Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
The Marquee of Christmas
If you're in Kingston and hear the sound of trumpets, follow it. You'll be taken to All Saints Parish Church, where on the grounds will be a very familiar sight for this time of year: a marquee glittering with all things Christmas.
Eden Crafts Market has returned for a tenth year; outside, a band is playing merry tunes, while undercover you'll discover unique gifts for one and all. From jewellery to books and everything in between, it is inspiring to see the creativity behind some of the artists' creations.
An assortment of jewellery and clothing features in the marquee, many of which are from returning designers. One of my favourites is the first stall to the right, as she makes beautiful jewellery from amber.
Around the corner is a woman who had a brilliant wardrobe space saving idea: put smaller clothes inside it. No need to go on a diet either. These tiny tops start out the size of doll clothing, and stretch out to fit a fully grown adult. Not only practical, but stylish too. The spiky design is different from anything you'd get on the high street.
One new arrival really caught my eye. Kikigoga's stall was filled with beautifully designed handbags, wallets, and purses. They were full of vibrant colours and exquisite images of tigers, elephants, penguins, flowers, etc.
If you prefer to be a little less loud, then you'll love the collection of high quality soft leather bags. The range includes satchels, handbags, rucksacks, and hand luggage.
Not enough nicknacks on your mantle piece? Need something stylish to serve your drinks in? Eden Crafts have lots of attractive bits and bobs to beautify the home. If you like your house smelling pretty, then Valentte London can help you out with its home fragrances, which include reed diffusers, room mist, and soy candles. They also do a range of skincare products, all of which are scented with pure essential oils derived from flowers and other plants, 'therefore they are gentle to our skin and deliver incomparable fragrance as well as healing properties.' There are a variety of scents, including Lemon Grass & Rosemary, Patchouli & Eucalyptus, Geranium & Ylang Ylang, Verbena & Peppermint, Lavender, and my favourite, Lime & Grapefruit.
Another way to scent your home is with incense sticks, and one stall holder has come up with way of displaying them in quirky holders. There is a dragon that blows smoke from its nose, a house with a smoking chimney, and a wise man with a smoking pot.
Also a bit of fun are her frogs in a jar. Or should I say princes? Who knows what will happen if you kiss one.
Zhambala Arts is an ethical eco-friendly company established in 2003. They specialise in fine quality products mainly handcrafted by villagers in Thailand. Most of the materials used are entirely natural and from sustainable sources. One of my favourites collections was their range of wallets and pencil cases which are made from leaves. They also have eco shopping bags, flower lights, and bamboo lamps.
Among many things I collect are gemstones, so I was pleased to discover two stall holders tables laden with beautiful rocks and crystals. From small tumbled stones to giant fossils, they cover all budgets and tastes. I was drawn to a serpentine egg, which I was told was fossilised mud. Mud has never looked so stunning.
Until recently, looking at children's books was for pure nostalgic indulgence, but now I have an 18 month second cousin, so my mum and I were on the lookout for baby gifts. Eden Crafts Market had two stalls filled with children's books. Eric and Rufus Children's Books 'strive to encourage children to explore the real and natural world, via books featuring photos of real things.' The idea sounds quite good, but the writing was not age appropriate. For example, one book aimed at an 18 month old child contained the sentence 'the weather was changeable'. Their range of puzzles, however, are much better, and made up of different interesting shaped pieces, such as birds.
Over at the other end you can find The Book People. Founded in 1998, The Book People works on 'the principle of making books available and affordable to everyone You can find some great bargains, such as the entire Little Miss collection for £30 and the entire Harry Potter series for £29.99. Mum found some great children's books to buy, including a collection of Christmas tales and Five Minutes Peace, which is in the form of a jigsaw puzzle.
The Book People also supply books for adults too. If you're an avid reader, then why not give your books a thank you present for all the joy they bring. One stall holder has made comfy pillows for them to sit on. And while they enjoy a comfy seat, you can enjoy the comfort and ease of reading without the need for hands.
If you're feeling hungry then you want to head down the lefthand corridor of the marquee, which is almost entirely dedicated to food. Most is to takeaway and use at home, but there are a few tables and chairs where you can eat some hot foods or tempting cakes.
I'm a big lover of dried fruit and nuts, which is why I always like looking at Med Fine Food, who provide a healthier alternative to a pick-n'-mix stall. As well as a selection of seasoned nuts and crystallised fruits, there's deliciously tempting olives, sun dried tomatoes, and roasted peppers. For something a bit more indulgent, sweet treats include Turkish delight and baklava.
For the foodies in your life, you might consider getting them a hamper of tasty savoury goodies from Lymn Bank Farm. The company prides themselves on their handmade cheeses and homemade accompaniments such as chutney and biscuits. They do a variety of hamper sizes, and you can decide what you want to put in.
Eden Crafts Market is open until the 24th December. Many of the stall holders will remain for the whole event; others will leave and be replaced by new dealers, so it is always worth a second visit.