Cakes, Christmas, Crafts and bears: Communicare Vintage and Craft Fair

Saturday, 3rd of November 2018.

My first Communicare Vintage and Craft fair as a volunteer.

I’ve been before with my SingNow friends a few times. I still vividly remember the scrumptious slice of carrot cake I had the first time I’ve been and that’s where I got the  hand-knitted peach hat from my brother Andi loved so much, he kept after climbing Snowdon  because it reminded him of me and brought back with him to Ben Nevis a year later.

If you haven’t heard of Communicare before, is a great charity offering befriending, shopping, DIY, transport and other services to those who need it in Southampton.

I always loved the bi-annual Communicare fairs and now I got to be part of it. I’ve been volunteering with Communicare as an events assistant for a while now but since I unfortunately work full-time I can’t attend many of their daytime events, I couldn’t wait for the Vintage and Craft fair, the first event I could help out with.

I was asked to design a flier for it months ago and thanks to Canva, an online platform with free templates- I highly recommend if you want professional-looking leaflets and posters, I came up with this one:

Vintage Fair Flyer-JPEG (1).jpg

After months, the day finally came. And I had such a wonderful time, I went home tired but with a huge grin on my face that lasted for days (well until Monday morning, when reality kicked in and I had to go to work and spend hours staring at spreadsheets).

I made it on time, I know, some of you may be surprised but I always make it on time for things I really care (getting a taxi also helped!).

Communicare fair

Collecting the prizes for the raffle gave me the opportunity to meet and have a chat with all the wonderful stallholders. There was a great variety from antique items, to Beach themed crafts, Christmas decorations, jewellery and paintings.

I spent some time giving out fliers outside with Vicky who was dressed as a bear, adorable, and I was so happy some of the people I gave fliers to, a lovely man with his three daughters who promised to pop by after the girls had their nails done and two couples, amongst others, decided to pop in and see what it was all about.

After a little wander and some purchases- it was hard to resist- I had a break for some delicious cake, again it was VERY hard to choose because of the endless options but I went for banana and chocolate. Yum!



I spent the rest of my time manning the stand for the impressive hand-knitted Nativity kindly donated by Bob ( I think, apologies if I mixed up the names) and selling our wonderful Communibears, of course I bought one too, they were too cute not to, and hand-knitted hats and scarfs.



I loved everything about it. The atmosphere, the live music, Jim Rogers (I can’t believe he sang one of my favourite Ryan Adams songs, Come Pick Me Up is a tune) and Serena Lin, who initially thought a CD was on, she was that good, were incredible, the stalls and all the lovely people I got to meet (and of course lovely people I already knew such as the wonderful Barbara, I love that lady so much, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met).

I’ll never forget Margaret, a retired teacher who went around to sell more teddy bears and ended up buying one for a little girl, she then bumped into one of her students from 30 odd years ago who told her she was the best teacher she ever had. After she took a picture of herself and her student’s family all together she asked her if she could record her saying that she was the best teacher she ever had. The joy in her face was indescribable.

Margaret was just one of the many wonderful humans I had the pure pleasure of meeting that day. There are too many to list and it’s impossible to remember all the names, but every single one made me feel welcome, something I always worry about as an expat living in the UK.

I wish I got to do this every day. Spend all my time making people smile. Maybe one day I’ll start my own charity to do just that. Who knows. Maybe…

In the meantime, I can’t wait for the next Communicare event. Thank you to the lovely Annie, Bryony and everyone else at Communicare for letting me be part of their wonderful charity and help a little little raising money for such a noble cause.


PS Communicare is always looking for more volunteers, so if you fancy joining this beautiful community, or you’d like to donate or attend future events,  all details are here.


The Christmas story of Eddie the teddy.

December 2015…

I lived in the most gorgeous place I’ve ever lived in Southampton, a three bed, three bathroom flat with en suite and walking wardrobe in the enormous main bedroom (every woman’s dream), on Northlands road, a beautiful residential area next to the Common, where I could see the fountain in the middle of the square and all the beautiful houses from my kitchen’s french doors.

The dream flat
The dream flat

I had split up with my ex-boyfriend of seven years but we still lived together, our contract didn’t end until February. We had decided a month earlier since we were to remain friends and this would have been our last Christmas together neither of us would go home, I hadn’t been home for Christmas for six years, but we were spending Christmas together, as friends.

I’m one of those people who don’t believe there’s a point remaining friends with ex-boyfriends, I don’t keep in touch with any of my exes but I thought this would be different. We were together for seven years, he wasn’t just my boyfriend, he was my best friend.

When he found out I was dating someone else after we broke up, (yes, rebound… yes I regretted it….it put me off men since) he was devastated, apparently he thought we would get back together eventually, get married, have kids and live happily ever after, although when I asked him whether the break-up was final, his exact words (word by word translation from Greek) were ‘It’s better not to think we will ever get back together’.

He booked a ticket to go home, just a week before Christmas.

I was left alone with no plans a week before Christmas. I could not afford a ticket home, they got incredibly expensive by then and although my parents offered to pay, I knew they could not afford it either, they would have probably borrowed money and I’d never let them do that. I’d rather stay home alone.

At the same time all of this was happening I received three gifts from my family back home (the allegory made me giggle when I re-read this part), a notebook and a snowman ornament (I used to tease my sisters with this snowman cuddly toy I had at home, I made up a ‘snowman’ song, and although they pretended they didn’t like it, they secretly loved it) from my sisters and a teddy bear from my mum. I had sent her flowers and a teddy bear for her birthday in November and whenever she misses me she holds the teddy, so mum said ‘Whenever you miss us, hold the teddy’.

Eddie the teddy survived three house moves, impressive as my tendency to lose things is not getting better, it’s been sitting on my bed for the last two years and I hold it tight when the going gets tough. I hold it when there’s a thunderstorm, I’m terrified of thunders although I know I shouldn’t, I hold it when I miss my family and I hold it when I’m feeling down. Last time I held it was Monday night.

It was a tough day. The death of Christine, a colleague fighting cancer for the last year, farewell lunch of Sophie, the first member of our little team leaving and I received some news I cannot share yet. As soon as I walked outside work I burst into tears. I really needed a hug from my parents or my sisters. But the closest thing I had was the teddy.

It really helps to have something reminding me I’m never alone, even when I feel I am. We all have inanimate objects that are special to us.

The heart shaped earrings I wear most days are a gift to myself when I needed a confidence boost, the heart-shaped ring and bracelet I normally wear are gifts from my sisters, the cross pendant I never take off is a gift from my godson and my cousin, my favourite shirt is a gift from my little sister, the bowl and silver tree decorating my living room are gifts from my best friends, the chocolate flower (minus the chocolate) on my desk at work is a Valentine gift from my brother from another mother and the list goes on…

All of these remind me how much I’m loved by amazing people and give me strength when I need it the most.

It is not silly or childish and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise. Our loved ones can’t be with us every time we need them, especially if they live in another country like most of mine do and these little, meaningless to others things, make a huge difference for me and keep me going. There are a daily reminder. They all lead to one thing.

They all lead to love. It’s all about love. And I’m blessed to be loved by so many special, sweet, loving humans.

I’d love to know the little things that are precious to you and the stories behind them.

If you are wondering,  this Christmas story did have a happy ending. I spent that Christmas with my best friend and her family in Luton and it was one of the best Christmas days I ever had full of laughter, food and dancing. I then spent a day wandering in sunny December London, watched Matilda the musical and stayed in the Shard, in the most amazing room with breathtaking views. That fairytale had a bad ending but Christmas 2015 was great.

The end