Saturday, 26 November 2011

Frost Fair at Hatfield House

Frost Fair 1814

The last Frost Fair on the River Thames was in 1814. It was revived with a one-day festival on 22 December 2003 (from 12:30 to 10 pm), and has since grown, with the 2008 festival lasting over a week, with events spanning two weekends. Officially the Bankside Winter Festival, it is modelled after Christmas markets, and features a market (the "Bankside Winter Market") and numerous events.

Banqueting Hall
This year, Hatfield House hosted a Frost Fair. I went along with a friend after knitting group on Friday, hoping it would be a 'quiet' first day. We were mistaken. Arriving at the Coach House restaurant just in time for lunch, we took one look at the queues and headed for the marquees.

Our noses took us straight to the stall selling 'sausages inna bun' and I bought a delicious wild boar and apple version and ate it hot, straight from the pan. It was so delicious. I bought a pack for MWNN (and me) to have for Friday's dinner.

Produce from Provence

On to the Frost Fair itself -stalls housed in the Banqueting Hall, Main Marquee, and Riding School. All the usual stalls one would expect at a Christmas Market.

I had a long conversation with the French Woman on the Provence Produce stall. She offered me a piece of Provence nougat to prove its superiority over nougat de Montelimar. I was convinced enough to buy a bag but resisted the p√Ętes de fruits. 

Garlic graters

Jewellery display

My friend bought two French garlic-graters and a couple of pairs of earings from one of the many jewellery stalls.

I also resisted the beautifully decorated Christmas biscuits masquerading as table deorations and the lovely hand-made bags from Taiwan but came away from the event with the feeling that it is time to start preparations for Christmas.

We never did get our cup of tea in the Coach House. As we passed on our way out, the queues were no shorter. We made the long treck back to the car parked in front of Hatfield House and headed home where a wait-free tea was assured.