Monday, 31 July 2017

Hear My Train A-Comin' - Indietracks 2017

 Now, that's what I mean about the spirit of Indietracks! One of our customers exclaimed when, not having any specs cases for sale, I opened my bag and told him to take mine.

After the shambles that was Truck it was a joy to be back at Indietracks, a tiny music festival combining steam trains with indiepop music, an hour's ride up the road in Derbyshire (or slightly more if, like us, you drive a vintage VW campervan). Over three days more than fifty bands from all over the world perform on three stages and on the steam trains themselves. There's real ale, five food stalls, art, craft and political activism workshops, band merchandise, a wild bird rescue display!

After seven years of going to Indietracks , originally as indie music fans and, more recently, as traders,  we've got to know many of the festival goers who, like us, come back again and again (Big love especially to Nat!) Unlike Truck, Indietracks is safe, clean and friendly and this year, the only thing that wasn't well behaved was the weather. 

We arrived on Friday morning and pitched the trade tent in gale force winds. To add to our woes when we'd taken the tent down at Truck last Monday we managed to bust the entrance zip after hammering it too tightly shut with a tent peg to keep out the invaders. The manufacturers didn't have any replacement panels in stock but found some seconds in their storeroom and kindly next-day couriered them over to us. When we set the tent up we realised that the warehouse had packed the wrong size panels and they were too big by two metres. More by good luck than judgement we'd brought the knackered panels with us so used them and left the tent open at night. But it's Indietracks, everyone is lovely, the arena shuts at midnight and other than the caterers we're the only campers on site.

Just before the site opened to the public the temperature plummeted and rain decided to lash down. The organisers sensibly decided to move the bands to an indoor stage, which was great for the revellers but not quite so good for trade. Still, by the time we closed, we'd covered our pitch fee and the pressure was off.

It was glorious when we emerged from Gilbert on Saturday morning and we sat in the sunshine enjoying our breakfast. I'd won Goody's giveaway on her blog and, when I picked the parcel up from the Post office on Thursday afternoon, found she'd very generously included this amazing vintage day-glo' orange Hawaiian maxi in with my rubber chickens (more on them soon). I match both Gilbert & my gorgeous mate Jeni rather well, don't you think?

Business was brisk. We sold to both the multi-national festival goers and indie bands alike. A 1970s raincoats went to a Swedish guy horrified by the terrible British weather and a handful 1980s jumpers went to a Japanese pop band again caught out by our Summer. Germans, Australians, Spaniards and Americans bought vintage Clarks' desert boots, 1970s Harrington jackets, 1950s smoking jackets, cats eye sunglasses, psychedelic maxis, Crimplene minis and 1960s St Michael. Some wore their purchases straight away.....despite Sunday's torrential rain.

Needless to say this is England and the weather can't be relied upon. By mid-afternoon we were in fake furs.

By the time headliners The Wedding Present took to the stage the heavens opened but did that spoil the fun? No way! They were magnificent. I can't believe it's been 30 years since the release of their album, George Best (which I bought on cassette as there wasn't enough room in my student hovel for a record player!)

Last weekend our neighbours were people, this time they were trains. This beauty has been freshly restored and new to the Midland Railway Museum this year. 

I'm more than a little in love with his smiley face.

What's the best thing about being two of only a handful allowed to camp on site? We get to play with the trains before the festival gates open! 

There's something wildly exciting about having the entire museum to ourselves.

This Milk Tank is their latest acquisition.

My favourite had to be the mail train.

It looks absolutely ancient so we were amazed that it was only built in 1956 - just ten years older than us! I bet Drew from Salvage Hunters would kill for those pigeonholes, wicker hampers and that wonderful armchair.

 On our way back from exploring the railway volunteers who drive the narrow gauge train up and down the track asked if we'd like our own personal ride as they said that they felt a bit sorry for us having to work and not join in the fun.

We didn't need asking twice! A leisurely 20 minute train ride in a lovingly restored 1920s carriage - it took one man seven years to perfectly restore it. 

I wanted to wear my Thomas the Tank Engine dress but I'd checked the weather forecast before I left and it would have looked rubbish with a thermal vest underneath...maybe next year.

Just like last year, Sunday's sunset was accompanied by a beautiful rainbow.

Thanks Indietracks for restoring our faith in music festivals (and humanity.)

See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I'm No Teenage Icon - Mud & Madness Of Truck 2017

Last Wednesday we left home, bound for Oxfordshire, home to the teenage knees-up that is Truck Fest. Slightly wary, since we'd traded there last the event had been taken over by a different events company, the fifteen page booklet outlining the trader rules and regulations were pretty ridiculous and I'd read numerous posts on a festival traders forum complaining of poor security, over-trading and general inefficiency. Still, we'd paid the fee, our paperwork had passed inspection and off we went.

Most of Wednesday was spent building and setting up our stall and we were in bed by 10pm. Thursday, the day before Truck officially opened, we discovered that not only had the festival tripled in size but there were even more vintage traders than last year. On collecting our wristbands from the organisers we expressed concern that there was a four foot gap between our stall and our neighbour, enabling anyone to access the traders' so-called secure area where we park, sleep, keep our stock and our takings. We were assured that a security fence would be installed before the site opened to the general public. On Friday, with still no sign of a fence, Jon used our 1970s windbreak to fill the gap.

If we thought there were a lot of vintage stalls then it was nothing compared to the amount of glitter - even some of the clothes stalls, food stalls and festival supply stalls were offering glitter face painting & body art. In a bid to help our nearest glitter trader, Once Upon A Sparkle, next-door neighbour Amy and I took up her offer to paint our faces to promote her stall.

Friday's weather was abysmal, the day started with winds so strong a trader's stall blew away (so much for all those strict rules and regulations), then the temperature dropped and rain started and man, it was torrential! Within a couple of hours the grass had vanished and the site was a mud bath.Fortunately Truck is held on a farm and there were plenty of hay bales available to help soak up the water directly outside our pitches. As I mentioned in my blog post last year, Truck's crowd are extremely young and a huge number of them hadn't packed anything practical. By 8pm we were completely sold out of vintage 1980s sportswear, jumpers and waterproofs. 

With all most of our practical stock sold we shut up shop and headed over to our vintage trader friends' stall. Pre-loading on gin we made our way to the Big Top tent and went crazy to Idris Elba's DJ set.

It's the third time we've seen Idris perform and he never fails to impress.

Although we were probably the same age as most of the festival goers' parents it didn't stop us getting right into the mosh pit to risk life, limb and spilt gin. 

Staggering back in the early hours we quickly sobered up after discovering someone had removed our windbreak and broken into our stall. Nothing had been taken but we found discarded drug paraphernalia in our trade tent. With no sign of any security Jon stayed up until 5am, keeping an eye out for more invaders.

On Saturday we were up and open for business at 9am and the rain continued. To increase the capacity of the crowd the organisers had squeezed another campsite on the hill overlooking the site and anyone unfortunate enough to be camped at the bottom ended up flooded out with all their possessions absolutely drenched. If we'd have had a quid for everyone who asked for wellies we'd have been able to shut up shop and go home rich but sadly we didn't so we gave away our carrier bags for the shivering kids to use as socks.

I took a break between showers and briefly explored the site.

Leaving Jon to shut up the stall for the evening I caught Saturday night headliners, The Libertines. As I've seen them numerous times in the past I was really looking forward to their performance but, although the music was great, Pete Doherty wasn't his usual self, barely acknowledging the crowd and spending most of the set with his back to us.  

I spotted stock we'd sold being worn. The 1960s sheepskin was one of ours, bought by a lovely Aussie guy here on a two year working visa with his wife. Show over we headed back to our pitch, shortly joined by a trader friend who'd just caught someone attempting to ransack their awning. He'd managed find a security guard and handed the culprit over.

As we sat chatting we watched a gang of black-clad, balaclava'ed men running at high speed through the traders' camping area. Minutes later we intercepted a drug deal going on in the gap between ours and the neighbour's pitch, stopped a drunken teenage girl being dragged off by two older men and a dodgy guy trying to break into next door's tent. We cracked open more drinks and waited for the arena to close, there was no way we could go to bed with all that going on. Last year all we had to contend with were drunken, selfie-taking teens, annoying but harmless, this time the vibe was a lot more menacing.

By 2.30 am with the arena finally closed, the crowds made their way back to the campsite. We managed a few hours sleep before re-opening at 9am. We looked out the fifteen page rule book, found a contact number for the concessions manager and called her to voice our concerns. She came over to our pitch explaining that she'd been drafted in at the last minute to manage the trading area when the events company realised they'd taken on too big a task. She told us that the company had neglected to employ more security guards despite making the festival three times bigger and had been overwhelmed by a gang of Eastern European pickpockets and a drug dealing cartel from London, both of which had been successfully apprehended last night. Several of our neighbouring traders had had enough and decided to pack up and go home early and she promised that although Sunday night shouldn't be so full-on, she'd make sure there would be security guards on hand to stop the public accessing the gaps the departed traders had left. After us clocking up over 90 hours of work between us the last thing we wanted was for some thieving scumbag to make off with our takings.

After a slow & tedious day of trading we closed the shop. Jon kept watch while I watched Maximo Park's set on the main stage. Despite the mud being past our ankles I danced (my maxi skirt hitched in my knickers), sung along, swigged gin and waved at festival goers dressed in our wares. 

Set over,I went back to the shop to help Jon pack up our stock. After all the clothes had been bagged up and the muddy stock quarantined ready for rewashing, we pulled our chairs outside, cracked open a can and listened to main stage headliners The Vaccines, who sounded incredible.

Then the fun started. The main stage shut, the kids then headed to the Market Stage opposite for a full-on rave. Wasted teens staggered about, wandering through the gaps the departed traders had left (still no fencing), pissing & vomiting on our vehicles and trade tents, pestering us for cigarettes and water. When told politely that the public weren't allowed in the trader's area, a group of lads turned aggressive and tried to fight Jon and boys from the stall next door. While Jon called the trading manager for help, Alex from next door doled out some hi-viz vests and we formed a human chain, turning away the drunken invaders by pretending to be security guards (although we probably didn't look very convincing with our glitter painted faces and colourful outfits). Eventually help arrived in the form of two massive security guards who erected a 10 foot security fence in the gap and stood with us until the entertainment finished and the kids had staggered off to bed.

With the alarm set for 7am yesterday, we disassembled the rest of the pitch and, after two hours of queuing, finally managed to get off the site littered with vehicles stuck in the mud. On the way out we were horrified by the state of the campsite. People talk about the wastefulness of the Glastonbury crowd but it was nothing compared to Truck. I've never seen so many abandoned tents, camping chairs and rubbish. If we weren't half dead we might have been tempted to rescue some of the abandoned camping gear.

Yes, we sold stock, made money, saw some great bands and met some lovely people but going back and trading there next year? You've got to be trucking kidding!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

This Old House - Stonecroft After The Paint Job

It's over! No more dodging ladders and scaffolding or having to walk around the house fully clothed. Stonecroft is back to her former glory, no more peeling paintwork or crumbling window frames. Not looking too bad for two hundred and sixty-seven years old, isn't she?

The plants (mostly) survived being rudely uprooted and relegated to the lawn to avoid being trampled.

It was a tough job, all four sides of Stonecroft's not particularly small exterior had to be scrubbed, hosed down and repainted. The decorators had to contend with not only blistering heat, torrential rain and high winds but also a highly embarrassing cat who, not yet over his years of foraging for food as a stray, made off with the contents of any lunchbox left unattended.  

I'm a bit reluctant to put my window boxes back on the pristine gloss black sills so I'm channelling a bit of Corfu and making do with vintage terracotta pots filled with gloriously gaudy geraniums instead.

Some I've had for years, overwintering in the utility room when the autumn's over....

The rest I bought from the clearance shelf in B&Q (12 for 90p and not one loss yet!)

The bloody stable door in the kitchen has been replaced by a half-glazed oak beauty in a far more aesthetically pleasing Georgian style which doesn't require a degree in engineering to open (a knack I've failed to master in the 11 years we've lived here).

Despite the neglect from a week long festival and our trip to Greece the tomatoes and courgettes are flourishing. 

More Scandi clogs, my treat from our Cornbury profits.

Have I ever mentioned by love for architectural antiques? I can't resist buying vintage knobs, knockers or escutcheons if I spot them at car boots. The cherub's been languishing in a drawer for years. It's about time he was put to some use.

WEARING: Gingham midi skirt with embroidered hem and pockets (New! From a proper shop in the sale!! Don't faint!); Off-the-shoulder gypsy top (made by me from an Indian scarf in the charity shop 3 for £1 bin); Vintage 1970s oversized Polaroid sunglasses (car boot sale); Stack of plastic bangles (various vintages from 1960s to last week, all charity shopped): Wooden rainbow beads (made by Tania)

We're off to trade at the Truck festival in the morning, see you next week!

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.