Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Vintage and Retro Heaven!

If you're just loving the revival of all things vintage and retro, you really need to get yourself to next year's 'Retro Festival'

Having just spent a wonderful weekend at the Newbury Showground in Berkshire, where this fantastic event is held, I now can't wait for Retro Festival 2016!

Whether your love of all things vintage dates back to the 1920's, or whether you prefer the more recent 1980's retro scene, there really is something to cater for everyone's interest and taste.  And, if like me, you're just fascinated with anything and everything from whatever bygone era, you'll find Retro Festival a real treat.

This year's Festival offered three separate live music and dance marquees.  Firstly, catering for those into all things 1920's, 30's and 40's, was the 'Spitfire Pavilion'.  This tent hosted loads of authentic live acts including a lovely all singing and dancing female trio called My Favourite Things, and a couple of top vintage DJ's playing a range of fantastic tunes from Big Bands to Rockin R&B and Jump Blues.  If you're the type that likes to get involved, this tent also featured some delightful Tea Dances as well as lessons from  'JiveSwing', who are apparently the UK's leading swing dance teachers and performers.  If you happened to be feeling flush, you could also spend an extra £5 on top of your ticket price to see a variety of acts (including a bit of cheeky Burlesque) at the Saturday evening Cabaret in the Spitfire. However we weren't feeling flush, but apparently it was a really great evening... maybe next time! This tent even had a cutesy little vintage tea room inside, where for just £9 you could treat yourself to afternoon tea whilst soaking up the delightful atmosphere.

Then there was the 'Black Hangar' Stage, featuring all things Rock 'n' Roll and Rockabilly.  If you're a lover of music and dance from the 1950's and 60's, or of the 'Revival Rock 'n' Roll of the late 70's and early 80's, then this was the place for you!  My hubby and I watched on in awe as crowds took to the dance floors Bopping and Jiving and Boogie-Woogie-ing away to some brilliant live music from a range of talented bands.  There was such an exciting, high energy vibe in this tent that one could possibly be inspired to take a few dance lessons ready to join in the dance-floor-fun next year... watch this space!

The third music and dance tent was the 'Ricky-Tick Mod Stage', which according to the festival brochure was named after a Jazz (and later R&B) Club in a smoky back room at the Star and Garter in Peascod Street, Windsor - where a then unknown band called the Rolling Stones played many times during 1962/1963. This tent "aimed to re-create the unique atmosphere of the Ricky Tick in the 1960's while speculating on what might have happened if the Ricky Tick hadn't closed in 1967". Well, if you love all things Ska, 80s, Mod revival and perhaps a bit of Northern Soul, this was the tent for you. The Ricky-Tick for me was the one that brought back memories and evoked feelings from my wonderful teenage years (however, not sure I liked actually being able to remember an era that is now classed as retro!)  There were many fantastic live performances on the Ricky-Tick stage, but my own favourite was a band called 'The Ska Faces' .  Brilliant musicians and vocals, who delighted the crowd with a high energy and polished set of sounds from the Mod and Ska era and the Mod/Ska revival.

And if all that live music and dancing from across seven decades hadn't quite scratched your vintage and retro itch, there was more... much, much more!

I could harp on all day about this festival, but I've probably gone on too long already!  So, here's just a bit of a summary of a few other things that were to be soaked up and enjoyed at this year's fabulous Retro Festival:

  • Trade and Craft Stalls including: Vintage Clothing and Accessories, Vintage Hair and Beauty Salon, Vintage Photo Caravan, Massage Tent.
  • Walkabout musical entertainment including 'The Ukelettes' travelling Ukelele show, and a vintage brass playing trio.
  • Activities including: Craft Marquee, Children's Corner, Vintage Fun Fair with Steam Carousel; Helicopter Rides (I think prices started at around £35)
  • Vintage and classic vehicles and campers including: Airstreams; Tear Drops; Race Cars; American RV; Caravans and Portafolds; Bikes and Trikes; Classic Cars and Steam Engines.
  • Air display.
  • A group of ex-Serviceman 'The Echelon' with a display of equipment, weapons and vehicles used by the British and Commonwealth soldiers.  My hubby Neil was very excited by this particular exhibition and was quick to take the opportunity to chat to the guys about military history and even tried on a bit of kit!
  • An array of tempting food and drink on offer all around the festival site, and the portaloos were plentiful and much cleaner than you might expect!
  • Very dog friendly! We took our little pooch Alfie, who was made more than welcome and not refused entry to any of the tents or trader marquees - in fact many of the traders put out water bowls and even a few treats for any four-legged friends who might just be passing by.
  • Great site for a Festival! Newbury Showground was a fantastic site, and the camping areas were flat and clean, with the festival frivolities not even a stone's throw away. I believe there were some very basic showering facilities, but hey we're real festival goers and made do with good old wet wipes!
Being based up t'North, Newbury was a bit of a long treck for us (especially in our old 'retro' Billy who doesn't do anything above 50mph).  However, the sun shone all weekend, there was an all round fabulous atmosphere, and we enjoyed ourselves beyond all expectations... trip well worth it.  The other good thing about Retro Festival is that it's very reasonably priced compared to others, this year£41 per person for a weekend pass (plus £40-50 per camping pitch, depending on tent or camper).  

The organisers of Retro Festival are promising an even bigger and better fest next year (12th/13th/14th August 2016), and I believe Early Bird tickets are available until 31st December at  I for one, will be purchasing mine without delay!  Here's a few more pics...

Some absolutely gorgeous vintage fashion and accessories

Cream Tea anyone?

Teardrop creations
The delightful 'My Favourite Things'

Sunshine and Beer... Happy Days!

Inside the 'Ricky Tick' Tent

Doesn't need a caption really does it?! Except perhaps... the energy was all inside the tent!

The cutest thing about the Vintage Fun Fair!

Wish I'd had a go now :-( 

Our festivaling pooch, Alfie

The Ricky Tick 'Rude Boys'

Camper BBQ

More Teardrop Caravans... works of art!
and the back of the Teardrop (sorry, bit blurry!)

Neil and 'The Echelon'

The Lovely 'My Favourite Things' again,... this time with costume change, and addition of vintage band

and My Favourite Things... again, some pros have taken to the dance floor (this pair were brilliant!)

Some impressive vintage wheels

Vintage American Airstream

More Airstream and vintage wheels

Someone's got their eye on the sausage!

Delicious Cream Teas (treats and water for the pooches)

Neil's mum and dad had one of these when Neil and his brother Nigel were kids... happy memories!

Brilliant!  Complete with plastic drive-thru nosh!!

More vintage wheels (think she's been sitting there too long!)

Think Neil would possibly trade both me and Alf for one of these :-) 

Soaking up the atmos

Having a snooze, all this vintage and retro festival malarkey is exhausting!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Change...the only constant

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change"
Charles Darwin

Image Source
Love it, loathe it, embrace it or fear it... however we feel about it, change is the only constant - the one thing we can be absolutely sure of in our lives (apart from death that is... jolly old post so far eh?!)  Stay with me, it does lighten up!

Some lives are, for a variety of reasons, destined to be more turbulent and complicated than others, and those who grow up with frequent change may learn to take it in their stride - sink or swim. Others may grow up with lives full of stability and regularity, but even the Steady Eddie's of this world will have to adapt to change at some point... big or small, like it or not.

Adapting to change is so much more difficult as we get older, especially when it's not by choice. As adults, we like to think we're the ones in control, and it gives us a bit of a shake when we realise that's not necessarily the case.

At the ripe old age of forty something, I've been through my share of change. Some not of my own choice, and at times leaving me uncomfortable, sad, or full of uncertainty at what may lie ahead. However, over the years, I've come to learn not only to accept and welcome change, but to embrace it, actively seek it out, and even force it upon myself!

Within a two year period during my mid thirties, I changed jobs twice, moved house twice, divorced, and lost my beloved dad! Prior to this unfortunate spell, my life had been fairly uncomplicated and, I have to say, the events of those couple of years hit me like a ton of bricks. Although I didn't realise it at the time, this very difficult period gave rise to a totally transformed mind-set in the way I deal with life, and in particular the way I deal with change.

These days, I'm a bit of a 'change junkie' - if there's been none in my life for some time, I find myself seeking it out and making it happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for 'if it ain't broken, don't try to fix it', but I've also experienced the amazing positive effect of even the slightest of change.  I'm reluctant to use cliches, but for me it really is about getting out of my comfort zone, and opening my mind to all things new - changing the way I think, and my attitude towards things, as well as the way I do things.  I'm not necessarily talking big stuff here, in fact on the contrary, it's often the very small things that present themselves, forcing us to take a step back, re-think and embrace something new - never to look back!

So, on a lighter note, here are some examples of a few slight changes I've made to my life over recent years, which may on the face of it seem relatively trivial.  However, by simply opening my mind where it might have previously been closed, and with a willingness to just let go and see what happens, for me these few small changes have led to incalculable wonderful results.

First of all... Cats!
I'd always disliked cats. Why? Well, I'd never really asked myself that until they inadvertently came into my life a little over ten years ago (my new partner, now hubby, had them).  Turns out the only real reason I could think up was that my mum didn't like them, never had, she said they were scary - must be true then. Or perhaps not. So, with no real reasoning behind my dislike for these cute, furry little purring creatures which seem to provide so much pleasure to so many people, I decided (quite out of the blue) to find out for myself.  Yes, much to the surprise of everyone who thought they knew me, I went and bought myself a gorgeous little kitten... and the rest is history, I fell in love immediately and have had cats ever since (three altogether, Jack, Lulu, and Maggie), what's more, I'd have another tomorrow!

The adorable Maggie - sadly Jack and Lulu are no longer with us :-( 

Secondly, Parmesan Cheese
One of the few things I disliked more than cats was Parmesan cheese!  How on earth could anyone eat that stuff, the smell is stomach churning - why would I even want to try it? Well, whilst on a romantic weekend in Rome, again with my then new partner (now hubby), sitting outside a wonderful restaurant located on an enchantingly busy piazza, sipping a large glass of Pinot, and partaking in a spot of beautiful people watching, I waited for my Fettuccine to arrive.  It arrived... covered in a heavy 'dusting' of grated Parmesan aaaghh!!  You know what it's like, new relationship, beautiful setting, sunshine, romance...  I couldn't send my dish back and spoil the moment.  There was only one thing to do, give it a try. You know what's coming next... yes, I loved it, and now struggle to accept any pasta dish without it.  Why did I deprive myself of this wonderful taste sensation for so long?!

Pasta's just not pasta without it!

And last but by no means least...Camping!

And so, onto the most recent change in my life.  Following my first ever camping experience at the age of around 17, which resulted in tears and a late-night check-in at a nearby B&B, I vowed to myself... never again! And that was that, mind closed to camping for the next 30 years. More recently however, I have become increasingly interested in the music/beer festival scene, and thought perhaps I might just consider giving camping another go... however only as a necessary means to experiencing the pleasures of a festival.  So, much to the complete disbelief of my hubby, I suggested we went camping... to a beer and music festival of course.  I had a wonderful time, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience - even putting up the tent in the pouring rain.  I knew I'd enjoy the music (and the beer!), but I was totally taken aback at how much I loved the camping element of our trip. We have, during the course of this year, upgraded from tent to clapped out old camper vehicle, but since that first camping trip to our first festival just under a year ago, we haven't looked back. If you've read some of my previous posts you'll know all about 'Billy', and we're looking forward to many a camping adventure to come.  I am totally converted, and a truly happy camper!

Now although life for me seems fairly settled at the moment, I know change will always be just around the corner, some for better and some for worse.   So, when it is time for a change, whether or not of my own choosing, here are a few quotes I'll try to remember...

Don't fight change, become a student of it, it's the only constant
Change - expect it, anticipate it, welcome it 
See change not as a threat, but as an opportunity

and remember...

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies! 

Thanks for reading!