When I lived in London, we used to go to the Islington Farmer’s Market, which was great. There was a man there who sold baby lettuce leaves by the bag, and his leaves were so tasty. They had real bite and flavour to them and were far removed from supermarket lettuce which melts on the tongue and tastes of not very much, so as to appeal to as many people as possible. You couldn’t move for Bugaboos (including our own) and it was all very north London, but it was fun and there was raw milk sold (something I really miss) and great bread (something I no longer have to miss now I make my own).
When we moved to Suffolk, it took us a while to find the Lavenham Farmer’s Market which is now my favourite farmer’s market of all time. It’s held once a month (the next one is this Sunday, 23rd, it’s held on the fourth Sunday of every month), not once a week like our London one. There is usually plenty of parking and there is always something unusual to find. It’s not huge, but it’s not small either. Each time I go I find something amazing and different and have the best chats with people, from those who grow their own heritage apples, to the honey man from The Beehouse Honey Co in Great Yeldham who told me all about his bees and how different ones had different personalities and we had a honey tasting, as sophisticated as any wine tasting.
One month we were walking round when my eldest got a really itchy neck (she suffers from mild eczema) and I looked round and there was this stand selling natural products, called Honey bee Natural Beauty, which uses honey and beeswax from their own hives. It was very Neals Yard-esque and the products smelled amazing (you know how sometimes you find these natural products and they smell just like what they are, made up in someone’s kitchen? Well these aren’t like that. There’s an orange body lotion that smells well posh and proper and I am going to buy it next time). And I said to the man “Do you have anything for eczema?” and lo and behold, he produced something called “Vitamin A Cream for Eczema Prone Skin” which cost £9 and really helps (it doesn’t cure of course since no one knows what causes eczema, but in our battery of creams and lotions, this earns its place).
And I’ve met people there, from Slamseys Drinks, who sell amazing gin with fantastic labels, like nothing you’d find anywhere else.
I always stock up on Edward’s Cordials (strawberry and mint is great for the summer and there’s a new flavour coming soon but I forgot what it is…).
If you’ve never been to Lavenham it’s well worth a look around. It’s bonkers. I think it has the highest number of listed buildings of anywhere in England, but I may have made that statistic up (oh the glorious freedom of blog posts, no need to check facts like in newspapers). Lavenham has some great art galleries and I go in there with my children and no-one gets sniffy (my children are amazingly appropriately behaved though, as I’ve taken them everywhere with me from a very young age). Although there is one shop that says “breakages must be paid for” so that shop doesn’t get my custom because who needs that shit?
Afterwards we sometimes go to Clare, which is another amazing little Suffolk village that has proper shops. We go to Cafe Clare there, (1 Well Lane) which is tiny and quaint and we always have great service and lovely food there. It’s not the Wolseley but a great place to get a cup of coffee and a sausage sandwich and they are always accommodating to our children (I’ve seen them let dogs in too if that is relevant to you).