My Malvern goes back to well before the Spring Show was a twinkle in The Three Counties Agricultural Society's eye...
I love Malvern. It's a place of good times and memories as it was our family's premier choice for a day out when I was little. It was like magic - the number 144 Midland Red bus from the end of our road would whisk us away from the dingy outskirts of Birmingham and we'd arrive in a sparkling new world full of hills and fresh air. We'd climb up Worcestershire Beacon, unpack our picnic and drink in the view as well as a welcome cuppa brewed up by dad on a tiny camping gas stove. The rest of the world was spread out below us like a map and it was easy to spot the Three Counties Showground from our perch atop the hill.
For me the Malvern Hills represented freedom. My mum's disabled and there were few places safe enough for her to have a good walk on a day out. The path to the top of Worcestershire Beacon was one of those and for once I'd be allowed to run and wander pretty much as I pleased, rather than having to keep hemmed in to my mum's side and pace.
I also had other freedoms there: in the summer holidays before starting secondary school my parents sent me off on a children's holiday for a month. I'm an only child and there were very few children where I lived, so a whole month's rough and tumble with my peers was absolute heaven.
We were based at the Abbey College for the duration. We walked the entire length of the hills, visited Elgar's grave, walked to Eastnor Castle, rolled down British Camp, played wide games and hide and seek in the bracken and discovered a disused bottling plant in Malvern Wells. It must have only just closed down and had been using the famous Malvern Water to create all kinds of concoctions bearing brightly coloured labels which we collected: American Cream Soda, Sarsaparilla, Sparkling Lemonade and their version of Cola amongst dozens of others I can't quite recall. A couple of times we walked to the top of Worcestershire Beacon at night and sang songs round a camp fire whilst roasting potatoes in its embers. It was a truly magical time which I still treasure.
I have one particularly distinct memory from then. We'd just climbed the hills on a very hot day and had stopped to catch our breath. I looked down to the plains below and asked what the clearly visible large site was directly in front of us. The Three Counties Showground was the reply and I can remember thinking Well, that's one place I'll never go to then. It must have been its perceived remoteness to a city dwelling child which made it seem such an impossible place to visit.
It just goes to show how wrong you can be :)
Photo courtesy and copyright of James Alexander Sinclair.