Thursday, 25 December 2014

Stoke Bruerne Village At War - 13th & 14th September 2014.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)
(Very retrospective post for Fri 12th to Mon 15th September 2014)

(Still trying to catch up, but still over three months behind!)

"Sickle" takes "Sculptor" in tow, and heads away from the top lock.
At the moment we try to include both the major annual events at Stoke Bruerne in "Sickle's" calendar.  They are by no means the biggest in terms of either historic boats attending, or or all boats attending, but Stoke Bruerne has won a special place in our hearts, and nicely contrasts against some of the bigger, (and often more manic!) events we attend.

Under way, with "Sculptor" tied close on cross straps.

Not quite gridlock "Ling", "Sculptor" & "Sickle" with "Aldgate"& "Purton" moored.
Also Stoke Bruerne is an easy day's boating from where we keep "Sickle" further down the Grand Union, and now Cath has retired it is easy to turn an event weekend at Stoke Bruerne into a long weekend for the two of us - very much more pleasant in my view than when I was often trying to take the boat up much of the way, or to return it on my own.

Lorna and Kathryn take "Sculptor" out for a run on Sunday.
The weather can have a huge effect on visitor numbers at these events, which, lets be honest, are very much about fundraising.  Two good days, and the organisers will usually be very pleased, but if even one day is mostly "killed" due to bad weather, then it can be a very different picture.  Fortunately this year, despite less than brilliant forecasts, the mid-September weather was fairly kind, and visitor numbers held up.

A somewhat posher Cath chats with Lornam on "Sculptor".
Mostly Cath and I just "chilled", and met with other boaters and friends, but we were asked to get involved in towing the museum's boat "Sculptor", in homage to when "Sickle" is claimed to have towed it and two other ex working boats to the North in 1948 to become maintenance boats on the Northern waterways.  I had slight reservations about a very insubstantial set of "cross straps" that were hastily spliced up and handed to us, but I put the power on slowly, and "Sickle" managed to tow "Sculptor" OK, with nothing breaking or becoming otherwise detached.

Two tugs and one full length butty share Cosgrove lock, as we return home.
As the event was winding down, a couple came and introduced themselves, who proved to be Roger and Jean Hatchard.  Roger had been a working boatman on the Willow Wren fleet, amongst others, and remains to this day an historic boat owner, and an enthusiast with a very accurate memory of huge numbers of boaters, boats, and their histories.  Unlike many of the others, who you feel have tended to really get less accurate about some details over time, Roger's knowledge seemed absolutely spot on, and I have no reason to question a single word he told us.  A fascinating couple, and they seemed really nice people, so I am very much hoping this will not be our last conversation - particularly as we have since acquired an ex Willow Wren boat!

Fenny Stratford to Stoke Bruerne for event, then return.
Miles: 36.8, Locks: 18

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