I’ve failed again with Julia’s challenge but I had a real ‘bah humbug’ on Sunday. I went into town to try to finish my Christmas shopping and to be honest it didn’t start well, I got soaked on my twenty minute walk down and to add insult to injury it thundered! Never mind, my destination was the German style Christmas Market on the Cathedral green, it was sure to be good wasn’t it?
The aroma of burnt meat and spilt beer hit me at once, and repeated itself several times, and then there was the Belgian chocolate, Turkish Delight, French crepes, Italian cakes, Zimbabwean wood carvings, Chinese this, Chinese that, Chinese the other, and Chinese tat. I don’t know why I expected anything else, two weeks before I went to a similar market in Salisbury, all wooden chalets full of imported ‘goods’ as well, and left disappointed.
I decided to look for something locally mad; Devon is full of talented artists and craftspeople after all. I found some plants, the usual Christmas suspects, poinsettias and wreaths, funny little reindeer made of some material that must have grown from something originally, but I’ve no idea what. Just as I was losing the will to live I caught an earful of broad Devon accent and went to chat to a lady who was surrounded by wicker baskets, lots of which she had made herself. They were so nice that I could forgive her for having some ‘bought in’ stuff to sell as well.
The only other truly local stand I found, had beautiful clocks, coasters and mirrors made from slate, she was busy so I wasn’t able to talk to her, but they were such lovely gifts. How sad that there were so few handmade items, I know it must be expensive to have a chalet there, the high turnover needed probably makes it almost impossible to have enough stock.
So China wins. Even if the cash strapped shopper prefers the unique items made by talented creative people right here in England –my friend makes stunning hand stitched journals for instance, the mass produced versions are around half the price. One can but wonder how this is possible, some must make enough profit to justify the cost of importing and I’m sure others are earning a few pennies each day to try to feed their families. Meanwhile skills are disappearing and very little is actually made here in the UK.
I have nothing against real Continental/German Christmas markets and would love to visit one; maybe Frizz text can tell us what they are like in Berlin, charming I bet? But I don’t understand the appeal of these events that are springing up all around the country and there must be more here than on the continent!