TWO of my constituency engagements last weekend really underlined what a massive Parliamentary patch I have the privilege of representing.

I was at Kildale Show on Saturday and then at Moorcock Show on Sunday at the eastern-most and western-most edges of the Richmond constituency respectively. They are almost 70 miles apart and Mossdale where the Moorcock Show is held is so far west it has a Lancaster postcode!

At Kildale, the weather was beautiful and the showfield basked in its spectacular setting on the edge of the North York Moors.

There was so much to see and do. My daughters loved trying their hands at archery, meeting the Beacon Alpacas and watching the K9200 dog agility team in action. As aspiring little riders they also enjoyed cheering on the Pony Games.

Among the stalls we visited was the marvellous farmhouse baking of Mabel Worsdale and her husband Raymond, of Hunton, near Bedale. Their array of cakes, biscuits, buns, fat rascals and other sweet and sticky goodies was truly splendid.

Sunday’s Moorcook Show between Hawes and Sedburgh almost on top of the Pennines was not blessed with such fine weather but despite heavy cloud throughout it mercifully stayed dry.

At 101 years old the Moorcock is one of the oldest and smallest shows in the Dales and has a special focus on sheep.

I have the honour of being this year’s show president and on arrival at the Moorcock Inn for the judges’ lunch was presented with the president’s crook – a beautifully dressed stick with a carved bone handle and inscribed with the names of previous presidents. The crook will be very proudly displayed in my home for the reminder of the year. Lunch was also a great opportunity to discuss many different farming issues with the expert group present and ask a lot of questions.

After lunch it was on to the showfield and the show’s sheep judge referee Tony Collinson gave me a masterclass in how to select the best-looking animals in the public judging category where show visitors had the opportunity to rank in order five Swaledales.

It was incredibly tricky. While there was one stand-out animal, splitting the remaining four was very hard and I was grateful for Tony’s expert guidance.

Armed with my newly-acquired insight into what makes a great yow or tup, I then toured the pens of Swaledale, Texel, Rough Fell, Mule and, new for this year, Herdwicks, quickly realising that I will forever remain a novice sheep judge. The years of experience it takes to make these fine judgments were evident as the deliberations took place through the afternoon. It was clear that if you are serious about Northern hill breeds, this was the show to be at.

I was struck by the immense pride with which farmers showed their sheep and with which they spoke about them. It was a warming sight to see crowds of spectators watching the sheep judging and reminded me how little understood our rural life is by those living in big cities.

I also took some time out to listen to the Hawes Silver Band, talk to band members and conductor Stan Roocroft, and then call at the Yorkshire Dales National Park stand to hear about the work of looking after the recently-expanded park area – including a little bit of Lancashire!

After drawing the raffle and fortified with tea and cake from the McIntyre’s famous Burger Queen catering van and an ice cream from the Harrisons family’s Wensleydale Ice Cream stall it was a privilege to present the cups, trophies and certificates to all the winners. It was a cracking day.