This is based on a street market in Cambridge. I hope you like it.
A Market that Stalls Time
It will not surprise you to know that Cambridge is old. Very old. While the rest of the world rushes headlong into modernity, Cambridge has the ability to keep time at arm’s length and therefore preserve its heritage. As you navigate your way through diminutive winding alleyways, and pass under the shadows of heavy medieval doors that tower majestically over you, you get a sense that you have left the 21st Century and are transported back to a time where young boys still sweep the road and Dickens paces the streets muttering about the state of society. Nothing captures this spirit of ageless preservation more than the Cambridge Art and Craft market. This open air all weather market represents the tradition of Cambridge and adds to its timeless feel. Nestled between the imposing Trinity College gate, and St John’s College, this market is a real find for those that want to own authentic and original pieces of craft.
Instead of walking into a brightly lit shop that is defined by charmless generic features and artificial lighting, you enter the art and craft market through an ornate wrought iron gate that opens into a wide circular garden that has a gravelled floor that crunches pleasantly underfoot, and tall leafy trees that offer shade and rich colour. A weather-beaten stone obelisk stands in the centre of the garden and pays homage to a church that has since been forgotten. You are reminded that this is a university town by the fliers that adorn the iron fence; instead of reading about Hip Hop DJs and late night super clubs, you find advertisements for lively debates, concertos, and college run operatic societies.
The market itself is small but tightly packed with a variety of local artists and craftsmen. Unlike many markets, which sell mass produced novelty items, this group of dedicated artisans proudly stand by their motto “we make what we sell”. Their works range from jewellery, paintings, ceramics, and wood carvings, to other items such as beeswax sculptures and glass works. The tables that display the goods are awash with colour and the interesting shapes and well-arranged displays soon get people intrigued.
As you move from stall to stall in the direction of your choice, either clockwise or anti, you feel the hustle and bustle of excited patrons who eagerly question the stallholder about their goods, the inspiration behind their work, and of course, how much of a discount will they sell it for! The banter is palpable and light-hearted, and you really get a sense of community as you weave your way through the throngs of captivated shoppers and tourists alike.
And if you find the whole experience just too tiring, do not despair. A coffee from a mobile vender and a sit down on an inviting bench will soon sooth away your cares while you sit back and watch the world go by.
When you eventually leave the market, laden down with precious trophies of a successful visit, you find yourself back on the cobbles of Cambridge. Whichever way you turn, left towards the sleek white building of the Senate House, or right towards the Round Church, you will undoubtedly pass under the watchful gaze of wise and knowing kings and queens that stand silent sentry on lofty plinths above the city they call home.