Sunday, 29 November 2009

THE SEMAPHORE STREET FAIR

I have just this moment been blown in through the front door, after a wonderful time at the fair. I didn't exactly forget to take my camera, but one way or another I didn't have it with me! So, lets get ourselves a coffee and meet back here in a few minutes .... and I will see if I can paint a picture for you, to make you feel that you too have wound your way through the many worlds and layers of this colourful, vibrant and artistic, windy street fair.

The last few days has seen this little seaside suburb almost blown to the other side of Adelaide! Rain has lashed the windows hour after hour, day after day, and the wild south westerly winds sent a sheet of sand, as sharp as a razor, screaming along the beach. But the people of Semaphore are a hardy bunch and resisted cancelling their first Street Fair despite the rain and wind still howling at 9am this morning! By 11am, when the fair opened, all the rain had gone and the sun shone brilliantly, leaving only a gentler but nevertheless persistent wind for stall-holders to deal with.

Semaphore Road runs for a kilometre or so down what used to be a gently sloping, grassy sandhill all the way to the beach and is a perfect setting for....well.... anything! The street is lined with all kinds of interesting shops. Down the centre of the road is a lovely, wide stretch of grass, lined with small, shady, very appropriate seaside trees. Families sat on the grass with a picnic, eating anything from Aussie pies, sausages and onions, beautiful salads and cheeses, prawns on skewers to Russian piroshkis, icecreams and gelatis.

Either side of this strip, shop owners and others had set up colourful stalls displaying a variety of wares, often made by the stall holders themselves and of such diversity to be quite astonishing I thought.  But that's not all, there were things to do, like writing your comments in chalk, on the road, around a magnificent chalk sketch of an old mill, about what you think should be done with the local mill nearby that is due to be knocked down by developers. A games shop had set up learn-to-juggle groups and the roadway was littered with children and hoops and balls while juggling sticks and beanbags filled the sky above and fell down on passers-by!

How was your coffee? I see mine is all gone.... I wonder who drank it!

One lane was lined with classic Ford cars; bright reds and blues and oranges glistening in the sun, bonnets proudly raised like a line of chorus girls! In another shop I saw a book called "Mad Cars Disease".... how appropriate. Outside the old folks home was a table of things the residents had made for a fundraiser and nearby stood a young lad playing the saxophone as cyclists roared down one section which was fenced off for races. And in between the stalls, cafes filled any available space with chairs and tables of any and every shape and size, and all were bulging with customers, dogs, coffee and food. And talking of dogs.... one young couple were doing sketches of people's dogs, right there in the hustle and bustle of the fair.

Down near the sea, I came across a table of loofas, coloured and made into soaps. I spoke to the smiling lady who told me she lives in Brighton (another seaside suburb) and grows all her own loofas in a glasshouse she has especially for them! She also makes things out of wood.... kitchen knives, serving utensils and chopping boards. All this to the sounds of a group of African style drummers, at the eastern end of the road and a man playing a digeridoo and a guitar, both at once, at the western end!

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The wind was proving especially tricky for Elana, whose exquisite calendars fluttered and flapped across her table. The calendars are filled with her fabulous photos of local beaches and other Adelaide places, as well as some themed calendars such as my favourite..... benches. She designs much of her work online and it can be seen and ordered at redbubble.... where anyone can upload their own photos too and have them made into calendars.

Then there was the man who, for some crazy reason, imports chunks of pink, Himalayan salt, carved into lamps by craftsmen of the foothills of the Himalayan mountains! There was a lovely stall of genuine Aboriginal artwork made into cushion covers, diary covers and so many creative things. Clothing and jewelry, local or fairtrade, fluttered and tinkled in the wind and by the end I had a hard time keeping my several bags under control. I managed to find nearly all the Christmas presents I needed and a couple of things for me too.... so much better to buy from people you meet than a faceless shop.

Charities and Community groups flourished too ...in fact almost every facet of life was represented at Semaphore today.... except for vegetable gardeners.... maybe something to remember for next year. I would like to congratulate Stuart and his colleagues who had the foresight to put together such an inclusive and culturally vibrant fair and who did not give in to the weather!

Phew.... after all that writing for me and reading for you, it is time to go outside and see to the olive tree and elderberry bushes I bought at the farmers' market before I went to the Semaphore Street fair! The loveliest thing I saw today was a little plaque which read:

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched; they can only be felt in your heart.

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