Mill Road Winter Fair

shoplocalsmallbusiness satToday is Small Business Saturday, Shop Local Saturday and also of course the busiest and best day in the Mill Road calendar – Mill Road Winter Fair! The event, which began in 2005 and is now held on the first Saturday of each December, has been in the planning for many months and will see residents, shops and the local community coming together to celebrate the area and all that it has to offer.

The Fair is well known for its musical delights and this year looks set to be no exception. If you were on the bridge at last years Fair you may well have felt the earth move whilst watching The Brass Funkeys – there were reports that the bridge was, quite literally, shaking as people danced and enjoyed themselves! This year you can find the band hosting ‘The Brass Funkeys presents…’ outside Code Hairdressers on Mill Road, as part of Code’s Christmas Cracker. The band will be playing at around 3pm and during the day you can also catch Wil Buchanon, Thudbox, Live and Let Funk and Balkanoes on the stage. Code will also be serving mulled wine and cider and there’ll be lots of other activities including vintage hairdos and facepainting.

MRWFJC 3All along Mill Road there will be lots of other performers and musicians throughout the day, including the Jackson Creek Band at 2pm by the Avenue of Limes whilst at the same time The Scissors are playing at Ditchburn Gardens and The Centimes will be at Gwydir Street Car park. Argyle Street Housing Co-operative will also be hosting their much loved Winter Fair stage, with music from 11am – including the Arco Iris Samba Band at 13:40, Dave Crow Barr at 15:00, Jam Band Caravan at 16:00 and Fara Fiddle at 17:00. This will culmiate in an ASH Co-op Jam on the stage around 18:30. As well as music, ASH Co-op car park will of course also be playing host to a range of stalls selling festive gifts and goodies, second hand goods and plenty of books.

Other activities include a Craft Market at the drama studio on Covent Garden, where you can find The Map Project team and lots of art and craft stalls. There will also be a Winter Wardrobe Fashion Show at the Salisbury Club on Mill Road, the Cambridge Lindy Hoppers dancing in the streets of Romsey and the Carnival Parade – which will be setting off from the town end of Mill Road around 12:15 before making its way down to Coleridge Road.

MRWF JC 2One of the great things about Mill Road Winter Fair is being able to wander between all the different shops, many of whom are offering homemade food and drink on stalls outside. There will also be a number of food stalls at Gwydir Street Car Park, including Mr Cake – he’s the chap that made the papers last year when he left his job by icing his resignation letter onto a cake!

With so much going on, there’s bound to be something to suit just about everyone. Hope everyone has a great Fair! :o)

Romsey Art Festival

Romsey Art Festival posterThe first ever Romsey Art Festival starts on Saturday and will run until 17th August. The idea for the festival was developed by a group of artists at Cambridge Art Salon last year and over the last few months they have been busy organising and co-ordinating a whole host of events to run across the fortnight – including art activities, exhibitions and a market, as well as poetry, film screenings, music, workshops and talks.

Art Market PosterThis Saturday looks set to be the main day of activity, with events taking place throughout Romsey and along Mill Road. There will be an Arts & Crafts Market organised by LittleBiggs – local artists Ceri Ann Littlechild and Dan Biggs – featuring jewellery, ceramics and various art works for sale, as well as portrait artists on hand on the day and also a live mural painting which everyone can join in. The market runs from 10am until 3pm at Hope Street Yard and there will also be food stalls there courtesy of local ice cream extraordinaire Jacks Gelato and burger experts Steak & Honour. A little further down Mill Road you can find Cambridge Cinema Shorts presenting films at Romsey Labour Club, including a children’s screening at 11am and a 15+ screening at 2pm. There’s also a Bento Workshop at the Junction from 12-3pm and a Creative Writing Workshop run by Patrick Widdess at the Bath House on Gwydir Street from 2-5pm; and if you missed the recent Cambridge Open Studios exhibitions then you can catch artists Susie Olczak & Harry Gray hosting their own open studios at 53a St Philips Road from 10am-5pm.

Shindig closing partyDr Doodleys Drink & Draw is a fortnightly meet up for local artists which started last year, and on 6th August Sa’adiah Khan will be hosting their next event – ‘Collabradoodle’ will look at challenging ideas of control and restraint in art and is at Hot Numbers from 7-9pm. The Cambridge Map Project will also be hosting various events (see the festival blog for more info and a full list of events) and if you’re planning to head down to the festival then do keep an eye out for new art works popping up around you – the event organisers were recently looking for residents and groups to donate the walls of their buildings for art. Rounding off proceeedings on 17th August will be a special closing party, hosted by Shindig. If you haven’t heard of Shindig before it’s a collaboration of alternative music, arts and entertainment and they host regular nights across Cambridge, including Mill Road. The closing party will be held at St Philip’s Church on the corner of Thoday Street, 8-11pm.

It looks like there’ll be plenty going on and lots of new things to try – I love Japanese food and really want to go along to the Bento Workshop, but it’s on at the same time as the Creative Writing Workshop, and the Art & Craft Market… decisions, decisions!

We’re cool

Mill Road is one of the coolest places to live in Britain, according to an article in this weeks Times newspaper. Described as having a “vibrant array of independent shops and a strong community spirit”, Mill Road came in at No.26 in the top 30 list – beating the Somerset town of Glastonbury by one place, but coming just behind Brixton in south London. First place went to Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire.

The article describes Mill Road as “the frontline for town and gown” before going on to say that it “divides smart Petersfield, a favourite with university staff, from homes in Romsey built for railway workers” – as detailed on Mill Road’s wikipedia page. Though having lived in the area for a long time, I’m not so sure this ‘divide’ is still in existence today.

Mill RoadThose of us that live, work, socialise and shop around Mill Road will already know what a great place it is – not just Mill Road itself, but also the local side streets and their exciting goings on. There’s far too much to list in this particular blog article, but it’s probably worth mentioning that Mill Road was part of the very first Eat Cambridge festival, earlier this month, and the first Romsey Art Festival will be taking place in the area in August. Also the Mill Road area was recently the location for the video to Mikill Pane’s new single – Good Feeling (released this week).

That’s just a little taster of some of the things happening around here. As you may find yourself saying, there’s something about Mill Road… .

A Fair Do!

MRWF trufflesI hope everyone enjoyed Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday. There was so much going on that I didn’t even get to see half the things I had hoped to, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. What better way to start the day than with some foodie delights, so I decided to make some dark chocolate and dragon ginger truffles first thing in the morning. Although I am not vegan myself, I have tested various truffle recipes over the last few months and the one that tastes most delicious just happens to be vegan. They seemed to go down a treat with everyone that tried them and I had a few people ask me to make some for them to give as presents – so I will probably be spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen over the next couple of weeks!

MRWF ASh Co-opI did a tour of the very busy Food Fair at Gwydir Street car park, which had some amazing edibles. The crowds were so great that you could only move in one direction, so if you passed a stall without stopping it wasn’t easy to go back. The Afternoon Tease stall had already sold out of all three (!) chocolate and Guinness cakes by the time I arrived, but I did treat myself to one of their lovely rum cup cakes. I saw some delicious looking burgers at one of the farmshop stalls and decided that I had to have one, but then I realised that there was a very long queue indeed, so I’m afraid I gave up. I tasted lots of food at the Fair including a lovely free jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw, courtesy of ‘Joseph’ outside Mill Road Baptist church. But I have to say my favourite food of all was the chickpea curry at Lally’s News, it was really warming and spicy, and possibly the best vegetarian curry I have ever tasted – Amrik and Raj are known locally for their delicious curries, and deservedly so.

MRWF Ash Co-opThere was lots of music along Mill Road and I saw people jiving on the Broadway. At one point I could hear my friends band playing on Mill Road bridge. I heard later from others that so many people were dancing to the music on the bridge during the day that the bridge, rather worryingly, actually started to shake (eek!). There was some great music at Argyle Street Housing Co-op in the afternoon, including musicians from the Jam Band Caravan collective playing folk and reggae, and I even heard some thrash metal at one point (!).

MRWF Mulled WineMyself and Mr Mill Road decided to pop in to the Earl of Beaconsfield in the afternoon in the hope of having a nice warm cup of coffee, but when we arrived the place was packed and everyone seemed to be drinking mulled wine – which sounded like a marvellous idea, and so we ordered some without hesitating. I don’t normally drink red wine, but mulled wine is different and this one tasted so nice that I decided to go and buy the ingredients (cloves, dried ginger, a cinnamon stick and a bottle of Chilean red) on Mill Road so I could try making some at home. The resulting mulled wine was great and I shall definitely be trying this again over the next few weeks (probably quite a few times!).

MRWF ReindeerFor me though, the best part of the Fair was bumping into so many friends as well as chatting to lots of people I’d never met before; and the absolute highlight for me was getting to meet my friends’ daughter for the first time – who at just two and a half weeks old was possibly the Fair’s youngest visitor! A massive well done to everyone involved in making Mill Road Winter Fair happen, including the Committee and all the visitors that came along on the day – it’s great to live in such a diverse and inclusive area that has so many community-minded people.