Winter Festival at Heeley City Farm

by - Saturday, December 17, 2011

On festival days, the streets surrounding Heeley City Farm are usually crammed bumper to bumper with parked cars. But not today.

I tell Sarah it's because of the rain which is bounding off the windscreen like a hailstorm of ping-pong balls. "Some of the activities might have been cancelled, are you sure you still want to go?"

Of course she does. Ever since she saw the flyer I picked up in the reception at school Sarah has not stopped asking if she could get her hair braided. Personally I was looking forward to picking up a pretty wreath for the front door and some Christmas crafts to adorn our seemingly virginal tree. So hurriedly we packed Cassius into his pram and bolted across to the main centre, seeking shelter under a thatched roof where the tombola and a woodcraft stall had set up their wares.

This was when I realised bringing the pushchair was essentially a bad idea. Had it been a pleasant day I'd have happily carried Cassius in the sling, but with the rain I'd thought it better to keep him dry beneath the raincover and hood. With all that rain I'd assumed the festival would be almost desolate. How wrong I was, in the most pleasantly surprisingly way.

The festival was packed, not by the standards of the summer festival (where we could barely move without accidentally placing an elbow between someone's ribs!), but definitely a good turnout.

I got a whiff of delicious smelling vegetarian food as Sarah dragged me towards the "greenhouse", usually home to a myriad of plants and hanging baskets, grown to order, but today host to a whole host of festive craft stalls including the corner where a girl could get her hair braided with colourful strands of cotton, beads and bells or choose a Henna design which would be painted with intricate precision with a steady, imaginative hand.

As Sarah enjoyed her girly hair fix, I took Cassius on a jaunt around the mini-craft market, marvelling at the beautiful handmade soaps and Christmas cards; wishing I hadn't already completed my family gift list so I could have bought some of the gorgeous unique jewellery on display.

Still, the basket beneath the pushchair was full of savvy purchases by the time Sarah's braid was finished, and I followed my nose to discover where the delicious curry lady had set up stall.

I wish I knew the name of this lady. Each time we've been to a Heeley CIty Farm festival we've found her selling the same vegetable curry, rice and samosas. And I always buy some. My goodness it's good. Not cheap, but incredibly tasty. I'm glad the rain has subdued so we can stand beside the pond close to the enclosure where the peacock squawks and struts while wolfing it down and wishing we'd bought more to take home.

Sadly the weather permitted no storytelling or children's drama on show today, though the black and white morris dancers were strutting their stuff - which even Cassius enjoyed! And the carol singers sheltered beneath the stables brought a tear to my eye. Sentimental that I am, hearing White Christmas always makes me well up...

We would have loved to stay longer, were it not for the fact that my un-gloved hands were turning blue with the cold. Hopefully the Spring festival will bring us warmer skies but then, how will we find a place to park?!

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