Food Auctions– The country market
One of my indulgencies when I have time off is attending the local market at Campsea Ashe near Woodbridge, in Suffolk. When I first started attending this was a ‘proper’ auction market with cattle, pigs etc being brought in for sale. However, in recent years with the various diseases and changes in rules and regulations the majority of the livestock element has ceased. Now there is some dead stock (turkey, duck, chicken and gammon) a small amount of live poultry, some market stalls, a house clearance auction and my favourite the fruit and veg, sold by auction. Here a hardy tribe of Suffolk boys and gals, well above pensionable age auction items for a few pence to a few pounds.
There is witty banter, “who’ll give me 80p for a bunch of carrots – an’ they’re good ‘uns “
“Yuh goota be kidin Basil I ken get they in Tesco for 40p”
Of course we all know – a) you can’t b) these were pulled out of someone’s garden this morning or last night c) it’s all in the thrill of the chase. The challenge is also in snatching the definitive bargain, so people will refuse to raise the bidding above 40p if they think five minutes later they can get something for 30p. There is also the art of being the ‘under bidder’. This is the person
who helped raising the bids but stopped at the last minute. Where several lots of the same item are on sale and the winning bidder doesn’t take them all, the under bidder gets the second option. As the bids are called, small amounts of cash move from hand to hand across the hall; bags of tomatoes and bunches of carrots, gladioli and marrows weave their way from one part of the old pig stalls to another. Not all the items come from local gardens, some are the ‘run off’ from market traders who had stock left on a Sunday and don’t do a market on Monday so sack loads of over-ripe bananas can be had for a few pence too.
I made pints of tomato (40p a pound) sauce for the freezer, the carrots, cabbage, sweetcorn, cauliflower, were all used ‘as is’ during the week, the Sharron fruit (woppers 30p each) and avocadoes, kiwis were the basis for lunches and the peppers were turned into jars of roast pepper antipasti for sale, presents and home. The beetroot became part of a chocolate and beetroot cake.
Is it a bargain? – add in the travel, the cooking, the two or more hours out of your day…….. Of course it is; nothing in life is just about the money. I’ve been going here for over 20 years, some of the same faces are still there, buying and selling, ranting and bantering, I just wish I was free on a Monday more often.