I set out on my first market adventure with a spring in my step. The day was frosty but the sky was blue, which eased the pain of getting out of bed before 9AM on a Saturday morning. I boarded the 9.27 train from Cardiff, and in just over an hour, I had arrived at Whiteladies Road Farmers Market.
Whiteladies Market has an air of the medieval, which makes a pleasing change to current penchant for “vintage chic”. With the church in the backdrop and the brightly coloured bunting fluttering overhead, I definitely felt this market was more 1320s than 1920s. I felt a strong urge to whip out my lute and serenade unsuspecting couples with Old English love songs. Luckily, I neither own nor play the lute, so the accordionist in the corner was able to continue busking uninterrupted. Probably best for all.
The market is spread over three sides of a crossroad in the centre of Clifton, which is a charming, rather posh suburb to the east of Bristol. It takes place on the first and third Saturday of each month. Most of the stalls were stood against the wall of the church, and although the other side of the road was smaller it was equally vibrant. Opposite, there was a lone sausage maker, whose isolated position didn’t seem to be deterring the local sausage enthusiasts from tasting his wares, which looked delicious.
While this layout did mean the market was slightly segregated, it really gave the impression that it was sewn into the seams of the town, as anyone taking their Saturday stroll had to walk right through the centre of the activity. It was also easy to pass from one side to the other, thanks to a conveniently placed road crossing.
Whiteladies is a medium sized market, but there was plenty of variety in the produce available, and I reckon you could pick up most of your weekly shop here. The bread stalls were delightfully rustic, and I expect would go well with the cheese made by The Bath Soft Cheese Company. There was the standard vegetable stand, and I thought the aubergines looked particularly enticing, though it is true I am a big aubergine fan; they’re so purple and shiny, like big plump jewels. If I were a traveller in a foreign land, the bagels and soup sold by the Somerset Soup Company would have filled me with a yearning for English soil, no doubt, with their homely warmth and local ingredients. Ape About Coffee was providing the caffeine fixes, and Anything But Plain sold chocolate that was a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. Mullion Cove specialised in Cornish produce.
All in all, I would consider myself lucky to have this as my local market. The location is delightful, and the produce was varied enough to provide the weekly staples, but with enough individuality for you to feel that you had really picked up something special.