Early on a Sunday morning as the last of my preserves were loaded into a van, I must admit I felt a nervous flush of pride as it spelled us being ready to head of to Harrogate for The Guild of Fine Food Show.

 

It was a fair old jaunt from West Wales to Harrogate and on arrival there was a buzz of stallholders bustling about getting their stands set up. The other exhibitors all seemed very professional and many of them had custom built stands. My stand however, included an old BSA bike and a slightly rusty 1950’s shop till. As we pottered through the exhibition hall with half a tree and boxes of fruit I prayed that the stand design idea would work.

I have always loved the series, ‘Open All Hours’ and my original stand design idea was to create an old shop, but the stand we booked was very small measuring just one metre by two metres. So my grand designs had to be scaled down. Thankfully, I have an innovative and practical husband who came up with the idea of making a stand for my shop bike so that it could be suspended up a fruit tree, after a little bit of creative brainstorming, it was decided that we would make it look like our delivery driver,(Wayne), had tried to take a short cut and I made a sign that read, ‘we told Wayne we don’t take short cuts with our jam and marmalade’, we hung this sign in the tree.

After a few hours of stand dressing I stood back with the rest of ‘Team Seren’s Kitchen’ with a beaming smile. Our stand looked great and totally different to anything else in the show. A shop bike was suspended in our faux fruit tree, crates of fruit and marmalade graced the stand; an old shop till was decorated with copies of my book and jars of jam. We were ready and we were nervously excited about the opening of the show the next day.

 

Bright and early we arrived at the show and in what seemed like the blink of an eye the doors were suddenly open and potential trade customers flooded in. We received many compliments about the taste of the preserves and indeed the stand design. We also learned a few marketing tricks from other stallholders and took onboard helpful feedback from visitors to the stand. Before we knew it the show was closed and we all had thoughts of dinner on our mind, but it turns out the show wasn’t quite finished. All the stallholders were invited for a glass of wine and some nibbles as an opportunity to mingle and also hear a de-brief from The Guild of Fine Food. Unbeknown to us it was also an opportunity to hear who had won ‘the Best Stand in Show Award’.

It seems that the hours spent learning how to do photo transfer onto old crates, waxing and sanding apple crates, wiring fruit onto a stylised tree, fiddling about with an old bike and scouring Ebay for an ‘Arkwright’ style till were well worth it as we scooped the Best Stand in Show Award and received our certificate.

 

We are already talking about our next stand design and we have some wild and wacky ideas, so watch this space!

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com