This week, I was passing through the town of Easingwold on market day and as I had a bit of time to kill, I decided to stop and wander around the stalls.
An array of local producers were offering freshly baked breads, cakes, cheeses, free-range eggs, home-made relishes, fruit, veg, fish, olives, exotic delicacies, clothing and eco-friendly products. It all looked to be of excellent quality.
I got chatting to the couple on the stall selling eggs, and asked about the range of pickles and chutneys also on offer. I learned that the gentlemen grew the vegetables himself, and his wife pickled them and put them into jars to sell.
In this age of convenience, with supermarkets stocking just about everything you need, it was encouraging to see the market busy, the local population supporting these small independent businesses. I bought a dozen free-range eggs, and then moved towards the eco-friendly stall.
I want to find a kinder, yet effective, alternative to some of the products I regularly use and this stall had huge containers full of liquids, and you bring along a reusable container that they fill for you (they do have spares if you turn up empty-handed). I bought a large bottle of laundry detergent, and a pack of dishwasher tablets.
I am a little sceptical as to whether they will be as effective at cleaning as my usual earth-damaging, skin-irritating versions. I did try quite a famous eco brand when my kids were younger, but it wasn’t very good at removing stains. The chap on the stall assured me that things have improved since then, and that I should have a far better experience today. I will let you know how I get on!
When you visit a small town or village market, you do get a real sense of community. If you stand and watch for a bit, you’ll see people stopping and asking after one-another’s welfare, others sending a cheery greeting as they pass. You don’t get much of that in your local Tesco. I felt that same sense of community yesterday when I attended a funeral in my home village. The lady who had died was a family friend who was very well loved, as demonstrated by the amount of people who attended.
I still call it my ‘home’ village, even though I haven’t lived there for more than 30 years, and it’s at occasions such as this that you see people you haven’t seen for an age, and yet you instantly know them. Having grown up in the same place, you have a common bond that eternally connects you. There was a man who was a regular at a local pub where I was a barmaid when I was 20-odd, and whom I haven’t seen since (By ‘eck , we could tell each other a few tales about the things that went on in that place, but what went on in the pub, stayed in the pub!).
Then there was the mum of a primary school friend of mine, who was there with her other daughter, again neither of whom I had seen for decades. And there was the lad with whom I used to be best friends when I was about five. Back then we boldly told our parents that we would be getting married when we grew up. But as we went through school, it became clear that it wasn’t done to have playmates of the opposite sex. The other kids would tease that we were ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ and the eight-year-old us found that just too crushingly embarrassing.
By the time my primary school years were drawing to a close, I was glad to be going to the same all-girl convent school as my sisters. That was until my parents informed me that my year would be the first that they would accept boys. I cried. I was even more upset when I found out that of the three classes in my year there would be one all-female class, and I wasn’t in it.
Fast-forward a few more years, my attitude to boys turned full circle again, and our class had earned the reputation for being one of the coolest. Our badge of honour was that we were the first in the school’s 400-year history to get a whole class detention. Well done boys and girls!
Read more at countrymansdaughter.com. Follow me on Twitter @countrymansdaug
This column appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on 25th and Ryedale Gazette and Herald on 23rd March 2022.