Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Terrific Twinwood

So how was the Bank Holiday readers (or just the regular weekend for non-Brits?) Pretty dire on the weather front but hey, we're used to that! We decided to treat ourselves and go off on a little family jolly, not too far, a couple of hours away, North of London to a small village called Clapham, near Bedford, home of Twinwood Farm.

Twinwood Farm is famous for a few things. During the Second World War, it was home to an RAF base, more of a training station for night fighters of the larger RAF Cranfield nearby. Sadly, it has also achieved notoriety for being the place from where the plane which was to take Glenn Miller to his death departed on its flight to France. It now houses the Glenn Miller Museum, yes him, the man responsible for the frankly marvellous hits such as "In the Mood", "String of Pearls", "Little Brown Jug" and so on. He was appointed Band Director of the US Air Force during the Second World War and was stationed only a couple of miles away from Twinwood Farm, he ran his radio station and recorded much of his music in Bedford and performed a concert for the troops at Twinwood Station in 1944.

Nowadays, it is also known for the three-day festival it puts on each August Bank Holiday, a tantalising mix of live music, shopping, eating and observing, vintage-style, of course. Formerly called The Glenn Miller Festival, it now tends to be known as just "Twinwood". Well, (for the very first time,) Twinwood here we come!

We stayed for the first two days of the festival and I'm so glad we did! We only booked our tickets the Monday before the festival but by the time we bumped along the farm track on Saturday morning, all tickets were sold out. It is reasonably priced at £27-ish, (price depends when you book and for which day), considering what is on offer and the live entertainment. I took absolutely oodles of photos so I've collated them into a few mosaics to show you (don't forget you can click on the mosaic to enlarge the photos).

Twinwood is over a relatively large site but it is very well organised. You were shown where to park, there was a bus to take you to the entrance of the arena, plans and plenty of sign posts to show you what was going on where and at what time and phew, plenty of loos (well, these things are important) and not forgetting camping. For those bonkers enough to do so!

(Plan of the site borrowed from here.) The weekend's events are dotted round this site, with two main outdoor music arenas, oodles of stalls and a few foodie outlets (my one gripe, there weren't enough and they were largely junk food), museums housed in old military buildings and some clubs which opened only for night time events (also in old huts). Marvellous! You can't beat that for setting the tone and creating a great atmosphere!

Mosaics then. This is a general one, giving you a little taster of all we remember of our weekend at Twinwood.

That bit of blue sky (yes, it did appear between the torrential downpours, must take wellies next year), is showing you a Mustang jet which flew over.

Shopping then, yes, there was plenty of shopping, from stalls selling fine vintage clobber, military uniforms, new retro-clothing and shoes (some nice, some dubious and some wildly over-priced), vintage housey bits 'n' pieces, to utter junk pretending to be vintage, it was a pretty good shopping experience (but not as good as the Southbank's vintage marketplace in my humble opinion). A few bits were bought but overall, with a burgeoning vintage wardrobe, we're getting choosy (and could do with getting thinner!)

Poor Munchkin, you're thinking, being dragged round all those stalls by his awful parents! For starters, he rather likes a vintage mooch and came away with yet another Fair Isle for his collection, but he got his just rewards and there was no dragging him away from the stunning cars on display.

As if there wasn't enough shopping, music to listen or dance to (or cider/ale to drink, tough work), there were some excellent informative displays to enjoy. There is an Aviation Museum on site which had a recreation of a 1940's sitting room and kitchen and there was a whole raft of smaller rooms kitted out variously with true period items as a haberdashers, bakery, grocery, Land Girl's potting room, medical room and so on. There were some wonderful items to see and read about.

The special exhibition for the festival was on the subject of CC41, the government's rationing scheme for clothing (and furniture) which began in 1941. Finding the CC41 mark on an item is the Holy Grail for vintage collectors. Being rationed, the items are relatively rare but were well made so have survived. A group of ladies were re-enacting make do and mend, crocheting snoods and berets which were for sale. Hats off to them for a really fantastic display, we were drooling at seeing so many CC41 goodies in such excellent condition.

Once the grey matter could absorb no further information, it was time to head for the arena or the hangar to listen to some really fantastic live singers and bands and watch the folks jive. The music started in the morning and went on until roughly midnight. There was something for everyone, it really was top notch entertainment. There were several wooden outdoor dance floors and despite the rain, people jitterbugged away! Two clubs also opened up in small huts in the evening which had great cosy atmospheres (sadly too late for us to stay).

Ah, Twinwood, despite the cold and the rain (and the junk food), what a delight. Rock 'n' roll on next year!


  1. OMG I so wish I was there. I am just a little jealous now. I have told the OH that we are going to be going next year for definite.

  2. Lovely pictures!
    Looks like a fabulous time away :o)

  3. It's amazing what is going on only a few miles from your door step. I live just 20 - 30 mins down the road from there and have never heard of it... It looks like a great weekend away!

  4. Hello Hen! I haven't left you a comment in a long time it seems as blogger has been off my radar but alas here it is.. I'm commenting for a particular reason actually.. it's a small thing but I thought you'd appreciate it.. I'm working at Cath Kidston in Cambridge and we have a monthly newspaper for employees and there was a feature about the Vintage at Southbank festival and low and behold there was a little face I recoginised... your little munchkin Harry! :) I hope that has put a smile on your face and you had an excellent time at the festival as it looks like you did during the bank holiday weekend. Best wishes, Leanne xox

  5. Wow, it looks like you had super fun! :o)

  6. It does look a fun place to be over riding the grey skies. I have a CC41 label, not attached to anything, but was amongst my Grandmother's things and she was a dressmaker during the war and so had to use them.

  7. That looks great- the cc41 exhibit looks really interesting.An excellent weekend,despite the glorious summer weather.

  8. You know, I've been reading your blog for a little while know and I always think to myself, this HenHouse, she's so lucky, she goes to all these lovely vintage events. They look such fun, what a shame it is that there are never any of these things going on anywhere near where I live. And here you are visiting just such an event at a location not more than 10 miles from me and I didn't even know such a place existed or that such an event was going on!

    So a huge thank you to you for enlightening me on my local area and on such a great event. That's definitely one for me to earmark for next year!

    S x

  9. Hen, I am continued to be interested, and bit amazed, that these marvelous vintage, history-referencing, events are organized around the UK.

    I would love to visit any one of them, and so admire the spirit with which your family sets those destinations.

    Hey...that young Munchkin is such a fine model. Bravos to him. (Do not let him know that I would gladly knit him a fairisle.)

    I would like to tell you again how much pleasure your readers find in your posts.


  10. What fun! I wasn't feeling sorry for the Munchkin at all as he looks very pleased to be exploring and wearing his gorgeous vests. I love vintage shoes but I'm not sure I'd ever find any big enough to fit my huge hooves. And I'm sure the industrial girdles helped more generously proportioned ladies to fit into their frocks. XXX

  11. Looks fab :)

    Could you do a list of forthcoming events in your sidebar - you seem to find so many lovely places to go.

    Not up to dancing for a while but by next year I will be.

  12. Wow, that last photograph is absolutely stunning Hen! The pinks are amazing.... what a bonanza, must check it out for next year.

    Sarah x

  13. Wow Hen! What an amazing post! I do appreciate how much work you put into sharing these fascinating experiences with us, it almost feels like being there, which is wonderful for those of us unable to make it to the event. I did notice Munchkin is building up a collection of Fair Isle tank tops, very impressive, he's going to grow into a very charming man, I can see it! I can see what he'd like his first car to be too! There's so much to ooohhh and ahhh over in this post, it feels like a real bumper one, a post to return to and notice more details. Love it! Thank you Hen, it's been very enjoyable! Vanessa xxx

  14. I didn't know any of that about Glenn Miller and I live not far from Clapham in Bedfordshire! If you are interested, Milton Keynes Museum is hosting a 40s weekend starting on Saturday 3rd September.

  15. Another great post - I never thought for one minute that the Munckin might not enjoy such events as he always has such a super smile. The event looks fab. You are right about the CC41 label - so exciting. I bought a boxed huckabuck towel with Baby embroidered on it for 50p the other day. I really liked the towel as it was old and scruffy, the box had a great patchwork paper top but golly gosh imagine how excited I was when I turned it over whilst examining it in the car on the way home - the CC41 stamp. Oh yeah!. The embroided item doesn't have a stamp on it so I don't know if it was always in the box but super find.

  16. A great post. Love all the photos, such a nostalgic era.

  17. I wish I was there too! Great post. When I was Munchkins age I prefered to look around places like that too.
    Julie xxxxxxx

  18. All looks great fun! Spending holiday time with Son and D in L and catching up on back issues of Homes and Antiques, and I found YOU! Wondered why it all looked o familiar! Great article, Penny x

  19. Hi
    Looks like a fun and interesting trip. I got a cream woven wool blanket from a charity shop for £2.00 last winter. It has a CC41 label on and is priced at 34/9. It also has a NPC number, its size and weight and a notice that says "this label is a price control mark and must not be removed." How lovely that it is still intact, after all these years,

  20. ive heard a lot about Twinwood. One day there's definately going to be a trip there for me :)


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