Anne here, thinking about markets, in particular craft and Christmas markets. I love going to outdoor markets. There's always a sense of adventure — what unexpected gem might you find? I recently went to a "German Christmas market" that was a fund-raiser for charity and run by volunteers from a multicultural old people's home.
The weather was beautiful, warm and sunny, and even though I arrived just on opening time, it was still pretty busy. Lots of people had turned out for it.
There was certainly plenty of German food, with stalls serving bratwurst and kransky sausages and frankfurters served with sauerkraut and or fried onions in a bread roll, there were lots of amazing cakes, pies and pastries and sweet treats, and lots more.
There were stunning gingerbread houses — I've always wanted to make one, but never got around to it. But though all the food looked and smelled enticing, I was able to resist, because I was on my way to meet up with friends for lunch.
The craft stores interested me most. Some stalls were very Australian, like this stained glass stall with all Australian bitds, expecially the very colorful parrots we have here.
All the usual kind of things were on sale — toys, clothes, pottery, jewelry, tablecloths and tea-towels—too lovely for drying dishes, I thought, but perfect for a Christmas gift. One of my friends, who has recently become a grandmother, was drawn by the big stalls, and was mightily tempted by all the tiny cute outfits people make these days for babies.
I had come in the hopes of one particular German-style craft, small plain wooden ornaments for my tree. Years ago, when I was a backpacker, I was in Zurich, in Switzerland. It was mid December, and I was on my way home after a year of being away.
The shops were full of the most gorgeous Christmas things — they really know how to do Christmas there, and to my delight it was really cold and snowing. (Remember I'm from Australia, where Christmas usually comes with hot summer weather, and all the cards and shop windows are full of fake snow.) It was like a christmas card come to life and I loved wandering the snowy streets at night, enjoying the snow and just looking.
I came across a small street market— even there I couldn't afford to shop, but I wandered around enjoying the scene. Snow, a stall roasting hot nuts, another selling sausages, and hot wine, crafts stalls with embroideries, jewelry, little scenes in glass balls — for me, it was like something out of a fairy tale.
There was a woman there who sat quietly among all the busy throng, cutting out Christmas ornaments from wood, using only a jigsaw — no bench or anything, just the jigsaw in her hands. I watched, fascinated, and after a while we started talking. All the time we talked, she cut out ornament after ornament, so swift and deft —I'd wielded jigsaws in the past — tricky things I'd found them. But her ornaments were perfect. Of course, I had to buy one — just one. And I always wished I'd had the money to buy some more. One lone wooden ornament is a little sad, really.
So fast forward umpty-mumble years, and here I was at a German Christmas market under a hot, sunny sky and . . . Lo!, there was just this kind of ornament. Not hand made as I watched by a woman who hardly seemed to concentrate as she talked and laughed and turned out ornament after ornament, but still so pretty.
And of course I had to buy these little bees, as well as more traditional Christmas motifs. It's been suggested to me that I should paint them, but I think I might leave them as is, in pale unfinished wood, like that first one. What do you think— to paint or not to paint?
And what about you? Do you enjoy going to markets? Have you been to any Christmas ones lately? Tell us about your markets.