on November 28, 2007
It was not even December and on my usual weekly trip over to Manchester, taking my normal pre-dinner wander around town, I stumbled, at the back of the Town Hall in Albert Square, on Manchester’s Christmas Market. “Bah, humbug” me thinks, but it turned out to be quite impressive. This is not an overnight sensation as the stalls are semi-permanent stalls established in up-market garden sheds. Initially I thought that this market was not a huge affair but as I continued with my walk I realised that the market extends from Albert Square right down towards the Arndale Centre.Now I’m about to be dragged off for a long weekend in Lille (see my separate journal) to be trailed around their Christmas Market so I thought I’d get in a bit of practice. There were loads of people milling around and it seemed that it was an ideal place to have a spot of food and drink after a long hard day at work. There were loads of hot food / snack stalls but one that was particularly popular was the circular stall preparing huge frankfurter sausages on a massive circular barbeque. The aromas made the food fairly attractive and it was pulling the customers in by the score, but I resisted temptation and strolled on. I reckon most of Europe was represented in this market and I had no difficulty in spotting stalls from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Of course they were big on alcoholic tinctures, with plenty of mulled wine, hot toddies, specialist beers and tempting wine stalls. You could buy tasters on the night or stock up with your Xmas brews by buying or ordering bottle or cases of your chosen tipple. A huge Santa looked down on me, from the side of the Town Hall, as I continued by investigation of the site. I was real tempted with non-Christmas purchases of cheese and olives and the smell of freshly warmed bread making me vow to return to the area during the daytime and stock up on my lunchtime options.There were plenty of what I’d call quality gift stalls with some superb pieces of jewellery (not cheap but certainly not over-priced), a fine array of winter clothing stalls selling bright scarves, extravagantly coloured headgear, sophisticated hats and thermal gloves. Some of the hats were decently priced and I may well return. Of course the place was littered with stalls selling toys and it really is good to see that traditional gifts of wooden toys are still strong. Who knows that might even outsell electronic toys! Although it was still November there were large numbers of people lugging Christmas Trees around. But I reckon one of the biggest bargains must have been the Amaryllis Lily that was selling for just under £5 for two large bulbs. If the size of the bulb is an indication of the size of the plant then these will be huge beasts! I bought a couple to try out.
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