Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Great Escape

This week has been a weird one.  I've been restless and sleep deprived for numerous reasons and consequently a bit out of sorts.  To paraphrase Jarvis Cocker, maybe I left an important piece of my brain in a field in Worcestershire last weekend.   

The reason I was in a field in rural Worcestershire, was VDubs in the Valley, a show we sponsor.  It has been going for 7 years and collectively - for ourselves and the organisers - the 2014 event was our first ever trading event.  The latest show, rolled over from 2020 like so many others, brought out familiar faces, sunshine galore (despite ominous weather warnings dominating the forecast) and the coolest of vehicles.  Festival fever is back!

1972 VW Two Tone Beetle with white wall tyres

Slammed Vans themed Beetle born in 1973

Split screen panel van with safari front windows

Split screen camper rocking an OG paint look

My instinct upon arriving on site and encountering a sea of people, was to turn on my heel and head back to the car, so effectively have I been conditioned over the last 18 months to become a solitary being (even more than usual).  But whilst the mood was definitely celebratory with the weekend campers seemingly never without a beer in hand post noon, it was also slightly surreal and respectful.  Everyone was happy to be amongst others, but most exercised a degree of caution still.  The new somewhat chaste social etiquette has been rolled out to festivals it seems, with many greetings starting with: "Are we doing hugs or fist bumps?"  OK, not quite the words you might hear expressed by a character from a Jane Austin novel, but you get my drift.  Reassured, I soon slipped back into my public facing role and the weekend was a big success.

I left Gareth to it and returned home in the evenings.  I'm not quite ready for music crowds just yet given the rise in cases locally and quite relished the luxury of being able to pop home to creature comforts, given that we live less than 30 minutes away.  Instead, on Saturday evening, I enjoyed a couple of G&Ts and eagerly watched the brilliant Wise Owl Films produced BBC documentary, When Nirvana Came to Britain.  

Photo credit:  Martyn Goodacre

Conversely, despite being shattered when I left him at 7 pm and I quote "ready to crash out," the following morning, I met numerous strangers who variously, claimed to have enjoyed Gareth's storytelling, shared their chips with him or who had encountered him around their camp fire.  I started to feel that I had missed out.  This tells me that we do, like much of our beleaguered covid-hit population, need to get out more!  

Trade was so busy on Saturday, that unfortunately, I did not get the gurning snapshots of certain friends and customers I would have liked to.  However, we've made tentative plans to attend next year's Green Man Festival as punters with friends we have met through the show circuit and were reunited with an old friend who paid us a visit on Sunday.  Here's Mike, posing happily in that way only old friends can,  on our surprisingly comfy inflatable show sofa (which incidentally, at least two people offered to buy from us).

There are some real labours of love in the VW community; the air cooled devotees who lavish care, attention and serious money on keeping their ageing bay windows and split screens on the road and those who prefer the comfort and relative security of the new VW vans - from T4s onwards (some even electing to spend upwards of £8,000 on a respray!)   This one seemed to somehow straddle both camps.  Lurking under this post apocalyptic metal shell is a VW T4!

I am always drawn to the air cooled buses, preferring a little history, character and the clear and present danger of engine failure in my vehicles.  Intending to photograph Sunday's show and shine display and make our selection for winner of the best non VW category, imagine my delight when I saw this mobile work of art driving slowly into the neighbouring field!

It's an old chevrolet converted into a mobile Moonshine Distillery...and why not?!  Sadly it wasn't booked in to enter the competition, drawing to a halt in the designated day visitors' car park, but in my eyes it was a clear winner.  It's owner, a dapper, white haired man, generously opened her up to an assembled group of people, their smart phones held aloft, while I patiently awaited an opportunity to snatch a few shots when no one else was in frame.  He eventually wandered off in the direction of the showground.

The attention to detail was incredible; from the little rat taking shelter here... the frog fashioned from a nut and whatever else came to hand from the toolbox.

Even the birds were catered for.

There was a wash tub and lantern hanging from the back, and beautifully crafted window frames no doubt hewn from trees felled in the north hills of Dakota, including this porthole window.  The level of craftsmanship was second to none.  

Inside was small, but perfectly formed, including a bunk, a stove, cupboard space, a handy shelf and a prominently displayed shotgun to warn off any thieving outlaws.

George Clark would have instantly christened this space "amazing."

I love seeing creativity and functionality in small spaces such as camper vans, incorporating only what is necessary to life on the road.  I just wish I could apply it to my own home.  Minimalist we are not.  Another show that always seems to be on in our house is Salvage Hunters and we both envy antiques hunter Drew Pritchard's work space.  The problem is we would probably find it really difficult to part with our finds.

Incidentally, on the return journey from our recent trip to Wales, we took a detour to Conwy, specifically so we could check out Drew's prominent high street business premises.  

The eagle eyed amongst you might spot a Voodoo Street sticker on the lamp post.  I have no idea who could have put that there!  Some people!

Catch you soon.



  1. Hello Claire, WOW EEEEEEE, the Moonshine Distilery is AMAZING (said in George Clarke geordie tones). I just love all the little quirky details. Monsieur and I stayed up to watch 'When Nirvana Came to Britain'. For me, that's when the magic happens in bands...crashing on sofas, sleeping in vans, small gigs to unsuspecting people. I loved Nirvana. Still do. They were set to be my first gig outing in Manchester, but it sadly wasn't to be. Glad your VW event went well (how funny that Gareth had a second wind!). Lulu xXx

    1. Hi Lulu, Totally agree about bands. I think there’s a fleeting period of true artistry when bands are truly hungry for recognition that quite often fades over time when the money and commercial pressures start piling up. I quite fancy travelling around the UK in that Moonshine wagon. I wasn’t in the least bit surprised at Gareth - he even got a random shout out on Instagram! xxx

  2. Glad to hear the weekend was a big success, although the crowds must have been a little daunting at first.
    The Mobile Moonshine Distillery is absolutely stunning and your photographs definitely do her justice.
    But aaargh, I missed When Nirvana Came to Britain! xxx P.S. I am guessing Voodoo Street is your company?

    1. Hi Ann, Thank you - the Moonshine Distillery was such an original idea and so well executed. Hopefully you will get a chance to see the Nirvana documentary at some point - it was really entertaining and poignant. Yes Voodoo Street is our little indie brand. xxx

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Atypical Tuesday

Sometimes life can get a little too comfortably routine and pedestrian.  That is where teenagers come in very handy.  In fact, there's n...