Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Keep On Truckin'

We paid how much for a pitch? Jon muttered under his breath on Friday afternoon, wrapping his coat tightly around himself in a vain attempt to ward off the unseasonably cold July weather.

The weekend hadn't started well. An hour into our journey to rural Oxfordshire, we'd heard a sickening noise and pulled into a lay-by to discover half of the rivets on our pop top had ripped out. Jon spent a perilous thirty minutes on his hands and knees, wrapping rope around Gilbert in a desperate bid to keep the roof on whilst the motorway traffic thundered past at petrifying speeds.

When we'd mentioned that we were trading at Truck to other festival traders we were met with a sharp intake of breath and the grim words..... It's a very young crowd.

The gates had been open for three hours and we'd only sold a tee shirt. The few visitors who'd stumbled into our pitch were teenagers, giddy from too much cider, trying on our lovingly hand-picked vintage clothing, laughing hysterically and taking selfies whilst, directly opposite, the vintage wholesale business heaved with customers snapping up shell suits, tartan shirts and cagoules at bargain basement prices. Was the Truck going to be a car crash?

We needn't have worried. Once the crowd had bought the cheap essentials necessary to cope with the unexpected cold temperatures they turned their attention to Kinky Melon and the colour and frivolity on our rails. 1970s sequins, vintage leather jackets, crazy Hawaiian prints and Old School sportswear flew out and, with a massive sigh of relief, we'd covered our costs before the Friday headliners, Catfish & The Bottlemen, took to the main stage.

On Saturday morning we opened the shop to discover a queue of people anxious to buy stuff they'd regretted not purchasing the day before. The customers kept coming - young, not so young and some even older than us. Dresses sold to men and menswear to women. Our changing room was in such demand that customers were using our awning to try on stock (thankfully we're tidy campers).

As the temperatures hit the high twenties we were snipping off price labels and bagging up the customers' own clothing as they snapped up floaty cotton dresses, linen crop tops and voluminous shirts, wanting to wear them straightaway. By the most tremendous luck our lovely neighbours, the pizza parlour, kept us in free veggie pizza and garlic bread all weekend - there was no time to cook.

Sunday was even more of a scorcher.  Traditionally a slow day for festival trading we were kept on our toes, not even cracking open a beer until mid-afternoon.

The selfies continued, price labels mysteriously vanished and the haggling was incessant. Clothes were abandoned in the changing room or knocked off the rails and trampled over, drinks cans & food wrappers tossed on the floor with gay abandon, people were chased away when we discovered them using the side of the stall as an alternative to the portaloos and, my major bugbear, mothers of pre-teens scrutinising my handmade items saying, Oh, I don't want to buy it, I'm just looking so I can copy it at when I get home. A relaxing weekend it wasn't but finally closed for the day, sprawled on a picnic blanket with our burning feet cooling in the dewy grass and the stars twinkling in the inky sky, sipping metallic-tasting tea from chipped enamel mugs with the Manic Street Preachers performing with the same passion they had when we first saw them over a quarter of a century ago, well, it sure beats working for a living.

And that was Truck. We're halfway through the festival season with five down and five to go with a welcome ten day break before Indietracks next weekend, hopefully with just enough time to restock the rails and fix poor old Gilbert and, you never know, we might even attempt to revive our social life.

See you soon.

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Cornbury, 2016 - A Bit of Posh

Last week we trundled off to the beautiful Cotswolds with Gilbert, our trusty VW Camper, groaning under the weight of vintage clothing. Although the festival didn't kick off until Friday we had to be on site two days before so Wednesday was spent setting up and Thursday doing little more than reading, sipping cider and lazing around. I can't remember the last time we had a day of doing absolutely nothing and it was bloody brilliant. By the time The Cornbury Festival 2016 officially opened we were fully rested and raring to go.

With a pop-up Waitrose, a Pimms bus and regulars that include David Cameron  & Jeremy Clarkson, Cornbury might be nicknamed Poshstock but after trading there for the first time last year we loved it enough to come back. The festival goers are friendly, the location gorgeous, the line-up impressive and the traders are really well looked after with our own trader toilets, water supply and free electrical hook-up....

And the other traders are fabulous. We squealed with delight when we discovered Mandy & husband Or were our neighbours for a second time.

Despite a double G&T being a whopping £7.50 the Gin & Tonic bar was heaving.

With trading hours from 9am until midnight comfort matters and the inflatable settee we treated ourselves to out of some of last week's profits was a lifesaver.

Happily ensconced I held the fort (and a large glass of Morrison's finest Rose) while Jon nipped off to watch Soul II Soul tear up the main stage.

At midnight the arena gates closed, we shut up shop and collapsed into bed knackered.

Saturday morning was bright and breezy and I was happy I'd packed my Mongolian Lamb boa to keep out the icy chill.

One of Friday's first customers was this dapper chap who'd snapped up a vintage tailcoat and a couple of our handmade Steampunk clock-face badges. He wanted to show us how happy he was with his purchases.

With afternoon temperatures hitting a balmy 22 degrees our rail of crazy patterned Hawaiian shirts was in serious danger of selling out.

Last year we'd found the Cornbury Festival goers mostly a conservatively dressed bunch but this year we were amazed at how so many of them were embracing colour, glitter and animal tails.

We'd arranged a girly date with the Tall Tails crew to see a bit of All Saints but missed the first couple of songs not having the heart to disappoint tiny children desperate for tails.

I can't say I was blown away by the 1990s girl band's performance and when they covered a Coldplay track enough was enough, I took it as my cue to leave and headed back to work.

Bryan Ferry was headlining but, as neither of us are particular fans, we listened to his set from our pitch from the comfort of our inflatable sofa.

Who gets up at 9am on a Sunday morning? Cornbury festival goers, that's who! And we were up and ready for them.

Three days in and most women (me included) were suffering from chronic festival hair so my handmade wired headbands went down a storm.

The circus tent and arts and crafts area were packed with early risers looking for entertainment before the main stage opened.

For over a decade Newton Faulkner has appeared at loads of festivals we've been to but to our shame neither of us has ever seen him play. This year I made the effort to catch some of his set and was I glad? He was fantastic.

...And not too unpleasant on the eye, either!

Talking of easy on the eye Mandy and I left the menfolk in charge of our pitches while we watched Seal headlining later. Other than Killer I can't say I'm a massive fan of his music but he's definitely got incredible stage presence.

What is it with Cornbury and people dressed as animals? We've no idea but we like it.

What a weekend! We met some fantastic people, sold even more than we did last year and, despite a punishing 45 hours of trading packed into three days, had an absolute blast.

Next stop Truck! Two days to rest up, restock and find time to make more headbands and crop tops.

See you soon!

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Ain't Talking 'Bout Dub - Camperjam 2016

Last Thursday, after two days mostly spent washing the Glastonbury mud from our clothes and abstaining from alcohol, we loaded Gilbert with vintage clothes and headed eighteen miles down the road to Shropshire's picturesque Weston Park with two questions uppermost in our minds, would the BBC's forecast of unseasonably cold weather, rain and high winds be true and was Brexit going to affect customer spending at Camperjam?

After five hours we were set up, a whole three hours faster than the Acoustic Festival three weeks ago.  After our traditional first night camping dinner of grilled Haloumi, Mediterranean couscous and a couple of cans of gin and tonic, lulled by the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the awning roof, we slept for a solid 12 hours.

WEARING: ME: 1960s linen maxi dress with massive stylised flower (borrowed from the Kinky rails)
JON: Turnbull & Asser shirt, vintage Austin Reed waistcoat, 1960s Farah trousers (all charity shopped)

Camperjam doesn't open to the public until 2pm and, after 9 years of attending as both campers and traders, we knew Friday was usually a slow day for shopping. Most of the ticket holders want to park up, crack open a can, chill out and catch some evening entertainment with a quick rummage through the auto-jumble for a much needed car part or an emergency purchase to replace something they've forgotten to pack. But, as the blue skies of Friday morning were replaced with grey, the temperatures plummeted and the rain lashed down, business was brisk, with shoppers snapping up our vintage knitwear and the abandoned Glastonbury 2016 wellies we'd rescued from the car park last weekend and scrubbed clean. The rain was so heavy that the trade tent, for the first time in three years of ownership, started to leak and it was so cold that despite wearing two coats, my trusty sheepskin hat and alpaca mittens I was still shivering.

WEARING: JON: Pal Zileri shirt, 1960s Farahs, vintage John Collier blazer, tan leather belt & brogues (all charity shopped)
ME: Vintage polka dot maxi, 1970s majorette jacket (charity shopped)

The torrential rain kept us awake for most of the night but by the time we opened at 10am on Saturday morning it had stopped and, as we'd had the foresight to move the clothes rails into the middle of the tent away from the leaking side seams, the stock was mercifully dry. The weather was chilly but dry- ideal festival shopping conditions. We were so busy that it was 2pm before we'd even cracked open a cider and we had to subsist on a packet of Lidl cheese straws as there wasn't a chance to make anything to eat. Over the years we've seen the house tribute band so many times we know their set list off by heart and yet another poor rendition of Mr Brightside held little appeal so, after selling yet another fabulous maxi dress to a lairy stag party, at 11pm we closed the shop and turned in for the night.

WEARING: ME: Me-made 1970s duvet skirt, customised 1990s crochet top, floral headpiece (handmade by the divine Desiree)
JON: (as Friday)
On Sunday morning we were awoken by sunshine at 6.30am so we opened early to catch the day visitors. Normally Camperjam Sundays aren't great for trade but we'd taken a gamble and upgraded our pitch to a busier location and it paid off, doing a steady trade in hats, shorts and crazy 1980s shirts. Normally we shut at 3pm but the customers just kept coming and we closed when the main gates did, at 5 pm. We packed up, said goodbye to our trader friends and made it back home just in time for the France-Iceland match.

The BBC's weather forecast was pretty accurate but did Brexit affect business? There was certainly a marked change in people's buying habits compared to previous years. Although the average spend was lower but the number of people who bought from us had increased massively meaning that at the end of the weekend we'd taken 60% more money than last year but is doing well financially the be all and end all? 

Vintage VDub porn

Voodoo Street, auto jumbles and Glitterbugz - cool indie businesses in amongst the corporate monsters
Both of us feel Camperjam has moved away from its original ethos of a good, old-fashioned family-friendly van meet. We've lost our enthusiasm for wandering around, finding the mile-long trade area overwhelmingly corporate and the lovely vintage VWs on display have gradually been outnumbered by soulless, shiny new ones (they might be reliable but they just aren't very inspiring to look at). Although the pitch fees have increased, space between stalls have decreased to become virtually non-existent, so much so that we got through two packs of joss sticks in a desperate attempt to disguise the next-door neighbour's obsession with grilling meat and don't get me started on being subjected to Absolute 1980s FM at full blast from 8am every day - there's a limit to how much Phil Collins, Dire Straits & Chris Rea any sane human being can endure. Yet again, despite returning a completed trader's feedback form every year, the portaloo situation remained woefully inadequate and, if you had time to stand in a queue of 30 people to use one (we didn't, we were just too busy to leave just one of us alone on the stall for that amount of time) the toilets were invariably blocked or out of loo roll and hand sanitiser. Will there be a Camperjam 2017 for us? The jury's still out.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday and Judith's Hat Attack #36.

Gilbert, pop-topped, set up and ready to trade.

In the meantime we've got two days to restock & recharge, we're off to trade at Cornbury on Wednesday.  

See you soon!