Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Underground Christmas Market: the autopsy

How to organise 100 stallholders, helpers and demonstrators and 350 or more guests? Don't ask me, I don't bloody know. It seemed to have worked though, despite ever-lengthening round-robin emails from me to all the stallholders, with points 1 to 60 of what to do, what not to do, some of it written in red, bold and an increasing amount written in CAPITALS TO REALLY MAKE SURE THEY HAVE UNDERSTOOD. Yes I have become a market Nazi.

The goodie bags were a mammoth team task; once stuffed and stamped with a marvellous design by Maria Grist, they crowded my bedroom to the point that it looked like Santa's Grotto. My hair went unbrushed for a week as I couldn't find anything...
The day itself:
Let me take you on a photographic journey through the Underground Christmas market, a maze of surprises, disasters, pleasure, creativity, Dionysian tipsiness, epicurean chomping, business know-how, festival bonfire hippydom and music.
The Entrance:
Meantime's London Lager taxi dispensing beer from the caravan
The front door with beautiful wreath by Achillea flowers.
The Bedroom: a craft area
Papermash, check out their shop. 

Me old china, I bought a vintage bus blind for Kilburn High Rd.

Achillea flowers, a new local flower shop on Mill Lane, beautiful wreaths and decorations.

Alvarae's unique bird jewellery, I got one for me and one for my mum.
Juiceology's cocktail bar
Marcia Vidal's silver jewellery and cosy mohair socks
Hallway: no space went to waste...
Candyflosscreated's crocheted Christmas decorations
Madame de l' Cartomancer did plenty of readings in her cubby hole and also psychically protected the toilet area from bad happenings.
The Toilet: just as the market opened I was made aware that there was no water. Visions of a Glasto style shit pit occurring in my shabby chic bog led me to run around shouting "No poos in the loo!"

Someone used the loo for a nice sit down and a chat with their mum.
Living Room:
The amazing gingerbread house by Foodforthink
Bake me happy's Christmas cupcakes
Ubuntu chocolates
Rambling Restaurant eating bacon sandwiches
Tan Rosie: chilli and ginger fudge, delicious, and chutneys.
Bristol vintage: cake stands and vintage crockery
Hubbub's lucky dip: some people got Ottolenghi cakes, I got a satsuma.
Cherry Pippin made mulled cider and mince pies. She makes home made butter puff pastry for the restaurant industry.

French made: skull chocolates and fancies
The Balcony:
Mrs Monk's delicious salad dressing. 
Alissia and the teen selling my mulled wine, quince membrillo and home made vinegars.
The Pantry:
Jo of The Deli Station selling their wonderful cheeses (a chestnut cheese, a truffle cheese)
The Kitchen:
Jane of Virtuous Bread gives a talk on sourdough and makes drop scones
Porridge Lady makes a warming Christmas porridge
Becca of the charity Foodcycle talks about recycling food
Other demonstrations by Rachel McCormack of Catalan Cooking making chestnuts with chocolate; Hiromi Stone with Japanese cooking and Kitchen Jezebel with home made cosmetics.
The Dragon's Den: (Left to Right) Jose of Harvey Nichols; Tim Hayward of The Guardian and Fire and Knives Magazine; Rosemary of Frost's and Jo of The Deli station, consider a product.
Sam of The Other Side Magazine asks for feedback on his almond pesto. The panel talks of labelling, marketing, size of jar, whether it can be stored chilled or ambient, how long it lasts, where to get it tested.
Hiromi Stone presents her Japanese nuts, having taken some advice from Jo since September's Underground Market, she has now reduced the size of her bags of nuts. Jo said "the products we saw were so good, I loved the way Hiromi totally took on board all of our advice. Very inspiring".
For the applicants and gathered audience, it was a master class in how to succeed in food. Tim Hayward talked of new media's role in promoting your product "tweet alot"
The top patio:
Providence Organic coffee
Simon of Ten Green Bottles wine
The Garden:

Abi Ward sold lots of knitted christmas trees...
Treflach farm took orders for Christmas turkeys, sold bacon sarnies and fresh eggs.
Terence McSweeney's hand carved spoons and bowls went down a storm...
Spice Caravan's Eritrean food: she also went before the Dragon's Den, very nervous, but gave a good presentation.
The Real Bread campaign
2chicks egg whites in a box. Madonna lives on these apparently.
Adam Pinder and Brett sold rillettes and home smoked salmon and bacon: I will use some for my Christmas eve and New Year's eve dinners.
Flo and Rebecca's spiced plum crumble: just the thing for a chilly day. Crumble day was always my favourite school dinner!

HandtomouthB sold home made Baileys and buttered rum. Yum!
La Cremerie sold out of her British and Irish cheeses.

Down by the bonfire, John the poacher sold oysters and music by Charles Yang and Carrie Fletcher was played which created a lovely atmosphere. In the background is Squisito! frying up some of their home made sausages.
The Summerhouse:
Scarlett sold Tshirts and vintage seed packets; perfect gift for a gardener.
Urtema Dolphin selling her Goddessences (uplifting sprays using natural oils and coloidal silver) and Creation chocolates. I've known Urtema since I met her in Egypt in 2002. Travelling alone with my daughter I was overjoyed to meet another single mother on the road with her son, only a year younger. We spent the next six weeks together, it made travelling so much easier and more enjoyable. Urtema is a brilliant cook and singer, in fact she's good at whatever she puts her mind to... Her council flat in Brixton is decorated like a magical forest. She impressed the Dragon's Den panel with her beautifully crafted raw chocolates which have aura transforming properties!

Kitchen Jezebel sold hot toddies...
The shed at night: the garden looked very pretty as night fell, twinkling candles and a flickering bonfire.
Here's me with a guest!

11pm Monday night: I have finally got the water back on. The floor is clean, my computer is set up. 2am: Written this blog post. Next: clear up the garden and gazebos.
Other posts on The Underground Christmas Market:
Kitchen Jezebel's 'How to make your own cosmetics on a stovetop' demonstration at the #ucm featured in this article.

Coming up this Saturday 11th of December: 
Quiz night with Marcus Berkmann: not too hard, not too easy ...still seats left...book now here.


  1. Is that all? ;)
    Aaaaaah should have come back - so much stuff you don't see anywhere else.
    Do those stallholders know how lucky they are getting in for free?
    Must be fun for the neighbours too.

  2. Looks like a rip roaring success... I'm gutted that despite getting tickets we were not able to make it on the day. Those knitted Christmas trees are brilliant!

  3. Pretty damn amazing, well done!

  4. brilliant! What a lovely memory of a really fantastic day. You see - everyone had a good time - no need to stress. Camp fire, singing, lots of food to eat, lots of things to buy - why limit it to Christmas?!

  5. Brilliant! What great photos. Camp fires, singing around the camp fire, eating and singing around the camp fire - lots to see, do and buy - things to learn: All in One Place!

  6. Congratulations on what looked like a very successful day all round.

  7. Congrats, great job!

  8. Well done you! It looks absolutely brilliant - great variety of products so it seems like it was all very well curated!

  9. It was a brilliant day. I loved it and met loads of great people, and made a wonderful reconnection too. Thanks so much for inviting me to participate. I love your market nazi persona! How could it happen otherwise?

    I'm emailing you some pics of mad goodie bag making.

    Yes, James - we DO know how lucky we are.... most of us anyway. You must come back next time!

    Great day all round.

  10. Bravo, it looks excellent!
    Wish I could've been there...
    You must have a very large flat! :)

  11. Sitting on a log, skoffing a delishoumous bacon sarnie and singing along (well almost) to Jingel bells - I wanted to stay and camp out:) Well done, Ms, true (ex?:) pank style!

  12. This is such an amazing achievement. Bloody well done. Gutted I missed it.

  13. Thanks everybody...it's taken me until today to raise the energy to reply...
    The gazebos are still out in the garden...need help to move them.
    (The perils of being a single woman)
    Rima: I hope you will come to the next one April/May as I love your work.

  14. Brilliant day, food, people - loved it! Amazed by all your hard work x

  15. Looks amazing. I wanted to come but we had booked to go to Paris. Next time though! xx

  16. Well done - what a fantastic idea, so sorry we missed it.

  17. Oh! So sorry I missed this! So want to come to another one of your events soon (as soon as I am not broke anymore and have a job!). Nice to see Scarlet there too - love her blog and silly but just adds to the sense of community to see other bloggers/people you feel you have become a little familiar with! Looks like you had some amazing things being sold -the cupcakes look divine!!! xxx (and may I say you are looking very happy and pretty in that last photo too!)


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