Lincoln Christmas Fair.Along our calf- aching route uphill, we came upon an art gallery and craft shop combined. This venue distracted us for half an hour as the light outside started to fall and the evening crowds thickened in their exuberant rush to enjoy the delights of the Christmas Fair that officially opened at 4pm.
Compared with Nottingham and the ‘German Market’ that graces our fair city this was a fair beyond compare. It was huge. We did a tour of the historical Bishop’s Palace and I really liked the atmosphere they'd created therein and we were all amused by the faux medieval costumes and lighting and straw lain floors. My friend Dawn was attracted by a display of rings and by one in particular that showed phases of the moon – a ring within a ring, in fact. I found a skull and posed for this photo in which I appear like a stunned 'older' Hamlet with lock jaw. However, the intention was to pose like an intelligent and troubled, yet handsome. young Dane really.
I did wonder if the event was profitable for the artefact style stall holders as most folk just go to the event to enjoy the tradition, the sights and friendly Christmas atmosphere and some cheap food and drink along the way. A lack of cash points in this part of Lincoln – by the Castle and Cathedral – didn't help either.
Back up near the Tourist Office we tried out the wares offered on the German Sausage stall and I had a very tasty bratwurst with a generous amount of mustard. Herrlich gut! Dawn and I were a bit chilly at this point and a hot glühwein each helped to warm us up. Sue and Jon joined us in drinking a body warming drink and the air around us was full of hot, wet spicery. I was in the Christmas spirit already! Glühwein is tradionally prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. Sometimes honey is added instead of the natural sugar.
Our route through the crowds took us via the Castle grounds and hundreds of stalls offering everything from donnuts and pretzels, Lincolnshire bomb cheeses and sloe gins and whiskies in many a fruity guise. Most of the stall holders were dressed in faux Victorian dress which added delightfully to the festive atmosphere. En route, the streets thronged with happy people in modern dress and Chocolate Box style dress and there was a great Dickensian Christmas style opportunity for the jolly clashing of wicker baskets – or plastic Tesco carrier bags. Not quite the same effect, but clash away merrily anyway!
Three Linconshire gents raising funds
On chatting, Dawn and I, seem to share a similarly surreal sense of humour and we had an inventive time together whilst watching some massive bubbles float and meld in the black-blue night sky. We concluded that the bubbles were powered by invisible hamsters with trimmed claws. It was too heart rending to think what happened when these bubbles burst so I indulged my senses with a free tasting of the most sumptuous lemon infused combination of olive oil, lemon and light balsamic vinegar. I dipped in my free bit of bread, wiped it copiously in the mixture, placed the morsel into my welcoming mouth and went to heaven! At another very lovely bread and cake stall I got some gorgeous smelling olive bread for myself and Dawn.
A few samples of the sloe gin and a purchase of those afore-mentioned olive bread buns made the whole evening seem even more festive. Observing all around me, I was interested to see the police in action, checking that each stall that sold things alcoholic had a licence to do so.
Another busy stall that Sue, Jon, Dawn and I haunted, was the home-made Christmas Pudd stall. They were handing out hot, steamy and delightfully rich and fruity orange fragrant samples. As Rick Stein often says “Delish!” Along the way I picked up issue 10 of a free magazine called Good Taste covering the Lincolnshire Food scene. I may well report on this in my next blog post.
Well, boys and girls, time was getting on and we made our way through the gloriously tacky fairground bypassing some pleasingly full looking local restaurants and a busy deli with hanging hams displayed at the top of the upper town shopping precinct. We temporarily lost Jon near to a shop window full of cheeky lingerie. Several mobile phone calls later he was back with us.
Back down in the lower pedestrianised part of city we searched for an atm (cash machine) without a massive queue and having garnered some ready cash and diverted our course from a 'chavs with bruteish dog' invasion, we survived crossing a startlingly busy road near to the railway station. Gallantly, I took Dawn’s arm in mine and we both legged it rapidlly to the other side. We were all gagging for a drink.
On Brayford Wharf East we entered a pub of dubious ‘sticky floor and stale air‘ merit and spent the remaining half hour imbibing a drink each and rejoicing in the doggy attentions of Penny the young Labrador. She was a growing pup keen on snuffling up any discarded food and crisps whilst wagging her playful tail.
The 8.45pm train took us all back to Nottingham, Sue and Jon headed off to their bus-stop and myself and Dawn hot-footed it uphill (more hills!) past the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery and the conveyor belt charms of Yo Sushi to the warmth of the Lace Market Market Theatre bar until it was time to abscond back downhill to the chilly bus station for our seperate buses home.
As they say “A splendid time was had by all.”
As Tiny Tim would say “ God Bless Us Every One, and keep eating!.”