Sunday, 26 June 2011

Our First Braunston Show with Sickle

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

This posting is long overdue, I'm afraid.

"Mimas" - Superbly restored wooden "Big Ricky" boat.
In fact, if I'm honest, I'm almost tempted not to post at all.  Why ? - well certainly not because we didn't have a fantastic time at our first "Braunston" with our own boat, as we most certainly did.  No, actually from our experience "Braunston" is something quite unique, and unless you actually experience first hand so many working boats packed into such a small area, or (even more so) witness the total chaos as the parades suddenly turn into traffic jams many hours long, it is hard to capture the spirit of it in text.

Near "text book" turn out from the marina at Ladder Bridge.
This year there are already so many excellent picture libraries in the public domain on the likes of Flickr, or excellent videos on sites like You Tube, and instead I find we were so involved in our own "Braunston" that our images seem to capture just small numbers of boats, and very little of the true atmosphere of the total event.  All I can say is that it it is easier if you are not actively trying to take part.

Rather less "text book" from "President" and "Kildare".
Anyway I'll say something of our event, and maybe post links to others rather better recording of the whole thing!

Immaculate "Ibex" and my brother Pete's old butty "Angel".
The weather forecast for the weekend looked a bit unpredictable, so when we arrived on Friday night to find slow steady rain turning to heavier steady rain, things didn't seem too promising.  Because the music in the beer tent made conversation near impossible, (why must they do that ?), like many others we ended up outside talking, not really noticing just how wet and cold we were getting.  A personal apology to Matt Parrott, Sickle's former owner, from whom I learnt a lot, but who I probably allowed to get far to wet!

"Vesta" - The boat I'd love to own, if I didn't have "Sickle".
Fortunately on Saturday things looked a lot better.  We had not formally booked in yet, but, when we did, Cath was told that because of the boat grouping we were in, we would be on the afternoon ("two o'clock"), parade of boats.  In practice we were never in with a chance, as the morning cavalcade collapsed into probably the most catastrophically slow ever.  Some boats finally crawled back after the commentator had turned off his mike for the evening, having in some cases taken up to 5 hours to travel what should easily normally be achieved in 20 minutes.  It isn't actually that hard to see some mistakes being made around getting the best possible flow of boats, but, actually, I suspect nobody is likely to change current arrangements, and that mayhem will continue to reign!

Large crowd on "Chertsey" - I hope nobody needed a loo!
I have to say, thinking we were going out on Saturday, I was slightly miffed not to have done so.  Not so much I didn't get a go, as if I had definitely known I'd not been playing that day, I would have spent more time observing others, or perhaps blagging a (very slow!) ride on another boat.

Anyway the next day it was obvious that our "cluster" of boats owners had decided they were definitely going out that morning, because when they saw other boats moving off that had already been around yesterday, they didn't wait for instructions to go, and engines were hastily started, as we all tried to  join the "fun".

Cath photographs her Dad  (Photo: Sarah Hale)
The good news was that, despite a few significant hold ups as loaded boats grounded, we got round in a rather more sensible time than many had the day before.  It's certainly true that once out in the spotlight, it is very hard to spot people you know "ashore", and I hope not too many people waved at us, and then felt snubbed.  We did spot Cath's father, Jim, his wife Dot, and old family friend Phil, who had turned up after we started in the parade, but only managed to embark Jim, for the final bit of our circuit.

I even look fairly relaxed.  (Photo: Sarah Hale)
We met many good friends from Canal World forum there, as well as some we had only "met" virtually before.  I'll not try to list them all, because there were so many, but it was good to see so many take an interest in the show.  Long after we should have been going home on the Sunday, a group of us were still at the beer tent, as we watched the price of the remaining beer stocks drop to "half price" and finally "here, this is free!....". (Well, one has to make an effort!....).

Still looking relaxed! (Photo David Schweizer).
So that was it really - our first "Braunston" with Sickle, but not adequately captured on our cameras.

Cath's Dad makes it on board.  (Photo: David Schweizer)

As the last few shots prove, others recorded our "Braunston" rather better than we did, so my thanks to Sarah, David and Tim for letting us use some of their images here.

A bit of clear water for once!  (Photo: Tim Lewis).
Tim Lewis from "Fulbourne" can usually be relied upon to produce a wonderful selection of photos from the main events of the "old boats" world, and he has not failed us this time.  There is a great shot of Sickle on parade, but it's just one of many great shots.  Have a look at his album link here....

Tim Lewis' photo collection.

Increasingly too, much of it gets captured on video.  Some canal videos that get published can be of questionable quality, but Mike Askin, (owner of "Victoria"), always puts together some compilations that well capture the spirit.....

Try these......

Mostly the loaded Joshers

The other boats (but sadly no Sickle, this time).

1 comment:

  1. A couple of us - including the steerer! - nipped off at the road bridge, ran back to the marina, went to the loo, and ran back in time to get back on before Chertsey had moved more than a couple of boat lengths.