Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Dubs on the Wye was booked as our wild card; a charity run first show hosted by, Rocky Lee's Little Feet (a commendable cause, which helps raise money for headstones for stillborn babies).  In addition to offering support for the charity, a plus point was the show’s location - the picturesque Wye Valley.  Even better, was that as we neared show time, apocalyptic weather warnings were nowhere to be seen (unusual for us). Instead, blistering temperatures rivaling the seventies were forecast!

View from our Trade Stand

We set off on Friday afternoon in our fully loaded T4 and our on-borrowed-time Mk4 Golf.  One hour twenty minutes later, we weren't disappointed with our back yard for the weekend.  With Ross on Wye's landmark church spire poking out above the hillside towering above us, there was the intimate feel of a first show and campers and traders sharing the field adjacent to the sports' centre.  The sports' centre facilities were made available to all, so instead of festival toilets, we were able to use proper porcelain toilets, a couple of showers and the centre's bar which supplied refreshments and a full English breakfast each morning.

After a fairly lengthy set-up, we just about had time for a chat to our neighbour (a very talented artist called Corine) before sun down  and had a wander around the site, before hitting the sack.  It was interesting, but we can’t remember a show where there was a notable absence of fire pits.  No need.  Man, it was shaping up to be a hot weekend!

Sunset, Ross-on-Wye
After not nearly enough sleep, we hit the ground...strolling.  Yes, I think it’s fair to say it was a very slow start.  On the Friday evening, with the traders and campers combined, it could have made for a decent party; one where you get to talk to everyone.  You get the picture.  Everyone should have been on first name terms...  

Saturday morning looked to be the same.  Gaz jokingly said to one of the organisers that he’d seen tumbleweed blowing around opposite our stand.  

(One early visitor to the stand - looking for some stickers for her bay - was this Cornish lady, back home for a visit with relatives, all the way from Australia's Gold Coast.  She had even made her own skirt for the occasion!)
Check that skirt!
The organisers agreed that more footfall was desperately needed, but we were assured that more would be arriving for the evening’s outdoor cinema event (independent of the show but next to the venue) and this would help generate trade.  Although we were sceptical, this proved to be the case, as once again, the British weather laid waste to plans.  As cinema-goers began to arrive, the decision was taken to postpone the showing until 9pm (should have been 7 pm) as the sun was too bright!  Luckily, folks were content to watch the band and buy stuff from us, so we enjoyed a little spike in trade.  However, it's fair to say that this was not one of our busiest shows.  Here are just a few things we did when we could have/should have been trading:-

1.  I had breakfast with Boba Fett.

Boba Fett, Steampunk stylee

 2.  We had a mooch around Ross-on-Wye (well Gaz held the fort, but I was on a photographic exploration and foraging for food (local burgers and sausages).

Heading into town
This dog was enjoying the hanging baskets being watered.

3.  We BBQ'd.

Gaz and his other love, cooking.

4.  We had a water fight.

5.  Gaz flew a kite (yes, believe it or not in these record breaking temperatures, we briefly had enough wind to fly one).

6.  I visited the site bar in the afternoon – just for respite from the intense heat, you understand.

7.  We all visited a riverside pub for a swift cider.  Technically, this was after 7 pm so perfectly legit, but we were able to do so guilt free.

The Hope and Anchor riverside pub, purveyor of cider.
8.  We took in a film - Grease - embracing the full outdoor cinema experience.  Last June, we were battling against driving rain and trying to prevent several gallons of water from pouring in through the gazebos and drowning all of our stock.

The one down side to the weekend was that I had a bad reaction to pollen, sun cream and the general environment! After sneezing like a train all afternoon, with a nose running like a tap and eyes stinging to hell and closing up like a prize fighter’s, I was forced to don sunglasses so as not to alarm folks at the night time screening.

Security even robbed our limited supply of booze on entry, as folks were being encouraged to buy from the bar, so really feeling full of allergens and in need of something cold, crisp and alcoholic, Gaz disappeared to purchase drinks from the bar.  Forty five minutes later he reappeared.  Apparently, he had been doing the other thing we weren’t expecting to do this weekend, and so, coming in at number 9:-

9.  Booking a band for the Mini and VW Bus Meet we’re trading at in our home town next weekend.  Long story.

Whilst Grease wasn’t our choice of film, we all enjoyed the experience and by 11pm the temperature had settled to a mere hot (not hot as buggery).
The film will start...any second now.

After a slightly more comfortable night, Sunday brought yet more pollen, a further rise in temperature, several familiar faces, much shooting of the breeze, getting sun burnt and the obligatory show 'n' shine.  

Show 'n' shine splitty.

Congratulations to Celia, who won a prize for her amazing T5, Vader.  Commiserations to Jason whose immaculate T4, lost out to another.

Vader, the winning T5.
Celia with her trophy.  And her prize for winning Best T5.

In summary, against the odds, we did OK.  Not the best, but by no means our worst trading weekend. But regardless, we didn't care.  The show was for charity and we had a brilliant weekend.  Yes, it was a little too hot, but how often do we get to say that?  We had a chilled out weekend on the Wye, with a little bit of work thrown into the mix.

Pootle, the Beetle.
Naturally, it wouldn't be a Voodoo Street trading weekend without some kind of drama.  Gaz managed to badly kerb one of the wheels on the T4 whilst trying to negotiate a tricky pull out (a jutting kerb stone certainly played its part in this).  And when packing up, he left the gazebos until last to maximise protection from the sun.  Unfortunately, at a key point in this process, the wind decided to make a brief return.  Gaz spotted one of our telescopic banners was about to be slammed into the front of our van and ran to rescue it.  Whilst his back was turned, he heard a whooshing noise and turned to see our two cable tied gazebos about 10 feet in the air.  The wind then upended them and slammed them down inches from our neighbour’s black BMW.  A close call.

Spotted leaving the show ground, this bay with our rear mounted logo sticker.

After spending Sunday evening repairing the buckled gazebos, Gaz has spent the last 2 days reviving his Mini Cooper for next week's show.  
We've got an incredible 15 feet of space, so room for a couple of show vehicles. Maybe see you there!

'Til next time!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sails and Splitties

After several long months in the wilderness, we both decided on Thursday last week that we really fancied doing a show.  We put it to our Facebook followers and had several suggestions, but one in particular caught our eye: Avoncroft Aircooled – a one day show taking place at Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings. 
I had vague recollections of going there as a kid; notably being frightened to death by one of the costumed staff warning me that “The whiter your bread, the sooner you’re dead,” when teaching us about the flour milling process.  To this day, I have residual guilt whenever I choose white over brown. 

Still, all I could really remember of the place was the windmill, so the prospect of being able to explore everything the museum had to offer in between trading, seemed like a fine plan.  A quick glance at the forecast suggested warm, dry weather until 8 pm, so plenty of time for us to pack up and head home before the rain.  Gaz made the call and we were booked in and ready to go. 

Typically, we can’t go anywhere without producing a souvenir sticker and so here’s the first ever show sticker produced for Avoncroft Aircooled.  Note the FLAT 4 number plate – a little nod to the organisers.

After a relatively dry Eurovision party on Saturday night (early start), we awoke to glorious sunshine.

On arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff and directed to an idyllic setting in amongst the trees, just in front of the Mission Church, a Victorian “tin chapel” rescued from Bringsty, Herefordshire.

The Mission Church and Wedding Bus

The whole vibe was low key and chilled out.  We took limited stock and downsized for the day.  After an initial downpour, the sun returned and the numerous green spaces were awash with picnics and ball games.

The Voodoo Street Stand

In readiness for this year’s Star Wars themed Vdubs in the Valley, we took along some flyers to help promote the show and our Steampunk Boba Fett helmet, which I could have sold several times over!  Coincidentally our neighbour was trading under the name OB1.

Trade was steady and we were the sole provider of music, courtesy of our BruteBox.  I recently replaced my phone and stupidly omitted to download the vast majority of my music to enable me to play it offline.  The one album I had remembered to download was the new Blondie album, Pollinator, so apologies to any visitors who can’t stand Blondie (can’t imagine there are many), but it’s all I had!!

The Privy

During one of our trading lulls, Cal and I discovered this 3 seater privy.  It was probably up there with some of the nicer festival toilets!
Ye Olde Festival Toilet

A must was a visit to the iconic post mill windmill, perched at the edge of the site, overlooking a sea of campervans.  Visitors to the museum and VDubbers mingled in the sunshine.  One elderly museum visitor made the priceless comment on a rat look split screen:  "There's one that they're going to do up!"

View from the Windmill

The 19th century post mill – one of only three surviving examples in 

the Midlands – was rescued from Danzey Green near Tanworth-in-

Arden in 1969 and reconstructed at Avoncroft.

Having undergone an extensive programme of structural repairs over

many years, disaster struck the windmill in January 2012 when high

winds brought down one of the sails and damaged the supporting round 

house.  The sail was broken beyond repair and a new one had to be 

manufactured to replace it.  However, by October 2013 the work was 

completed and the windmill was restored to full working order.

Splitscreens were out in force
Spot the little rat skeleton on the roof rack!

One of the first to grab a show sticker was the owner of this cool rat look bus.
The day flew by and punctuated by a little Mobile BeerBuz cider 

(thanks Gaz and Hayley), left us with a rosy glow and a desire to do it 

all again next year – a perfect start to the outdoor show season.