What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: markets

The Inner West Market Experience

I feel very left wing going to the markets. Nuts to you, big corporations, I’m cutting out the middle man! I don’t get to go very often, Orange Grove Markets are on Saturday mornings which generally coincides exactly with four or five sporting fixtures. Not this weekend, though, so once I’ve settled the tiler and his apprentice in, I’m away.

I am a bit fascinated by the stalls. I used to have a semi regular market stall myself, selling handmade jewellery, which usually did very poorly, but I had a wonderful time watching my fellow stall holders. At Orange Grove they are mostly food stalls. Lots of fruit and veg, all of which seem to be doing well. Some are organic and I’ve found the quality of their produce to be variable. There’s one stall I particularly like, run by a bunch of youngsters that look like they may share a commune, because their fruit and veg looks a lot like it hasn’t come from a factory and they have stuff you don’t see anywhere else. I got some pink baby carrots, some purple pears and some really tiny Fuji apples from them.

There are a few stalls selling dips and condiments that don’t seem to do very well. How many dips do you need in a week? Also, if I want a dip or a condiment I can make it myself, I may have mentioned that I have a Thermomix. The bread and baked good stalls do well. There are two smoked seafood operations, obviously a growing market. I never see anyone buying the tapioca desserts. The egg and bacon roll stall is ridiculously successful, with a line that snakes around the market.

The non food stalls have mixed success. I feel sorry for the silver and gemstones jewellery lady, there’s never anyone even stopping to look. She doesn’t have prices displayed, which puts me off. There’s also a lady with racks of what looks like hand made kids’ tunics, no ones stopping there either. The stall that looks like someone’s been through the dumpster at the back of a failing hardware shop attracts a steady stream of elderly men in hats, looking for the perfect pair of shop soiled secateurs. The hemp stall seems to do well. I’ve bought the hemp soap a few times, it’s very lovely but soft, it doesn’t last very long. I’m going to buy some when I have a new bathroom, whenever that may be. There was a vintage clothes stall there that I haven’t seen before. I bought a brocade jacket there because it was my colour, but a bit large around the waist. I could move the buttons, or take it in, it isn’t lined.

Muffet said “no offence, but that’s an old lady jacket”. Well then, no offence taken.

I’m actually there for the Honest to Goodness stall. I get the five grain mix for my porridge, on the advice of a friend, sultanas and currants for all the fruit loaf I’m making at the moment, and they don’t have ginger at the stall, only at their unappealing showroom. That’s a shame, I’ve got an ultra ginger loaf that I really want to make.

And this is the thing about the markets. It’s hard to do a regular shop there, you just don’t know what’s not going to be there. This is far outweighed by seeing what’s in season (silver beet and radishes at the moment), having access to extremely fresh produce, supporting small businesses and sticking it to the man. Can’t wait to go back.


Fete Season

September in Sydney is usually a month of unrelenting fine weather, so if you’re in a really organized school P&C you will plan your school fete for then. If you’re in one of those P&Cs that are taken by surprise by spring, you’ll be having your fete in November, and risk getting it rained on.

On the weekend I attended an excellent example of a public school fete, but one that only really had about an hour’s entertainment for me in it, half of which I spent looking for my son. It got me wondering what I really like in a fete.

The coffee was good, a very important thing in any inner west fete. There was a fairy floss machine that filled the surrounding air with glittering sugar dust, you could have saved your money and just stood beside it inhaling for about ten minutes. The food stalls were really impressive, I got some sushi, some fried rice and some Pad Thai to take home so I wouldn’t have to cook dinner, and they were all fantastic. There was an excellent fresh produce stall all sourced from the school’s kitchen garden, something that should be mandatory in any school with an extra patch of grass.

There was a second had clothes stall with a rather disturbing table full of second hand swimmers. I don’t know about you, but I wear my swimmers until the elastic gives and members of the public start complaining about the transparency of my attire, so there are many odd things about second hand bathers for me. I gave it a wide berth. I always like to look at the second hand books, but this time the stall just made me wonder why all of these books were bought in the first place? I would have had a guess that the parent population of this school were fairly highly educated, yet their tastes seemed to veer towards weight and enormous metallic lettering in choosing literature. I was briefly tempted by a book entitled Teach Yourself Modern Hebrew, but my self improvement list is full up.

The music presented by the student population was pretty good. I was pleased to hear a recorder group playing something mediaeval, accompanied by a keyboard tastefully set to harpsichord. The band played pieces it was possible to recognize. There was an excellent young lady with a very mature voice who accompanied herself on the guitar.

And yet I felt like I was looking for something that wasn’t there. Maybe fetes need to get in some outside stallholders, and not just ones who’ve ordered a pallet load of plastic tat. I want to be able to buy a hippie handbag, or a hand knitted vest, or, ideally, a pair of chenille shorts. Or maybe I should just accept that they’re not markets, they’re a fundraiser for the kiddies and I should go buy a handful of tickets to the chocolate wheel. Perhaps I’ll win a pair of chenille shorts.