Sunday 29th September was a proud day for everyone in Northamptonshire.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again; I was not born in Northamptonshire. I was born in Kent and have only lived in Northamptonshire since I was 13 years old. But does that make me any less proud, or entitled to love my county? Absolutely not!
That’s why I was super happy and excited to attend the BBC Radio Northampton’s Northamptonshire Day activities at Castle Ashby Gardens; possibly one of the most serene and gorgeous settings in Northamptonshire.
Josh and I had actually been staying in the Cotswolds for his birthday on the weekend that this was happening, but after a little bit of convincing, we left the Cotswolds and made our way straight down to Castle Ashby as this was a day that I didn’t want to miss!
Luckily for us, we got there around 12:45pm, which gave us plenty of time to enjoy the days activities, the atmosphere and support some local businesses who were in attendance.
BBC Radio Northampton have been running these events for the last 5 years and it was an opportunity to bring locals together to celebrate the greatness that is Northamptonshire and everything it has to offer.
The beautiful countrysides, stunning stately homes, independent and local business scene, being the home of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, world-renowned shoes, thriving theatres like Royal & Derngate, Castle Theatre Wellingborough and Lighthouse Theatre Kettering, and of course, all the amazing local food & drink producers who make this county so great and more.
It’s also the only county to have a football, rugby and cricket team all playing at once – and we have some incredibly rich heritage, which I have discovered recently from Abington Museum, Hazelrigg House and the work that the Northampton Transport Heritage do.
I’ve written a blog post on why I love Northampton and even asked the general public on why they love Northamptonshire – so there really is plenty of reason to celebrate. And after I came home from the days events, I felt buzzing to write about this!
So here is a roundup of what we did and who we saw:
The best part about attending Northamptonshire Day at Castle Ashby was that I was able to visit stands from businesses and people who I have grown to know, love and form great working and social friendships with.
There were so many businesses from community, food & drink, street food vendors and many more. We headed inside the first tent, which was the Craft Marquee, where there was a huge crowd of people gathering around the different stalls.
Straight away, I saw the sign for the Lewis Foundation and said hello to Lorraine who I’m so glad to know socially as well as professionally and who’s charity I am really pleased to support on a regular basis as an individual and through the Northants Blogger events.
We also said hello to Judy and Paul, the super duo behind Dutch Delights, Northamptonshire’s only stroopwafel company and Heart Felt Fancies who’s handmade bears have now become mascots for people around Northants, including NorthantsHour’s Giles’ Bear.
It was also a pleasure to meet the maker behind Fridge Street who’s magnets and merchandise I have become a HUGE fan of that I am slowly on a mission to collect them all!
I also said hello to the team at Made in Northants, which is such a brilliant initiative where local food & drink producers can become members and by doing so, the general public can buy their products on MIN’s online shop which is the only online shop of it’s kind in Northampton where you can buy local produce.
I am yet to make an order but now I have my loyalty card, I will definitely be making one soon as it’s essentially bringing all my favourite producers to my doorstep!
It was also lovely to speak to Laura of It’s Character Building and founder of The Happy Hood which is THE most positive zine in Northamptonshire. Laura is a star when it comes to championing and celebrating everything good in Northants and her work to support it is astonishing; which is why I am super proud to be a contributor to the zine.
Outside, there was a bandstand where various local artists took the stage and various BBC Radio Northampton presenters were gathered around speaking to people; most likely asking them why they love Northamptonshire. I spotted a few familiar faces, but with all the chaos happening around me, it was easy to get distracted!
We made our way round the Walled Garden of Castle Ashby, which by the way, was THE PERFECT venue to host this event, where we spotted some of the local street food vendors. Some of which I recognised, some of which I didn’t.
As we were super hungry from our car trip from the Cotswolds, we both made our way to our chosen vendors to grab a bite. My choice was a Yorkshire Pudding Wrap from The Stuffed Pig Co which consisted of Lamb and Mint Gravy stuffed in a giant Yorkshire pudding wrap – that was the Sunday roast I needed right there!
Josh went and visited Farmer Lou’s for their Hoisin Duck wrap which I took a cheeky bite of and it was oozing with sweet, plum sauce and the meat was incredibly tender. Not going to lie, I was kind of jealous!
Other vendors I spotted were Pizza, Jelley’s Vodka, NeneView Dairy, Greek Souvlaki, Pastures Poultry Farm and many more. I wish I could had eaten and drank everything from every stand!
If there’s an event which features local food and drink producers, you know I will be there!
I was so pleased to get the opportunity to speak to lots of regulars I have known and supported, as well as be introduced to some new ones.
Whittlebury Bakery were there, who are literally up the road from me and bake some of the BIGGEST home-baked produce I have ever seen! If you ever get the chance to go, make sure you get yourself a giant ice bun and have a coffee in their cute cafe!
What’s Poppin corn was there and their stand was so busy I didn’t get a chance to try their popcorn (even though I’ve tried it plenty of times) and it’s always so nice to see that they’re literally poppin’ everywhere at new places in Northants!
I also had a good catch up with Steve from Friars Farm; who is the biggest supporter of not just my work, but is always shouting and praising other vendors too. He is a clear example of someone who is all about collaboration and not competition.
We tried his new Tequila Sunrise Marmalade which unfortunately sold out on this occasion, but am adamant that I will get at least 5 tubs next time I attend another food fair. He also introduced me to the lovely family behind Mum’s Made With Love who produce homemade curry sauces.
I was kindly gifted a Mild Curry Sauce and some Mango Chutney which I am looking forward to cooking at home soon!
I got to say hello to Vicky at The Little Bakery of Happiness who has just thrived since she opened her first shop at Nene Court. Despite a few card machine issues, I finally got my hands on a Northamptonshire Brunchie which was my FIRST EVER ONE (I know!) but can confirm it was DELICIOUS!
Mellow Yellow was there too who make really creative flavoured oils and award-winning mayonnaise; which we ended up purchasing a Garlic Mayonnaise as well as their version of Balsamic Vinegar which we will be using for our usual sticky chicken recipe.
We couldn’t visit Castle Ashby without having a look around the gardens.
Castle Ashby is a gorgeous day out in Northampton regardless, with 35 acres of land to discover, some scenic spots you can admire from close up and from afar, plus you can take a sight at all the beautiful flowers inside the Botanical Orangerys – plus, the view of the Castle itself!
We didn’t get to see the Meerkats, unfortunately, but it’s a fab place for the whole family which we sometimes forget is right on our doorstep should you be looking for something to do, plus there are lots of events happening at The Walled Gardens of Castle Ashby.
BBC Radio Northampton were also holding their New Voices Auditions. I’ll happily put it out there; I was asked a few times on social media whether I’d be auditioning and I was oohing and ahhing about it, but in the end… I didn’t. And I regret it!
I love any opportunity I get to be on the radio and I have always dreamt of having my own radio show one day, so I guess I did miss my chance! But I hope whoever auditioned gets major success from it!
There were other stands, stalls and local businesses who attended and who I sadly didn’t make round to see, hence why they have not been mentioned in this blog post but Northamptonshire Day was truly about getting everything local, independent and everything great about Northamptonshire together for one day in one place.
BIG Kudos to the organisers and volunteers who were responsible for putting this event together, the team and presenters who were present from BBC Radio Northampton and all the amazing stall holders who made it great – it was another successful event and I am already excited for next year!
I wish Northamptonshire Day could be everyday, or at least what we celebrated on this day can continue going forward. We should all be doing our bit to support local, to ensure our county continues to thrive, we visit our independent cafes, restaurants and vendors instead of chains once in a while and we actually start appreciating what is on our doorstep.
We only have one hometown where we currently live. Instead of looking and focusing on the bad. Why not open your eyes and focus on the good and positive? That is what Northamptonshire Day was all about and I hope this can be an example of how we can all go forward to love Northamptonshire.