non wedding post

Fun at Twinwood – 24 weeks to go

This week marks six months to go until our wedding, a thought which simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. We celebrated by attending the wedding of two very lovely friends, where well-meaning guests nudged us good-naturedly and said “Ooo, yours next!”, little realising that I feel as though we’ve planned next to nothing and am beginning to get nervous…

The wedding was wonderful, with lots of fun and dancing – I won’t go into details as that’s for the bride and groom to do, but it was fabulous enough that people kept asking if we were going to “borrow” some of the elements for our wedding. If the aforementioned bride and groom weren’t coming along (well, I say coming along…that’s as long as they accept the invitation), I’d definitely consider it.

Instead, please enjoy this photo of me and The Boy, taken by one of our chums. The image on the right pretty much sums up our entire relationship – me pulling stupid faces while he looks on, bemused.

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The dress is from House of Foxy, and it was totally worth the dresses I had to sell on eBay to pay for it. It has a boned bodice, a matching bolero and a super-twirly skirt (excellent for spinning around in), so it covers all the bits I hate and looks ruddy pretty while doing it. I loved it so much that I wore it twice in one week – its first outing was to Twinwood Festival last weekend, one of the highlights of my year and the main reason I’m confident enough to wear the clothes I do now. I’ve mentioned this in a couple of posts, but thought you might like some more details (and even if you don’t, well…you’re getting them).

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“If I pose like this, you can almost see my cheekbones”

A few years ago, my nan died. It was a quick, horrible illness, and it seemed as though one minute we were having a chat about me writing a book and what I was going to do now I’d finished my MA, then the next she was in a hospice looking very poorly indeed.

Almost a year later, my grandad was talking about volunteering for Macmillan Cancer Care at Twinwood, which he did by showing people into the Glenn Miller Museum and selling chocolates. It was something he and my nan used to do together, and he was deciding whether to continue. I jumped at the chance to help, mostly because I didn’t want him to be lonely (turns out, that wouldn’t have been the case anyway – he had a more active social life and a larger circle of friends than I did, 50-something years his junior), but also because I’d heard a lot about the Museum and was eager to take a look around, having always been interested in the era.

And just like that, I was hooked. I loved spending time with Grandad, and we became a lot closer after my nan died, partly because we’d finally found something we had in common, he having little time for that “fantasy nonsense” – Doctor Who – and limited respect for my career when, to his mind, I should have been giving him great-grandchildren, while I could never understand his fascination for fishing, slight misogyny, and reliance on the Daily Mail for his views of the world.

Part of Twinwood’s appeal for me is the outfits people wear throughout the festival. From Rosie the Riveter headscarves, to military uniforms, to swing dresses, everyone makes so much effort, and I felt out of place in my jeans and jumper (not that anyone said a word – it’s a very friendly festival where everyone spends three days grinning at each other).

I used to stare at the Rita Hayworth poster on the wall of the Museum and say to Grandad “One year, I’m going to dress like that”, and he’d look at it and reply mildly, “Well, if you want to, do it.”

So my third time around, I decided to pop my hair in victory rolls and buy my very first 1940s-style shirt dress. It came from eBay, was green with white spots, and even though it’s three sizes too big now, I will never get rid of it.

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That was the year my mum and stepdad got involved, and started volunteering with me, Grandad and Chris, and now, even though my grandad isn’t here anymore (he died in May last year), I think he’d like the fact the four of us still go to Twinwood (although last year was incredibly hard – I walked into the museum half-expecting to see him standing at the counter, waiting to take my ticket.)

This year, I had hoped to be participating in the Miss Vintage UK 2015 final, but alas, it was not to be (the ladies who did looked phenomenal). Instead, we went along on the Saturday, where I had a great time chatting to some of the people I’ve gotten to know over the past few years (including the fabulous Pip ‘n’ Mix, purveyors of amazing homewares among other things, all-round wonder, Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos, who did my hair for my 30th birthday and my Nostalgia! shoot (and convinced me to buy the dress), Lins from Campbell/Crafts Vintage, who feeds my PinUp Girl Clothing addiction, and Clare at The House of Foxy, who I bored for quite some time about my love of her clothes. She posted a picture of me in my dress to their Facebook page, and someone mistook me for Ruth Jones (writer of Gavin & Stacey, generally fabulous woman), which made my week.

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Me at the Vintage Life stand before watching The Jive Aces

One of Twinwood’s biggests draws is the music. From a tiny stage at the Control Tower (where I believe McFly once performed – my nan was always very complimentary about the group of lovely lads just starting out), to several stages spanning all kinds of music, there really is something for everyone. I loved listening to The Jive Aces on Saturday evening, and watching so many people up and dancing. Which reminds me, I really must look into those Lindy Hop lessons again…

Sorry, all this talk of Twinwood has given me no space to talk about wedding things. Which is just as well, as three people have said to me this week, “It’s lovely to hear what you’re planning, but please can we have some surprises?”. Unfortunately, one of those people was The Boy…

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