Tavistock market day — we were in the pannier market, in use as a market place since 1105 (though this building has only been there for a 150 years). I remember coming here when I was little, remember snapshots of this place I thought was so so magical as a child. When I was 5. When I was 13. When I was 16. I remember best this market, along with the church, the ruins, the Tavy — and yet I don’t really remember the high street at all. Strange.
This is the view at about 7:15 am, we left the house at 6 am and traveled across mist-covered hills to get here.
I also remembered the wondrous lanes with their high beech hedges and the line of trees on the road out towards Lamerton. So beautiful. I wanted to go there, but there was work to be done…and it is very hard to get around here on your own without a car. So that will be saved for another time.
The market has changed from what I remember. Much more that is new (and cheap, though there was lots that wasn’t cheap of course), more food. I remember above all tables of antiques and old jewelry that resembled quite glorious treasure to me back in those days — and there is still an antiques day. I bought a little compass here last time I came — there was almost nothing like that on the Friday when we were selling though.
It was so strange being here as a worker with a stall, selling veg I had picked myself. I wondered how many times my grandmother had wandered through this market, what she would have thought to have found me here.
Why don’t I have more pictures of the stall in its full beauty? I just don’t know.
I enjoyed the work, if not the early hours and the loading and unloading and setting up and packing up and loading and unloading. Most of the customers are regulars. We talked about health and wealth and family plans, growing food, recipes (a layer of banana over the rhubarb in your crumble with some almonds on top to help reduce the sharpness? Interesting). I met a Quaker who travels the world volunteering in conflict resolution processes. He owns a purple bowler, bought from the hatter at the other end. He too had been a WWOOFER, and many of the other customers were eager to know if I were enjoying it and where I was from. Clearly Rob had long-ago explained why there was an ever-changing succession of people helping him with the stall.
Next to us was a geographer and urban planner, who had left work in townships in South Africa and then town planning here in the UK for retirement in Devon, and now sells Spanish olive oils and olives and beautiful vibrant pottery. A farmer on the other side, with homemade jams and marmalade and honey (I bought you jams, mum!) Peter Marshall pops in regularly apparently, who we published at PM and I always thought must be quite a wonderful man based on our correspondence when I was working on his webpage. I am quite sad to find he is away on his boat at the moment. A retired oceanographer who knows James Lovelock. A surprising number of intellectuals have retired around here. It was an interesting mix of farmers and characters and wealthy women wearing extremely well and a very posh man quite interested in the many heirloom tomato plants also for sale.
One old man paused at the blue duck eggs, they make the most wonderful scrambled eggs you’ve ever tasted he said with happiness and nostalgia all mixed together. He had to get permission from the wife to get them he said. He won’t be back, said Rob. Rob was right, and that made me sad.
A number of people asked me if the produce was English. Rob takes in a selection of organic veg and fruits from elsewhere for things that aren’t in season here or just don’t grow here — oranges, bananas, tomatoes. Funny how many people after hearing no as the answer to that question did not buy. I wish I had asked them why — I hope it is a question of buying local.
The morning was quite brisk but the afternoon a bit slow. I loved the camaraderie between traders. The friendliness of customers. Talking with one of the other traders as we were packing up, I mentioned it seemed much different than working in a shop, that people recognised you were independent and working for yourself and treated you better. He and others agreed with that assessment, though it doesn’t stop everyone from being really rude.
If they are really rude, though, even your average market stall holder can tell them to just fuck right off. It’s nice.
Also interesting, Tavistock has enough critical mass of people who are willing–and able–to pay a bit extra for organic. Many regular customers have actually come out to visit the farm on open days — and they are the ones who make the stall worth it in terms of income. Holsworthy just didn’t have that critical mass being more remote and poorer, so they didn’t keep the market stall up there, though an additional outlet for the veg would be nice.
We sold quite a bit I thought — though never enough. I met up with mum’s cousin Rosemary for lunch, which was lovely. I went to a herb talk on the dandelion, which I will blog separately because it was awesome. We returned home with far too many broad beans, so we spent a while getting them out of their pods and ended up with this:
Some to be frozen, but many to be enjoyed with butter as a side to some of the nicest vegetarian lasagna I’ve had in ages. A lovely day, though exhausting.