Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Tiny Market Stall

There are many things from my childhood I wish I had kept and saved.  Others I am not so fussed about. (My mother recently produced my teenage diaries complete with lock and key which she had kept all this time.  Oh the angst and high emotions in just one day's entry.   I decided after a quick glance not to read them any further).  

When my parents travelled to the UK in the 1970s they made a point of seeking out these little hand crafted market stalls to bring back with them.   Yesterday I got them out of the shoe box and tissue paper they had been residing in for more than 25 years.   I thought I might give them to my daughter for her upcoming birthday.

Apart from the disintegration of some of the glue, they were in remarkably good shape.    They are quite small, only about 20 cm across. 






The quality of the workmanship is quite incredible.  And they are also a little history of traditional English food.   There are pork pies, fresh butter, pigeons, wild rabbit, turkey, Swiss rolls, chocolate eclairs and strings of sausages. 


These apples look the same as they did when I was given them in 1977.



And this wedding cake was always one of my favourites. I found playing with cakes was every bit as satisfying as eating them!

I also have a fish shop, run by Mr Pike the fishmonger, complete with native oysters, Cornish crabs, lobster and salmon. 


These stalls were designed by Caroline Watt, who in 1979 employed 35 people making these crafts, which is quite a sizable business in one sense.   A bit of googling told me the business ceased in 2000.    Her items are catalogued by the British Design Council, and the above photo shows a much newer shop.


What is a cream horn anyway?  I am dying to know. 


I love these little stalls for the same reason I love this book, illustrated by my favourite children's book author, Raymond Briggs, and which tells the story of an elephant and a bad (red-haired) baby who run around an English village stealing various food items from shops, including a pork butcher and a snack bar. 


The illustrations evoke the now gone past world of the specialist food shop.   In our current world of over airconditioned food halls and supermarkets which sell everything, I find that I miss the little local shops.   And I could do with some more East End barrow boys hanging around the place menacingly!   Like this one, who doesn't even notice the elephant behind him. 

After all, it was only in the early 1960s that they stopped delivering milk by horse and cart in Melbourne.  (It's true.  My husband can remember hearing the clip clopping noise of the hoofs).

18 comments:

Jeanne said...

I love this post Jane...writing about childhood memories in any shape or form are one of the things I love about blogging. These pictures are so sweet and very professional looking if I do say so myself. The little apple shot is perfect...your daughter is one lucky girl. May they bring her as much joys years later as they did for you.

Jeanne xx

Virginia Blue - Director Blue Fruit said...

Oh, what a fabulous post Jane! The little tableaux are incredible - your daughter will be VERY lucky to play with such treasures. Astonishing. Oh, and a Cream Horn is puff pastry wrapped around a tin cone, then baked till crisp and filled with fresh cream. No wonder they went out of fashion - can you imagine the calorie credits required???

brismod said...

Jane, cream horns are strips of puff pastry wrapped around a horn cylinder and then piped with cream or custard and then dusted with icing sugar. Dainty and delicious for a special morning tea. Australian Women's Weekly has a recipe. I've only ever seen The Elephant and the Bad Baby on Playschool (sad!). Rhys Muldoon reads it and it is a seriously funny rendition. Love your market stalls too. Your daughter will enjoy them. xx

Millie said...

What wonderful little vignettes of a time well past. I'm sure Miss Pear Tree House will have fun with these, but stand by for lots of questions about the strange contents Jane. My Mum, a teacher, kept all my school report cards. I found them again a few months ago & stupidly re-read them all. I was upset for days after. The negativity & pessimism that emanated from them was positively toxic. No wonder I hated school so much. Although I think I've gone on & done some pretty splendid things in life, in spite of it all!!
Millie ^_^

Jane said...

Millie - school reports now are all numbers no words - they are too scared to give you a 'real' insight into the child. I love those older ones. And yes you have done okay!

JANE said...

Wow, Jane! They are just divine. Do you think I could find some on eBay? I just love the whimsy and the detail. J x

Jane said...

Jane - I found a reference to one on Ebay for $9.99 (!) but couldn't find the link. I also saw a UK auction house selling a set of 6 for 120 GPB so they do come up now and then.

JANE said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Jane. I'll have a peek. J x

Just Martha said...

What a treasure for your daughter!! I kept my dolly for my Miss Tweenie when she was little but she cast a superior look my way and said my favourite dolly was 'weird' looking. LOL! Such is life... I think these little treasures would meet with her approval!!...

Make mine Mid-Century said...

Jane, those stalls are just beautiful, and so lovely you can pass them onto your daughter! They'll be real heirlooms ... I love a little girl who obviously looked after and cherished her toys.

Yes, and The Elephant and the Bad Baby is a favourite in our house ... who doesn't like a well-spoken, precocious infant riding an elephant?!

I agree with Brismod, if you can catch the Play School episode with its reading, it is quite hilarious!

cinnamon hill said...

oh how lovely! .. at first glance I thought it was a photo of a real stall ! ha, ha, these are treasures and what a delight to see them , thank you so much for sharing! ... are the individual items all stuck to the tables or are they loose?
Steph.

Jane said...

Cinnamon Hill- all separate and detachable. Hence some breakage over the years but have fixed that now!

Louise (Table Tonic) said...

Oh WOW. They just don't make things like they used to...(sigh).
You're a lucky girl - hopefully your daughter loves them and passes them on one day!
xxx
Louise

Tina said...

What gorgeous treasures from your childhood Jane! Your daughter will undoubtedly love them and get so much fun from playing with them. They really are very special:) ~ Tina x

mise said...

Cream horns are still common old-fashioned fare here and a bit yucky, but full of nostalgia and charm. And your stalls are so enchanting - miniature things like these would keep me entertained for hours, as I tried to interest my less easily diverted daughters with them. You must treasure them.

And I've figured out how to treat diaries - you must never, ever write how you feel, only the facts of what happened. If it matters, you'll recall how you felt. Teenagers should be taught that at school.

I hope you're feeling a lot better, Jane - I so enjoyed your remark that your husband can 'in theory' look after the children. Mine too, and it's a fine and useful distinction.

JMW said...

These are so wonderful! Makes me glad I saved my doll house for my daughter - you just have to old on to such treasures. :)

Pinecone Camp said...

What a fantastic box of fun to come across after 25 years! Your daughter would be thrilled to receive any of it, I'm sure.

Share my Garden said...

Beatrix Potter's book, 'The Story Of Two Bad Mice', features some dolls house plaster food getting very rough treatment from the mice. Your market stalls are beautiful. I used to bring home a tiny plate of plaster food from Harrods for my daughter whenever I had been in London on work. She is now 38 years old but still has a tiny plate of biscuits!

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