Hebden Bridge Market
Wtitten by RoryD
Another tale from one of the local markets in West Yorkshire written by RoryD. Why not visit his website www.saltpepper.co.uk to see the fine selection of peppercorns available from his webshop?
Hebden Bridge Market on a Thursday.
Stalls cost £13.40. It should have been my second week, but the heavy rain last week helped me to give in to my "market stall inertia". We arrive at 8.15am and get allocated a stall just before 9.00. I stand all of my herbs and spices up in proud rows, colour coded, and arranged around a fine display of our spice boxes. A sharp gust of wind scatters them all and forces me to re-think my merchandising strategies. As the day progresses, it turns out that I have the flower mans pitch, as more and more people ask me where he is. The greengrocer knows he’s on holiday, and someone thinks he’s got a cottage on Jersey or Guernsey, but I’m sure some of his regulars think that I’ve knocked him off.
On my left is Salim, a Greek olive seller from Afghanistan. He sells great fat queen olives stuffed with lemon and sweet cloves of pickled garlic that crunch surprisingly odourlessly between your teeth. I know where he lives, because his English is so poor that he asks me to fill in his market licence slip, with his name address and national insurance number on it. On my right, a lady is selling ethically produced soaps and perfumes. She buys wholesale in Rochdale and Sheffield. ‘Two things in this game’ she says. Keep your wholesalers local, and your stock levels at a minimum.’ Another key thing (is that three now?) is that you have no minimum orders at the wholesalers. That’s important too.
I’m really pushing my Brazilian pink peppercorns. I’ve got little bowls of them all the way down the stall. Most people will have a taste, and find them sweet and light and floral, with a gentle pepper taste coming through at the end. My patter starts to improve. ‘Yes, and we also sell Indian Muntock White, Indian Green and 8 different varieties of black peppercorns too, from mild Indonesian Lampong, to a spicy big Ecuadorian.’ And as the patter gets better, I start to relax. One man says how nice the packaging is, which makes me beam like a 10 year old.
The day gets better and better. I have a really nice conversation with a lady who takes a piece of cinnamon stick and adds it to water with honey and lemon, and a lady who uses juniper berries to fry cabbage with butter and garlic.
Behind me, the man who runs the organic stall is sitting writing in his fold up chair. I momentarily wonder if there is a secret society of frustrated writers, all with their own market stall, and then to what he is writing. I then panic as I think he’s writing about me…. “There’s a tall bloke started today. Not from round here. Selling Herbs and Spices. He’ll never last.”
Strawberries are really big this week. Big as in lots of them, and big as in, well just huge. Our 1 year old tries to stuff a whole one in his mouth, as we are packing up. I watch his face get redder and redder, before he bites it in half and lets one sloppy mouthful escape down his chin. When we get home, we blend them up with a banana, some natural yoghurt, orange juice and some fresh mint for a smoothie as we count up our takings.
Where it is: