Friday, 13 December 2013

Illuminate - Perth Christmas Markets

I'm sure I attended Christmas markets in my youth, but the first I distinctly remember was from the summer the family spent in Genova. Dad was involved in some work at the university there so Mum, my sister and I joined him, spending a month living in the Genovese suburb of Nervi whilst enjoying the strange sights, the sounds and the tastes on offer to us.

In the lead up to Christmas we visited the city's expansive market, getting a taste for the magical atmosphere. Against the biting evening air, long avenues of brightly lit booths stretched out into the winter night, selling an array of glacĂ© fruits, deep fried doughnuts and the most beautifully crafted marzipan fruits. At the time it was sweet-tooth's delight with an unusualness that set it as a benchmark against which to compare all other markets.

Living in London, my love of the winter Christmas markets was reinforced by the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park where cutesy Alpine huts served as stalls selling trinkets and ornaments against a backdrop of German gluhwein, sausages and rides, and the avenue of stalls on the Southbank. On these occasions is the bright lights and cheer at a time of year when the sun sets as early as 10 minutes to four mingled with the cold air and occasional snow. I came to love nothing more than wandering through the festive cheer rugged up in my winter woollies, all the while ignoring the chill that was slowly penetrating though my gloves and felt-lined boots. 

This year I am in Perth while my mother is visiting the Christmas markets in Germany, rubbing it in through the wonders of modern technology. So I decided to visit the markets at the Perth Cultural Centre, dragging the loveable N along for company. In the midst of a run of 35+C days, it was not the time for gloves and winter coats, but instead thin t-shirts and shorts and the omnipresent set of sunnies strategically perched on top of the head, or tucked into the neckline of one's top.

My prime motivation was that I was missing the markets of Europe, but I also suspected that Delish Ice would be there, and after the day's summery weather (read 39C) was craving an icy pole.

Besides, there was still some Christmas/birthday presents that needed to be bought and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

In the centre of the frog pond someone is warbling along to something musical but with no ear for music and a greater focus on food and presents it is perhaps not surprising I can't provide any details. 

Pausing to determine our next move (icy poles consumed) it delighted me to see our Art Gallery gift wrapped, the perfect present for some other city in dire need of a collection of unexciting art. Perhaps that is rude, but I do insist that the best thing in that building is the gift shop. 


Around the side an old fashioned animation creeped N out as we contemplated dinner and present buying - in that order. 

Grabbing a bite to eat, we headed for the Urban Orchard to devour it in peace, in amongst the herbs and fruit trees. Its a rather delightful place to relax and well worth checking out, even if only for the opportunity to forage for strawberries and white mulberries. On this particular night it was packed, a well stocked bar at one end and dozens of children at the other, all interspersed with more shops and food stalls.

I love the little blonde girl looking no doubt to learn how to use chopsticks to eat noodles in the least messy way possible. 

As we gathered together our purchases and headed back to the car, through the rowdy streets of Northbridge, it was nice to see that families were still reclining on the steps, making the most of the cool evening air.

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