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.
A Place of Remembrance Becomes a Place to Remember
Kingston Christmas Market
Candy floss, balloons, fire dancers, and prizes; it sounds like I've arrived at the fair. But no, this is Kingston High Street, the day Christmas officially comes to town.
As I walk down the street, I am surrounded by music - not from the usual buskers, but by Radio Jackie. The radio station has made a pop-up appearance and is broadcasting over the mega sound system so that all of Kingston knows that the Christmas lights are going to be turned on at 6 o'clock. It is currently 2pm. Plenty of time to spare.
First I make my regular charity shop pitstops, and despite having already completed my Christmas shopping, I spot something in the window that cannot be passed up. It's too big to carry with me, so I ask the shop assistant to leave it to one side.
The Candy Bar
Onwards I go, where I see mobile trolley stalls, and pop-up stages being constructed. Several people are hovering round a candy floss bar. Who wouldn't?
Improving the streets, disrupting the shoppers.
Once I reach the end of the street, I find the ancient market partially cordoned off by construction work. But nothing will deter a determined shopper, and just as The Grinch found out, nothing can cancel Christmas.
In honour of Remembrance Day
Last year's Christmas Market took place in Kingston's Ancient Market Place, but for 2013, it has relocated to the Memorial Gardens, which is garnished with poppy wreaths underneath the war memorial statue, from Remembrance Day.
Waiting for the market to open.
I can see the wooden huts from outside, but all the gates are barred, which confuses me a little. I then notice a sign that said the market does not open until 3 o'clock. forty-five minutes to go.
Get your tree early.
I decide to browse the regular market, which has also taken on a festive edge. The flower stall now has Christmas trees for sale, and the fruit and veg stalls are selling chestnuts. Unable to say no to a fantastic deal of £1.50/lb, I buy two pounds worth and day dream about what will be my evening snack.
I then pay a visit to All Saints Church, which is selling Christmas Charity cards. I hope to find some individual cards, but they are all in packs, so give them a miss. I spend the rest of my time exploring Eden Crafts & Gifts Fair.
Lots of fun things for kids.
When the Christmas Market opens, I hear the host talking on stage to a little girl. She is holding a hula hoop twice her size, but turns out to be quite proficient, and not the least bit shy about the live audience.
German Grill House
Those not interested in performance, have their eyes cast on one of three things: food, drink, or gifts. Food available to buy includes crepes, pies, cheese, and taking centre stage, the German Grill House, where you can buy traditional fast food, such as sausages, burgers, steak, etc.
Need to wet your whistle? Then head over to the bar, and sit down at one of the creatively crafted tables made from beer kegs.
As I wander round the chalets, I see huts full of Christmas decorations for the tree, Christmas crackers for the table, and Christmas figures for the garden.
These cute hats have long ear flaps that turn into mittens.
There are also canvas prints with lots of humorous quips, a man selling handmade wooden iPhone cases, and a stall full of winter knitwear, which will appear to kids and wildlife lovers.
As I leave, and the evening progresses, I find the stage has migrated outside Memorial Gardens, onto the street, where fire dancers are giving a brilliant display. Radio Jackie also announces a competition. Several teenagers climb up on stage and try to blow the biggest balloon they can. The winner gets a John Lewis handbag.
It is 4.30pm, another hour and a half until the lights switch on. I am laden down with shopping, and still have to collect my purchase from the charity shop, which closes at 5pm. In the end, I decide to give the lights a miss, but still fill full of Christmas cheer.