Medieval England Via Morocco: Peterborugh Christmas Market

Monday, 17 December 2012

Peterborough often gets bad press for not being quaint enough compared to Cambridge and cool enough compared to London. The fact is that the city has rich history, decent shopping, quaint villages surrounding (and within) it, great transport links and a lot to offer. It is also a popular commuter town due to the lower house prices compared to Cambridge or London. This Peterborough bashing bothers me most when I attend events like the Cathedral Historic Christmas Fayre. It was quirky and unlike any other Christmas market I've seen yet did not attract the same volume of crowds as some of the other markets. The Berber market in the Cathedral square was a feast to the eyes and yet it was the same story there too. This blog post is my little attempt at putting the cool back into the city I now call home. I am also framing a Peterborough travel post in my mind as I write this. Watch this space.

The Christmas market in Peterborough had two distinct sections this year. The Moroccan Berber market (selling beautiful glass-works, painted tagines, tapestry and sheeshas) and the Historic Christmas Market with medieval themed stalls where vendors dressed in period costume advocated back to basics washing routines, falconry, knightly pursuits and sold unusual yet Christamassy goods.The Cathedral green formed the setting for a fireworks/fire-eating display led by a couple of medieval monks. The market had a spooky cool factor about it for reasons I am struggling to pinpoint. It was perhaps that whole historic, going back to your roots theme or perhaps because I thought the spirit of Katherine of Aragon (buried in the cathedral) was drinking mulled wine in the sky!

Whilst the market has numerous fascinating stalls with things my foreign self had not come across before, I'd like to mention two particularly interesting stalls. The first was Suzie and Martin's stall selling fruit leathers and exotic jerked meat. Beef marinated in wasabi sauce, venison, port and cranberry jerky, hibiscus and apple fruit leather, this stall had the most random yet interesting preserved foods I've come across. I am looking forward to using their pear fruit leathers in desserts and ice-cream over the holiday period. The other marvellous stall belong to Scott and Sally Mittuch of Natural Spa Supplies. Scott explained how the humble alum could be used as an after-shave product, deodorant and more. Scott also explained the benefits of rhassoul clay , argan oil  and the back to basics approach to personal care. It reminded me of childhood summer holidays in Kerala where my cousins and I used freshly ground turmeric for facials and freshly extracted coconut oil for hair care. Time to get over my fixation with Elemis and Kerastaste perhaps? Or should I start a section on ethical washing ;-) ?! Ann x


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