Forty eight hours of work and pleasure beckoned as we drove across the Severn Bridge and over the border into Wales at 8 pm on Friday night. The plan? Our highly anticipated flirtation with the steampunk scene at the Chepstow Steampunk Winter Festival on Saturday, followed by a day of leisurely exploration on Sunday.
As per usual, my hastily written directions were insufficient and failed to take into account Chepstow’s one way system and the fact that our digs for the weekend were literally in the middle of nowhere. This caused just a little in-transit conflict. A sat nav is now top of my Christmas list. We seem to have studiously ignored the virtues of these handy little devices, telling ourselves that we are too reliant on technology, preferring our travels to be punctuated by a war of words and raging headaches. This time I really mean it - Sat nav, Santa, please!
We eventually made it without having to call the cottage owner. Even in pitch darkness, it was clear that we had chosen well (I’ll overlook the fact that Gaz missed the unlit steps, almost knackering his ankle in the process and suffered minor concussion from hitting his head on the doorframe). Home for the weekend was a beautifully converted stable block in the grounds of a farm (so far, so nativity story) with a huge freestanding bath and a coffee machine. Obviously there was other furniture, but those are the kind of things that float our boat so to speak.
|Too early for a Saturday morning!|
At 7 am on Saturday morning, this was the view from our very frosty stable door. Going about our normal breakfast routine dressed in full on Steampunk clothing felt surprisingly normal. With no sign of the “persistent stray cat” we were warned not to encourage (thank God, we’d have found that impossible!), we headed into Chepstow.
Chepstow’s Drill Hall was our workplace for the day and these fascinating creatures were our colleagues.
|Check out the fascinator!|
|Dr Cornelius Porridge|
|Real, smoke breathing dragons and their owners|
We took a bit of a flyer with this event, fancying something to break the winter monotony and it was refreshing to be unloaded and set up within a 60 minute timeframe. Handmade Steampunk Top Hats, bandanas, steampunk-inspired stickers and select items from our clothing range to offer the steampunk crowd an off-duty look were set out on rich red velvet clad tables. Obviously Dr Jones had to make an appearance for the day and everyone agreed he was the most photographed individual (and there was some stiff competition).
|Dr Jones doing his thang|
|Beautiful steampunk clothing|
Surprisingly, no music was on offer, so after clearing it with the organisers, we soon had the place not quite rocking, but definitely toe-tapping to Professor Elemental (think old chap rap and you’ll be somewhere close).
|All set up|
|"I've lost my wind instrument!"|
|Steampunk Morris Dancers|
My heart bled for the creator of Imps and Things and his amazing sculptures. I fell in love with these imps in baubles but I couldn’t justify £45 for a Christmas decoration, although we both agreed that if he worked out his hourly rate for making these creatures, he’d probably sink into a deep depression. But hey, that’s not what motivates him and thank goodness there are people in the world like that.
Close of play was 4 pm and after packing the van, we had to unpack it again in freezing semi-darkness to locate the “safe place” Gaz had put the van keys.
Saturday night we relaxed and filled our faces.
Sunday, a much cloudier day, started with a lie in, a mooch around the atmospheric Tintern Abbey and a short detour to Gloucester.
|Such a cool sign|
This kind of establishment is a magnet for us. I talked myself down from a mohair rug impulse purchase.
Being Sunday drivers, we eschewed the motorway in favour of the scenic route, returning home to a small pile of missed delivery cards (why did I start internet Christmas shopping on Friday ahead of a weekend away?!) and a truly awful Linda McCartney Vegetarian Beef Roast. I’m trying to clear the freezer and have long been “nut roast curious,” so tonight was the night. Actually, it wasn’t technically a nut roast, but the synthetic flavoured pile of excrement, which promised an “outrageously succulent” veggie beef roast has killed my curiosity stone dead.
So, in summary, did the Steampunks approve of Voodoo Street? Well, according to renowned performer, Dr Cornelius Porridge's Facebook post, he certainly did and that's good enough for me!