Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Sun And Steel - Kaya 2016


Another weekend, another festival. This time we were trading at Kaya, a festival celebrating world music, held in Port Talbot, Wales' steel making centre.



With almost six thousand employed at the plant, Port Talbot's future hangs in the balance as a buyer is sought for the beleaguered Tata steelworks. In a show of support we headed to South Wales a day early, staying in family-run hotel Blanco's and spending the evening in Wetherspoons' The Lord Caradoc, a former gentleman's outfitters adorned with photos of Port Talbot legends Richard Burton & Anthony Hopkins. We drank Welsh pale ale and ate vegetarian sausages with Caerphilly cheese & leek mash accompanied by a rich gravy made from Brains' beer (the famous Welsh brewery) and watched with amusement as one of the local characters raided the condiment cupboard and attempted to make off with a Bargain Booze carrier bag stuffed with Heinz sauces, his heist heroically foiled by the bar manager.


We arrived at Margam Park, the venue for Kaya 2016, at just after 7.30am on Thursday. Setting up was a challenge to say the least, the ground was sodden and the wind brisk, clothes blew off rails into the mud, rendering them muddy and unsaleable, and our ten-year old campervan awning gave up the ghost with the poles snapping & the canvas tearing. Seriously about lose my cool I looked up and saw just yards from our pitch, a group of deer wander out of the woods and tentatively explore the festival grounds, unseen to all but me. 


After a gentle stroll around Margam Park - voted the UK's most loved Green Flag Award park - we cracked open the ale, piled on the layers (yes, I know it's August but this is coastal Wales) and lounged around our duct-taped awning listening to Radio One broadcasting live from Ibiza.


The abbey, built in 1147
Friday was Jon's 50th Birthday - I'd managed to squeeze a few silly presents into an already bursting -at-the-seams Gilbert which he opened before rolling up the Kinky Melon trading tent for business.

Before the gates opened.
In a wonderful community-minded gesture Kaya opened its gates for free to the Port Talbot steelworkers and their families on Friday and, before long, the park was heaving with wide-eyed revellers.




We drank far too much, chatted to some genuinely lovely people, many of whom hadn't been to a festival before, and were blown away by both The Asian Dub Foundation and Don Letts' DJ set (and evidently too pissed to take any photographs whatsoever).


After 2.5 litres of wine, ten cans of ale and numerous G&Ts dark sunglasses were the order of the day on Saturday. 


The weather was glorious which made up for a very slow day of sales.


Mind you, can you blame anyone choosing to bask in the sunshine listening to reggae rather than go shopping?




The Selecter headlined on Saturday night and were fantastic and Jerry Dammers followed with a tremendous DJ set. The music on the main stage went on until 2am - a bit of a challenge when you've got to be up for work the next morning but hey ho, it's better than a real job.


Sunday was a bit on the chilly side so I had to cover my 1980s sequined bustier with my trusty suede jacket. Poor Rebecca, our gorgeous neighbour, was visiting from Australia and couldn't believe our Summer was colder than her Winter.



Craig Charles DJ set lasted two hours and was seriously funky. 


Just the thing for a lazy Sunday lunchtime.


These Welsh festival goers are a hardy lot, look at all those bare arms....


In the meantime far less hardcore Rebecca and I got changed for the second time of the day, adding gloves, hats and boots as the evening worn on.




I know I keep showing you photos of Margam Castle but, even after my second Kaya I'm still rendered almost speechless by its Gothic splendour. 


Whenever any of us traders felt down, cold or just knackered from lack of sleep all we had to do was look at the imposing sight opposite, shout "That's one f*cking amazing castle" and instantly felt better.


I escaped and went to catch one of  the acts on the library stage.


And marveled at the early 19th Century architecture.


And made a mental note to plant some of these pretties in out garden next year.


At 9pm on Sunday night we closed, packed up and cracked open the final beer of the weekend.


And so ended Kaya 2016. A 50th Birthday, a massive hangover, incredible music, wonderful people and a f*cking amazing castle. Takings were down on last year but we covered our costs with enough spare to buy a new awning and for a few vintage shopping jaunts to replenish our rails in time for our next festival, Camper Calling, a whole TWO weeks away! Jon can (and will) celebrate his birthday for at least another fortnight.


See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

85 comments:

  1. that castle looks like out of a edgar ellen poe novel!!! fantastic!
    sorry for the freeze - but you wear that russian princess style so well - really love that ensemble with the fur hat and majorette jacket! your aussi neighbor did dress glamorous too!!!
    belated - but from my heart - congratulations to jon!!!
    take your rest and stay warm - here is lousy too....
    xxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate! That sheepskin hat is a lifesaver. Apparently we've got a heatwave on the way - I won't hold my breath! xxx

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  2. We actually drive almost through Port Talbot on our way to Pembrokeshire each year, and have seen signs to Margam Park. Now I finally know what it looks like, and that castle is just magnificent. I used to love the Selecter and in fact just reading the name is making me sing, out of tune, but still: "On my radio ..." I've got a pot of those "pretties" in the garden right now, but they are being devoured by an army of slugs ... xxx

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    1. I did wonder aloud to Jon is you and Jos had visited. Next time you're in the area you should definitely take a detour, it really is incredible. xxx

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  3. Oh my, sitting here perspiring in the icky, sticky, buggy, and muggy Monsoon weather here in Nepal sooooooo envious of y'all sipping G&T's in that lovely nippy coastal Wales weather.
    And that scenery! The castle! Oh my!
    I see why they named so much of California's northern coast after places in Wales- it does look similar! Probably where Mr Hearst got his idea to build his castle near Cambria, Ca.
    Toodle pip!

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    1. You've sold California to me!
      Send some of that sticky heat over here, will ya? I'm fed up with being chilly! xxx

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  4. Happy Birthday to your fella! Another Leo (I have two of them in my house, more than enough!)

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    1. Yo, stranger!! Lovely to hear from you. Hope you're all doing good. Two Leos? One grumpy lion in this house is more than enough to handle. xxx

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  5. What a glorious photo of that tricky staircase view! Your Russian hat and parade jacket were equal to the challenge of what-to-wear-to-a-castle, but it does seem that this was a venue that tested even your and Jon's resourcefulness. Consider it a blessing from the spirit of that ancient place that you saw the deer.

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    1. I didn't think that photo would work, Beth. It's a tricky ask to capture something so grand.
      Honestly, a weekend away in the UK requires packing more clothes than a month in India. xxx

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  6. I love watching you and Rebecca layer up - and looking fabulous while doing so! thanks for sharing the adventure with Vis Monday, xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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  7. Happy Birthday to Jon! That castle really is f-ing amazing! :)

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    1. Isn't it just? Can't beat a tent with a view! xxx

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  8. Happy Birthday, Jon!

    Sounds like you celebrated in style. And that really is a wonderful castle. Neat that some of the performances were held inside it.

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    1. Thanks, Lou! Working on his birthday wasn't hard when he got to spend time in such a fabulous place. xxx

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  9. Happy birthday, Jon!
    That festival looks fun! Wow, the castle is gorgeous. It's amazing to think that it was built before modern power equipment was even an idea.
    You and Rebecca look like you could have all kinds of fun together, showing the world how to have style and be cool.

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    1. It does blow your mind when you think about the craftsmanship, skill and downright hard work that went into building such a magnificent structure, doesn't it? xxx

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  10. Small wonder you didn't end up with hypothermia in that cold. In that sort of climate, drinking has medicinal properties...probably saved your lives.



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    1. I knew there was a reason for drinking all that wine.... xxx

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  11. Howdie Vix: You and Jon look fabulous! Oooh, the deer! Have you seen the young man Kelvin from Pennsylvania on Twitter who is feeding the deer? "Everybody eats!" Hope your hangovers are better, and how wonderful to be able to spend some downtime before the next event.
    That castle....THAT CASTLE!!!!! xoxox

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    1. Hi Carol, thank you! I haven't seen Kevin but I shall track him down.
      Ask me about the hangovers on Saturday morning, the birthday celebrations continue! xxx

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  12. What a fab photo at the top of the post Vix and lovely echinaceas! Sorry to hear Wales was cold, but not surprised. I remember this place from your account last year, such imposing architecture. Hope you manage to get a rest before the next gig.
    x

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    1. Echinaceas! Thank you. Now I know what I'm looking for.
      It certainly has been a colder Summer than previous years. Fingers crossed that this heatwave they keep promising us with kicks off soon. xxx

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  13. That is one amazing castle! I'd expect ghosts and ghoulies to manifest themselves.

    The festival sounds like fun - I do like reggae - and as usual you look fab in your lovely outfits. It's a shame you had to wrap up well but as you say - it's coastal Wales. Coastal Donegal is cold, wet and windy today, too.

    Enjoy your two week festival break.
    xxx

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. They do ghost walks and tours when the festival isn't on, I bet they're wonderful!
      I can't understand people who don't like reggae, it's so wonderfully happy and uplifting especially when the sun's shining and the beer is flowing.
      Hope your weather cheers up a bit, do you think we'll see any of this heatwave the BBC keep banging on about? Summer seems like a dim and distant memory! xxx

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  14. Everything about this post is fantastic. Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins, nuff said. My friend had a tape of Richard Burton reading the poetry of John Donne *swoon*. Although to be fair he could have read out my shopping list and I would have been spellbound. Deer are so lovely aren't they? I think that there is something a bit magickal about seeing them. When I am on the road to and fro from Dundee I see them quite a lot and have to shout "doh, a deer!" every time because inside I am still 5 years old. When I look at that castle I realised that that could be my spiritual home. Might just have to go to Kaya next year. The line up seemed really, really good. Do you listen to Don Letts and Craig Charles on Radio 6 at all? I bet the place was jumping and what a lovely gesture to reach out to people at such an uncertain time. You looked amazing and I am very taken with your furry hat and the gorgeous Rebecca's ocelot (?) coat. You are both the picture of glamour. Please wish Jon a very happy birthday from me. Hope that you enjoy your time off and manage to recharge. Hope that the hip is okay too. Xx

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    1. They definitely breed some talent in that neck of the woods, Michael Sheen is a local, too.
      I do that at deer as well (but I also do it to sheep and cows - I'm such a townie!)
      Craig Charles was broadcasting live for Radio 6 much to my excitement, I love his and Don Letts' shows.
      The music is wonderfully diverse, after Glastonbury it's definitely my favourite for great bands. They get the sound just right, too. If we don't trade there next year I'd go as a punter. xxx

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  15. Happy Birthday to the man! Hope he spends the entire next fortnight and beyond celebrating, even if it means wearing sunnies on a permanent basis. Margam Castle looks like Gormenghast's well-dressed sister. Pretty spectacular to wake up to, and nothing keeps you going like a communal catch phrase. You look so beautifully slim in all your wondrous outfits. No middle aged spread going on there. And you still make the best Russian princess. Seeing deer in real life, watching Selecter play and echinaceas in the garden are all Very Good Things! Xxx

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    1. The man says ta very much! I'm not so sure about slim, after curries two days on the run and pub trips planned for two days out of three I'll be blowing the dust off my Wii Fit next week so I can into my maxis! xxx

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  16. What a fabulous event to work at, music, castle, deer! Happy birthday to your Jon. Have a great couple of weeks recharging and restocking. Betty

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    1. Thanks, Betty! Last weekend was fab but I'm loving our down time even more! xxx

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  17. What a stunning location to have the backdrop for a festival. That stately mansion (castle?) is out-of-this world beautiful. Perhaps its because, understandably, we have staggeringly few in Canada, but I am always drawn to huge stately homes and castles like a moth to a flame. :)

    Many hugs & happy mid-August wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Hello Jessica! Even after our second visit I'm still overwhelmed by how amazing that castle is!! xxx

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  18. Happy Birthday to your Jon...
    Amazing castle....
    Glad you covered expenses with a bit to spare! Good for you.

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  19. amazing castle, and glad you enjoyed the festival, despite usual summer weather!
    happy birthday to Jon!
    besos

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    1. After your holiday here you've experienced our legendary British summers now, haven't you?!
      xxx

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  20. That castle is amazing !!!! Happy Birthday Jon xxx

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  21. Happy birthday to Jon! Hope you both enjoy celebrating over the next fortnight! The castle looks amazing and what's even more amazing is that your got to see some deer! Xxx

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    1. Thanks, Jess! The celebrations resumed last night after a couple of day's rest. Being a townie I squealed with excitement at seeing those deer! xxx

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  22. One amazing castle! We have the heat and I'm supposed to live in the tundra.

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    1. SEnd some of that heat over here, Sam! August and I'm wearing dresses with sleeves with jackets on top, it's not fair! xxx

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  23. Ha ha! That is one f*cking amazing castle! xx

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    1. It is! It's not far from you, is it? xxx

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  24. You would love how hot it gets down in our part of the world, and I think you would even survive our Winter too. And I agree with Winter Moon and yourself, that really is one f#@&$#@!* amazing castle, you are blessed to have some much history and beauty in your part of the world.

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    1. Don't tempt me, I'm desperate to go adventuring!
      Wales is a dream for history and amazing architecture, you don't travel far without seeing a crumbling castle or an ancient chapel perched on a hillside. xxx

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  25. What a great festival location! All the weather lately makes the greens soooo lush. And although I've been to a few crazy gigs in churches, I've never been to one in a library or a castle, let alone one in a library inside a castle... Your furry hat is great, I can never wear one without looking like the hat is wearing me, and I never get tired of that majorette jacket. Happy birthday to John!

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    1. Isn't it gorgeous? I'm sure Wales is looking even greener than ever after this Summer's rain.
      I thought utilising the castle as a venue was such a great idea. In it's lifetime it's been a home, an American military base, too. I love how it keeps evolving. xxx

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  26. Happy Birthday Jon! Looks like an amazing festival and the castle gave me goosebumps. And the jacket with wide sleeves that you wore - breathtaking. Thanks for taking us along on one fabulous ride!

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    1. Thanks, Judith! The setting really is magical made even more attractive by the wonderfully diverse bands performing. xxx

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  27. Love the suede coat on you! I am glad that you had great time, despite the weather and slower business. The castle is fantastic, and nothing escapes your keen eye, not even deer family!

    With all your traveling and meeting folks all over the country, is it hard for you to understand local dialects of English at all?

    Much love!

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    1. I've become very attached to that suede coat over the past few months, it's wonderfully windproof!
      Some British accents are very hard to follow - although I imagine some people have trouble following our Black Country twang. Some of the local customers attempted to teach us some Welsh - that's a very tricky language. xxx

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  28. It looks lovely, and how nice of them to show their support to the local steelworkers. (Perhaps takings were down as people are cutting back on their spending in case things get really tough for the whole area - I remember a quote saying every job at Port Talbot supports three others within the local community; losing the plant will hit the area hard.)

    I hope Jon is enjoying being 50.

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    1. Funnily enough steelworker's Friday was our best day trade-wise. I think people just think "to hell with worrying about the future" and treat themselves to something - similar to the post-Brexit festivals.
      He's loving being 50 - a bloke gave him a flyer for mobility scooters when we were charity shopping this morning! xxx

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  29. Oh wowee that really is one seriously breathtaking castle, what a great site! Shame about the wind but as you say coastal Wales...! My grandfather is from Port Talbot originally so I've visited a couple of times, that's wonderful that they'd showed support for the steelworkers, I only hope that at some point soon a decision is made. Absolutley love all your ensembles as usuall - that suede coat is amazing!
    Happy birthday to Jon! XX

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    1. Hello, Lally! It is a wonderful part of the world, I love how much pride the locals have in their area, so many people don't do they? xxx

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  31. It looks more like a Scottish castle to me than something Welsh. Glad Jon enjoyed his Birthday, us Leos are a force to be reckoned with lol. You wouldn't have looked out of place in Siberia rather than South Wales, although today has been a scorcher here. x

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    1. Another Leo! I'm a fellow fire sign so we're bound to get on like a house on fire.
      I see what you mean about the architecture - I've never been to Scotland but it's definitely bares a resemblance to Hollyrood.
      I did manage a couple of hours in a bikini yesterday afternoon - it wasn't a scorcher up here but a pleasant 22 degrees. It's raining now though! xxx

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  32. Hello Vix!
    I'm sorry for the unexpected, must be difficult to work with the soil wet and the wind and everything else .. but the place is really nice, the abbey between the wet green is so evocative ..The castle is simply majestic! WOW! Then let the steelworkers and their families in a moment of difficulty is a very positive gesture, of this we need! And then how much music, the delicious dinner and your outfits, absolutely, divinely crazy! I love you guys!

    ...*_*...

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    1. What's a bit of mud when there's beauty like that castle? We soon forgot our stresses when the sun came out and the wine was open! xxx

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  33. The Welsh summer sounds a bit like Wellington summer, I'd be right at home! That castle is mind blowing, I would be staring at it all day and also you saw deer?? Squee!! Happy birthday to Jon - it sounds like the festival went well, even if you were off to a rocky start xo

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    1. You definitely should put Wales on your travel wish list, it's magical!! xxx

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  34. Happy Birthday to Jon! It looks great fun, if rather chilly! At least it looks dry. I've never had that much luck in Wales. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Emma! It did rain but luckily for us only at night time. I love Wales but the weather isn't half a trial! xxx

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  35. I love the fact that its free on the one day for the steelworkers and their families - a thoughtful giving-back gesture. Fair play to them for that. A great music line-up too, I wouldn't have been able to resist bopping around to all of that and Margam Castle looks epic - an ideal location for a BBC bodice ripper xxx

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    1. We thought it was a wonderful gesture, too - shows that all festivals aren't just money grabbing corporate beasts.
      I wonder if Margam Castle has been used in any TV dramas, you're right, it would be perfect. xxx

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  36. Aw, I'm sorry about the crappy start with the mud and collapsing awning! How lovely of the deer to pop by and remind you not to sweat the small stuff. Margam Park is great isn't it? And what a fab thing to open for the steelworkers. Hope you've thawed out now, Wales does get chilly in August doesn't it?! xx

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    1. Those deer made all the difference, bless 'em! We spoke to a man who was a third generation steelworker, had lived in Port Talbot all his life and if he hadn't been invited to Kaya he wouldn't even have known that there was a castle up the road from his house, madness! x

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  37. WOW What a beautiful Castle , I love gothic buildings , I tried not to laugh at your misfortunes but that's my sick sense of humour , It sounds like a scene froM carry on camping lol , Is that craig charles the actor from Red Dwarf or is it my eyes again lol, Happy belated birthday to john glad he had a good one , I think trading is down everywhere because of the holidays xxx

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    1. Ha! It was a bit fraught and my language was a touch on the colourful side!!
      That is the same Craig Charles - I think he was in Coronation Street, too (not that I've watched it since the days of Hilda Ogden!) He's a brilliant DJ, loads of funky disco and Northern Soul - definitely worth giving him a listen on Radio 6! xxx

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  38. Welcome to your 50's Jon, and a Happy Belated Birthday. That certainly is a "f**king amazing castle!! Can't believe it's so chilly over there - we have been dying from the heat here, and I've been staying in because the air is so bad I've had breathing problems.

    Love the story about the group of deer - doesn't it feel like a lovely gift when you spy something like that and no one else is around to see it?

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    1. He says thanks and he's loving the 50 club already, he hasn't stopped getting presents and free drinks for over a week!
      Seeing the deer really was magical, almost too beautiful to be real.
      Sorry about your inclement weather, hope it eases up for you soon. xxx

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  39. Hello lovely!
    I am so sorry I have not been around recently. I've actually been on a cruise for almost 2 weeks and before I was in France for a week! I do apologise for the lack of blog presence and comments. I do hope you are well!
    WHAT disaster about the rail collapsing and all that- ahrgh, a nightmare- hope the clothes were resurrectable!
    That gothic building is superb! Not surprised you kept snapping it!!!x

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    1. Hello Kezzie! I thought you must have been away. I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures!
      I think I've managed to wash off most of the mud now but every time I go in the stock room I spot another grubby hem! The perils of working outside, eh? xxx

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  40. What do they say about dancing in the rain, or some such thing? You know, when life gives you lemons make lemonade etc. Life is life, that's for sure. Glad you and your sweetie could celebrate his 50th together!! (He's such a young'un!!) As I swelter here, I'm delighted by the pictures of you and Rebecca getting your fabulous layers on!!! The castle is, in fact, freakin' utterly fabulous. Although I can't drink beer (no carbonated beverages, unfortunately) I'd gladly drink wine with you one of these days. Hope your next festival is lucrative, but just like the music business, you never know. I still believe in a life well lived, and where "style breeds in inverse proportion to the amount of money spent". Love you forever. xoxo

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    1. Hello, darling! "Style breeds in inverse proportion to the amount of money spent", goodness me, how true is that? Imagination and knowing what you love are the key to creating a good outfit, not chucking hundreds of £££s at a designer dress.
      Hoping it's not too sweltering & that one day we do get to share a bottle of wine. xxxxx

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  41. Wow! This is an awesome post, Vix! An amazing, fabulous castle! What a setting, and the beautiful green park (you don't have summer warmth as Rebecca and I are used to but you have GREEN!)And another train engine! I LOVE your warm outfits, stylish, sophisticated, creative - FABULOUS! I'm loving catching up with you again after my time away from the internet. I have a double treat. xx

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    1. Lovely to see you pop up in my blog feed this morning, Elizabeth! The internet's a better place when you're in it! xxx

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  42. Happy belated birthday Jon!

    The architecture in this post is incredible, puts modern buildings to absolute shame!

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    1. Isn't it beautiful? You'll have to swing by next time you're in Wales! xxx

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