Tuesday, 14 December 2010

christmas fairs

I believe I said I was quite looking forward to three days in comparative warmth at herefordshire's Hampton Court Christmas do. I couldn't have been more wrong! The castle is american owned pseudo medieval, fabulously kitsch, walls covered with fake and perhaps some real armoury and an awful lot of dead animals, and, my favourite, a full sized fibreglass charger with mounted knight in full armour half way up one wall.... My tables were just inside the open entrance door in the main large stone and dead animal filled hall. I bought with me some bundles of dried flowers including some sprayed foliage, very wild hedgerow hoops and some less wild very pretty wreaths with different vars of rowan and viburnum berries and unusual foliage, as well as bulbs. I had foolishly disrobed myself of thermals for the first day falsely believing it would be warmer than standing in the frozen flower house. I froze. All day the fair attracted only just over 200 punters and of those 200 about 3 actually got what I was doing and those 3 were utterly delightful. But otherwise Oh gosh it was merry. Fuelled by promises that the second day would be the busy one I returned suitably clothed in many thermals and back to the furlined boots. There were definitely more punters. Coachloads of lovely ladies from caerphilly who seemed intent on buying up the rather expensive umbrella stall and were very chatty and charming but definitely after something other than my style.  Then in the evening people were supposedly lured in with the promise of mince pies and christmas carols. There was a choir singing carols, but nowhere near my end of hell, there were mince pies but I am too mean to pay £3.50 for a tiny mug of mulled orange juice and wine and a small mince pie. There were a handful again of utterly delightful people who loved what we do. And a plant event organiser who came specially to seek me out so that was very good. I felt terribly sorry for the lovely young couple with their baby who had made absolutely glorious wreaths from vegetables and nuts and suchlike and were selling none. They had decided to avoid other events and concentrate only on this one and I suspect they really needed the income. There are some absolutely lovely christmas fairs, we just chose the wrong one. It might have helped if the venue had at least done some advertising, but it might have made little difference, win some, lose some!

The good news was that I had lots of pots (both tin buckets and rather more lovely pale biscuit coloured terracotta pots of beautiful paperwhites ready for christmas flowering which the husband rushed down to another fair for me on the saturday and sold beautifully. And those I have left over will make lovely gifts or make our own cottage smell lovely - it's probably the first time ever I have been really efficient with paperwhites and got them spot on for christmas, I had intended to be selling them in London at Broadway market but the weather intervened and meant I was completely iced up here for three saturdays in a row so just couldn't get out.

Fabulous dinner with friends on Saturday where I was given loads of brilliant ideas for the future of cut flowers from a truly brilliant gardener. But what was truly impressive about the dinner was how the roast pork was traditionally roasted on a 17th century roaster hanging onto the huge fire. Very festive, very delicious. All the dried flower hoops were sent off yesterday  - thanks to everyone who ordered one, it was a fantastic response - and I've had almost a day off now and am beginning to feel enthusiastic for next year already!


  1. Big sympathies. I had a few like that last year, one where the only people buying were other stall holders who had nothing else to do. Trouble is that the organizers get their money from the stallholders and then fail to think that they need to do massive publicity to get the customers in. A few seemed quite suprised that I wasn't into it this year! I am far more discerning nowadays. Have a good rest, me, I'm still trying to plant bulbs through the snow and ice! Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, Claire The Flower Field

  2. Still planting through the snow, you heroine! I decided enough was definitely enough, we've been frozen solid for weeks apart from three days of mud and sludge with ice not far below the surface, and I obviously don't have your tenacity.... Good luck with the final push and then I hope you too have some really good downtime. Happy Christmas and let's hope for a lovely floriferous 2011.