Tuesday 30 July 2019

Kingdom of Rust - Indietracks 2019

All aboard! It's time for Indietracks, a celebration of independent, creative and DIY pop music held at a heritage steam railway museum in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside. Every year around fifty indie pop artists perform across a range of stages while festival goers enjoy steam train rides, railway attractions and museums, discos, art and craft workshops, great food, a selection of real ales and, of course, Kinky Melon's pop-up vintage shop. Established in 2007, we've been going to Indietracks for eleven years, initially as visitors and, for the past six years, as traders.

We'd originally planned to travel up on Thursday but, with the UK experiencing the hottest temperatures ever recorded (39°C) we decided to postpone our journey and set off at 7am on Friday instead as the BBC had forecast it would be significantly cooler. By 2pm we were set up, changed and able to relax in the sunshine with a glass of wine before the festival gates opened at 5pm.

It was the first Friday in years that Indietracks' opening night was neither freezing cold or peeing it down. We didn't even need coats.

WEARING: 1960s Dollyrockers maxi (bought from Second To None in 2010)

Ready for business! 

Scottish pop band Bis, the first unsigned band to appear on Top of the Pops (HERE) before being signed to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label in 1996, were Friday night headliners. 

WEARING: Scotch & Soda brocade lined coat, tartan skinnies and pinstripe Austin Reed shirt (all charity shopped), Clarks' desert boots (50th birthday present from a friend - 3 years old next Monday!)

Of course, the great weather didn't hold. By the early hours of Saturday morning the rain was absolutely lashing it down and the temperature had plummeted. By opening time we were wrapped up in fake fur coats and boots - what a difference a couple of days make!

WEARING: Psychedelic maxi by Krist Gudnason of California (present from Krista, 2012), yeti coat (charity shop), sunglasses (car boot sale, 2015) and 1970s pendant from London Vintage

Did the rain dampen the Indie-kids' spirits? No! They shopped with us then either braved the rain to watch bands on the outdoor stage or headed off to the indoors Church and Passenger Shed stages or joined the queue to be entertained by the bands scheduled to play on the vintage trains which gently chug along the tracks between Swanwick Junction and Butterley.

Listening to the radio whilst having breakfast on Sunday morning we learnt that we'd had over a month's average rainfall over the last 24 hours, which was no surprise to us - it had kept us awake for most of the night. The rain at least had the decency to let up for long enough for us to explore. There's something innately thrilling about having a whole railway museum to ourselves.

WEARING: Dollyrockers psych maxi (eBay, May 2019) & my handmade Scandinavian wellies

WEARING: 1960s Hardy Amies fake fur car coat, tartan skinnies, rubber and suede wellies (all chazza shopped) and a wool polo neck nicked off the shop rails 

After a couple of hours of wandering we opened the shop in readiness for the Indie Kids. I decided to liberate this baby pink 1960s Shanghai-made satin brocade jacket from the rails - after four festivals with not a smidgen of interest it deserved to be mine.

Hangovers sated with some of the great food on offer the kids were ready to shop and, surprisingly for a Sunday, business was brisk. At one point in the day a lady came in and admitted to having a sleepless night after ripping a dress she'd tried on the night before and neglecting to tell us. She insisted on paying for the damage which impressed us no end - the downside of festivals is the amount of clothes that get trashed and put back on the rails with not a word uttered. This really sums up the spirit of Indietracks - it's a festival full of kind hearted, genuine people.

As usual, many of our lovely customers wore their latest Kinky Melon purchases over the weekend, but this year most of their vintage buys were obscured by raincoats - but here's Jo & Jude braving the weather to show off a 1980s Madras check cotton blazer and a 1960s psych midi dress.

Another of our favourite regulars, the fabulous Jenny! Her bag of Kinky swag was safely locked up in her hotel room.

Yes, it rained for most of the weekend and the temperatures were more akin to April than July but did that stop anyone having fun? Of course not. If you can't cope with a bit of inclement weather then you just aren't suited to the British festival scene.

The previous evening headliners, Spook School, had announced that they were splitting up, on Sunday they opened the main stage playing as their new incarnation, Squiggles

 I absolutely loved Liverpool psych all-girl band, Stealing Sheep's Sunday night performance and their outfits weren't bad either. Listen to their iconic Joking Me HERE.

One of my favourite post-Indietracks things to do is to check the festival website and see how many of the artists in the official band shots shopped with us - as always, there's rather a lot!

At 10pm we rolled down the shop front for the final time, poured ourselves a drink (definitely not the first of the evening) and packed up the stock with the rain pitter-pattering on the roof.

 Sod's Law or what? On Monday morning we took down the trade tent in warmth and glorious sunshine, the weekend's bad weather but a dim and distant memory.

 See you next year, Indietracks!

Tuesday 23 July 2019

We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside - A Weekend at Bexhill-on-Sea

This weekend took us to Bexhill-on-Sea where we were trading at a pop-up vintage fair on the seafront as part of the town's annual Great Gatsby weekend. Friday's journey down south, which should have taken three-and-a-half-hours, ended up taking six-and-a-half as it seemed like the entire population of the UK had also decided to drive down to the coast. Our scheduled setting-up time was between 4 and 6pm and we managed to pull up to Bexhill's seafront with minutes to spare. Fortunately our pitch fee included an already erected trade tent so all we had to do was unpack the van and sort out our rails before darkness descended. Our fellow traders had booked into local hotels but us, being us, had opted to sleep in the back of the van. As the only campers, organisers Maxine & Elliot handed over the key to the portaloo to Jon, introduced us to the overnight security guard and bade us farewell.

Set-up complete we headed off to Bexhill-on-Sea's branch of Wetherspoons, The Picture Playhouse, a splendid former Art Deco cinema built in 1921 and boasting possibly the best carpet we've ever seen in a 'Spoons. The weather was inclement to say the least and by the time we'd reached our destination it looked like someone had chucked a bucket of water over the pair of us, although after a few pints we'd stopped caring. We walked back to the van, ate cheese and crackers in bed and fell asleep listening to the torrential rain hammering on the van roof.

Photos courtesy of Pop-Up Vintage

By 5am the rain finally stopped and I was able to dash down the promenade in my nightie to use our exclusive toilet facilities (apologies to any Bexhill residents I may have scared in the process.)  Upon investigation of our stall we discovered that a couple of bags of stock had borne the brunt of the previous night's rain - including the headscarves and cravats that I'd spent an hour ironing on Thursday afternoon - arghhh! After packing away the offending items, putting a few finishing touches to our shop, a wet wipe wash and a mug of tea it was 10am and our pop-up vintage shop opened to the public.

WEARING: Young Mayfair chiffon maxi (me); Floral shirt, tartan drainpipes, Austin Reed waistcoat (Jon)
Photo courtesy of Pop-up Vintage

Trade was brisk and the crowd were friendly but don't be deceived by our appearance in this photo,  the sea breeze was a killer, my hair resembled a raggedy tangled nest and my eyes watered perpetually. By closing time we traders had been rendered insensible by eight hours of constant wind.

Pop-Up Vintage had secured the traders free admission to the evening entertainment in the marquee situated in the grounds of the outstandingly gorgeous De La Warr Pavilion, a grade I listed seafront masterpiece built in 1935 and one of Britain's first modernist buildings and, after a delicious Indian meal at Mowgli (HERE), we headed off to the swing dance event. Neither Jon or I are into dancing but we had a beer and people watched for an hour or so before heading back to the van.

On Sunday we opened at 9am and were thrilled to note that the wind had dropped a little - although you can probably tell from my hair that it was still pretty breezy. 

WEARING: 1960s Luvisca leisure shirt, Levis' Pantella shorts (Jon); Massive sleeved maxi and Sheffield steel pendant (me)
Photo courtesy of Pop-Up Vintage

I was excited to meet beautiful blogging pal, Betty, for the first time and we sat and chatted in the sunshine like we'd known each other for years. After bidding one another goodbye, I got back to work, chatting to visitors and making sales until closing time rolled (or blew) in at 6pm.

After we'd packed up the stock, loaded the van and bade goodbye to our fellow traders Jon tearfully handed the portaloo key back to Maxine - being the loo key holder meant we'd got to know our fellow traders really well as they'd all had to speak to us if they needed to pay a visit. We'd decided to treat ourselves to a night in a local bed and breakfast so we could explore the town's legendary chazzas the following morning. On arrival to our chosen accommodation we were thrilled to be told by Tony, the owner, that he'd upgraded us to a studio apartment - absolute luxury after two nights in a van! After a quick shower we headed back to 'Spoons (where else?) for a bite to eat and the obligatory pint or two. Well and truly knackered we were fast asleep in our wonderfully comfy cloud-like bed by 10.30 pm.

 The following morning after a slap-up vegetarian cooked breakfast at our B&B we had a stroll along Bexhill's wonderfully tranquil beach - a world away from neighbouring Brighton.

WEARING: Young Innocent by Arpeja maxi

And what of the legendary charity shops? Considering the amount of people who retire to Bexhill-on-Sea I'd hoped that the chazzas would be packed with cool old stuff but sadly the clothes on offer were of the modern variety with a large amount being the labels favoured by ladies of a certain age, Per Una and Bon Marche to name just a couple. Still, if there's vintage to be had, Jon and I will find it...and we did!

Clockwise from top left: 1950s Jantzen swimsuit; Vintage cream wool trilby; Christy Panama hat (currently retailing at £119); 1970s Peter Robinson quilted maxi skirt; Vintage brocade waistcoat; 1980s Adini Indian cotton midi dress; Also purchased (but not pictured as it's still on the washing line) was a 1980s Phool sundress.
Our journey back up to the Midlands again took us the best part of six hours and back at home we hit the ground running, doing two loads of washing (our gear, Friday's rain-sodden stock and the morning's chazza shop finds), watering the parched garden and hosing down the van. Today, we're unpacking the van and sorting out the stock in readiness for this weekend's Indietracks festival.

No rest for the wicked!!