay in his own room?

So, it's easy to walk away from mice, knowing a curse of extreme stink may be lurking, but the longing for a small creature of my own again remains fierce.

Apparently I didn't take a single photo of the IGA Pavilion this year, even though Maison Saint-Honore - aka THE macaron people in Perth - was set up not just there but at two other locations. We put them on the "later, when we're back this way for the dog jumping" list (along with a Whittaker showbag), and braved the hyper and semi-unattended children inside the City Farmers pavilion.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Here's Mike patting a cow. Not pictured: teenage camels, baby goats, primary school chicks, and more.

Now where? It was just past noon, and the dogs started at two. Should we go up to the regional and cooking pavilions then work our way back down?

I made it to the other side of the horsie oval (whatever that large expanse in the middle is called) before "go up to" started to feel an awful lot like "hoof it, with extra stomping." What? Where were my obedient trotters that have spent almost every day of the past couple of months on nature trails? The willing gams that have walked the mighty Busselton Jetty and returned to the shoreline ready for more?

I don't know, but my feet were numb-hot little bricks.

After a brief massage at the picnic table, we picked our way to the Greenfields (Is that what it's called? Or am I just thinking of the song?) pavilion with all the gardening/ecology displays, and with all the padded director chairs in front of the stage. Awww, yisss. (Where is that expression even from? I can't stop typing it.)

Make the "awww, yisss" face, Mike.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Perth Royal Show 2014

This man was talking about something that was probably interesting, but I couldn't hear him from the non-committal back. Now I didn't feel too bad about missing the "Love Your Salad" presentation that had been on at 11:30.

That's a thing about the Royal Show. They have an amazing app that lets you plan your day, see all of the showbags, and - most incredibly - see where you are on a map. However, the majority of events/performers/exhibitions have no useful information. It improved a little this year, but there were still glaring issues. What was Love Your Salad? Was it about growing basic salad ingredients? Was it about adding perhaps-unfamiliar ingredients? Was it about growing those ingredients? Was it about growing salad ingredients of any sort in a way that renders the salad more tasty? Was it about growing salad ingredients in a way that is more eco-friendly? Was it about dressing (adding/making/growing ingredients for)? Was it a tasting of salad ideas? Just add the two sentences.

It didn't take long for my feet to normalize (maybe I've built up recovery powers instead of endurance), and we were up to look around, although not before the kids neck deep into their phones sitting in front of us (see above) were told by their mother that "some people are here to see this man talk, so don't make any noise!" The kids hadn't said a word so far, but I always have to do an Isaac-the-Bartender point of recognition for good parenting.

Perth Royal Show 2014

We were both quite taken with the aquaponics - here pictured with barramundi - but Mike particularly liked the tub with the silver trout, which he petted. One doesn't often get to pet a fish, but these were pretty chill about it.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Working another tub were these marron, which are sort of the crayfish of Australia. ("Crawfish!" I can hear my father insist.)

Perth Royal Show 2014

I'm sure this water feature was a big fave later in the hot week, but we were enjoying the rain.

We also enjoyed the orderly wedges of basil and the resting chooks (that's grown chickies to we 'Mericans), plus the worm compost bin and beekeeping drawers, but apparently I didn't want to take photos of any of that, so here's Mike by the aquaponics again:

Perth Royal Show 2014

Throughout the garden were sculptures of re-purposed metal:

Perth Royal Show 2014

A few scraggly booths were outside, selling things like floating resin pieces that make it look like a dog is paddling through your swimming pool, but no one was manning the tent with the lilac cayenne peppers. (Sorry, according to Mike's professors back at uni, that should be "no one was standing in attendance of the tent with the lilac cayenne peppers." BWAHAHA. Laugh or cry. Laugh or cry.) I didn't really want to carry a pepper seedling for the rest of the day, but lilac cayennes are on my planting list. Lilac cayennes and Carolina reapers.

(Says the woman who had two beautiful daffodils and almost a third, but it's stunted, as are the three others that started to come up. I don't have much hope for the other thirty-four.)

In the pavilion devoted to floral competitions and and regional displays, a row of vials greeted people at the entrance with two bins of chips. Visitors were asked to take a blue chip and drop it into the vial with the region where they live, then take a green chip and drop it into the vial with the region (in Western Australia) where they would like to live:

Perth Royal Show 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, my first time being photobombed?

(Cue twenty minutes of searching Flickr for the time a rainbow lorikeet photobombed a pic I took of Mike and Lexi the parrot, only to discover that it was apparently a "Facebook exclusive." Also, Flickr no longer lets you look at all photos from a particular date? Is there some sort of brain-eating virus in the Flickr offices that urges the programmers to keep removing those features that set Flickr apart while implementing more and more Instagram clonework?)

Lexi Photobombed

See? Photobombing lorikeet agrees.

Anyway, look at all those green chips in my area (South West). Struttin' like a lorikeet indeed.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Along the walls of this pavilion are imaginative regional displays, but the floral competitors in the middle seem to just be hauled in and set down. This throne of flowers is rather impressive, but for once my photo makes it look just as muddy and meh as it really was in context. The middle of this hall could use some daises. Just because it's flowers doesn't mean it needs to be on the ground; that's not where they display the cakes or the quilts, right?

The regional displays were different from last year's, which for some reason I didn't expect. Here's a fleet from Albany's zone:

Perth Royal Show 2014

I didn't even notice all the nice carvings behind it until now. Oops.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Nor can I now remember where the Engine Room of Australia is located. Google would probably tell me, but really I just liked the phrase.

Let's face it, if I were to draw a map of Western Australia, it would look like this (after I shamelessly stole Google's art):

My Understanding of WA

Clue: I live in the green zone. Resume lorikeet strut.

Back to the purple zone (Albany et al), "sensory boxes" were hanging off the barricades. I took a pic of the alpaca fur...

Perth Royal Show 2014

...but neglected to take any photo of the lupins, even though a couple of regions had boxes of them set out. This omission is perplexing, because it was here that I learned that lupins feel so smooth and interesting, and it's hard to stop touching them, even when you know that hundreds if not thousands of people have already put their dirty, dirty hands on those same lupins.

I don't even exactly know what a lupin is. A seed? A grain? Wikipedia says a legume, but the article completely fails to mention that they're more compelling to fondle than bubble wrap.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Canola: Nice, But Not As Engaging As Lupins

And because my lorikeet-patterned britches weren't flouncy enough, here I get to say that the South West region won this year for best display, and I have the blurry pics to witness it.

Perth Royal Show 2014

Apparently the theme was "Alice in Wonderland"? And there are pirates in Alice? I don't remember. Who is that guy?

Perth Royal Show 2014

Perth Royal Show 2014

To be truthful, as much as I love living in and traveling around the South West, and as nice as I think it was that our display featured samples of pears for everyone to try (take that, lupin sirens!), I think the display won simply for being bold and cohesive in spirit. In practice, the mannequins were a little creepy and tacked-on to me.

Could I have done better? Pssht. 'Course not. Still, I would rather have seen something like "Western Australia's Tea Party" (inspired by Mad Hatter but no other Twilight Zone Alice elements). Stylized sheep (to show off all the wool) could've been sitting around a long table (people love the "long lunch" events here), with maybe a few sheep in the sky serving as clouds (for the great weather) but also giving a nod to Mary Poppins' tea party (Poppins author Travers was born in Australia, albeit Queensland).

Then the produce could be arranged in sections as always with the table showing each used as part of a perfect party and... eh... I don't know. Just something fun without making me think there's some kind of re-dressing of the mannequins from Bunbury's CBD sex shops in their daywear.

I kid the interior of WA, and appreciate them no matter what my map says, and they did have neat display elements worth snapping:

Perth Royal Show 2014

The cookery pavilion was better this year in that you could look freely at the decorated cakes instead of having to enter a shuffle-queue around the glass. Once again I was amused by pikelets (as one should me, whenever pancakes are venerated behind glass) and impressed by even the junior entrants for cake and cookie decorating. (No photos this year, though.)

Now it was nearly 1:30. "Let's go back and get a seat in the bleachers for the dogs."

I was sort of joking, but I hustled Mike along when he started casting speculative glances towards the food vendors along the wall, and sure enough, even with nearly a half hour to go, the small section of bleachers was filling up. We managed to get a spot in the front row (less fuss if leaving early) on the aisle (because not touching other people is big with me - between this and the lack of cheese, I worry that I'll never visit Asia).

Perth Royal Show 2014

Mmm, yes. Grey and gloomy. So peaceful.

Perth Royal Show 2014

See? A madhouse already!

(Sometimes I tell myself that it's okay to be Sheldon Cooper-ish if you're aware of your Sheldon tendencies as they happen and can laugh... even as you insist on persisting with them. The bleachers really did fill up by the time the jumping started. What if we'd had to crawl over people? Exactly.)

At one point the sun came out, and Mike the Betrayer said something about being happy to get to dry off a little. I took a selfie... an ourselfie?

Perth Royal Show 2014

(It's kind of empty behind us because at another point the rain started coming down and people - even people with umbrellas - got up to leave. They didn't deserve the doggies.)

I took a few videos:

My other video was better, in theory, but it was the one that was a distorted mess when I tried to play it back. (See? It's the iPhone. If only smartphones weren't getting too big for my front pocket; I'd be tempted to upgrade.) This one unfortunately cuts out before the dog leaps into her trainer's arms, which won the hearts of the crowd every time it happened (which was about every time a dog ran the course).

If memory serves, this particular dog is an older one, and one we saw last year. I wish I could've filmed the whole thing (and had it come out), and re-live the speed demons, the prancers, the constant-barkers, the trippers, the tiny sproinkers... but video doesn't do it all justice.

We learned that dog jumping may become an Olympic sport. Interesting. The announcer explained at length how the dogs were trained (humanely) and encouraged regardless of what happened on the course. Maybe I'm deluded, but all of the dogs seemed to be having a ball.

(Another week has passed. School holidays are over. I have THE BEST bird video to share from Sunday, but damn - will I ever finish this post?)

Perth Royal Show 2014

So, there was a media ruckus before the Show over this haunted house attraction. It was called IForgetWhat Asylum, and people felt that it promoted the wrong messages about people who suffer from mental health problems.

Me, I thought making a haunted asylum was a nod to the crazy, horrifying places that genuinely were madhouses, but I do see both sides. I label one "Well-intentioned and mostly mirroring my beliefs but perhaps being too PC for my taste in this case" and the other "Possibly insensitive or possibly as big fans of the second season of American Horror Story as I am, but the real crime here is how small the building is. Fifteen bucks to step into that? No thanks!"

Perth Royal Show 2014

Too many chocolate company names start with "W." Above is someone from Whistler's, laying out the honeycomb. (Honeycomb = a crunchy, buttery, airy, semi-toffee-type thing that we don't see enough of in mainstream shops in the States.) We didn't get Whistler's showbag because it wasn't very different from visiting their showroom in Swan Valley. C'mon people. You have to throw in some stickers or an inflatable bat or something.

(Actually, this year the trendy inflatable seemed to be hammers.)

A couple of weeks have now passed, a month since I started writing. Lordy. I'm tempted to just post photos without commentary and be done with it. Sorry, Future Reminiscing Me!

(And I'm gone again.)

Another week has passed. I have a cold! I'm revising my resume! I have excuses! Here - photos and video! Bye!

Perth Royal Show 2014: Horsies in the Middle

Perth Royal Show 2014: Showbags

Perth Royal Show 2014: The Sole Scrapbook Entry?

(Wedging in a parting comment as I press "Publish": I think this was the sole entry into all of the scrapbook categories? Remind me of this when next year's competition opens.)

Perth Royal Show 2014: Woodcarving

Perth Royal Show 2014: Yarn Crafts

Perth Royal Show 2014: Our Showbag Haul

Perth Royal Show 2014: Showbag Stickers, Made in China

Perth Royal Show 2014: Cheese

(There should be a snap here of the Wasabi Macademia nuts from Morish, but there's not.)

Perth Royal Show 2014: Pig Racing Course and Diving Platform

Perth Royal Show 2014: Side of Creatures Great and Small

31 October 2014 |