When we set out Friday to attend the first Christmas Market at About Time last year, the car was full and we were calm.
Markets take a while to find their stride, the personality of a location determines a lot. The sort of customers to expect, the general vibes, and the kind of people who sell their wares.
Our fellow vendors covered a broad range of items.
The Pork Pie Lady brought her sauces and her creative side, with the beautiful tilework she does. There was a candy stand and organic fruit and vegetable stand under the same gazebo, the smell of popcorn and candyfloss filled the air and our hearts with nostalgia.
There was an expert knife salesman, a gazebo with handbags and other gifts. Dollas was there with a huge spread, we brought vegan wraps to the party, with on-site preparation. We stood beside Embroideree, whose layout looked like a dreamy picnic with big fluffy pillows and her gorgeous new range of boho bags. Last but not least was La-Ronel, a stunning table with imported Sterling Silver Jewelry. The most beautiful jewels, sold by a true expert who gave us valuable advice on how to clean silver and keep it that way.
When the day started we were all braced, it was a chill afternoon spent in the delightful shade at a beautiful spot. The first market and initially there were not many people.
Then the people came, and came, and came.
Most were extended families who brought their kiddies and grannies. Tables were brought out of the building and put under the tree, chairs were shuffled around and rearranged until all the tables and chairs were under the tree.
Literally one table remained in the shop and that was only because it was packed full of gifts.
At the end of the day we are pretty sure all the tables were on the lawn, even those in storage.
People ate, sang, laughed, and there was more than one impromptu friendly dance-off. One of which Baby Dolla was involved in.
People browsed the tables, taking in the various sights and some sampled our wraps with nervous expressions but now we are on a small Vegan Whatsapp group so we did something right.
As night fell things got pretty festive, cooler boxes were laid out on the lawn and hands started clapping in rhythm with the music.
There were no strangers, everyone knew each other from somewhere, from someone. People from the Henley Business Network stopped by and we discussed the plans for their Christmas menu.
The kids were watched over by everyone, and they played all around us, not once bothering anyone.
When the carol singers rolled around we knew this is no ordinary market.
We were part of some big family reunion, a collective realignment, a moment of gratitude and celebration for another good year.
We hope to do this again soon Dollas, and to see more of you join us.
Big shoutout to The About Time team, who made this evening a joy.