It's Thursday morning here on Chesterfield Market and I'm doing my books and bric-a-brac stall.

For me it's the first of the new year as I was away in the first week and stuck down by full on proper flu the week after - but today we are back and trading.  Now as I think I have mentioned before I have recently taken on a large amount of stock which I am gradually working through and sorting.  Today was the second such outing of new stock and it has generated quite a little stir of interest.

So this is the last stall if the calendar year and I'm still here.  It's cold and sharp this morning but I decided that in for a week, in for the year.  There are fewer stall holders standing the market this morning but I'm here and set up.

But today I have a new entry to the set up of the stall - my Uncle has effectively retired from the book trade - he's going to concentrate on Islamic and Indian art - and so I have gained his residual stock.  This sounds like a small thing - but in fact it is a significant injection of 68 boxes of books.

I'm not sure I thought it would be a life memory at the time but I can vividly remember when my Dad and I came to London, as we often did for coin fairs and museum visits, and I insisted that I wanted to visit the London Mithraeum.  We walked for what seemed an age, past a host of significant monuments of Regency and Victorian London, and working off a pocket guide book to Roman Britain and an A-Z we finally arrived.

There on a windswept platform were the stone foundations, footings and indicative shape of the surviving elements of this Temple of Mithras. I was just 15/16 years old.  The fascination of that visit has stayed with me ever since.

She came to the stall early, and then picked up the vase - £3 said I. She ummed and aaahhed and put it down. £2? Something about the tone irritated me and I said sorry, £3 it is.  I was then asked for my best price and somewhat reluctantly, not wanting to take the vase home I conceded: £2.50 I said. She put it back again and walked off.

About an hour later she was back. Picking up the same vase she looked at me and said "we agreed £2 yes?" At this point, dear reader I was gently annoyed and insisted it was £3 but if she wanted it then £2.50 would suffice. Grudgingly she took out her purse and three coins tumbled into my hand, but before I said thank you I had to stop her and hand back one old pound coin and request another, which tutting at me she got from her purse. We exchanged pleasantries and she placed the vase in her bag and departed.

Well, if there were doubts on timing, luck, coincidence and general good nature of nice people, today was a day to appreciate. 

We cleared the car of frozen snow, packed things up and headed down to Alrewas, Staffordshire, where are were moored with the ambitious aim of fixing our twisted rudder.  Let’s be clear we knew what we were supposed to do but this was out of our comfort zone of knowledge and frankly could have been a comedy show of a bad effort by us.

Today was the last day of our first journey and exploration on our new boat and we were both reminded of the obvious things that are oft talked of but rarely immediately understood unless you have found yourself within it.  

The integral connection between canals and pubs.  This is not some latent alcoholic crisis - far from it. This is where the water folk meet the village folk.  As you steam along the waterways slowly you pass though various villages and towns and cities.  The thing that is usually most stark is how you are below land level for much of the time - but in rural England you are largely at eye level. 

It's bridge 53 - its brick built and this bridge, the lock, the cottage - everything about it says rural England as we understand it - yet the technology and nuance around it summarises the change that was enveloping Britain and the World which we know as The Industrial Revolution.

The bridge has a curved rubbed and rounded circular charm to it that is designed for practicality and for rope and chains and horses.  The lock is built in a confined space but utilises all of it and feels fairly deep but fils quickly and effectively.  There is a charmingly effective and discreet and gently babbling run-off that takes water at the top and supplies the excess to the bottom.  I might check the construction date (my instinct says late 1780's) and the history but just walking around this tiny spot - a spec on the map, a feature on our waterways plan - I realise that I may not ever come back - but I will visit so many others like it in the coming days and weeks and months and years now we have joined waterways.

Not what I thought I would be writing on Sunday 3rd December 2017 - but it's 10pm and I'm sitting in a canal boat in Staffordshire with my husband and our Husky.  Let me just say that again. I'm sitting in a canal boat in Staffordshire with my husband and our Husky. Wow. Just wow.

It's now 8.12am and I am putting on the bacon in the pan, have cut the bread rolls and am using cheese for added flavour instead of red sauce.  Russell has gone to walk Sparky the dog and well... it's all a bit idyllic, good life and frankly a tad unbelievable.

A new phenomena entered the game today down on Chesterfield Market. Christmas shopping.  Now it's obvious really but when it happened I was not entirely expecting it.

It is cold this morning. Very cold. And there is a wind chill.  This makes it very bitter.  But it also meant that the early morning (7am onwards) was very quiet. And then we hit 11am and a type of person appeared - these people wanted to buy. They were looking for gifts, and for home extras and they made a decision fairly quickly.  Within an hour what had started as a poor days trading had become a busy little spate of trading.

So last week I didn't get time to type up my weekly reflection - but that in and of itself was a good thing.  The market was busy, almost bustling, the weather held Ice and people browsed into town to seek the bargains we had laid out before them.

But one of the things I have learnt very quickly is that a busy footfall does not make for strong sales - indeed who buys and what they buy is a largely unpredictable feast.  You get there early and set up and then what happens will happen.

So here we are - Thursday morning and it's dark as we load the car, gradually the mizzle retreats and by the time it is 9am we are set up.  The regulars are already sweeping the market - looking for the same bargains we turned down last week, and they move around the stalls with speed and determined deliberation.

Today I have secured the same space as I have used for the last three weeks - it seems to work for me and I'm getting to know fellow traders who are regulars and always here.  Which brings me to the next big decision - whether to go for a fixed and permanent market stall?

The question every market trader dare not ask: will it rain? And this morning (whilst still dark) it was clear and almost warm. As we loaded the car to go to market the spitting mizzle started and by the time we had set up and prepare for the downpour - the clouds had passed and it was back to being nice again.

So whoever brought the threat of rain with them appears to have gone home and taken it back with them.  This is good.

One gazebo was up, the second had arrived, as Friends of Spital Cemetery gathered and slowly and steadily more and more people arrived  and kept arriving.

This was our Remembrance Service - Spital-style to remember those who fought, died, survived and went through the trauma of war and conflict at home and abroad.

Today is a big day in the world that is Chesterfield Market - there is a 1940's theme complete with vintage cars, numerous people in costume and appropriate dress and of course a full parked up replica Spitfire.  It's fair to say that the day is a real triumph.

The number of Stallholders is massively up and the foot-fall feels hugely increased with people - what is also clear is that people are not just Chessie folks, though they are here aplenty, but people have come  from further afield.