Living Arrows: a little moment of the week to pause, savour and treasure
The German market arrived in Birmingham in early November, little wooden chalets popping up in the early morning and the smell of spice and sausages drifting down the street, but it wasn’t until I was counting down the last couple of weeks to my Christmas holiday that I realised that we just weren’t going to make it up at the weekend and H decided to bring the littlest two up to see me. Elma was beside herself with excitement. Not only was she going to go on a train but she’d see Mama’s office too and Mama’s friends – and the last time she came to my office my boss let her colour herself and a lot of paper with his highlighters, I think she may think that’s what I do as a job.
And so when the phone rang and I looked down out of my window, there next to H was a very excited little girl hopping up and down.
Pip on the other side was less than impressed with my lovely colleagues. He flung himself into my arms from which vantage point he proceeded to eye them all warily. Then the sceptical look turned to a frown, and then, as he realised that these were the people who STEAL MUMMY EVERY DAY the full Churchillian stink eye was deployed in full force. Pip does not share Mummy and he was adamant that they should know it. And as his displeasure turned to wails we scooted him out and off in search of some lunch.
I’ve lived in this part of the world for eleven years now and I associate the German market with steaming mugs of mulled wine, hot sausages, cold feet and a decided nip in the air.
This week I wondered why I’d brought my jacket and even the work-appropriate non-alcoholic hot juice seemed unappealingly warm. But in nod to tradition we did tuck into hot sausages (full marks from Pip, less certain reviews from Elma), a waffle and Elma’s favourite, grapes on a skewer drenched in chocolate.
It was so lovely to spend that little extra time with them during the week and just wander around and enjoy the Christmassyness of it all, but my highlight, and I’m certain Elma’s too, was the carousel.
Thanks to a summer spent whirling around French towns and cities we’ve become connoisseurs of a good carousel and the one in Birmingham (a permanent feature rather than part of the market) is a lot of fun. Pip and I opted for a ride in the sleigh because horses and nice work dresses do not mix, and Elma decided to come and join us, while H found a horse called Kate from which to survey the scene.
I think we may have been the only people on the ride at the time, I couldn’t see anyone else and the guy running it had time to come and take some photos for us which was very kind.
We spun around and the market whirled past in a blur of Christmas lights and gingerbread, the music of the carousel dancing with the carols from across the square. One look at Elma’s face said it all. This was her idea of perfect.
And as I waved them off across the square and got back to the important task of helping the rest of the team decimate the Christmas sweetie box on our goodie shelf, my last sight was of Elma, skipping and jumping and dancing her way down the path; happiness personified.