Steve isn't what you'd call a typical white van driver. If it wasn't for the raucous howl of the woodwork machines back at Abbey Farm (around which he seems so at home), you'd have said that he has a penchant for the quiet life.
So driving into London on a bleak and blustery November day was never going to be his idea of fun, nor anyones for that matter. But when the doors were flung open to reveal a transit packed to the brim with all manner of handmade goodies, pulses raced and spirits soared.
Which a good thing because this was the Spirit of Christmas Fair after all...a retail market of mayhem and merriment. From November 4-9 all roads headed to Kensington. It was the place to be and be seen. Hundreds of exquisite little art and craft businesses offering such an array of gifts for the festive season that Santa would have done well to send an assignment of elves.
As far as we know he didn't, more fool him, but that didn't seem to matter as crowds flooded through the gates and descended on the stalls, one of which was us, Hop & Peck. It was our first appearance at this Fair and one that will live long in the memory, once we'd overcome the initial hurdle of unpacking the entire van in less than 60 minutes. What was it going to do, turn into a pumpkin? We, fortunately, never found out. Running with a two-wheeled trolley stacked daringly with boxes too and from the stand had similarities with It's a Knockout...we were lucky not to put the limp in Olympia.
Six days the show lasted with Elaine, and her mum Linda, bearing the brunt of the marathon. People were buying wine racks and egg cups, cheese boards and oak houses. Then there were the key rings which flew off the shelf like...well, acorns from an oak tree when there's a greedy squirrel about.
As for me (I'm Pete by the way), well, I managed three days, but one of those was more as a buyer than a seller.
I now associate two things with Olympia. The Horse of the Year Show (back when it was on telly) and Hop & Peck...particularly the beaming faces of all those hundreds who fluttered about our stand like butterflies in a meadow. We'd like to thank all of them...And the stand upstairs that had the toffee vodka.