Monday, 6 July 2015

Braunston 2015 - One of the best events we have attended.

(Boats Sickle & Flamingo - posted by Cath)

Saturday 27th July

"Sickle" photographed from "Owl" - Photo copyright Ray Thorp.
We should have been up early polishing brass, but instead decided to go and look at the stalls in the marina to see if they had any nice brassware before all the best stuff had gone. For once we managed it - we got some nice pieces. Alan got some old brass covered light switches for Flamingo's back cabin, a decent tiller pin, and something "horsey" that  will pass muster as a reasonable enough chimney chain for those of us not lucky enough (or extravagant enough!) to own one based on brass gas mask case links, (either original, or even replica).  I found a nice piece of lace that I didn't yet know what I was going to do with, but I knew that I could find some use for it.

During an enforced stall in parading, the coffees arrive just in time.
The parade started at 11am, and we set off on Sickle, because the morning parade was boats between the Marina entrance and Butcher's Bridge. It was hot and slow - slow enough for our friend, Polly, to catch up with us and jump on the tug deck. We spent ages in the queue, and passing the Boat House pub Polly suggested that she go in to get us coffees. A great idea, but the parade began to move again and she was still in the pub. I found myself holding Sickle against another boat moored outside the pub, Alan was saying "We have to go!" I was saying, "No, we can't leave her". I had visions of our friend running down the road with a tray of coffees trying to catch up with us further down the canal.  Fortunately she arrived with the very welcome coffees just after this.

Knitting just under way.
Polly had expressed an interest in learning to knit, so I had taken along some large knitting needles and super chunky yarn. I began to teach her on the journey around the parade, and by the time that we got back to Sickle's mooring she had several inches of knitting to show.

We headed off to get burgers and a drink as it was by now quite hot, and decided to sit outside the beer tent while listening to the musicians (these were not amplified, thank goodness - a big improvement on previous years when it has been impossible to even order beer) - and chilling with some friends. Our new knitter carried on knitting.

As Alan reverses Sickle round the turn he wonders how much harder with Flamingo!
We went into the Guild of Waterway Artists' tent, to see the paintings and drawings.  We were interested to see Dusty Miller, who has painted Flamingo based on a photo he took back in its working days. We were also keen to see Penny Taylor-Beardow as some months ago she had put a painting that she had done of Alan steering Sickle on Facebook.  Alan had a discussion with her about it then, so we were interested to see the painting.  We were not expecting her to give Alan a print of the painting, a very kind gesture.

[Subsequent EDIT by Alan]
I must have been having aberration when I added and captioned the "reversing" photo above = it clearly is of "Flamingo", and NOT of "Sickle"!   I blame the still worsening eyesight problems!

Some hours later on, back at Flamingo we decided to go off for food. I decided to go back onto Flamingo to collect something (now in the middle of the three 'Town Class' boats, as Stanton had paraded in the afternoon). I walked along the gunwales between the back cabin of Chertsey and Flamingo, and somehow tripped. I really don't know how, but I fell and knocked my right knee very hard on the steel gunwale. I was kneeling, with my arms up on the cabin tops. The boats were tightly tied together and well fendered, so there was no possibility of slipping between the boats, but I needed to decide how I got out of there - and I was in a lot of pain. Alan established that I wasn't in immediate danger and that I just wanted to be left to decide how to get up. Obviously, the potential problem in this situation is that someone rushes towards you and the boats rock around, not a good idea as the boats weigh many tons.

Once I got into Flamingo's main cabin I looked at my knee, which was already purple and swollen. Had I cracked my kneecap? I asked Alan to get our friend Polly in to look at it. She said it was unlikely to be seriously damaged, as I wasn't screaming and was able to stand up. We used an instant ice pack on it, and I was given anti-inflammatories and sent to lie down with my leg up. (Note: if you haven't seen instant ice packs, they are brilliant - a plastic bag that can be kept in a drawer until needed, then you squeeze the bag until a smaller bag inside breaks - some chemical reaction - at which point you have an instant bag of ice which will last up to an hour. Ideal for boats.) I fell asleep for a while, then woke up starving hungry - so we headed off for food, with me limping heavily.

I was asked by the people on the Narrowboat Trust boats if I had had my knee looked at properly. "Oh, it's OK, my friend looked at it, she is a nurse", I said.  "Er, a VETERINARY nurse", Polly countered. This seemed to cause huge mirth - I can't understand why.

Impromptu music session on Flamingo.
We had a pleasant meal in the pub, although other people were asking for refunds having waited for far too long for meals that didn't turn up. Our friend knitted and knitted until she ran out of yarn. As we headed back towards the boat I was called over to another table "Can we have a music session on Flamingo?"  This was at 10 pm, so I suggested that we got together sometime the next day. Unfortunately, several people had to go off at 8 am, so we decided to go back for a session there and then. On the way back we met others on the marina bridge, who had abandoned the beer tent because the music was too loud - they decided to come with us, stopping to get a guitar on the way. Other people arrived as well, I don't know where from.

Everything from Folk to Bowie!
We had a great time, playing on Flamingo until the small hours. Fortunately, little sound seemed to leak out, and what did seemed to have been well received by passing boaters on the way back to their boats.

This, for me, was the vision of what I saw Flamingo as being the first time that I saw her. A social space, somewhere to have friends on board, to drink coffee, beer or wine. To chat, or knit, or play music. As we move the bulkheads and the kitchen further along the boat it will become even better for this kind of activity.

Sunday 28th June

In the morning I found Polly's knitting and a yarn needle, and twisted it once into a mobius strip, stitching it in place.

"Flamingo's" first time on parade - Photo copyright Rob Manning.
It was drizzly and rainy at first, but the rain was predicted to stop at 11:00, and just as the parade started that is what happened. It was a quieter parade than on Saturday, with fewer boats, which was good, as it meant that it was not completely hectic for Alan's first time around the parade with a full length boat.  He had been a little worried about doing it so publically, especially as Flamingo doesn't reverse well. However, he needn't have worried, doing the whole thing well. There is even a short video on YouTube.

Photo copyright Ian Mulford

Photo copyright Ian Mulford

Photo copyright Ian Mulford.

Photo copyright Ian Mulford.

In the afternoon we could have taken Sickle out again, but my knee was very painful and swollen and we spent the afternoon sitting in the sun chatting with friends and drinking beer.

Alan with Penny Taylor-Beardow and "Sickle".
We went back into the Guild of Waterway Artists' tent, as we wanted to ask Penny we could take a photo of her and Alan, and the print that she had given him. We also bought a copy of Dusty Miller's print of Flamingo in her working days. Then we went back to Penny, and bought the original of the painting of Alan on Sickle. We had liked it so much when we had seen it, and we had talked it over during the day, and decided that we wanted to buy it.

Alan enjoys a trip out round the circuit where he doesn't have to steer.
In the evening we set off on our friend Mike's boat, Reginald, to go to the Boathouse, where we sat in the garden. Most food arrived promptly, but Alan and my vegetarian roasts just didn't arrive. In the end he went to ask, and was told that he should have been told that they had run out. We were compensated by being given a refund and a different meal, but it's not good. It's by no means the first time that the Boathouse has messed up on orders. As we left we realised that we were the only people in there other than the staff.  We travelled back to the mooring on Reginald in the dusk, with boaters sticking their heads out of their boats to find out what was making that noise - Reginald has a noisy single cylinder engine - HERE.

"Mike the Boilerman" reverses "Reginald" at Braunston Turn.

Our own PhotoBucket album of general boaty pictures from the weekend can be found here.

If anybody else captured us, particularly on Flamingo, we would love to see your photos - we really haven't seen many others, despite all the cameras pointed our way.

Monday 29th June

No great rush to get away in the morning. Breakfast at the famous floating "Gongoozler's Cafe". We then met up with Ian and his wife Becky who moor in the marina, and are always there for the festival. They offered to help us up Braunston Locks, and did a lot to speed us on our way, especially as my knee was still making life a bit difficult.

We carried on through the tunnel, and moored up at the top of Buckby locks. We were just deciding whether we would eat at the pub, when Fiddler's Green came past, with Alan's former colleague Steve, and his wife Claire, on board. So off to the pub to chat for the evening.

I got back to the boat, and suddenly thought, "what is this in my pocket?" It was the key to a card safe - I'd forgotten to pay the bill, and they had my credit card. I limped as fast up the towpath as I could to knock on the closed door of the pub - low lights inside showed that the owners were still up - and paid my bill.

Tuesday 30th June.
Descending the Buckby flight, on our way home.

Down the Buckby flight and back to our home mooring with a brief stop in Weedon for lunch. Then clear the boat and home. At Morris dancing in the evening the others looked at my swollen and purple knee, and declared that I most certainly wasn't going to dance.
Braunston to High House Wharf  (Flamingo only) Miles: 10.5, Locks:13

(Plus twice around the parade circuit, but that is so slow, we will omit it from the stats!).

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