It's that time of year again...the great British festival season. Driving down bumpy country lanes pushing back the avalanche of vintage clothes threatening to engulf us every time we go over a pot hole....wearing glitter at breakfast, cracking up a can of beer before 11 am, queuing politely for the loo, rubbing shoulders with stockbrokers, chartered accountants, check-out assistants, weekend hippies, new age travellers, full-time fairies and school teachers and dancing barefoot in the rain to bands you last heard 30 years ago.
This weekend took us to the Acoustic Festival of Britain in Uttoxeter, an hour's drive across the border into neighbouring Staffordshire. Attracting a loyal following from all over the UK with a wildly eclectic line-up of 1960s legends, 1980s pop stars, folk singers, skiffle bands, candidates from the Monster Raving Loony Party and stand-up comics, Morris dancers, storytellers, circus acts, ice cream vans, pie stalls and pig roasts, fairground rides and with fortune tellers, weavers, silversmiths, instrument makers and ironmongers plying their trades you couldn't get a more traditionally British weekend.
A sad sign of the times was the heightened security, with festival goers being subject to stringent searches on the way into both the arena and the campsite. Everybody understood, nobody complained and, after getting word of the horrific attack that took place in London on Saturday night, you do start to wonder, where next?
We left home at 10am on Thursday and, just over six hours later, we were set up and open for business. Considering it had been nine months since our last festival we'd done pretty well, only forgetting the nail kit, a towel and our fruit.
A day of sunshine and showers, mostly spent dashing outside to drag our rails of clothes back inside.
In Britain the rain never stops play.
The Acoustic Festival wouldn't be complete without a performance by some of the local Morris Dancers. This lot are Black Dog Molly from Stoke-on-Trent.
I wore a batik maxi made in Lagos in the early 1960s (a present from Curtise) which I'd pimped-up with fringing cut off an old beach towel with a choker I made from a scrap of 1960s lurex braid and the buckle off an ill-fitting 1960s bikini and my psychedelic plastic peace sign earrings. Jon's wearing some 1960s charity shop wool trousers he skinnied up himself (he was too cold in his Levis' Panatellas), a posh designer shirt a mate gave him and vintage braces he nicked from the shop.
I painted rainbows on my eyelids while Jon cooked Glamorgan sausages (Caerphilly cheese, leek & potato) for breakfast.
Several belly dancing troupes performed impromptu dance offs.
Tribal Vs Traditional, apparently.
One of the things we love about festivals are the trade-offs between stallholders. Last year we charged phones in exchange for Reiki treatments and home-made fudge, this year we part-exchanged a Harris Tweed jacket for two wood-fired vegetarian pizzas which we promptly shared with a neighbour in exchange for some real ale.
Meeting up with Brian, the fudge man and soon-to-be-wed Sean & Vicky are Acoustic Festival highlights for us.
Started off with glorious sunshine and factor 50 sun cream and got progressively colder...Jon caved in and put his boots on and I donned my yeti coat.
I'm wearing a top I made from a vintage silk scarf (a present from Lynn) trimmed with Walsall market pom-poms, a 1970s Prova psychedelic skirt, a Lamani gypsy coin belt (from Goa), charity shop sunglasses and pom pom earrings and metallic choker (both made by me). Jon's in a chazza shop Clash tee shirt, a vintage Austin Reed waistcoat & 1960s Farahs, a 1960s cord trilby donated by a friend and some charity-shopped Doc Martens.
Acts included 1980s pop act Howard Jones, Ed "Swords of a Thousand Men" Tudor, Fairport Convention and all manner of eclectic acts from a skiffle band who'd just flown in from Vegas, Latino sounds from the Swan Vesta Social Club, the wildly eccentric John Otway, The Bar Stewards of Val Doonican and a Beautiful South covers band.
My favourites were Liverpool soul band, The Christians, who I'd loved in the 1980s and had forgotten all about. Garry's still got it.
Alan (originally from Walsall) makes incredible pewter jewellery and was trading at the festival for the first time. I treated myself to a couple of his bangles. How ace is his pimped-up tailcoat?
Sales-wise, after three years we know that we'll never make a fortune trading at the Acoustic Festival but it's close to home, the pitch prices are fair and we always have a good time. Life's not all about the money (but the profits will be more than enough to fund our trip to Corfu in a fortnight's time).
These gorgeous girls bought a vintage boned, red and black striped Moulin Rouge style corset from us to surprise a sixth friend who didn't have one.
The chap who bought our 1980s Hugo Boss wool blazer had his face painted blue to match and told us that although he didn't give a shit about what people thought of what he wore he was quite touched by the number of strangers who'd complimented him on his Kinky Melon purchase.....the vintage Hawaiian maxi went to the lead singer from headliners, Lost Tuesday Society from Cardiff who decided to wear it for the rest of the weekend and our job lot of vintage '70s deadstock white cotton broderie anglaise camisoles were a big hit with the younger festival goers.
|Photo pinched off my friend Sean's Facebook page|
We had intended to stay over on Sunday night but the lure of our own bed proved too much and we joined the majority of the other traders in packing up, waving each other off and heading home. The cats were delighted to see us.
Now for the fun bit, unpacking the van in the torrential rain or I might just have another cup of tea and think about it....
See you soon!