The village I live in has recently gone overboard for the Homespun Community zeitgeist currently in evidence across our green and pleasant land. Two new initiatives have started up recently for local people to sell their wares, one aimed at small businesses/sole traders/crafts people and the other aimed purely at craftspeople.
The Billimarket ( www.facebook.com/BilliMarket) started up in September and has in a very short time become a popular monthly event where you can find all manner of goods and services for sale from beautiful beaded jewellery all designed and handmade by the lovely Lisa of Beadelicious Jewellery ( https://www.facebook.com/beadeliciousjewellery)
Pretty glass, swarovski crystal and sterling silver beaded bracelets by Beadelicious Jewellery
to yummy cakes by Sharon Walker (https://www.facebook.com/cakesbysharonwalker) with all kinds of things in between including fused glass giftware, plants, stitched gifts (bunting, aprons, lavender filled hearts) and beauty therapy treatments. Each month sees a slight variation in traders and this probably helps to keep it fresh as you can never be certain exactly who will be there. The Billimarket is held once a month on the 3rd Thursday in the village hall (now grandly renamed Conference and Community Centre) from 1pm to 4pm.
A second new venture to hit the village is the opening (after several years of prevarication) of a sort of artists co-operative/collective shop. Called (imaginatively ????) Billingshurst Creatives (www.facebook.com/billingshurstcreatives ) the shop sells all manner of locally hand-made gifts, artwork and photography, including crochet and stitched gifts by Katja of Katinka Designs ( www.facebook.com/katinkadesigns) , quirky accessories and gifts by GreenGillyDee (http://www.etsy.com/people/greengillydee) as well as cushions and doorstops by Khaya Bella ( https://www.facebook.com/KhayaBellaLtd), lovely silver jewellery by Silver Torch (https://www.facebook.com/TheSilverTorch?ref=ts&fref=ts ) and some delightful and unusual quirky ceramic pieces (sadly I can’t remember the name of the maker). I do have one small criticism which is that many of the Makers are selling their products a bit too cheaply. The goods on sale are generally of a high standard and of sufficient variety to suit every pocket, but the general pricing tends to be lower which I think is a bad thing as it sends out a subliminal message to purchasers that handmade is of lesser value than factory made goods, when actually the opposite is true.
On the day I visited (and purchased some goods) I asked the ladies on duty if I could take a couple of photos for this blog. One of the ladies behind the counter snapped to attention and told me very brusquely, in fact rather rudely, that the Billingshurst Creatives do not usually like private individuals writing about them in case something negative is said, and they have their own marketing team which deals with positive publicity. I was allowed to take my photos on the proviso that I didn’t say anything negative about the shop. Interesting, as I wasn’t actually thinking of saying anything negative until that moment, when of course I then felt duty-bound to relate the saga to anyone who might be interested! I can only think that the lady was under the impression that the recommendations from the Leveson report into press standards and regulation also applied to blogs! Despite this snippy lady, the Creatives shop is worth a visit if you are looking for an unusual handmade small gift.
The Billingshurst Creatives shop, jam-packed with creative goodies
The first Saturday in December has become the established date for the annual Billifest. This community event sounds far grander than it actually is, even its name hints at fun and frolics and a carnival atmosphere. Sadly the reality could not be further from the truth. Billifest is held in the car park of what is probably the ugliest shopping precinct still standing, and is itself not without a whiff of controversy! The first year of this now annual event saw the village High Street closed to cars and a French market set up down its length trading alongside the normal village shops. The atmosphere was definitely buzzing, a bit of a contrast to the more recent events. This year however saw the introduction of a Sussex Food Market to replace the French market which over the years had dwindled in size and variety. Although not huge, the food market sold some fantastic locally made foods including jams and chutneys, the most delicious pies and the tastiest (and Award Winning) Goats Cheese from Nut Knowle Farm, Horam, East Sussex.
The Cheeseman from Nut Knowle Farm Yummy Sussex pies
The Pickle Lady with some of her lovely jams, pickles and chutneys
At the back of the car park was a huge marquee housing stands and stalls from local village based vendors and community groups such as the Weald School fund raising for the Kenya project and the Guides and Scouts as well as the Wey and Arun Canal Trust and local playgroups. Between the food market and community market were a couple of small fairground rides for small children and a traditional Punch and Judy show.
Wisborough Greens locally grown vegetables and a festive looking Santa Punch and Judy
All in all, the Billifest was an OK event, not really attracting huge crowds and not much of a festival ‘vibe’; more of a siesta than fiesta.