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.
Published February 3rd 2014
Reviving a Historic Hub with Music
Sound Lounge Festival
The Sound Lounge Festival
Sneaked away from a largely industrial area, a serene corner by the River Wandle is home to Merton Abbey Mills. Originally, this historic site was also very industrious; in the eighteenth century William Morris ran a textile factory used for printing and stained glass making. In 1989 it was turned into a visitor's centre with markets, shops, and places to eat.
Sadly, over the years there has been a decline visitors, and there weekend market has slowly faded into but a few stalls. In an attempt make Merton Abbey Mills thrive once more The Sound Lounge have decided to hold a monthly festival that will take place every first Sunday of the month.
I went to the first event this weekend, and boy, what a change. Music was playing, stalls were aplenty, and the place was as busy as Covent Garden. The on site businesses were doing really benefiting. I went into my favourite shop, Charlie's Rock Shop, and I have never seen it so full. Usually there are just two or three people in it at best, but this time you had to navigate your way through a maze of visitors.
Antares Concepts is a weekend regular at the market. The company design and build wooden models of rockets, space shuttles, aeroplanes, trains, and other vehicles. Some of these are finished products, but the majority are left for customers to paint themselves. This time, their stall had addition craft products as well, such as knitted bunnies, and other crafts.
David Matthews demonstrates his carpentry.
Also specialising in woodwork, was David Matthews, who runs a Croydon based business called Wood N Things on Warbank Crescent. He was giving a live demonstration, so you could see just how all his products are made. Next door to him, was the native Kiwi actress, Bridget Armstrong, who developed a love for hats after she she wore the Bloomsbury style hat worn by Virginia Woolf. She set up a business in Wimbledon, making hats for all occasions. She uses all types of material, including silk, straw, wool, and tweed.
Talking about all occasions, HL Favours is a unique personalised gift business that makes 'favours' for all occasions. All of the items she had on show were examples of products that you could get personalised. These include jewellery boxes, candles, candy, etc.
Skin of Love
It was nice to see so many gift stalls at the market, as that was one of the reasons I had gone to Merton Abbey Mills in the first place. On a trip to India, my yoga teacher bought me a lovely bracelet and green top, and I wanted to get her a small present as a way to say thank you. Apart from yoga, I'm not really sure where her other interests lie, so I was trying to think of something that might do with meditation, fitness, or health & beauty. The Skin of Love provided exactly what I needed. They sell a range of natural skin products that are free from chemicals and preservatives. They sell face creams by Orba Originals, essential oils by Aromance, and soap by Mayfield Lavender. Mayfield are a local family run business from Carshalton that grows their own lavender on a twenty-five acre farm in Surrey. My interest, however were in a set of incense sticks. There were several to choose from; I went for black coconut, and bought an incense holder to go with it.
Another exhibitor selling natural beauty products was Naked Niceties. The business started out of the combined wish to start a hobby, and to finding a skin product that would not exacerbate her three sons' eczema. All her products use 100% homemade natural bases, such as olive oil for Castile Soap. I tried some of the hand cream testers, and thought the texture was wonderful on the skin. I loved the scent of her cherry and mulled wine creams, but unfortunately they were the only two she did not have available because they were from her Christmas collection.
If you are planning a party, then you should consider asking Harris Loves to lend you a helping hand. The stylish party design company creates themed events for weddings, birthdays, or any social get together.
Anyone who loves comic books, games, or anything retro will love this next guy's stall. Wandle Tree are passionate about recycling, and upcycle tons of cool things, mainly themed around comic book designs. These range from small coasters to a wicked looking guitar.
Less creative, but just as re-useable are his second hand games. Buy playstation games, gameboys, old Nintendo consoles, and for thse not interested in computer games, he sells bundles of cheap pokemon and Yu-Gi-oh cards.
Opposite are even more toys that will have kids making grabby hands. These include Barbie and Action Men dolls, beanie babies, and velveteen rabbits.
In terms of fashion accessories, there are lots of jewellery stores. Some sell elegant gold and silver chains with gemstone pendents, while others craft leather or colourful beaded bracelets. There is also a man selling Indian themed handbags and purses (a must if you like elephants), but the most interesting accessory stall of all is Aces Laces. Wanting a new look? Don't waste your money on a brand new pair of shoes, just give your old pair a makeover with some funky laces. Buy as many different designs as you like, and transform your footwear for everyday of the week. This is a brilliant way for kids to accessories and enjoy fashion in an inexpensive way. The he laces work like trading cards; their are twenty-sive designs in each series, some of which are rare and difficult to get hold of. Swap with friends to complete your collection. Like trading cards, the laces come in a sealed pack, so it is the luck of the draw, which design you get.
Garfield's no jerk, but his food is.
Feeling peckish? Ease your hunger pangs with delicious award winning world food by LoveDesh. Yasmin Choudhury will be cooking Bangladeshi food over a wood fire curry, which is the only one of its kind in Europe. Garfield, who runs an award winning Caribbean restaurant called Ting n Ting will also be giving live cooking demonstration with his barbecued meats, and providing Caribbean soft drinks like mango and pineapple soda, ginger beer, and non-alcoholic malt.
Patrik's Preserves & Pickles
Every weekend you will be able to shop at Patrik's Preserve's & Pickles. They have a wonderful range of uncommon flavoured preserves. Despite already being up to our ears with chutney and jam at home, I could not resist the unique choice on offer. These included fig & vanilla conserve, banana chutney, date chutney, and japonica jam. I had to get some of their glorious millionaire's shortbread, flapjack slice, chocolate brownie, and a helping of bread and butter pudding as well. Patrik's also sell artisan cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, and amazing looking bread.
For a taste of the Mediterranean, don't leave before trying some Greek olives, Turkish Delight, dried berries, spiced nuts, and baklavas.
The Sound Lounge
Aside from shopping, there are lots of other activities to get involved in at the festival. First and foremost is the music itself. You can avoid this, even if you wanted to. Different bands were performing at the bandstand from 11.30am onwards, and brought the entire area alive. Their beats also acts as a beacon to any curious passersby.
Children can enjoy having their face painted, and dance like nobody's watching at The Colour House Theatre, where there is a disco.
There are pottery classes in the Watermill, sweet making, drumming workshops, Thai massage, cards, and a chance to discover what the future holds with a tarot card reading.
Remember, the Sound Lounge Festival is on the first Sunday of every month. This year's dates are 2nd March, 6th April, 4th May, 1st June, 6th July, 3rd August, 7th September, 5th October, 2nd November, and 7th December.