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Wartime in the Vale 2018


For Father’s Day this year, we thought a trip to Ashdown Camp’s Wartime in the Vale would be a great idea. I had to swallow my pride a little, as I used to perform there many years ago and was let go when a new entertainment organiser was brought in.

We firstly stopped at the fabulous Fourteas in Stratford Upon Avon to have a family breakfast (thoroughly recommend the G.I. Breakfast and Earl Grey tea!) before heading to Evesham.

The event has increased hugely from the small field event it once was. I could hardly recognise the place! We got there at midday, with no entrance queues and there were huge displays of military vehicles. The main arena had First World War and WWII vehicles, tanks and cavalry (best displays I have seen at a show).

There were lots of stalls (a few good ones, but 50% were annoying tat, Lindy Bop 50’s dresses, 80’s doing vintage or extremely overpriced vintage military (£35 for moth eaten military breeches that needed patching up, sewing and new fly buttons and lacing?!). It kind of reminded me of how War and Peace started to go, so they could entice young people and families.

Amazing box made by a WW2 POW out of newspaper!

I was also NOT impressed by one guy representing Help for Heroes, who made some kind of tongue-in-cheek comment about my ‘big buns’ and a bake sale, before somehow thinking it was hilarious to say “You know, if you can tear yourself away from Jeremy Kyle or whatever it is you do in the daytime…” seriously?!?! At least these two were professional!

Thanks to my friend Stephen, I had the honour of going inside the First World War tank, which was fascinating. Boy was it cramped! With lousy suspension and lack of headroom it would certainly be no good for just popping to the shops in…

One of the most dangerous places to be in the First World War, they were cramped with exposed scolding-hot pipes, toxic fumes, noise and more. Around 8 men would be put into these hazardous machines and many became ill or died from heat exhaustion, carbon monoxide poisoning from the engine, horrendous burns from the pipes or killed by the axis forces.

Back to the show!

For the little kids, there was a mini fun fair that certainly amused Betsy for 20 minutes before home time! The mini swing boats were actually from 1945, which was awesome!

I would say that it would have been nice to have some smaller entertainment spots, set up at a couple of other areas (other than the main marquee), but it would’ve been impossible. Everything is set around the central arena, which is obviously rather noisy and the main focus of the show. Any singers or music would get completely drowned out by the tannoy, pyrotechnics or engines!

I think I would go back for a day out with the family, but would bring ear defenders for Betsy Boo next time! There were warnings with most of the explosions, but some we were unprepared for and she soon started trying to hide!

I would thoroughly recommend the displays, which were fantastic, but if you go with shopping in mind, maybe go to a carboot sale before hand and just enjoy the rest!

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Stoneleigh Militaria 2014


Well what a wonderful show! I haven’t been for 6 years, so was surprised to see no entertainment or music at all at the event. Luckily I had an awful lot of exciting and random reunions that filled my time! Rex from War and Peace Revival, Paul from Wartime in the Vale, Dave King and the boys from Military World Magazine where I signed some copies of Issue 16, photographer Lee Parker, Maria and Ashley Elliot with their gorgeous little bundle, a wonderful chap who was on the Berliner journey and more besides!

I purchased a wonderful military bakelite microphone, which I later found doesn’t flipping work, so will have to try and get it fixed and a few other goodies. We really enjoyed the show and it was great to see some familiar faces and we made some new friends too!

Militaria Show Web

For those interested in fashion – The shoes are Red Cross 1940’s and original 40’s silk fully fashioned stockings. The suit is 1940’s with crepe silk lining and has a matching HUGE stole in the same wool with pale pink fox trim (I did not bring it with me). My wonderful blouse is a waffle texture by Heyday Online! The hat is a beautiful 1930’s original with black velvet detailing and the pin on my lapel is tortoise shell and silver inlay with a George V crest (1st World War). The Muff is 1930’s/ 40’s with a zip purse pocket (I know, sooooo handy!!!) and crepe silk interior.

Hazards In The/ In My Field


On a rather soggy weekend at Wartime in the Vale (June), Mother Nature slapped me round the face with the back of her gale-force hand and tested my hairspray and heels to the limit with rain. It then struck me how different and more prepared you have to be as an entertainer at WWII and other open air events.

Walking around as a visitor, you bask in the glory of vintage vehicles, reenactors, stalls and entertainers, but forget that those singers, dancers and models that enthrall their audiences aren’t effortlessly immaculate. They have to walk the same cobbled streets you walk, brace the same weather and still have to look as if they stepped out of a magazine or movie, no matter how boggy the fields.

Image donated by Lola Lamour

Lola Lamour in the rain, by kind donation of her good self (please do not use without her authorisation!)

I always love watching such performers as Lola Lamour, who (like me) is a complete devil for iconic 1940’s fashions, but to abandon her original snakeskin heels for a pair of wellies would degrade her star-like status and outfit. So we must hop, wobble, hobble and skip to dodge the hazards that may turn our nylons into “Goodbye, so long!”s and beloved pinup shoes from ‘irreplaceable’ to ‘untraceable’ under the mud. I stare enviously at those wearing military gear and warm boots, but am hell bent in wearing my lovely hats and 40’s dresses! Sure I could shelter in a tent for the entire event, but what would the fun in that be? I want to be out, meeting people, seeing things and buying bargains!

Portaloo’s can also be a strategical nightmare as you force your layered outfit into the confined space, dodge the floor of mass disruption (the glory of mud caught in the deep tread of boots), try and balance your handbag as you struggle with your straight-jacket underwear and test the endurance of the wall and door with many an accidental elbow ‘thwack’ as you try and rearrange your outfit again. You either exit looking as if you have been wrestling hippos in there or with an upturned nose and shudder. Classic signs of a girdle struggle is when you can hear the lady in question jumping up and down in the cubicle and she comes out all red faced and puffed out. I almost feel like waving a little flag and giving a cheer to those poor souls that survive the porta-hoopla.

Performing at field events can be the most tricky of all, especially if the changing room is in a completely different area. I say room, when this could actually be a tent depending on the event. I remember fondly getting ready in the back of the USO tent with just a gas lamp and tiny compact mirror; ducking and diving behind stacks of debris to change into my Burlesque outfits and praying that my pasties would be somewhat even…

My most recent event was a huge challenge because of the weather! Getting changed in a nice large mess hut was great, but then negotiating the journey back to the performance tent (where I would have to wait outside to make my entrance) in the mud and rain was a different story. I had decided to do my Pipe Dreams act, which is a gorgeous, sparkly WHITE costume (silly, silly kitten….), which would also showcase my new, spangle-tastic silver shoes from Johnson’s Originals (yes…I know…).

Kitten von Mew, 1940's Burlesque 'Pipe Dreams'

Pipe Dreams being performed at War and Peace Show 2011 – Image by Mr Mew

As I hid beneath my ghillie ‘tobacco’ cloak and staggered towards the entrance of the tent, a rather lively German reenactor didnt realise I was creeping up behind him and gave me a prompt kick on the knee (He was performing an energetic Morecombe and Wise dance move that would have been impressive without the plastic beer glass in hand). As the mud gave me friendly pat on the back of my fishnets and greeted my NEW SHOES with as much enthusiasm, I suddenly realised that the front of my white panel skirt also now resembled a piece of used toilet paper and I hadn’t actually started my performance yet. So what happens in this sort of situation? Do you storm off like a big stroppy Diva? No, you ruddy well get on with the show and laugh it off. Yes there were swear words later and even a disgruntled huff with furrowed brow (I know, stand back when you see these signs), but those are the hazards you have to face when working in these environments. They still enjoyed the show and I fear most of the audience were more ‘moths to my light bulbs’ than my disgraced shoes, but that is all the better. More importantly the shoes are now clean and lovely again! Huzzah!

Wartime in the Vale Video


I wanted to share this video with you, taken by Olivia Orchid of Shadowflower Photography at Wartime in the Vale 2012. It is the first time Ive seen a proper video of Mr Mew and I dancing and it was so nice to see!