Just the other side of the Dorset border, stepping into Somerset sits the town of Frome. If you want to appear in ‘the know’ although spelled Frome it is pronounced Froom, I was ably corrected by my hairdresser Sam when I told her where I was planning to go.
Frome is, of itself, a charming little town full of specialist shops, artistic talent and entertainment. On any ordinary day I would encourage you to go there, as it hosts a multitude of artisan bakeries, antique shops and small craft shops selling delightful locally made jewellery, candles and small label toiletries amongst other things. The words organic, local, free range, gluten free and vegan are the standard parlance and not something out of the ordinary here.
So, take a forward thinking, local supporting, artistic town and add a once a month market showcasing everything wonderful about the South West of England and you have the Frome Independent. I actually learned about the market on Instagram where I am following a number of other small businesses in the Dorset area. A big fan of all things niche, and a huge supporter of independent business, I was eager to go. I also managed to find a lovely lady who I follow on Instagram and purchase some of her wonderful soy candles which she had featured on her feed and I was dying to get my hand on. It was so pleasant to put a face to a name and to meet her in person, and her products smelled as wonderful as they looked, my almond tealights smelled like biscotti biscuits!
We arrived early in order to beat the crowds and indeed by the time we left, the market was positively heaving with visitors. The market runs from 10am until 3pm on the first Sunday of each month and stalls cover most of the town centre. I would encourage you to go hungry because you simply won’t want to miss out on the wonderful array of gourmet food on offer. If you have an intolerance of any description or are a none meat eater, the same statement is true for you, I defy you to not find something delicious and wonderfully prepared to eat.
It was relatively quiet as we arrived on the high street, the first amongst a handful of visitors on a sunny spring morning. The first stall we visited was a local wine producer from the wraxall valley, she happily popped open a bottle of sparkling white which by all accounts was a bottle of champagne in all but name. Soft bubbles and toffee flavours at 10am on a Sunday morning felt very self-indulgent and a little naughty. From there we realised we needed cash as there were so many wonderful stalls I knew we were going to buy at least a few things. After availing ourselves of one of the many conveniently located cash machines we headed down the stalls tasting everything from unpasteurised ewes cheese to chilli dips and organic award-winning sausages. I had in my mind that I wanted to pick up a vintage pot for the miniature rose-bush Esra bought me for our anniversary a couple of weeks back, so we headed down to the car park where all of the antique stalls were located. Unfortunately, although there were plenty of beautiful contenders for my next plant pot, none of them ideally fitted the bill and I left empty-handed.
We wandered back up the hill along the narrow cobbled pedestrian roads and by this time the crowds were beginning to swell. Along with the cornucopia of food stalls, flower stalls and antique stalls there are a large number of musicians playing around town. We sat and listened to a very talented young woman on her spanish guitar, a couple of guys playing ragtime, a local singer (who was also available for weddings) and an older gent getting a jolly tune out of a bagpipe. The atmosphere was upbeat and cheerful and every single stall holder was pleasant and helpful. The majority of these traders were the face of their own small businesses, so they were eager to engage you in how their products are made, where the ingredients are sourced and how you can buy from them if you don’t visit the markets every month. I love that face to face with the producers and I have always been a huge advocate of small independent businesses. Those individuals with an idea, a beautiful product and the grit and determination to make it work. Those people with a love for what they do, whether its brewing an IPA beer in a small garage or making gorgeous handcream tapping into other local growers and suppliers. As the Frome Independent website says, taking back the high street for those with sustainable products and an ethical approach and I’m all for that.