I’m always amazed when local people who live in St Albans and Harpenden don’t know where Childwickbury is. If you have never been, do try to go on the weekend of 6-8th July for their annual Arts Fair. The home of local artist Christiane Kubrick, Childwickbury will host artists and live music and you are welcome to go along and meet the artists and view their work.
It is always a sociable and lively fair and now in its ninth year, the fair is expanding its range of food and drinks for visitors. For such a small village it produces some amazing food that is really only sold locally. Look out for Andrea Hill’s delicious honey which was yet to be decanted into jars when we met last week. Although honey collection has been difficult this year, with bees preferring not to go out in the rain, Andie has had good success with her hives and there will be a limited amount on sale.
The Childwickbury bees collect pollen from the nearby lime (linden) trees, giving the honey an unusual fresh, citrusy flavour which is delicious. If you tend to only buy mass-produced honey do try a jar of this as it really is in a different league.Eating local honey is also known to reduce hayfever symptoms so if you have been affected by the recent high pollen count, do try it. Andie also collects plums from the estate in Autumn to make into jams and syrups so look out for those at the Christmas fair.
Elizabeth Harris produces Childwickbury Goats’ cheese at her tiny holding on the estate and will be selling fresh goats cheese at the fair. Elizabeth makes the cheese herself, by hand, and only a very small amount is made each week. You can also buy it at Jay’s deli in Southdown and at Bourngiorno Italia in St Albans. I have heard lots of people say that they don’t like goats cheese but when they try Elizabeth’s they change their minds. It is a very mild, soft, creamy cheese that is fantastic eaten just squashed onto crusty fresh bread.
There is always a long queue out of the door into the courtyard for Jane Crawford‘s home-made cake stall. Last year they had over 1000 customers – that is a lot of tea and cakes served by Jane and her small team of volunteers! Each year Jane, her mum Brenda and friend Julie Barnes make all the cakes, including carrot cake with bourbon, toffee apple cake, fruit cake, flapjacks, cherry ring, coconut cake and Victoria Sponge with a secret ingredient. They will have gluten-free options available too. Jane told me that she always gives generous slices, so I am sure the queues will be worth it!
Gels and the team from Kashu will be there with their hog roast, which is well-known to visitors to the St Albans Farmer’s Market and St Albans Beer Festival. Again, this is very popular but the crackling pork scratchings are worth the wait. Ok, not healthy, but very delicious.
New this year to the festival will be Fired Up mobile wood-fired pizzeria who recently provided pizza at Christiane’s birthday party, and were a huge success. Their oven gets to 700F so a pizza can cook to crispy perfection in under 2 minutes! Mauritian Street Food will be available, run by Jason who was taught to cook by his mother Jamilla. He describes Mauritian food as a melting pot of a variety of cultures with a mix of African, European and Asian flavours. Items on the menu will include handmade Roti Chaud which is a wrap filled with Grois Pois (butter bean curry) and Du Pan Frier a crispy chickpea bread. There will also be Asian party platters from Bali Randhawa from St Albans.
The art and music is the main draw and I met Katherina Kubrick in the midst of deciding where to hang her recent paintings in the converted stables, where each stable will be home to a visiting artist, including work in glass, sculpture, stone and hat making. There will be workshops for adults and children in screen-printing, felt-making, leather and art. Look out for the fine art for children workshops lead by local resident Annalise and Emmylou. The live music is legendary locally, and Soulfish on Saturday night sold out when the date was announced. At the time of writing I think a few tickets were available on the Friday night for Sinead & The Dawnbreakers, but I think you will have to be very quick (01727 859495). The Dawnbreakers used to be known as The Runaway Boys and are fantastic. Local bands including Riddler and The Trailer Trash Orchestra will play all day and DJs will be there in the early evening to keep the music going. Wine and beer will be available too. See you there!
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The fair opens at 10 each day and tickets are available on the door.
Senior Citizens £5.00
Children under 14 £5.00; under 2 free.
Family Ticket (2 adults & up to 4 children) £25.00
Plenty of free parking available. Find Childwickbury on the Harpenden Road, halfway between St Albans and Harpenden.
For more information about the whole event and also evening concert tickets visit http://www.childwickbury-arts-fair.com.