Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

I can only apologise to those of you who take some interest in where we are and what we are doing.  My blog entries have been pretty irregular for some time now.  I could offer you a raft of excuses.  For example, our propensity to book trade shows late in the day.  This effectively means that we semi-unpack the van late on Sunday night, gather our thoughts and brace ourselves for yet another Trump headline on Monday morning (or any given day for that matter), muddle through to mid week catching up on online orders, fielding enquiries, etc. before setting ourselves some impossible challenge (usually in the form of new stock), which we then attempt to turn around in time for the coming weekend.  By the time I’m in a position to update the blog, the next show has arrived and the moment has passed.

I could also blame a whole host of other things, but this time, in a typically British manner, I blame the weather.  The heat wave we had (remember?), meant that I ventured outside and whenever I venture outside for prolonged periods, I discover that we actually live on the edge of the Amazon rainforest.  

In short, I’ve been “on some shit” in the garden.  (Trust me, that’s the best phrase to describe the job, which confronted me. Here's the link. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=on%20some%20shit )

I will endeavour to give you a potted history of our recent shows.  Gaz has a 1964 Mini Cooper.  Given that we sponsor the annual Mini and VW Bus Meet in our hometown, it made sense that both the Mini and the T4 make an appearance on our stand.  The main stumbling block was the fact that the Mini has been languishing in a relative’s garage for 17 years, playing winter host to Fred, the tortoise and somewhere along the way picking up a new furry occupant – a mouse.  But Gaz was on a mission.

Cleared of mouse droppings and boxes of long forgotten keepsakes (including a remote controlled skateboarder straight out of the 80s and a wooden Woodpecker cigarette dispenser), Gaz grabbed the toolbox and WD40 and set to work.
Unfortunately, the gods had other ideas and progress was slow to say the least.  The inaccessible fuel filter within the petrol tank was blocked and by Friday, the engine was sparking but still not drawing fuel. 

Knackered, jaded, beaten; all words, which could have described Gaz on Saturday morning as he left to set up.  All that hard work for sweet FA.

By the time I arrived to help set up, I was greeted by two familiar faces, Ben and Cerys, a couple we met at Dubs on the Wye.  Ben’s a VW enthusiast and Cerys is a Mini owner.  They had decided to take a punt on the show, breaking up their journey with an overnight stay in Shrewsbury and, luckily for us, Ben had brought along his heavy duty Towing Dolly, which he insisted on hitching up to our Golf to collect the Mini.  What a star!

Within 30 seconds of the Mini’s arrival on site, a tearful Gaz (bless) had had an offer on it and was soon surrounded by a dozen men - all staring, prodding the engine and offering advice on what to do next.

Having built the 1 litre race engine from scratch in his youth, we are thankful that Gaz had the foresight to retain most of the original parts, as the consensus was to return it to its original 1964 Cooper engine. 

The thing all classic motoring enthusiasts have in common is passion and a desire to see their favourite rides on the road.  That is why one parts dealer, throughout the day, systematically boxed up all the requisite parts for our Mini (worth just shy of £100) and allowed Gaz to buy them from him for 30 quid!  Talk about good karma!

Setting up at leisure only 5 minutes drive from home is always a pleasure and I don’t think the stand has ever looked more organised.  We also managed to squeeze in a couple of cheeky drinks with this man, better known as “Cookie” from E4’s Tattoo Artist of the Year, and his lovely family.  The creative juices were flowing on Saturday evening, so all we can say is watch this space…

Next up was Camper Jam, which is always one of the highlights of the calendar.  We managed to launch a new T-shirt design with hours to spare before the start of the show.  Talk about hot off the press!

Camper Jam was hot - very hot - and very busy.  In it’s 10th year, it was a great show and we had great neighbours on both sides, which included one fireman aka Brutebox Baz, four labradors (one who uses Jedi mind tricks to secure pork scratchings) and two "Happy Campers" from the Republic of Ireland.  

We also had the luxury of chilling around the campfire with our super organised friends on Saturday evening.  By “super organised,” I mean they brought the wherewithal to mix lip-numbing cocktails.  The only downside was our first experience of theft at a VW show.  Someone stole a rat from our rat bike.  No biggy, just disappointing.

Campfire and cocktails
Since then we have been posting out pre-orders of Vdubs in the Valley show tees and working on re-stocking an early Voodoo Street design, which seems to be suddenly in demand.

In our down time, we’ve made our first visit to Nozstock Festival, in deepest Herefordshire, notable for 3 reasons:-

1.  Excellent music, including Remi Harris (a leader on the Gypsy Jazz scene and highly rated by Jamie Cullum) and up and coming band and Nozstock regulars, The Stiff Joints.

2.  A fireworks display with a distinctly pagan feel.

3.  We managed to get Bez from Happy Mondays, to wear one of our bucket hats on stage.

Bez doing his thing

We also squeezed in the Camper & Bus Show at Eastnor Castle last weekend and decanted the 9 gallons of water, which fell on Saturday night from the top of our gazebos into saucepans.  It didn’t spoil our fun.  Gaz, on his own on Friday night, spent the evening with Retro Classic Clothing’s Adam and co. and on Saturday night, we whiled away a few hours (and a few cans) in the company of Simon and Celia (and family).  Thanks for your company and the amazing brownie Celia – we were fighting over it!
Pictured above, is Nala, Celia's canine niece, in her Voodoo Street bandana.
Getting ready for the Soap Box Derby at Eastnor

I will be updating our web store very soon, but with Skeg Vegas looming, it’s possible that we will need to re-stock before then, so bear with us. 

We’re excited about our first visit to Skeg Vegas.  It’s the furthest we will have travelled to a show and therefore we will all be shoe horned into the van, but we’ve heard many positive stories and have high hopes.  Maybe see some of you there!

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