Monday, 26 September 2016

From the Cut to the Castle

Throughout the weekend at Vdubs in the Valley, Gaz made utterances about trading for a third weekend in a row in deepest Gloucestershire.  Baking hot and barely coping with demand, my back suffering from too many nights on a camp bed and too many hours on my feet, I chose to ignore these utterances, preferring to reserve judgment on this one. 

Come Monday morning, the situation had changed somewhat.  Not only had Gaz committed to doing the show – at Berkeley Castle – but we were also now sponsoring the event by producing the official show sticker.

I disappeared upstairs to unpack our weekend travel case and was taken aback.  It literally smelled of hay.  In fact, it also contained copious amounts of hay, stuck to socks and just about everything else!  Living out of a suitcase on the Vdub scene ain’t all glamour let me tell you!  My back had now properly seized up and I was wearing a groove in the rug pacing up and down every 15 minutes, trying in vain to loosen up.  As the show was a one-day event, it was decided that Gaz would go it alone.  For my part, determined to fix my ailing spine, I ordered a used copy of “The Permanent Pain Cure” by Ming Chew, as recommended by a friend.

The early part of the week was therefore spent designing said show sticker and working on some faithful replica stickers of a now obsolete mountain bike, Mountain Cycle’s San Andreas – a favour for a friend, who is generously gifting them to a true San Andreas enthusiast for his 50th birthday.

The Workshop
Wednesday was a day reserved for fixing up the Golf.  An oil leak and squeaking suspension were driving us insane.  This was long overdue.

In need of some exercise, we decided to drive up together and hot foot it back along the canal or “cut” as it’s known in this part of the world.

Always time to photograph a cool ride

With our weekends spent largely in rural surroundings, it made a refreshing change to re-visit the local heritage we take for granted and so I thought I would share a little of our surroundings with you.

Heading towards the Red House Glass Cone and Glass Quarter along newly gravelled towpath

The 15-minute drive to the repair workshop took us up a road you could legitimately call “Exhaust Alley,” a featureless urban B road flanked by boxy new builds and post war housing estates.  The route back however, took in interesting and varied terrain.

Picturesque former public house, now private residence, stone's throw from Exhaust Alley
We walked along canal towpaths running adjacent-to-but-a-comfortable-distance-from Exhaust Alley....

Boat Yard

...through the once world renowned glass quarter, famed for its cameo glass and cut crystal...

One of 4 remaining cones beside Stourbridge 16 lock flight, the Red House Glass Cone Museum offers up glass blowing demonstrations and exploration of its underground tunnels.  There were once over 20 glassworks in this area.

Work in progess.  Former Glassworks currently being converted into apartments.

A narrow boat passing through a lock

through fields overlooking Millionaires’ Row, 

This is part of one street, just a few minutes from our home with the highest concentration of millionaires outside of London.  Spot the swimming pool.  NB.  Nothing like our house.

culminating in woodland we are lucky to have direct access to from our back garden, although for how much longer is uncertain, as the attached Estate property – an equestrian facility - is now on the market for a cool £1.9m....

The Gate House to the Estate

and rumours are flying that our precious woods have been sold separately.  We’ll see…

Our Woods

The remainder of the week was a blur of deliveries, promo and labelling of stock. (I am loving our fully quilted, herringbone weave newsboy caps).   


The obligatory show weather warning for Saturday night persuaded Gaz to delay set up until early Sunday morning and true to his word, I heard the front door shut at 6.00 am.

Gaz making his presence felt at Berkeley Castle

Gaz, left to his own devices, is nothing if not industrious, as regular customers Simon Flack and the lilac-locked Celia, will testify.  Short of an extra pair of hands, he thought nothing of asking them to organise shout-outs over the loud speaker to alert visitors to our stand, which they did, without complaint and were on hand to provide moral support throughout the day.  Cheers guys!

Simon and Celia, unofficial Voodoo Street hustlers ;-)

 By 7pm he was back in the fold and updating me on the amazing 86 year-old stunt driver Dick Sheppard, a Berkeley local and Italian Job stunt driver.  Dick, who has also worked on “Thunderball” and “Diamonds are Forever,” has crashed over 1,000 cars and aside from a hip replacement, seems to have miraculously avoided arthritis. 

Year 2 Berkeley Selfie with Dick Sheppard

So, as I type on this rainy Monday afternoon, the postman has just delivered my book, hopefully containing the secret to achieving a spine as flexible as Dick’s!  Wish me luck!

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