Thursday, 15 December 2011

market places, market faces

We're well into the Christmas lead-up and for the first time ever the presents situation is in hand! But I'm not here to boast, in fact this will begin as a mournful post, a 'this time last year' jaunt down memory lane...

This time last year it was all gluwein and bratwurst, novelty mugs and plenty of snow. I massively enjoyed myself on two trips to Germany last winter only two weeks apart. Little did I know that my Christmas Markt over-indulgence of 2010 would not be repeated in 2011, at least not authentically or to even a 10th of the scale. However, people with no money to go Germany to experience the real Christmas Markets cannot be picky. Hello Winter Wonderland Hyde Park! I went a couple of years ago and I'm pretty sure it's doubled in size - there's plenty of food, drink, terrifying-looking-fairground-rides for those sausage-filled thrill-seekers and even some more authentic looking German craft stands. Of course it's no where near as good as what I saw in Cologne, Dusseldorf or Hagen (where are the gluwein mugs Hyde Park? Where are the cute little Christmas themed mugs for me to drink my four-quid gluwein - huh huh?! And why is it almost double the price is a plastic cup?). I got my bratwurst though and even managed to ask for it in convincing German (so convincingly that the sausage seller tried to make conversation with me in German at which point I said thanks and walked off - smooth)!
chocolate ginger heart from Hagen Christmas Markt

Also on my market radar of recent is the one to be found at Greenwich, tucked away in the centre of a square of shops. Although it's not Christmas specific (it's on all year round) there are minced pies and mulled wine and the individual stalls exude a festive spirit. It's very craft friendly and a number of the stalls ('tis the season) have lots of little Christmassy gifts from tree decorations to cracker prizes, stocking fillers to the stockings themselves! We got chatting to a lovely lady (and her husband) who was selling quilts (surprise surprise) in all sizes and colours including some seasonal stuff too. Aside from the from the stalls themselves the neighbouring shops that look out onto the market square are worth a visit too.
Sandie from Eni-Meni Patchwork

Brixton village plays host to a number of varied events including music. At the beginning of the month my friends' band Silvers performed in between the awnings and shop shutters to mark the release of their new EP Parades which you can listen to here (it's very good): 
They have also just made a Christmas song in conjunction with Greggs (yes, the steak bake people!) to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity, watch the video here
Staying within the Brixton area, last weekend saw many talented crafty people gathering in The Dog Star pub to set up mini stalls and sell their pretty creations from jewellery and hats to screen prints, home-ware and clothing, all courtesy of The Crafty Fox. It was incredibly tempting to buy a number of things (Storm in a Teacup for numerous pretty things, Love Lexi for bunting, Key Lime Pie for awesome t-shirts and Lucie Ellen for cute wooden accessories), however I restrained myself and only purchased three items that were Christmas present (for others) related.
Awesome screen printed wrapping paper from Frinton Press, cufflinks from House of Ismay and some extra large pretty pins from Zeena

And finally, I took a trip to an altogether different market in London's east end, Walthamstow - young Mitch's local market. He said a lot of it had changed (less stalls, the loss of a computer shop he used to go to) but thankfully one thing had not disappeared, our main reason for riding the length of the Victoria line, Manze's - the old pie and mash shop - home of very tasty pie indeed. It's been there on Walthamstow high street since 1927 with what feels like (in a good nostalgic way) all the original decor, tiles and wooden benches, even the brass cash register.

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