It's that time of year when, as you drive the length and breadth of the country, you see signs at the roadside advertising country shows, festivals, fêtes and fairs. Being someone who always likes to cover new ground, I usually go if I have a spare day at the weekend.
At every event, food features high on the agenda and I'm not referring to the refreshment stand! There is normally a marquee specifically dedicated to the cause and it is generally the busiest, as a plethora of aromas entice people to enter and the 'try before you buy' hook captures an experimental audience.
The stallholders are generally small, independent producers who have followed their passion and belief in their products and set up small businesses so that they can share it with the public. The inspiration comes from all avenues, whether it be family traditional recipes and skills, ideas worked up from travel abroad, diversification of farming or even as a result of being made redundant.
As I wander around the feast, trying the odd item and even purchasing a few things, my mind recalls fond memories that are triggered by food. They normally stem from childhood: like baking with my grandmother, collecting eggs, milking a cow by hand and foraging the hedgerows for things to make homemade wine. It was not by design that I entered the world of food technology, but now that I am in it, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.
The people behind the products are just as fascinating to talk to as their specialist knowledge, enthusiasm and energy seem boundless.
If only I could bottle it and take it into the manufacturing world and release a little every now and again when projects stall for instant motivation, my life as an interim new product development manager would be much easier.
Becky Sparks is director and food technologist at Sparkling Innovation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org