Cardiff Christmas Market

Leek Snoods & Truckles

By Caitlin O’Sullivan

Winter is not my favourite time of year, it’s not even my second favourite season. I hate how cold and slippery everything gets, I hate the flooding and disaster, I hate the poor public transport links, I hate waking up early under my two 13.5 tog duvets and not seeing sunlight. Having to shiver over to where I left my slippers and fluffy jumper, burrow into my dressing gown and trudge across the tundra of wooden floor to my kettle. I hate having to go to work in the dark, and come home in the dark. There is however one good thing about winter, and that’s Christmas. I love every single medium of Christmas; the annoying songs in every single shop, the sea of red Christmas pudding hats, the ugly jumpers, Christmas movies playing way too early, the excuse to feast and drink mulled wine, the constant and homely smell of gravy.

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I remember the first Christmas I ever spent in this country, having started at a new school I hated, wearing a uniform too big and not suitable for the freezing winds of the Llanelli coast, depressed and friendless, spending time with family I didn’t know, and without hot water. My mom and I went on the Christmas shopping trip my school arranged to the Bath Christmas Market. On the bus, the teachers passed around plastic cups and gave all the grown ups some red wine (I drank most of mom’s). In an ‘olde times’ Christmas decorations shop, with a toy train going around and around in the shop window, we bought one of my mom’s greatest regrets- the shoe tree. An amalgamation of interestingly detailed shoes, and a mini Christmas tree. Mom tries to convince me to sell it, and I veto her every year.

Having lived in Winchester I drew particular pleasure in collecting my cup of hot cider on my home from evening lectures, watching the ice skaters, and wishing I could afford the wonders on display in the tiny wooden huts. Now back in Wales it is my pleasure to indulge the Lighter Journal in its first Christmas post.

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As stated in my previous articles, Cardiff is wonderful. Even in the cold wet months of winter it’s still delightful, especially after a rugby match; when the pubs are full of red-clad warriors singing at the top of their lungs, and the Cardiff Christmas Market is lit. Despite my excitement to see all the wares and eat roasted chestnuts and popcorn, I could hardly get close enough to see the huts. The queues were heaving with bodies pressed close as shark mothers swam through, forcing us out of the way with their prams. It just so happened that today Wales was playing, and that meant that the entire population of our tiny peninsula was in Cardiff downing pints. Like a cat with a piece of bread on its face, so were the Welsh fans with big fabric leek snoods.

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After a few hours of browsing, and strategic gift-buying, and four cheese truckles (from Caws Cenarth and The Snowdonia Cheese Company), my mother and I settled into an ‘authentic German tavern’, with a cow sitting on the roof, for some well-deserved mulled wine. Club music far too loud, wild green and purple disco lights danced around the room, but it was a Saturday evening. Not only parents and children shopped for presents, but also women in tiny, tiny dresses and big heels, the only thing between us and a nip-slip was a thin layer of body tape. And there I was shivering in my turtleneck, coat, scarf, hiking socks and boots. I took my lighter photo over the best part of the market, the food area, with smells of meat and beer. The castle is just around the corner, lit up with deer and guarded by brave and noble police horses, being pampered by public affection.

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There’s something really warming about giving gifts, and as I picked out things for my sister, and my boyfriend’s mother, and quietly wrote down things for my own mother, I was filled with that crazy joy imagining it all hidden under the tree, wrapped to the nines.

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Editor: Joel Emmons

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