Tuesday 27 August 2019

Imagine Another Lovelier World - Towersey Festival 2019

The Frumptarn Guggenband

Forgive me, I'm doing that annoying thing of publishing a blog post before I've caught up with commenting but we're only home for a few hours as we're heading off to our next festival at the crack of dawn tomorrow so I thought I'd better write about our Towersey experience before it becomes ancient history. 

Our trader pal, Mandy

We arrived in the Oxfordshire village where the festival has been held for the last 54 years (yes, it's even older than we are) at noon on Wednesday. We set up in our usual seven-and-a-half hours and then spent the evening with Mandy and Orr, our lovely festival friends who we met at Cornbury all those years ago. Find her HERE.

WEARING: Dollyrockers (me), Vintage Paul Smith (Jon)

The festival opened to the public at midday on Thursday but from previous experience we knew trade would be slow although by the time we shut at 11.15 pm (as usual we were the last stall standing) we hadn't done half bad.

The BBC's forecast was for sunshine and sizzling heat and I can't tell you what a relief it was when it turned out to be spot on for once. It's the first time I've been able to wear this 1960s Hawaiian maxi dress to work all year.

I was delighted to see shoppers we'd met at our first Towersey - and even happier to pick out a fabulous 1950s cotton day dress that fitted perfectly!

The Towersey organisers were running a competition to find the greenest trader. I'm not sure who won but you can't get greener than a vintage clothes stall - everything we sell has had at least one previous owner, everything is washed in eco-friendly soda crystals & line-dried, our price tags (attached with pins as opposed to plastic tags) and our carrier bags are made from recycled paper and even our cable ties are reusable.

We got the thumbs up from Towersey's resident bee.

More lovely people we met back in 2017.

Gorgeous Janis kindly offered to model for us - doesn't she look wonderful in everything?

You can't see the print very clearly but this 1990s Gabicci shirt featured a disco ball print - perfect for this guy's late night DJ set.

Talking of disco, Saturday was time to dig out my festival favourite, my 1970s Bernshaw lurex maxi.

The return of the giant disco ball

Great to see this pair who'd also paid us a visit at Glastonbury way back in June.

The weather was scorching. Jon abandoned his shirt. Topless service, anyone?

It makes us so happy to see clothes bought from us still being loved a couple of years later. This 1960s cotton dress is just one of them - lovely to see it again, along with the wearer, still looking amazing!

How fabulous is Fiona's vintage rainbow dress? Like me, she's an eBay bargain hunter.

This beautiful family bought from us in 2017 and again this year.

Steph's another gorgeous regular. That 1970s Alexander Clare maxi dress used to be mine - it's definitely gone to the right home!

We met lovely Anglo-American couple Penny and Jim at our first Towersey. They were celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary on Saturday. Having lived there for several years, Penny's a bit of an expert on Naples, find out more HERE.

Until Sunday most of our evenings had been spent sitting, chatting & boozing with our trader friends but with The Selecter headlining we had a proper night out and danced the night away to some incredibly upbeat ska tunes and Pauline Black is an absolute goddess. We didn't film the performance (you know my thoughts on that!) but HERE's a link to their official website.

Like Glasto, Towersey is a five day festival. After six days in a field in 33°C we were definitely looking a bit grubby around the edges but that's all part of the fun. If you're a clean freak, festivals probably aren't for you.

John looked so cool in the white fedora he bought from us the previous day, apparently he was inundated with compliments - hardly surprising!

This lovely couple are regular Kinky shoppers, too!

The 1970s California psych maxi Steph bought from us last year needed a bit of a tweak and luckily I had my sewing kit with me - on the spot alterations and repairs are all part of the Kinky service!

Like Glasto, Towersey is a five day festival. After six days in a field in 33°C we were probably looking a bit grubby around the edges but that's all part of the fun. If you're a clean freak festivals probably aren't for you.

It's lovely to meet so many like-minded people at Towersey, to bitch about politics, rave about bands we've seen, places we've been to and generally put the world to rights. We were delighted to be sticker bombed by the Bollocks to Brexit campaign and were quite happy to keep the stickers in situ. The only other places we meet proper hippies is India or Glastonbury and by hippies I don't mean weekend hippies with proper jobs who dress up at festivals. Hippy is a way of life, not a wardrobe choice.

Remember these two from Cornbury? 

Neighbours Lily and her partner Peter are festival newbies and we got on like a house on fire especially when we discovered that they spend four months of the year in Goa - we're planning to meet up with them on the beach in a few months time! Find them HERE.

The illuminated procession brings Towersey to a close. We shut the shop, packed up the stock and spent our last night drinking and chatting into the night, shoe-less and coat-less - bliss!

It was a bit of a struggle getting up at 6am this morning but we were rewarded with a glorious sunrise for our troubles. We took down the stall and squeezed everything back in the van and were ready to leave by 10am. Why is it that despite having sold loads of stock over the weekend it never seems to fit back in?

No trace left and ready for the journey back home!

 Since getting back at midday we've repacked the van, done three loads of washing & the supermarket run and had our first bath for over a week. After we've packed our clothes, watered the garden and ordered a pizza it'll be time for bed - the alarm's set for 6am....next stop End of The Road!!

See you on the other side!

PS I've set up a Kinky Melon Instagram page, I'd love it if you followed us!! HERE

Monday 19 August 2019

My Week In Vintage

If someone hadn't been pointed out that we're already two thirds of the way through Slow Fashion Season I probably wouldn't have noticed, that's how bothered I am about buying new. Not that I haven't been adding to my wardrobe, it's just that any additions are - as they have been for most of my life - secondhand.

So what of the last seven days post-Lakefest? Tuesday was spent unpacking the van, hosing off the mud and cobbling together a blog post. Talking of which, thank you so much for your kind words & concern, we finally got paid the money that was due...on Saturday. Better late than never, I suppose!

 On Wednesday we were back in the saddle, off scouring the charity shops of the greater Black Country for choice vintage stock. I wore this early '70s Anokhi quilted pinafore dress for the first time.

WEARING: Vintage Anokhi pinafore dress (eBay, July 2019), 1960s Jeff Banks W1 blouse (car boot sale, 2004), Aldo hat and vintage Indian screen printed silk scarf (both charity shopped), 1970s French high heeled wellies (jumble sale 2009)

 Yes, I was wearing wellies, albeit vintage ones - that's how wet it was!

Such is my infatuation with my Anokhi pinafore dress that I wore it again today and, to demonstrate how schizophrenic our good old British Summer weather is, this time it was with a cotton camisole, peep-toe clogs and some vintage sunglasses (bought from a vintage fair back in 2016).

WEARING: Indian cotton embroidered maxi (belonged to German ex-blogger Sabine's mother in the 1960s), Anokhi long-line waistcoat (5-6-7-8 Vintage, April 2019), Cobalt neoprene boots (Topshop sale, 2017), Cleopatra belt & 1970s hat (both charity shopped)

On Thursday we were shopping again (our final two festivals of the season kick off this week and we have just 12 hours at home between the two). As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm often freaked out by finding things in charity shops that echo what I'm already wearing.

Case in point was that I'd left the house that morning wearing an Anokhi waistcoat, a felted wool hat and a 1960s belt with a Cleopatra clasp and came back with..........an Anokhi waistcoat, a felted wool hat and a 1960s Egyptian print scarf! Weird or what?

 Friday brought yet another deluge but that didn't to stop our epic stock hunting session. I wore a vintage Anokhi block printed maxi dress with the previous day's waistcoat and hat but sadly failed to find any more of my beloved Anokhi in the chazzas. My new-to-me waistcoat is three sizes too big but a bulldog clip soon sorted that out (thank goodness for long hair, perfect for hiding those last minute wardrobe hacks!)

WEARING: Vintage 1980s Anokhi maxi dress (eBay, May 2019), felted wool hat and Anokhi waistcoat (both charity shopped), gormless expression - all my own.
Saturday was spent sorting, ironing and packing stock ready for Towersey which - for us - kicks off on Wednesday morning.

On Sunday we had to go into Walsall to stock up on festival essentials (biodegradable wet wipes and booze) so I thought I'd give my new-to-me vintage Rumak dress her maiden outing.

 After spending most weekends dressed in crazy-coloured floor-length finery I do love an understated, unstructured midi dress - it serves as a bit of a palate cleanser between festivals.

WEARING: 1970s Rumak cheesecloth midi dress and vintage straw basket (both charity shopped)

As we were packed and festival ready early we were able to spend Monday belatedly celebrating Jon's birthday in 'Spoons.

WEARING: Vintage India Imports of Rhode Island block printed maxi skirt and unworn Greek embroidered cheesecloth blouse (both eBay finds)

 Typically the heat, blue skies and sunshine that greeted me when I got up soon descended into yet another dark, dreary and thoroughly damp day but I wore my cheesecloth blouse, sunglasses and peep toe clogs regardless.

Towersey awaits - see you on the other side!

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Batten Down The Hatches - It's Lakefest 2019

Last Wednesday morning we headed to Eastnor Castle, just outside the historic town of Ledbury, for Lakefest. The weather forecast was horrendous and several other UK festivals scheduled for weekend had been forced to pull the plug but setting up in hazy Herefordshire sunshine the predicted storms seemed like a world away. In just under eight hours we'd set up, eaten and gone to bed early, waking up the next morning refreshed and raring to go.

The following morning we put a few finishing touches to the stall, explored the site and, after a lazy lunch, got changed, poured ourselves a drink and awaited the arrival of the general public.

To be perfectly honest we weren't sure about returning to Lakefest after the organisers had announced that the festival was going cashless. While we could understand their reasons for doing so - apparently parts of the site were plagued with theft last year, including over £25,000 reportedly stolen from the bar - we weren't at all keen on the idea of our takings going into the festival's bank account and having to wait for our cash but the organisers had promised to pay the traders what we were owed on the Saturday evening with the remainder being transferred the following week and as the festival we'd booked to trade at the following weekend had gone into administration we felt that we didn't have a lot of choice. 

Thursday afternoon and ready for business!

Thursday's trade was slow but no matter, there were three more days to catch up. 

Friday morning started off bright and sunny and we were able to pose for photos before opening the shop at 10am ...

 But within half an hour the heavens opened and pretty much continued for the rest of the day.

When you're a festival trader you do become mildly obsessed with the weather but believe me, it has a knock-on effect on sales. The odd shower is fine but with constant rain the entire festival dynamic changes, people go into survival mode, cracking open the alcohol early and seeking shelter - shopping is the last of their concerns (which is fair enough, it's exactly what we'd do, too). Trade wasn't a total washout though, just like at the Cornbury Festival a couple of years ago, The Kaiser Chiefs popped in, bought a few things and declared our stock to be amazing.

And what's a bit of rain when you've got the phenomenal Dreadzone....

and Bez with his Madchester themed DJ set?

Business picked up during the evening and we didn't have too bad a day in the end. We closed just after 10pm and headed off to catch the Kaiser Chiefs inside the main tent - marred somewhat by the number of annoying w*nkers filming the entire set on their phones and the inconsiderate tossers who, despite there being a ban on camping chairs in the arena after 5pm, ignored the announcements and stayed put (some fast asleep and others playing games on their phones and ignoring the band), meaning that many of the crowd couldn't get undercover and had to stand outside to watch in the torrential rain.

With gale force winds in excess of 50 miles per hour forecast, Saturday was the day we were dreading. We'd already gone overboard securing the stall with market clamps, ratchets and extra tent pegs but Jon added a couple more ratchets just to be on the safe side. The calendar might have said summer but the temperatures were anything but hence my sheepskin hat and Jon's overcoat.

We spent most of the day chasing stock that had blown off the rails or rushing to our neighbours' assistance, holding on to stalls to stop them blowing away. Across the way the jerk chicken shack lost its roof and several traders made the decision not to open. Disappointingly none of the festival organisers bothered to check whether we were okay.

Again most of the punters went into survival mode and sales were slow which, on the plus side, meant we could take it in turns to watch The Bluetones and reggae legend Dawn Penn.

Despite the assurance that our takings would be issued to us on Saturday evening, by 10pm nothing was forthcoming so we closed the shop and went down to the main arena to catch the joyful madness that is the Happy Mondays.

On Sunday morning we were thrilled to discover that the wind had dropped and it felt quite warm.

 The BBC reckoned there would be hail and thunder until 11am and then it would be dry all day - wrong!! It started with hail and thunder ....then the rain arrived in biblical proportions and the temperature plummeted. By lunchtime the site was a mud bath and the sky vibrated with thunderclaps. Walking to the loo meant taking your life in your hands as people slipped and slided left, right and centre. 

Paul Young did his country and western set with Los Pacaminos.

And our favourite customers, the fabulous and flamboyant Pete and Ange, popped in for a second shopping marathon.

Finally we had a visit from the festival organiser who issued us with what we'd taken up to 5pm on Saturday....in cash....somewhat bizarre considering the festival was supposedly cashless! Having a wedge of cash made us both paranoid about being robbed, not helped by the fact that the organisers had scrimped on security fencing and the general public insisted on using our stall as a cut through. The organiser told us that we'd get an email on Monday confirming the monies outstanding* and the cash would be transferred into our account by Wednesday**. 

*It's now Tuesday and they've emailed to ask for our account details.
**No money as at 10.30pm on Wednesday night...

We watched the superb James from the comfort of our stall before rolling down the shop front for the final time, packing up the stock and finally collapsing into bed. Thank you and goodnight, Lakefest 2019!

However, that wasn't the end of our wild weekend!

Less than an hour later we were awoken by someone banging their fists on the van - at first we thought it was drunken revelers and ignored them but when it continued Jon got up to investigate and it turned out to be the security staff insisting we vacate the area immediately and assemble over in the arena as there was a major health and safety incident. Off we trudged in our nightclothes, ankle deep in mud and clutching on to our cash for dear life where we sat with our fellow traders, lost souls and cider casualties as an emergency rescue team battled to right an articulated truck that had skidded off the main road, fallen on its side and was in imminent danger of rolling down the mud-covered hill and crashing into the trader area. 

Gale force winds, torrential rain, thunder, hail and emergency evacuations......not to mention the first time we've ever had stuff nicked from our stall in all our years of festival trading, thank goodness we've got this weekend off, that's all I can say!