Sunday, 10 June 2012

Stoke Bruerne Canal Gala - Sunday

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

(Now) ex-hire boat we hired twice before buying our own.
Last year when we visited the same gala, we had a nice fine Saturday, but the weather turned terrible on Sunday, which ended up as a virtual wash-out, with a very low visitor count.  It must be nerve-racking for the organisers of such events, which contribute (or don't contribute!) large amounts of the funds for whatever it is they are held in support of.  I know when I spoke to an organiser in the week, they felt they would be lucky to get one good day.  In practice we woke up to a fine day - a little chilly, (the range has been on continuously in June!), but definitely far better than initial predictions.

Ian Tyler - "Sickle's" former "skipper" on the tiller.
One thing about these events is that you can just chill, and let the day wash past you.  If you are at the boat, lots of people want to chat - if you are not, you may well be chatting with the owner of a different boat!  Today "breakfast" proved to be a late cup of coffee, and slice of cake in the museum cafe.  (I say it was "smallish" pieces of cake - Cath says very large ones - our expectations tend to differ in such matters!).

Mike Askin joins the party on "the patio"
Once again we started finding other canal friends turning up by car or motor bike for the event - not really the ones we expected today, so making it even more of an impromptu kind of affair.  We normally try and take the boat out at east once whilst the main show is on each day - the organisers like to have some of the old boats moving, and the lock-keepers seemed happy that we used some of the locks when doing this, despite restrictions in place, (I don't actually think we were using any water really, as most of it might otherwise have flowed over the top of gates, as it was for much of the day!).

Between the top two locks
However the restrictions do mean the locks close early, and we suddenly realised if we didn't grab a lunch, (provided by "The Boat" again!), we might not take a trip out.  In fact we had bags of time, but timed our departure with "Sickle" just as the pirate display, (yes, honestly!), was getting under way, so had to negotiate around the pirate boat, and swash-buckling pirates.  As we headed down the first lock, there was a display of pyrotechnics behind us!

(From the left) Me, Ian (steering), Tina, Tim, Julie & Mike
We had invited Ian Tyler and his wife Tina on board.  As Ian was the regular steerer of "Sickle" for many years when she was on the BW maintenance fleet, (in Herts and Bucks  on the Grand Union), he obviously has far more experience than either of us, so was invited to take the tiller, whilst Cath, myself, and others worked the locks.  Before long we had also picked up Julie and Tim, (both known via Canal World), and finally Mike Askin (owner of "Victoria"), so we headed off with people stood all around the floating patio.  We enjoyed it, and I hope Ian had fun with his former charge, (he asked me at the end if he had passed the competence test!).

Hang on!  They have taken our boat!
All too soon we were tied up again, and, after a lot more chat, people started to drift away, (well Cath had already drifted back to the knowledgeable experts in the craft tent!  I'm always surprised how long it finally takes us to shut everything down, clear up and pack up, but eventually we were ready to set off home, quite tired, but having had a thoroughly good time.

We like Stoke Bruerne, perhaps because we can't go anywhere to the North without passing through twice, but we particularly like the informality and scale of their various canal based events.

........ Oh, and I haven't yet mentioned that despite the direness of the weather forecasts, it only started raining very lightly just as we were packing up!

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

Total Miles: 22.4 Locks: 16

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