The Hatfield House Frost Fair is buzzing with festive feeling as we arrive. The juggling entertainer is delighting the children with his tricks and visitors are wandering around or relaxing on a bench with a warm drink.
We approach the Palace green and see a group of white marquees lined up and packed with exhibitors. Inside, we enjoy the wonderful displays of Christmas decorations from glittering baubles to miniature glass angels. I buy a Christmas diamante brooch of a leaping reindeer and a Scandinavian style decoration of a winter elf.
I’m beginning to feel Christmassy and can’t wait to see more. We step into the next marquee bustling with shoppers and are bombarded with a huge variety of colourful and sparkling merchandise; from alpaca scarves to well designed leather handbags; from fruit gins to woodcarvings of herons, lions and horses.
I’m drawn to a stall displaying bespoke silver jewellery, and it’s official! I have now started my Christmas shopping and buy my niece a pretty silver necklace with a contemporary design. I spot the perfect pink woollen hat for my daughter; it’s so pretty with sparkles on. My husband smiles kindly and gently breaks the news to me that, as she is no longer ten years old, she would never wear it!
We chat with a stallholder selling football paraphernalia and buy a couple of unusual historic prints of my brother’s favourite football team. He’ll be fascinated to find out that most football strips were an entirely different colour when the teams were founded.
After shopping we step outside into the pale sunlight. Visitors are tucking into pulled pork baguettes and mince pies. We enjoy a freshly made banana and chocolate crepe each. Before we leave I buy a cup of mulled cider; it’s really warming with a sweet apple punch and spicy undertones. My husband has a Cadbury’s drink called The Works, a huge hot chocolate laden with cream and topped with marshmallows and cinnamon.
I sit quietly on a bench, immersed in the festive atmosphere and breathing in the crisp autumn air; we enjoy listening to the rock choir singing out Leonard Cohen’s Hallelulia; my husband looks over at me and notices my eyes well up. That song gets me every time!