Grand Autumn Bazaar, 30th October

Thank goodness for the weather this time! Not quite the same conditions as the bizarre bazaar of last year though.

The plans this time were a little different. I’d been asked for activities for children, so the committee room magically transformed itself into a mini workshop. Alix Downing had arranged various plans to keep the little ones entertained. Julia Wilkie’s niece, May, was a whizz with the face painting, Lindi Harper and Rosie Hunt organized a rota of mask making, Mandy Castle made cakes to be decorated, and Carol Pybus’s granddaughter, Anousha, was a floating fairy throughout, helping everybody. At least Alix had the chance to sit down, albeit on a tiny chair, giving the impression she’d been sent to the “naughty step”……raising almost £46 in the process. That’s a lot of little prizes. Alix did confide that her husband David was an energetic assistant, and she couldn’t have done it without him. It’s nice to be appreciated, so thanks to everyone in the “grotto”

I’d wanted to use the rear store room as a Food Hall to showcase the products that will be available in the new shop, but needed to create a rustic atmosphere. Step forward Bill Pybus. I saw some hessian-style fabric by his tables on the common for the cricket club event, and asked Bill if it could be hung on the walls as a backdrop. “No worries”, said Bill, a frequently used phrase of his, “but what you’re looking at are actually dust sheets. Would you like me to obtain some new ones to hang?” Well, who noticed they were dust sheets? Julie Bettone then offered half the contents of her garage, or so it seemed, which Bill also had to collect….in his spare time!

Local food displayThe day before the bazaar, a team of display artists turned up to wreak havoc. Julie’s corner unit, a set of dresser shelves, and the pine settle were soon part of the scenery, along with some hay bales lent and wheel barrowed in by John Galliford. Julie and Martina Coleman unpacked box after case of goodies, using the card tables draped with cloths donated by Dean and Andy. I still feel guilty that they washed them all afterwards too, so I do apologise, gentlemen. Jenny Galliford and Carol Pybus arrived bearing floral arrangements to be displayed, as Heather Hall and I arranged tables in the main room.

The kitchen, run as a highly efficient refreshment room by Julia Wilkie, was a hive of activity. Her merry band consisted of Barbara Orchard, Heather Hall, Pam Morris, Carol Pybus, Val Poole, Angela Summers and Val Stearne, who all volunteered to fill over a hundred savoury rolls, with Tom Sheldon spotted in his usual position of stirring a cauldron of mulled wine. . I cannot thank highly enough, or indeed name all of the crowd of talented ladies who produced cakes (I don’t know why I wasn’t asked to do any baking…), but thank you all so much. The food was fantastic, and there was certainly very little left at the end of the day.

Before all this was starting, at 8.00 a.m, Jonny Morris and Bob Wanstall turned up to help me assemble a range of gazebos. As I proved to be of neither use nor ornament, I gave my space to the rest of the chaps who thankfully arrived on cue. Pete Young, Bob Wilkie, (who then went on to work in the Post Office), Jeff Harris, Andy Fraser and Brendan Munster all bravely left the comfort of their beds to sort out piles of poles, joints and covers. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, Bob dashed off to locate a couple of vital components still languishing in a garage, while another gazebo remained roofless. All this before breakfast! Norman Henstridge, Andy Fraser and Helena Datta-Pauline saved the day by producing spare gazebos(how did they do that?), Stewart and Heather arrived with the final gazebo to complete the picture and we were done with a sigh of relief.

Jenny and John Galliford produced assorted sets of fairy lights, and left the winding of bulbs and bunting to the chaps. Thank you Brendan, for the industrial extension cable. My girlie effort was deemed unsuitable for the job in hand. It’s definitely a bloke thing….vive la difference!

Home-made in Woodgreen – Pizzas and quichesJulie Bottone provided the wow factor with a wooden box of delightfully decorated pumpkins to set on the centre refreshment tables, plates of tasters and samples were set up, stall holders arrived and we were off! Then our problems started….no I didn’t mean that! The weather stayed fine for the most part, it was calm enough not to tie men to the legs of the gazebos, and it seemed as though the whole village turned up to look and enjoy.

Outside, the stars of the show had to be the alpacas, kindly brought by Nikki of Faraway Alpacas in Godshill. Well, who doesn’t want one for Christmas? Mandy Castle’s mother certainly did, so you’ll just have to make her a cake shaped version instead, Mandy! The inside entertainment was provided by Andrea and visiting musicians, press ganged for the occasion, from several corners of the globe. Thank you, Andrea, for organising the music which was much appreciated.

The entry fees were taken by Howard, Brian, Jim and Kevin Coleman. Thank you gentlemen. Unfortunately, I was naive enough to think that visitors would walk down the path and in through the front door to pay the pound. With regret, some people just wandered in from the car park, despite Pete Skinner providing a fenced barrier, so I ‘m to blame for the entrance takings not being higher. Thanks go to Pete, as usual, for providing his signs around assorted local villages. Every time I went out, more seemed to have multiplied during the night. Which, knowing Pete, they probably had.

Merryl had been commandeered to be a floating helper wherever needed, and had to do a few dashes to the shops to collect such things as carrier bags. There’s always something that’s forgotten. Later, bless her heart, she was wedged between Usborne Books and Mandy Castle, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, controlling the raffle table, and taking £193. Mel Reynolds employed his best sales pitch, and sold almost £300 for Crazy Pete’s Christmas Draw, tickets for which are still available in the shop. Bob Wilkie made a free standing display unit to sell cards from the shop, Bryn Parry, and the delightful mural designs from the Village Hall. His stand was cleverly placed on a small card table, and raised just over £120. It’s amazing what can be achieved in a very small area. Well done Bob and thank you.

The final total for the day raised just over £1550, so a huge thank you to everyone who helped, visited and saved the day. And again to Merryl, who asked Howard for £2, promptly putting it in the electricity meter. Just imagine if the lights had gone out!

Bill’s final words were, “See, I told you not to worry, kiddo”. So I didn’t….

Kate Ratcliffe.