My Yorkshire Weekend - Susan Cunliffe-Lister

PUBLISHED: 19:44 18 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:06 20 February 2013

My Yorkshire Weekend - Susan Cunliffe-Lister

My Yorkshire Weekend - Susan Cunliffe-Lister

Susan Cunliffe-Lister, the new president of Yorkshire Agriculture Society, talks gardening on a grand scale

As a gardener, I find weekends are opportunities for getting work done. I am lucky enough to have two very different gardens at Burton Agnes Hall near Driffield and Swinton Park at Masham.

Burton Agnes gardens are open to the public and when I first went to live there in 1990 the walled garden was mostly a grass paddock with a border and vegetable plot. This seemed a bit boring and over two years we redeveloped it with a maze, potager, jungle garden and coloured gardens with giant board games.

The gardens at Swinton Park are 18th century landscaped woodland gardens with lakes and a walled garden which provides flowers, fruit and vegetables for the hotel which the family runs.

I usually garden at Swinton Park at weekends as the gardens at Burton Agnes are busy with the public going round and my gardening invariably involves a lot of cutting back.

My grandson, William, likes to help me and after a morning in the garden we go to the market to spend his wages.

We have a very good market in Masham Square on Saturdays and as well as doing the shopping I usually find I am taking bookings from the stall holders for the Sheep Fair which we hold at the end of September.There have been weekly markets in Masham since it was granted a market charter in 1393.

The old sheep fairs were held over three days and up to 80,000 sheep would be sold. These fairs died out after the First World War but in 1986 we restarted one as a community event to raise money for Africa.

It was such fun that it has become an annual event to raise money for charity.

There is a sheep show in the square and other sheep and old time fair events held around the town including sheep racing, spinning, weaving, brewery trips and a procession. This is certainly my busiest weekend of the year.

Sunday usually finds me back at Burton Agnes. I am Lord Lieutenant for the East Riding of Yorkshire which involves representing the Queen at events in the county and organising visits from members of the royal family.

There are no royal visits at the weekend but local authorities have annual civic services to which I am invited.

This gives me a chance to visit some of the lovely old churches in East Yorkshire, see some of the attractions of the towns and meet those involved in running them.

Parish and town councillors give up a great deal of their time making their communities better places to live in and it is an opportunity to hear about the good things that are happening in their towns and also of the problems they are trying to deal with.

Sunday evenings are when I tend to catch up with my grandchildren, hear about what they have been up to and make plans for the following week.

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