War & Peace Show 2011 held at Hop Farm in Kent.
After stumbling across the show in 2009 and having tested the water with a day pass for last years show (my coverage of which can be found in Milkcow Magazine #18), I decided that this year I would go for the full experience and fork out the £80 for a weekend ticket. This includes two nights camping, three days entry to the show grounds and access to the various on-site bars and evenings entertainment (although this doesn't include the Victory Marquees shows on Fri & Sat), making it one of the cheapest of the current crop of vintage flavoured week-enders.
On arrival my car and I were escorted across the site, through the seas of constantly moving military support vehicles, to the camp site where I set up my tent and waited for the arrival of my friend Ian.
After much phone wrangling and Ian getting completely lost in a sea of tanks and Jeeps, we found each other and headed off for an evening of drinks with our fellow show attendees.
Let me tell you there's something unbelievably surreal about standing in a bar surrounded by Men and Women dressed in German, American, Russian and British battle dress and dress uniforms listening to some covers band knock out passable renditions of AC/DC and Thin Lizzy!
Saturday morning arrived bleary eyed (and a little head-achy) and after breakfast we headed off into the site for a wander through the labyrinthian array of Military vehicles of all ages, makes, models and nationalities, past the main arena area where the vehicle owners get to play around with their big toys, crushing cars and firing off their guns and cannons to the delight of the crowds, and onto the traders field to check out the vast selection of military artefacts and clothing on sale and, more importantly for me, the 40s vintage and reproduction sellers.
After a good scout around I found the guys from Seal Military as I'd been hankering after a pair of their US officer trousers... and let me tell you they didn't disappoint! Great cut, well made and in the correct material, they even had my size! I've not actually stopped wearing them since I brought them!
Heyday booth and called in to say "Hi" to Shona. Unfortunately for me I spotted an amazing Gab jacket in their limited vintage material run and tried it on... It fitted perfectly and looked great so I just had to have it!
After all the retail therapy we headed back to camp to have a rest before getting dolled up and heading off to watch Bill Baker's Big Band in the Victory Marquee that evening. The evening kicked off with an introductory Lindy Hop lesson run by Paul Crook & Natasha Hall (of The Swing Time Dance Co.) to get everyone in the 'swing' of things (see what I did there?) and then onto the show which was amazing! So many great tunes and some amazing Jitterbugging. I also managed to catch up with the ladies from Lipstick and Curls (Amanda Moorhouse & Natasha Hall)
Unfortunately although I remembered to grab my camera before heading out I forgot the flash gun so have no pictures of the evening at all... which is a shame because not only did I have on my USAAF uniform but I persuaded Ian, who's not a vintage enthusiast, to pomade his hair!
The most amazing thing about these exhibits is that most of the re-enactors taking part spend days digging trenches and creating their dioramas then live on the exhibits for the whole five day show... in character!
My wanderings took me the length and breadth of the site and I stopped a goodly number of stunning looking fellow 40s enthusiasts to pose for me (photos below), then headed back into the traders field for some more shopping, including a new pair of 40s style Freddie's of Pinewood jeans and a Navy style blue short sleeve to match, a reproduction version of my favourite US Army Jeep Jumper and a couple of presents for the Family: A 1942 tea-dress sewing pattern for my wife Emily and a Navy blue beret for my little Marla (she loves hats!)
On my way back I stopped by Heyday to say goodbye to Shona and bumped into both Charly (aka Land Girl 1980) and Jeni Yesterday who I naturally asked to pose for me:
After a quick spot of lunch and a sit down in the Victory marquee to catch Kitten Von Mew's cabaret show (where I took this shot of the lovely Clover Sisters - below) I headed off home, having spent far too much money, walked a hundred miles in my crippling Skye footwear Spectator shoes but having had a jolly good time!
See you all there next year?
You can see more of my pictures from the show over on my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matkeller/sets/72157627161588167/