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Authors: Siobhan Rowden

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BOOK: Wild Moose Chase
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The World Cheese Fair

The World Cheese Fair was held every September at the highest point of Cheddar Gorge. Three slender fingers of rock, known as The Pinnacles, towered hundreds of feet above the winding road below. Huge marquees were erected along the clifftop, following the horseshoe bend and curving round to make an enormous circle of colour and noise. Cam and Bert ran ahead of Gramps, who was carefully carrying his prize cheese. There was no sign of the storm that had sprung up the night before, but every speck of dust had been blown from the sky and the twins could see for miles over the hills. Several hot air balloons rose from the fair, giant orbs of colour splashed against the brilliant blue sky. The twins could just catch faint wafts of music coming from a colossal Ferris wheel soaring above the marquees.

“I'm so excited,” said Bert. “Feel my heart. It's racing.”

Cam reached over and placed her hand on his chest. “It's not as fast as mine,” she said. “Mine's faster.”

“No it's not.”


“'s not,

“You're saying ‘snot'.”

saying ‘snot'.”

“Come on,” said Gramps. “Let's see if we can get through today without an argument, shall we?”

They wound their way through the food stalls on the outskirts of the fair. One was selling oddly shaped vegetables. There was a five-fingered carrot, a potato that looked just like a famous footballer, a cow-shaped cucumber and a string bean that reminded Bert of Primula Mold. They lingered at a colourful cheesy-sweet stall with jars full of halloumi humbugs, mozzarella marshmallows, feta fizz bombs, cheddar dib dabs and various cheesy chewing gums. Gramps said he would buy them a bag each if they got through the day without fighting. They passed a bizarre pickle stall, selling cheddar chutneys, pickled cheese on toast, and cheesy-toe shavings. The large old lady behind the counter belched loudly as they peered at the cheesy-toe shavings, and they moved on quickly. They marched through a whole street of cheese tents, waving and greeting the various stallholders.

“Morning, Lester,” shouted Gramps to a red-headed man with a kiosk full of orange cheeses. “How's the wife and baby Belle?”

“Fine, thanks, Mr Curd,” said the man. “Let's have a look at that prize cheese of yours.”

Gramps wandered over and proudly presented his cheese.

“Gramps, can we go and explore?” asked Bert. “We can meet you in the Show Tent later.”

“Go on then,” said Gramps, handing them some money. “And be nice to each other.”

The twins skipped off. They passed an enclosure full of tiny goats. Bert stopped to stroke one. It rolled over on its back and kicked its legs in the air as Bert tickled its tummy.

“Mind my pygmies!” cried a little man.

“Just saying hello,” said Bert. “C'mon, Cam, let's find the rides and roundabouts.”

They followed the strains of music coming from the fairground rides and came across an enormous merry-go-round. But instead of horses bobbing up and down, it was giant wedges of cheese.

“ROLL UP, ROLL UP, FOR THE MERRY-GO-CHEESE,” shouted the man in charge.

“Bagsy the mature cheddar,” yelled Bert.

“I want that one,” cried Cam.

But Bert had already barged past and clambered up on to the large wedge. Cam folded her arms in a huff.

“No need to sulk,” said the man. “There's a mild cheddar over there, or a Stilton on the other side.”

Cam reluctantly climbed on to the mild cheddar.

“There's no way I'm going on a Stilton,” she fumed.

A small child was crying as her father carried her up on to the ride.

“But I don't want to ride a cheese,” she wailed.

Her father looked concerned. “Not even Wensleydale?” he asked.

When the crying child had been removed and the ride was full, the roundabout began to turn.

Cam was still mad because her cheddar was slightly behind Bert's and it felt like he was in the lead.

“Hurry up, Cam,” shouted a gloating Bert from in front.

The ride got faster.

“Actually, this is the front,” said Cam. “You're a long way behind at the back of the roundabout.”

A large boy was next to her, precariously perched on a piece of Parmesan.

“I didn't know circles had fronts and backs,” he said.

“They do when you're in a race,” she explained.

Cam began to feel dizzy as they gathered speed. She looked across to Bert's wedge. It was empty.

“Are you looking for him?” asked Parmesan boy, pointing to the other side of the merry-go-cheese.

Bert had climbed off his cheddar and was jumping from wedge to wedge. The other children were screaming and clinging to their cheeses as he leapt on to their slices and slowly made his way round the ride.

“I'm catching you up,” he yelled, the wind streaming through his hair.

Cam stood up, clinging tightly to the long pole that pierced her cheese like a giant cocktail stick.

“Oh no you don't,” she muttered, diving on to the empty mature cheddar in front. She almost toppled right off the other side but managed to cling on.

“Butter-toes!” laughed Bert.

Cam ignored him and heaved herself up again. There was a shout from behind.

“Get off my cheese!” yelled Parmesan boy.

Cam looked behind her. Bert had joined Parmesan boy on his tiny wedge. The man in charge looked up just as Bert made a final jump back on to his own cheese, which Cam now clung to.

“Oi!” he shouted, pulling on the brakes. “One child, one cheese!”

The twins were still wrestling to get in front when the merry-go-cheese came to a halt.

“What do you think you're playing at?” said the man. “If you'd fallen from that ride when it was—”

He stopped as a huge object drifted above them, blocking the sun and casting an enormous dark shadow.

They all looked up. A hot air balloon twice the size of the others and shaped like a gigantic crown floated above the fair. A golden basket dangled underneath.

“Look!” cried Cam. “Look who it is!”

Bert frowned.

“Someone with a really massive head?” he asked.

“No, you nincompoop-a-scoop!” laughed Cam. “It's the Queen! She's here!”

The Queen

The twins squeezed their way through the crowds to where the Crown Balloon was about to land. It settled in a large enclosure in the middle of the fair to the strains of “God Save the Queen”, performed by a military orchestra. Several attendants grabbed the ropes hanging from the sides of the huge golden basket and pulled the balloon gently in, securing it tightly to the ground. A red carpet was rolled out, leading from the basket to a nearby stage with a large podium positioned in the middle. The twins spotted Gramps' white hair sprouting up at the front of the crowd. They ducked down and crawled through everyone's legs until they reached him.

“Hello, Gramps,” they said, popping up either side of him.

“You're just in time,” he said. “Here she comes. Isn't she glorious?”

The twins watched as the Queen slowly made her way along the red carpet and up on to the stage. She was dressed in a long purple coat with matching shoes. Her grey curly hair poked out from under a lilac-brimmed hat. Bert was disappointed that she wasn't wearing a crown, but guessed it must be quite chilly riding in a hot air balloon. A small dog stayed close to her heels. She was followed by four trumpeting guardsmen and a thin man with a huge curly moustache, wearing a flat triangular hat. The Queen smiled and waved at the cheering crowd. Gramps bowed low as she stood up to the podium and waited for the fanfare and the cheering to die down.

“My lords, ladies and cheesemongers,” she announced. “My family and I are, and always have been, great cheese enthusiasts.”

The crowd clapped eagerly.

“My son is patron of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association and my corgi”– she smiled down at the small dog by her feet –“is patron of the Easy Cheesy Doggy Treats Society. Both of whom are represented here today.”

Two men in dog outfits with “Easy Cheesy” embroidered on their ears cheered loudly from the back of the crowd. The Queen carried on speaking.

“I have come here today with a challenge for the world's finest cheesemakers.”

Bert glanced at Cam. “This is it,” he whispered. “The competition.”

“I will be hosting a state banquet here in Cheddar Gorge in precisely six days' time,” said the Queen. “And the French president himself, Monsieur Grand-Fromage, will be our guest of honour.”

There was more cheering and lots of “bravo”s coming from the Brie and Camembert tents.

“Monsieur Grand-Fromage is a cheese connoisseur,” she said, “and knows his fondues from his fon-don'ts.”

“What's a
?” whispered Bert.

“Someone who knows lots about something,” said Cam. “Unlike you.”

“However,” continued the Queen, “there is one dairy delight that neither the French president nor I have ever tasted.”

She paused and looked around at the eager crowd.

“A cheese like no other; a cheese that some believe has mystical powers and others think impossible to make. A cheese so rare that I will bestow the title of lord or lady on anyone who can present it to me in time for the state banquet. I want…”

The audience held their breath.

“…moose cheese!”

A shockwave seemed to ripple through the crowd before erupting in loud cries of disbelief.

“Impossible!” gasped Gramps.

“Why?” asked Cam, looking round at the excited crowd. “What's so special about moose cheese?”

“It's the holy grail of cheeses,” whispered Gramps. “Nobody has successfully made one in hundreds of years. The ingredients are extremely rare and scattered across the world. But tales of its exotic flavour have been passed down the generations. The taste is indescribable. There are many ancient myths and stories detailing its magical qualities. Some say that one mouthful can bring you a lifetime of health; others believe that it brings wealth. Maybe a whole cheese will bring both. Who knows? Apparently it glows like a light bulb.”

“It must be hard to milk a mouse,” said Bert.

“Not mouse cheese!” cried Cam. “

“Milking a moose may be even harder,” whispered Gramps. “But listen, Her Majesty hasn't finished yet.”

Beside the Queen, the thin man with the large curly moustache was holding his hands up for silence. Cam noticed that his yellow hat looked like a large wedge of cheese. Everybody slowly calmed down.

“The Royal Cheesemaker, Mr Gordon Zola, will now hand out leaflets detailing the rules and regulations for the competition,” said the Queen, nodding towards the man in the hat. “I realize that it will require much more than just cheesemaking skills to produce such a dairy masterpiece. Some of my very own serving staff have tried and failed to obtain the ingredients despite travelling halfway across the world, from Siberia to Mongolia and beyond.”

There were more cries of astonishment from the crowd.

“As many of you are aware, some men have paid the ultimate price in their quest to produce moose cheese.” She briefly glanced across at the Royal Cheesemaker, who was now handing out golden leaflets to the excited crowd.

“And that is why,” she continued, “the maker of such a culinary treasure will not only be honoured but will also receive a cash prize of five hundred thousand pounds!”

A collective gasp rose from the audience.

“Any further questions you may have will be answered by Mr Zola, who will oversee proceedings and report directly back to me.”

Mr Zola took his cheese hat off and bowed to the Queen before handing Gramps a leaflet and moving on.

“What does it say? What does it say?” cried Bert, trying to get a look at the shining notepaper.

Gramps held it up for them all to see.


Her Majesty the Queen is pleased to announce




Contestants have six days to obtain the ingredients listed below and produce a traditional moose cheese in time for the State Banquet with special guest Monsieur Grand-Fromage of France.


The winner will receive £500,000, and be recognized in the New Years Honours List.




*   Wild Siberian Moose Milk

*   Rennet from the fourth stomach of a Mongolian Yak

*   Rock Salt from the deserted mines of Kazakhstan


To register your place in the competition, please sign up with Mr Gordon Zola in the Royal Enclosure, where you will be fitted with a Great Moose Cheese Chase tracking device.


*Note: Domesticated moose milk is unacceptable, along with rennet from any other stomach, or salt from another source.


The winner will be the first contestant to produce a moose cheese in time for the State Banquet. Should more than one contestant produce a cheese by the required date, Her Majesty the Queen will judge the winner by taste. The Queen's decision is final.


Employees of the Royal Household are ineligible to enter, as are their immediate families. Any such entries are invalid.


Under 18s must have parental or guardian consent.


The Queen began to speak again.

“I understand that you are all experienced in matters of cheese,” she said. “However, Mr Gordon Zola will be on hand during the final process to help contestants make the moose cheese to my exact requirements. And finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best of luck.”

The loud cheer from the crowd was drowned out by a roaring thump, thump, thump from the sky. The twins looked up to see a red, white and blue helicopter hovering above the fair. The tents and marquees started flapping furiously from the wind produced by the blades.

“What's that?” asked Bert, as a rope was slowly lowered down from the helicopter.

The twins watched as the Queen put her foot through a loop at the bottom of the rope. She clung on with one gloved hand and waved at the crowd with the other, her handbag wobbling in the downdraught.

“Isn't she marvellous,” sighed Gramps, as the Queen soared up into the bright blue sky. “Apparently, she's very into her extreme sports – snowboarding, skateboarding, keyboarding…”

“Wow!” cried Cam.

“Cool!” said Bert.

“God save the Queen!” shouted Gramps.

BOOK: Wild Moose Chase
4.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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