09.07.2010 - 10.07.2010 17 °C
Friday is mostly an administrative day, and I won't bore you with the details of that, but Fred did manage to procure a ticket to see some more rugby - the Sydney Roosters versus the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the SCG. The Rabbitohs are something of a story down here, having been snatched from the jaws of bankruptcy by none other than Russell Crowe who has consequently become a local hero. He still watches many of their games but he wasn't there tonight, still, Fred had a good time yelling abuse at the touch judge and drinking copious amounts of beer. He staggers through the front door at midnight.
The Rocks market takes place every weekend and is popular with locals and tourists alike, and when we arrive on Saturday morning it is packed. In true Sydney fashion however it isn't a manic, crazy place of shouting merchants and women with sharp elbows but a pleasant wander around the winding streets between open and canopy-shaded stalls. There are some of the usual market fare - local designers selling their jewellery, clothes and crafts but there are also weirder things such as live spray-painted art, prosthetic horror masks and miniature vintage pocket watches. There is no tat here and I think all stallholders must be vetted beforehand which makes it a little artificial but nevertheless the colourful Australiana and handmade goods can't help but entice.
The market's trump card is it's smallest area, that true market winner - food. Cooked before your eyes in huge flat paella pans, all manner of tastes available and cheap to boot, it is definitely worth visiting just to grab a foam palette of curry, a Mediterranean vegetable kebab or some handmade candy. As it's wintertime you can choose from hot honey and lemon, tea, coffee or beer at one of the Bavarian cafés lining the street or stop for a croissant at a French patisserie to people-watch and listen to the buskers playing soft guitar music. It has a merry, cosy atmosphere, unlike the business-like bustle of the Chinese wet markets. If it weren't for it being July, the cold and the comfort food would make it seem a lot like Christmas.
We seek a few of the more interesting stalls for further inspection. There is one lady selling carved goods including 3D puzzles, kangaroo toys and pop-out "castles" cut from a single lump of wood. She has been making and selling her wares at the Rocks every weekend for over twenty years and wistfully recounts the time she started. "We had just started to make the puzzles, and we thought it was a totally new thing and the first day a lady came up to us and said that used to have one - it had belonged to her grandmother over a hundred years ago!" She also tells us how the children are always the ones to surprise her most - "Most of them can make the tables and chairs but we have had ice or six year olds come up with totally new arrangements like Santa's sleigh, a train, a high chair... It's always the children that think of these things."
Another couple make tiny clay sceptres of animals and plants to collect - the things are so minuscule they fit into bottles an inch high and about half an inch across. They can't even remember how they got started making them. An elderly gentleman sells collectable coins and stamps and chests amicably to a Chinese girl next door who sells screen-printed aprons and tea towels. There is such a variety of things to look at that it would take hours to describe them all, and some stuff needs to be seen to be believed. On our way out Fred lets out a great honk of fear and steps back - there is a stall educated solely to pinned, stuffed and preserved insects and reptiles. Scorpions, red-backs and huge bird-eating spiders are displayed proudly in wooden box frames and small children dare each other to touch the glass, squealing in fear as they brush their fingers close. Fd takes a picture from a distance, managing not to squeal in fear, and we skidaddle.