Happy New Year, dear readers! Welcome back in 2014! We are planning on making this year a great one so you can expect a lot of excellent material: interviews, reviews, reports and photo essays. We are also planning several high profile updates soon, so be sure to check out Vanadian Avenue quite often.
Coming down to business – we have chosen our favorites stalls at Worcester Annual Victorian Christmas Fayre and we literally cannot wait until we introduce you to those excellent artists, bakers, craftsmen and all-around nice people. Seat comfortably and let us take you for a real stroll through the narrow Victorian Streets of Worcester!
Visiting Christmas markets always makes us feel like we have hitched a ride in the TARDIS and moved back in time to 1870’s. The stalls owners are dressed in traditional Victorian outfits and capes, ladies carry elaborate umbrellas and the gentlemen wear hats and ties. Being Doctor Who fans, we are super happy, when asked about the time, most men take out fob watches and open them. The stalls are lit up in the dark by torches and oil lamps, food is being cooked on great frying pans, wandering group of artists are entertaining the crowds by playing and singing carols, magicians are mesmerizing the public with their tricks – all of this looks like a scene from a Who Christmas Special. The past comes to life around you and everything is so extremely real, that you start believing to be a time traveller yourself. It is a wonderful feeling and if you haven’t experienced it first hand yet, then you are mission out a lot. Please take a look at the link below to read more about the Worcester Christmas Fayre 2013.
Are you ready now to learn about our favorite places at the market? Ready, steady and here we go!
If we could nominate one stall in The Most Beautifully Designed Stand category, Pollyfields would be taking the first prize home. We have to admit, we visited many markets and culinary shows since 2011, but we haven’t come across anything that spectacularly perfect until now. The stall has been designed in the smallest detail and as we were told, setting up everything took more than 6 hours. Other exhibitors needed on average about 2-3 hours to prepare their stores for opening, nearly three hours less. Careful preparation was an instant success with the public. Pollyfield stall became the most popular store on the market and many people stopped to take a picture. As you can see on the pictures below, Pollyfields crew arrived with a huge Yule Goat decorated with dried flowers and fruits. The Goat was named Harry (maybe after Mr Potter, who knows) and measured nearly 150 cm. Rita has witnessed an older gentleman trying to buy it for his granddaughter, but the goat was not for sale.
Pollyfields was launched 14 years ago by Fiona Jackson after breeding rare sheep on a Devon farm proved to be a hard and challenging task. Instead of sheep, Fiona decided to make use of her crafting skills and founded a design company. Home design is still a big part of what Fiona does, but today Pollyfields concentrates on producing ecological home decorative elements: fragrances, potpourri, garlands, flower arrangements and other interior furnishings. Their Christmas collection includes: hampers, garlands, pomanders, tree and window decorations, door wreath, cinnamon sticks, candles, orange organza sachets, hot chilli candle circles and a unique line of Christmas essence oils. Fiona and her team design and hand make each item in the company’s catalogue supporting not only the local economy but also beautify the English countryside (flowers used in her arrangements come from Fiona’s own farm). Mrs Jackson always wanted to be an artist and she worked hard to turn her dream into success. Pollyfield creations have been featured on TV, in magazines (Good House Keeping, Woman and Home, Country Living) and Fiona is a invited to the most prestigious design exhibitions in the UK and abroad.
Taylor Made Frames – Every painting needs a frame
Address: Bristol (formerly of 63 Broad Street). Please call: +44 7905 891978
The wonderful people from Severn Cider are old friends we have met at Worcester Beer Festival. Incredibly funny and ever-helpful, the Bull family has been in cider making business for three generations now and their brewery is a multiple award winning business. They received 5 gold medals for all kinds of bottled craft cider and perry and in 2010 their exclusive Brown Snout brand has been rewarded the mark of excellence by CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale Association). If you need a trusted opinion, our dad is a big fan of their Dry Sparkling cider and requested few bottles to be sent to Poland last year just because he was in a mood for this particular drink. Severn Cider was founded by Nick Bull and his son Tom and they are still in charge of the company. The brewery is located in small village of Awre, near Newham in Gloucestershire, very close to the ancient Forest of Dean. This part of England is known for its crystal clear ground waters and fertile earth, perfect for orchards and ecological farming. Severn Cider’s orchards produce popular and rare breads of apples (including Box Kernel apples that originated in Awre!) and have never been sprayed nor fertilized. A careful production, makes the cider truly chemical free and can be enjoyed by everyone including vegans. In recent years, the demand for Severn Cider grew rapidly and now you can purchase the cider and perry all over the UK: either directly through the company’s website, allied pubs and shops or a large network of independent stores and deli. Did you know that Severn Cider ales are available in Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Houses of Parliament in London? That’s how good they are!
Claire Waters – Contemporary glass artist
More information: http://everycloudboutique.co.uk/page_2743803.html
Address: Unit 2, Middle Farm, Charlton Horethorne, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 4NL
Claire Waters is an acclaimed artist specializing in creating contemporary glass art for business and private homes. As Rita has a life-long interest in glass creation, you can only imagine how happy she was to see such a renowned creator at Worcester Christmas Fayre! Claire’s works are truly breathtaking: if you like dreamlike, abstract works full of light and changing colors, you will be delighted. Claire has an BA (Hons) degree in Architectural Glass from Welsh School of Glass in Swansea and is known to use multiple techniques to create elaborate glass paintings: traditional leading, fusing, sandblasting and acid etching. Mrs Waters is inspired by the beautiful coast of Dorset: the changing sea, dramatic shoreline, high tides, wild beaches, sunlight reflecting on surface the water – the magical world enchanted in the glass is so real, you can almost feel the salty wind on your face. Claire often uses sand, rock and wild grass in her creations portraying busy harbor life or local wildlife: dragonflies, water birds, endemic flowers and plants. We had a bit of bad luck trying to photograph Claire at her stall. The first time we approached Claire, our batteries died and we needed to charge them at the nearest library. When we arrived for the second time, Claire was on her lunch. None the less, we had a lovely chat with her and still managed to take several nice pictures.
Claire describes her art with those words: “Inspiration for my design work comes from the surrounding environment, my fascination with natural form and naturally occurring pattern. My designs have fundamentally derived from a desire to express our relationship to nature. However, my work is not about depicting actual objects from nature, or reproducing specific images or concepts, but rather about embracing the qualities of nature and creating organic ‘abstract’ art. Not to reproduce nature but to represent it”.
Her works have been exhibited many times and Claire is represented by several nationwide galleries.
Croome Cuisine – The best cheese in town
Address: Croome Cuisine, The Dairy Pond Farm, Whittington, WorcestershireWR5 2RQ,
All cheese lovers are now asked to pay attention. In our humble opinion, Croome Cuisine is probably the best producer of cheese in the West Midlands. Generally, we try to avoid such compliments but this time, it is well deserved. Let us explain and you should have no doubts why they deserve all praise coming their way. Croome Cuisine has been established in 2009 by Nick Hodgetts, a cheese maker with more than 20 years of experience. Since the beginning, his company received fantastic reviews from clients and other cheese business professionals. Nick and his team reside on Pond Farm, close to the picturesque village of Whittington in Worcestershire where they produce more than 60 different kinds of cheese. Nick’s skills in cheese-making are second to none. He has received eleven gold and silver medals from British Cheese Association, several grand titles from International Cheese Festivals and Supreme Champion Cheese Award at the prestigious Three Counties Show for his delicious mature cheddar Herefordshire Hop variety, which is now regarded as a British cheese classic. We will not count honorable mentions or awards received at local level – there are just too many of them! To buy a piece of Hobsons Ale and Wholegrain Mustard mature cheddar, we had to queue for nearly half an hour and we are not exaggerating at all. It was very hard to speak to the crew as they were extremely busy serving waves and waves of cheese to hungry customers. Several quick pictures have been taken, so please excuse the poor quality. Croome Cuisne’s cheeses are not only delicious and flavorsome, they are also healthy (low fat and no artificial preserves) and ecologically made. If you ever have a chance to try them, do not hesitate.
Address: 126 Cowley Road, OX4 1JE Oxford, Oxfordshire
Elefair – Gift-ware with a humanitarian message
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Address: 57 Windermere Road, Nottingham, NG7 6HL
Is anybody looking for an ordinary hero? If so, let’s us introduce you to a very inspirational young woman who is out to save the world and succeeding! Ele Walker was barely 19 years old when, in 1998, she decided to travel to Nepal and work there as a teacher. The housing conditions were poor, she was far away from home, on the other side of the globe and could rely only on her own skills and intuition. She was however surrounded by beautiful mountain village, friendly townsfolk and art. Soon after arrival, Ele discovered that almost everybody in the village was making something: clothes, tools, pots, jewellery, paintings. There was no supermarket, no cars, no electricity and Internet but somehow people had all necessary items and lived perfectly happy lives. Surprised by her discovery, Ele decided to purchase several hand made objects and bring them to the UK as souvenirs for family and friends. The gifts were so stunning and so original that more and more people approached Ele asking if she could bring something more. Over the years, Ele traveled to Nepal more than 20 times. She grew to love the people and the country and decided to make it her second home. She was even adopted into local family and is now treated as a native. Since 2000, Ele and her friends have been bringing hand made artworks and clothes from Nepal under the Fair Trade movement. The company is called EleFair and provides the local artist with international markets for their works. All items are priced fairly and money collected from the sales returns to Nepal to fund schools, build wells, roads and help locals to start their own small businesses. Ele is also sponsoring Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre run by another English lady – Jan Salter who has lived in Nepal for over 35 years. You can visit the organization here: http://www.katcentre.org.np/
“Magical” is the only word that can honestly describe EleFair stand at the Victorian Fayre. The volunteers were dressed in one of the best costumes we have seen this year, the artworks were brilliantly displayed: leather handbags, silk scarves, cards fashioned from tree bark paper known as “Lokta”, traditional musical instruments, silver jewellery and long beaded curtains were selling like hot buns on a cold day. We loved the large lampshades made from colorful fabrics and photo albums made from tree bark and ecological paper. The prices were a bit high, but hey, we will not complain as each item purchased by UK customers is helping artists from developing countries to start a professional career!
Thank you kindly for sticking with us to the end. We love discovering new companies, items and artworks and we could continue writing this report till the morning light! Worcester Victorian Fayre 2013 is over but the Chamber of Commerce is already accepting applications for the next edition. Hurry up, fill it in and maybe you will be lucky enough to be featured on Vanadian Avenue!
Please come back soon as we are preparing a brand new section on our blog and you do not want to miss it!
Rita and Mal