Saturday, 9 June 2012

Stoke Bruerne Canal Gala - Saturday

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

The weather for this weekend had not looked at all good from the forecasts, (or indeed what we suffered on the way to it!).  However by this morning the rain had gone, but initially quite a lot of the winds had not.  Volunteers had been requested to help erect tents and awnings in the morning, and I duly turned out, but was largely faced with really quite unsuitable structures - lightweight "gazebo" type things that looked like they had just come from B&Q.  There was also a distinct lack of suitable pegs, and for a while there looked a strong possibility that once all the exhibitors were set up in the craft "tent", (I use the word "tent" with reservations!), that they were going to quickly seen it blowing away, taking their crafts with it.  I was reduced to finding bits of old pallets in a skip, and improvising "pegs".  It (and others) did stay put all weekend, but how much that was due to my efforts, and how much due to the wind calming down , I can't really prove.

Off down the locks - forum friend Lisa sat on the deck.
We like the Stoke Bruerne events.  As my comments about "marquees" demonstrate, perhaps not the tightest organised, but a lot of enthusisatic volunteers, and a general very relaxed atmosphere.  There were less historic boats, (and also, I would say modern boats), attending than last year, but still a good spread.  We were soon visited by quite a few people who knew who we were, and we "knew" via the Internet, but we had not yet met.  I'll not attempt to list everybody who turned up, as I don't want to embarrass myself by inevitably forgetting some.

We also had several turn up who we already knew rather better, having met them several times at previous canal related events.  Cath wsa in very "chilled" mood, and initially had no great desire to take the boat for a spin, but the arrival of friends from the forum prompted us to plan to "just take it up to the locks".  However, as a boat was just going down on its own, we decided to share locks and travel down with them for a bit.  In fact our return trip back up a couple of locks "set" them ready for boats just about to go down, so we were able to use locks for o additional water used over what would have been.  In fact with water continually flowing over the gates in this flight, it seems to me that most of the time lock operations are only causing a pause in the flow of that excess water, and not actually using much extra - indeed the volunterr lock keeper told Cath that there was no shortage of water down the locks at the moment - although the restrictions continue, of course.

A different Alan takes the tiller.
We let one of our forum friends have a go at the tiller of "Sickle" - we didn't really think of it soon enough, but he still seemed pleased to have had the chance - "it's very heavy on the tiller" he said - yep!, anyone who does full days with her will know this!

The weather held throughout the day, and towards the end of the afternoon, I lost Cath to the craft tent, where she was having long discussions about the finer points of crochet, rug-making, lace-making and other crafts, both in terms of going it now, but also much of the history that surrounds these industries.  This allowed me to go and talk engines with a few people!

The rather lovely "White Heather" fresh from Thames pageant.
Whilst we tend to treat "The Boat" at Stoke Bruerne like a local, (and eat there several times during a weekend event), the village also has lock-side "The Spice of Bruerne" Indian restaurant.  We rarely eat Indian when we are out, but this place really is worth a visit if you have not tried it.  You are very attentively looked after, although despite some sensible discussions with the waiter to try and avoid "over-ordering", I think we did perhaps set ourselves a bit too much of a target to clear all the bowls completely.

A thoroughly excellent day, but we were concious last year that after a fine Saturday, we had got completely rained out on Sunday.  This year the forecasts look set for exactly the same to happen, but as we went to bed the Sunday forecast seemed considerably better.

Short trip out at Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 2.0, Locks: 4

Total Miles: 20.4 Locks: 12

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