Thursday 29 June 2023

Viva Glastonbury!

Hello, Glastonbury! We're back from the greatest festival on the planet although it still feels like we've left our heads somewhere in a field in Somerset.

On Sunday 18th June we travelled down to the West Country, spending the night in a Premier Inn in Glastonbury. Too excited to sleep we rocked up at Worthy Farm on Monday at just after 8am and were sited and all set up by 5pm. We spent the evening on one of the crew campsites with friends, wrapped in blankets and drinking wine under a starry sky.

On Tuesday we had a leisurely morning, making the most of the deliciously warm traders' showers, which we knew we'd probably not get a chance to visit again, and hanging out with Stuart, a long-time friend who travels as part of our Kinky crew. We opened the shop, made a few sales (including us, there's over 56,000 workers on site before the gates open to the general public) and caught up with our festival family. The rain was torrential for around thirty minutes but the rainbow we spotted gave us hope that the forecast for a mini heatwave was true.

Later we joined Stuart and Steve (another of our long-time friends who volunteers for traffic management) and headed up to one of the many crew-only bars dotted around the site. We settled on the Peg & Pitch at Arcadia, home of the infamous fire-breathing spider. He looks rather benign before the festival opens, doesn't he? 

Glastonbury's gates open to the 200,000 ticket holders at 8am on Wednesday and the noise from the press helicopters hovering overhead had us up early. Back in the days of being regular punters we'd spend Wednesday lazing around on the campsite, drinking cider and sleeping, knackered from the 4am start, pitching the tent and the hour each way return trips to the van for our gear but there's some hardcore folk out there and by lunchtime we were already doing brisk business, so much so that we only took one photo all day!

Just before midnight Stuart's partner Kim and their daughter Lily arrived, the Kinky Crew were reunited after a year apart.

Thursday was scorchio, much to the disappointment of the media who do love a Mudfest headline. 

Although many of the stages don't open until Friday, the bandstand on William's Green is rocking from midday onwards. We couldn't believe it when we turned up to trade for the first time in 2019 and discovered that our pitch was directly opposite. It has the most fabulously eclectic music.

Former buskers, Showhawk Duo draws a huge crowd every year. Lord Jon filmed this from our shop front. 

Bristol-based Bhangra band, RSVP were also phenomenal and had hundreds of people dancing in the 30°C heat (including us). 

Jon can't resist playing around with the stock. Check out this snazzy two-way top, I found it when Liz & I went shopping a couple of weeks ago. It was worn at the Commonwealth Games 2022 Opening Ceremony by a member of the dance group Critical Mass and was soon snapped up.

That's Nichola who I bonded with at Glasto 2019. Kim's the babe in the Elton John sunnies (this year's Glasto big thing). Both their dresses were snaffled from the Kinky rails (Graz, if you're reading this, you'll recognise both Kim's and mine!)

It was a cracking day and by closing time we'd covered our costs and were in profit - yippee!

Friday saw Hawaiian shirts and sequined bustiers at dawn, already another scorcher of a day! Recognise the skirt? It was a gift from Ann & Jos when we met up the previous week. 

Another fabulous day spent selling, chatting, singing & dancing. How fabulous does Nichola look in her feathered capelet and Rosa Bloom leotard?

When we closed at 10pm we didn't fancy joining our crew to see The Arctic Monkeys who were headlining the Pyramid Stage. Although their Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is in my top ten albums of all time, their live shows always feel a bit flat so we gave them a miss and headed to West Holts to see the goddess that is Kelis, visiting Carhenge, along the way.

Set into concrete for stability, this installation featuring vintage cars are Glasto's homage to Stonehenge and are new for 2023. 

I was so hot I threw off my sequinned top and danced around to I Hate You So Much Right Now in my sequined bra.

We met up with the gang later for drinks in the shop. That's one of the many joys of trading, having our private party pad!

Without wanting to sound like a cracked record, Saturday turned out to be another scorcher. I bet the gutter press were livid. After a brisk morning of trading, Stuart and Kim took over, leaving Jon and I to do some socialising and roaming. 

We caught a bit of Amadou and Mariam's set over on the Pyramid Stage - they've played at End of the Road before and they are just so joyful and upbeat.

We joined the ravers at Silver Hayes

And caught acts on both The Lonely Hearts Club & BBC Introducing stage. For those of you who've never been and think Glastonbury's all about the Pyramid Stage, it's so not. There's over 120 stages as well as circus, cabaret and a cinema.

Listed as The Churn-ups, The Foo Fighters were one of Glastonbury's infamous surprise acts, we were in on the secret (friends in the know!) but were sworn to silence.

We know more people at Glasto than we do in Walsall.

Later Steve joined us for the Guns 'n' Roses set but, like me, isn't a fan & asked when they were going to play Livin' on a Prayer. They were pretty good but although I loved their cover of Live and Let Die and Dave Grohl's guest appearance, I can't say I'm in a rush to explore their back catalogue. 

Somehow we ended up in the mosh pit at the front. People at Glasto are so lovely, they just let us through.

The couple above got loads of attention, as did we. Lots of people wanted a selfie with either me or with Jon (there's still some diehard Charlatans fans out there) whilst others thought we were hanging out with Dave Grohl.

Once again the evening ended back in the shop, munching on Indian snacks, trying on the stock and drinking until the early hours.

Traditionally a slow day for trade, Stuart and Kim minded the shop whilst we joined Steve for Cat Stevens/Yusef's Sunday afternoon Legends slot.

To be honest, other than Morning Has Broken which I think every child of the 1960s sung at school, I didn't think I was familiar with any of his songs but I recognised - and sang along - to almost every one. At 75, his voice is sublime and he's such a genuinely lovely man. We agreed that he was our festival highlight, some true Glastonbury magic. 

Back at home I read so many comments about how awful the crowds look (always posted by those who've never been). When we're watching an act on one of the stages and look up at the big screens overhead it does looks like utter madness but when you're actually in the thick it, it never feels overwhelming, just utterly incredible, buzzing with love, joy and energy. As Emily Eavis said in an interview the other day, Glastonbury is a huge temporary city which never fails but to bring out the best in people. In all my years of going I've never encountered anything but kindness. Forget reports of litter, queues for the loos and abandoned tents or that its too commercial, too expensive and it ain't like it used to be, the atmosphere is truly astonishing and it really is the best festival ever.

After rolling down the shop front for the final time we headed to the Pyramid Stage for Elton John's set.


Neither Jon or I can call ourselves fans but like the many thousands were intrigued by who the four special guests might be (Brittany, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Kiki Dee?) and felt that we needed to see what Elton claims to be his last ever performance. It was standing room only but the sequin-clad crowds parted for us and we were able to squeeze ourselves into a tiny gap and watch the show.

In the end we'd only ever heard of one of the guests....The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers...which got both Kim and I squealing with excitement. I've read comments from people who watched the BBC coverage at home and claimed that Elton's voice had gone, I've no idea if it had or not, all I can say was that we were there and had the time of our lives and the party continued back at the Kinky tent until way too late.

On Monday we said our emotional goodbyes to Stuart, Kim, Lily and Steve before we set about packing down. Traders aren't allowed to leave until 6pm so we took it slow and steady with plenty of stops for non-alcoholic refreshments. After being given the go-ahead from the events team, we embraced our trader mates and set off. It took just over two hours to get off site and we made it to Gloucester Services just in time for me to snaffle the last vegetarian pie finally getting home just before midnight, welcomed back by a very excited William.

We're off to recharge our batteries, eight days of hard work and unbridled hedonism is exhausting!

Saturday 17 June 2023

Attingham Park with the Princess & the Peach

On Thursday, following a four year Covid-induced hiatus, we finally met up with Belgium's finest, the lovely Ann (aka Polyester Princess) & husband Jos. Our long-time friends, Claire (Winter Peach) and her husband Gareth, who we met whilst festival trading,came along, too.

As Ann & Jos were staying in Shropshire we met up at the glorious Attingham Park, the National Trust's fourth most visited property. I'm sure Attingham will be familiar to many regular readers, Jon and I visit often, you might remember us spending the day with Ann & Jos here back in 2018 HERE.

A forty-minute drive from home, Attingham Park was built in 1785 for Noel Hill, 1st Baron Berwick who received his title a year earlier during the premiership of William Pitt the Younger, in recognition for being instrumental in the reorganisation of the East India Company. The Whig MP for Shrewsbury, Lord Berwick already owned a house on the site of Attingham Park called Tern Hall, but with the money he received along with his title he commissioned the architect George Steuart to design a new and grander house to be built around the original hall. Work on Attingham was completed in 1785. 

In 1789, the 1st Lord Berwick died, and was succeeded by his son, Thomas, 2nd Baron Berwick. A collector and patron of the arts,Thomas commissioned improvements to the house and extensions of the estate including, in 1805, commissioning John Nash to add the picture gallery using cast iron and curved glass to give the effect of coving, throwing light into the gallery pictured above. 

In 1827, the 2nd Lord Berwick reached financial ruin and was forced to hold bankruptcy auctions to pay off his debts with his brother William purchasing most of the furniture. Thomas leased out Attingham Park and escaped to Italy where he remained for the rest of his life. 

After Thomas's death his brother William, the 3rd Baron Berwick inherited the estate. A diplomat,William was posted in Italy for 28 years and won the admiration of Lord Byron who said of him, 'the only one of the diplomatists whom I ever knew who really is Excellent’. His collection of Italian art and furniture was inherited by his son Richard, the 5th Baron Berwick upon his death in 1848 and shipped to Attingham. The estate remained in the Noel-Hill family until 1947 when it was behested to the National Trust.

Although all six of us are regular visitors to Attingham, none of us were aware of Edwin Dearborn Cohen, a wealthy American stockbroker & passionate collector of all things Georgian. On his retirement in 1986 he approached the National Trust persuading them to lease him the late Lady Berwick's former apartment on the upper floors where he lived out his Georgian gentleman's fantasy until his death in 2020. Since April the National Trust have been running tours of his apartments which proved to be fascinating. As the six of us are passionate collectors of the old and the quirky, Ed's love of auctions and hunting down bargains resonated. Tagged as The Hidden Home Tour, photography isn't allowed so if you want to see this Georgian treasure trove for yourself you'll have to visit in person (an additional £3 per person, maximum of 8 per tour). 

It's the first time the public have been able to visit Attingham's upper floors and witness Ed's views across Humphry Repton's magnificently designed gardens for themselves. 

After lunch in the on-site cafe we spent the remainder of the day exploring the woodlands, walled gardens and kitchen gardens, with plenty of stops for shade.

The walled gardens were - as always - beautiful. 

I'd love to be disciplined enough to have colour themed planting but - like with anything, I have no restraint and want all the colours.  

We love how the National Trust are leaving swatches of their gardens wild with unmown lawns and native wildflower borders. None of us are fans of stripey lawns or formal planting.

These mirror artworks are the work of environmental artist Rob Mulholland created for and on loan to Attingham Park for the summer. Exploring the complex relationship between humans and the natural world his installations react with their surroundings, reflecting the environment and playing with the viewer's perception of the space. Aren't they wonderful?

This bucolic scene looks like something taken from a painting by Constable. 

After a final drink in the courtyard we exchanged gifts and said an emotional goodbye to Ann and Jos. We'll be seeing Claire and Gareth again very soon.

Did I mention gifts? 

From Ann & Jos: a pair of vintage bangles, laser-cut earrings, an vintage Indian scarf, 1970s Vera Mont maxi skirt, FabIndia tunic and vintage macrame bag plus Belgian beers, sweets and chocolates (all now seriously depleted). From Claire & Gareth, a thriller, an Incapability Brown mug and a William Morris magnetic shopping list. 

In other news, earlier this week the Kinky Shop met with both neighbour Florence and Liz's approval, with both making a few pre-Glasto purchases. 

Ain't technology great? I've had my phone for six months and I've only just discovered that it can make GIFs. Here's Liz & I cat wrangling in the Kinky tent.....

Talking of Glasto, the van's packed, our crew have got their passes and Jon's just popped out for fruit & veg and the rest of the booze. Meanwhile I've packed my bag.

From the left: Vintage Van Allan maxi with charity shopped army jacket, Vintage Hollywood Charmer maxi with a chazza-shopped Under The Stars sequined coat, Y2K Christian Audigier for Ed Hardy maxi dress & fake fur jacket (both recent charity shop finds), vintage Bernshaw lurex maxi with my favourite sequins on steroids coat (Larmer Tree 2018), fake fur hat (bought from our lovely Glasto trading neighbour, Gary), vintage Vera Mont maxi skirt from Ann & Jos, sequin bustier (chazza shop), Asbeau rams horn headdress (Beautiful Days 2022), psychedelic 70s maxi skirt (also A&J) and a vintage suede lace-up top.  

Levi's cut-offs, Y2K Adidas floral track top, Clarks boots, Superga plimsolls, sequin polo neck jumper, snakeskin workout leggings and sequin makeup bag (all charity shopped), John Galliano-era Christian Dior nightie via my friend Tricia plus a sari tote bag, Crocs slides, snakeskin workout top and socks. I'm taking knickers too but didn't bother photographing them.

I'm packing for a week and yes, I'm taking more than I'd normally pack for two months in India. It's the UK and we have to be prepared for every eventuality (whilst looking fabulous at the same time) and before you ask, the wellies and waterproofs are in the back of the van where they are every year and hopefully where they'll stay for eight day duration of our trip.

If I don't see you at Glastonbury (you'll find us opposite the bandstand on William's Green), I'll see you on the other side where hopefully I'll regale you with tales of celeb shoppers, fun with friends old and new and some cool musical discoveries.