….popcorn chains, Scrooge, Christmas cake and the Winter Witch
When the staff at Montgomery’s Inn put on a Christmas market they go all out. Weeks in advance the volunteers have been making Christmas cakes and gingerbread cookies. The walls were adorned with original paintings of Christmas Past, Present and Future and strings of popcorn and evergreen boughs were lovingly placed in the window wells and over the hearth of the fireplace.
On the day of the market the vendors set up their tables with more Christmas decorations and the Inn’s Winter Witch handed out cookies to the children. It’s a wonderful market and the community came out by the hundreds to support their local heritage museum.
Down the hill from Highgate Cemetery we were directed to look for a pub that came highly recommended. Unfortunately when we got there the pub was being completely renovated and wasn’t open for business. We didn’t have to walk far before we found another place with a lovely patio. It was a little chilly to be sitting outside so we opted to go inside The Vine. Only one other table was occupied but the bartender greeted us and directed us to a table for four and handed us menus.
Normally an empty pub doesn’t bode well for good service or food but in this case it was completely the opposite. Our waiter was delightful and the food was delicious.
After a pint of larger or cider and a few sharing plates we headed off towards Camden Market.
With hundreds of stalls selling clothing, crafts, and food, Camden Market is one of Europe’s largest markets. It is divided into different markets. We started in the Camden Lock Market which is on the street level and next to the locks. There were lots of food vendors here and a variety of stalls selling anything from books, music and flowers to vintage clothes.
At first glance I thought the market was actually quite small but then we walked through a hole in the brick wall and we experienced a whole new world. There are literally hundreds of vendors in the Stables Market.
The Stables Market is located in historic former stables and the Grade II horse hospital which served the horses pulling Pickford’s distribution vans and barges along the canal. Many of the stalls and shops are set in large arches in railway viaducts.
It is very easy to get lost in this place. If you like this kind of market give yourself a couple of hours to really see this place and check out all the vendors.
My last week at the cottage before we closed up for the season was very memorable. For one thing I spent four lovely days with my oldest daughter and my daughter-in-law. A and J are great cottage guests. They are so laid back yet very helpful. We all took turns cooking and they usually got the dishes done before I could get at them.
J had never been to a Pow Wow so I decided that it was an event everyone should experience at least once. I, myself hadn’t been in several years. I was glad I went. The venue for the Pow Wow had changed from the school yard to a more scenic setting next to one of the two lakes on the island. We got there in time to see the little ones dance. We walked around the perimeter of the outdoor stage and checked out the vendors and their wares. We sampled some food, shared a giant lemonade and I bought a pair of moccasins for my granddaughter from Velma.
Velma is a long time resident of Christian Island and I have been going to her store for over 20 years. I always take my visitors to her so that they can see and buy her authentic indigenous crafts. She handcrafts the most beautiful sweetgrass boxes and hand stitches her moccasins. I bought a pair for myself almost 20 years ago and I still have them.
As we were leaving the Pow Wow I came across a booth where two lovely ladies were selling raffle tickets for more than 50 prices. I bought a sheet of tickets and two days later I got a phone call that I won a handmade cloth bag. More about my last four days at the cottage tomorrow.
The Cranberry Festival in Bala always falls after the Thanksgiving weekend. My friends L and B and I decided to drive to Bala on Sunday. The entire weekend was cloudy, rainy and cold all over southern Ontario. It was really a last minute decision to drive to Bala at all. We wondered if we had made a wise decision when hail started to hit the wind shield but in the distance we could see traces of blue sky.
The drive in was uneventful and traffic was light. In years past the flow of traffic would slow down to a crawl as cars and buses approached the town of Bala. We found a parking spot easily and with umbrellas in hand we started our walk through town. One of the first things I did was buy a pair of gloves to keep my hands warm. We checked out some of the vendors that were outside and then we made our way into the arena where more vendors were set up to sell their wares. We picked up some stocking stuffers for Christmas, sampled some yummy chocolate and tried on some trendy designer clothes.
When we headed outside the sun finally decided to make an appearance and it warmed up considerably. A vendor selling hot sauce looked at us as if he recognized us. He asked if we were teachers and if we’d ever taught at a middle school in Etobicoke. Well it turned out that all three of us had been at that school but it was our friend B whom he recognized. What a small world. He must have been one of her first students because he was already well into his late 40s or early 50s. He got very emotional at meeting her again after all these years and told her that she had made a huge difference in his life. Talk about making your day!
As we made our way back to the car we stopped and picked up some fresh produce from one of the stalls. Our bags were so heavy with our harvest vegetables and apples that we decided to take advantage of the school bus that transported visitors to and from the festival. When we unloaded our parcels we decided to go back to the church by the falls and have some lunch before heading back to Toronto.
Lunch was a bowl of homemade turkey soup for each of us and a Canadian bacon sandwich cut into three pieces. For dessert L bought one cranberry crepe (it was the cranberry festival after all) with chocolate sauce and whipped cream that we shared as well. We took a few more pictures of the falls and the rushing water and then walked back to the car. Just before we left Bala for good we made one more stop to purchase some more twigs with red berries. The urns outside L’s and B’s places will look very festive this Christmas with those red berries adorning a bouquet of evergreen boughs.