There are around 60 stands at this event which gives you a chance to meet and talk to all the exhibitors. There's also a lovely cafe area with homemade food so you can ponder your potential purchases over coffee and cake before making your final choice. I was delighted to find out that Craft in Focus had given me the opportunity to show my wares here and am looking forward to getting to meet a whole new set of customers.
For me, preparation for an event like this is not just about designing and making but also about trying to get to know an area before setting out my stall. Fortunately Sevenoaks is only about 35 minutes away from Epsom where I live and is home to several lovely National Trust properties which are a perfect starting point to exploring this area.
We've been to Emmett's Garden a few times because it's open to dogs and has the most amazing views over the Weald of Kent.
Not too far away is Chartwell with equally stimulating views making it easy to understand why Churchill wanted to settle here and found the landscape so inspiring. Right in the centre of town is Knole House, birthplace of Vita Sackville West. According to Wikpedia, it's a calendar house having 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. It's set in a 1,000 acre deer park. We've not been there yet but I'm interested to explore it.
On Saturday I went over to distribute my remaining flyers and some special offer tickets for the event. On the way I was wondering whether there were indeed seven oaks in this town. There were none immediately obvious but I noticed on my car park ticket that the trees were depicted so I guessed they must have existed at one time. The best information I've been able to find is on a website devoted to the White Hart Inn http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/whitehart/history/.
It says that the name "Sevenoaks" originated from the Saxon word 'Seouenaca', a name given in about 800 A.D. to a small chapel near seven oaks in Knole Park. The town has apparently had more than one group of seven oaks planted over the years, some have been felled, some blown down in the hurricane of 1987 but currently has two 'sets', one near the White Hart and the other on the Vine cricket ground. The strange thing about the latter is that it's really a group of eight after seven were replaced after the hurricane despite the fact one had been left standing. Does anyone know why this happened?
It was great to find that many of the shops around the town were already displaying posters for the event but I did leave some leaflets at Puddleducks http://www.puddleducksquilts.co.uk the quilt fabric shop at the northern end of the town where I just had to buy a few fat quarters to add to my stock, including some very pretty lavender coloured fabric which will be used for my textile greetings cards.
I also found a really lovely independent shop called Lady Butterworth's http://www.ladybutterworths.co.uk right in the centre of town which had some lovely gifts and encouraged Sarah the owner to come along to the Craft in Focus fair to see if any of us can add to her repertoire.
My final port of call on Saturday was at Kentish Craft Fairs Harvest Fair http://www.kentishcraftsfairs.co.uk in Riverhead organised by the amazing Helen Cook. Because she too had high quality handmade items (as well as locally produced food) I was tempted to part with some cash and treated myself to a beautiful glass plaque by Ann from SandGlassFusion http://www.sandglassfusion.co.uk (an early birthday present for me), some seriously cute Christmas cards based on illustrations by John Butler from Little Blue Zebra http://littlebluezebra.com and some gorgeous handmade soap from Fentons of Kent http://www.fentonsofkent.co.uk which I can't wait to use - the fragrance of the Gardeners' Soap is really uplifting.
Remember that every purchase you make from a stall at a 'handmade only' event not only helps to support a small business but to keep alive the amazing creative talent we have in this country and helps these skills to be passed on to others. So come along to Sevenoaks School on 2nd November (after 12 noon) or at the weekend when we'll be open from 10-5. Find out about the passion behind the creations and buy from the best. I've kept back a few tickets which entitle you to bring a friend for free so if you would like one just email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll pop one in the post to you.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Lots of love as always