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Historic Boat Rally

Singing in the rain

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It’s the weekend of the Braunston Historic Boat Rally so we moved on to Caxton on Wednesday evening, stopping off at The Boathouse for dinner. We could see that there was some sort of private function going on in one of the marquees but otherwise it was quiet.
On Thursday morning I got up and went to work in Coventry for the day. It was gone five o’clock when I returned to the marina and I could immediately see how Sue had spent her day, the port side of Caxton reflected light like a mirror, it looks like the Greased Lightning product is as good as its reviews.
I got changed and then turned Caxton around on its mooring, a tricky move but it was executed beautifully and of course there was not one single person around to witness it. Once we had re-tied, I gave the starboard side of Caxton a good clean down ready for a coat of Greased Lightning.
We had dinner and then walked over to the beer tent to watch the play, a production call “The Bad Pennies”, performed by the Day Star Theatre Company. It was a very good show as usual but we were pretty tired and were glad to return to Caxton once it was finished.
I awoke briefly at 2.30 to the sound of torential rain battering on the roof of the boat but by the time my alarm went off at 6am, it was dry again. I went to work in Coventry again and despite my best efforts, didn’t manage to escape any earlier than normal. It had rained for most of the day so Caxton’s starboard side remained un-polished. We had dinner and then walked over to the beer tent where we met up with Mike, Jane, two of their three children and Jane’s dad, John. Mike and Jane live in the building that was once the Braunston bakery (it is the house with the Hovis sign on it for those who know Braunston). We had a drink then gave them a tour of Caxton before returning to the beer tent where we listened to the band playing there. The heavens opened again and the tent quickly filled with revellers from outside escaping from the rain. We all had a good singalong with the band until they had to stop at half past eleven.
It was overcast but dry when we got up on Saturday so I got up and emptied the cassettes before too many visitors arrived. We filled the water tank before we got ready and ventured out just after ten o’clock. There didn’t seem to be as many traders this year and there definitely wasn’t as many artists displaying their works. We returned to Caxton where Sue cooked some bacon and sandwiched it in a couple of bread buns that she had baked the day before. We took up our position in the cratch where we could watch the parade and shelter from the rain.

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It absolutely hammered down for the duration of the parade and as the time went on, the crowds just dwindled and dwindled until there was only a handful of stalwarts left on the bridge. Like the number of traders, there seemed to be far fewer boats on parade than in previous years at this event. Within minutes of the parade ending, the rain stopped and shortly afterwards the sun came out. We watched the second parade with the cratch covers rolled up but it wasn’t too long before the rain came again so we called it a draw and retreated to the comfort of Caxton’s lounge where we just dossed for a while before we watched the Brazil v Chile match on television.
We knew that this year, the Mikron theatre group were performing in the beer tent at five o’clock and assumed that there would be some sort of musical act following on into the evening. The group turned out to be a very noisy tribute band. We didn’t go to listen to them, we didn’t need to, we could hear every word from inside the boat. I walked over to see what was going on at about nine o’clock, the noise was unbelievable and the tent was nowhere near as full as I would have expected.
On returning to Caxton I did a bit of boater’s blog reading and saw that our boat’s original owners, Joe and Lesley were at Flecknoe and heading towards Braunston. I left a comment on their blog to the effect that their old boat was in the marina and that if they were passing on Sunday, maybe they could stop by and say hello. I neglected to mention this to Sue so she was rather surprised on Sunday morning when there was a knock on the side of the boat, the penny dropped quickly when she saw Lesley and recognised her from pictures on their blog. We chatted to them and to their two friends who were with them for a little while and then said our farewells and let them go and enjoy the boat rally.

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The weather had greatly improved by comparison to the day before so we just spent the morning looking at the boats before walking along the towpath to Braunston turn. This of course is where the rally boats have to turn around so we lingered for a while and watched the action from on top of one of the twin iron bridges that span the junction. All that was left to do was to call in at Midland Chandlers to buy a new chimney and a cartridge for the water filter. This done, we stopped off at the Boathouse for a refreshment or two before making our way back to the marina. We spotted Mike, Jane, Olivia and John who were sitting in the sunshine having a drink. We joined them and listened to the live music until everything finished at five thirty. That was it, the Historic Boat Rally was over for another year so we wandered back to Caxton and sat in the cratch, faced the west and took in the beautiful evening sunshine.

Chips and beer.

George went off to work at 7 o’clock this morning and I turned over and went back to sleep because I am a lazy bugger. I dragged myself from my pit at 9.20 and ground some coffee beans for my cafetiere which I drank in my conservatory..aka cratch. About one hour later I got myself cleaned up and dressed and decided that I had better do some work to justify being a stay at home housewife or domestic goddess as I prefer to be known. I made some multi grain bread rolls by hand, dusted the inside of the boat, sorted the clothes in the wardrobes, cleaned the windows and put the pots in the dishwasher and sat down in my conservatory again because that is enough work for one day in my opinion.
The boats have begun to arrive today for tomorrows parade of ” Braunstons Historic Narrowboat Rally ” and we will have a great view of it because I am a nag. When we brought Caxton back to Braunston we were shoved at the back of the marina in a dingy hidden mooring because we were told that there was not another mooring available for a boat of 68 feet, so for several weeks I went to the marina office and nagged and nagged and now we have a super mooring right near to the marina entrance with a full view of the parade as it passes through the marina, plus we are only about 25 yards from the chip van which suits me and 100 yards from the beer tent which suits George.

Later in the day.

I polished the side of the boat this morning and the product works because it looks lovely.
Everyone seems to be very busy here in Braunston getting ready for the boat show and I have made my preparations too because I have been up to the butchers to buy a piece of shoulder of pork. I know that you are thinking ” What has a piece of pork got to do with the boat show”!!!!! well I will explain. When we visited the boat show two years ago we went to a stall called “Smithy’s”…named and shamed…to buy two hot pork rolls. The girl made them up and then said ” That will be £10 please”….I was well and truly gobsmacked at the price but it gets worse. We sat near the stall eating the rolls and the girl had a break. She smoked her ciggy, picked some dried mud from the bottom of her shoes and then went back to serve people without washing her hands.
I now make our pork rolls as a tradition every boat show and they are much tastier and I know that my personal hygeine is good too.

Yippee.

I am excited today because we are going to the boat this afternoon for four days. George is going to travel to work from the boat on Thursday and Friday. Tonight we will wash one side of the boat and then I am going to polish it tomorrow while George is at work and then we will turn her round Tomorrow night and do the same on the other side. I have bought a product called ” Grease Lightning Showroom Shine ” from Amazon. It has rave reviews stating that “You just spray it on and polish it off and the shine it leaves is amazing, and it also stays cleaner for longer”. At £34.99 for 3.8 litres it had better be bloody good. I will let you know tomorrow. Sue xxx

Braunston Historic Boat Show

Very often we spend weekends on the boat when we don’t travel and on those occasions I don’t write anything. This weekend is a little different because it is the weekend of the Braunston Historic Boat Rally. We wanted to be here last year but Phoenix III was being repainted and although we popped down for a day, this is our first chance to experience the whole weekend.

We arrived on thursday evening and after unpacking and having something to eat we made our way to the beer tent where we watched a play called ‘A matter of time’. The production was excellent with two people playing all six parts. It poured rain for most of the time and very often threatened to drown out the actors voices. The rain continued on and off during the night, not a very good way to mark midsummer at all.

Friday dawned and while I was at work, Sue cleaned the boat from stem to stern. In the evening we returned to the beer tent where we had a drink while we listened to the band performing on stage. It was almost midnight when we returned to the boat and turned in for the night.

The wind was still blowing when we awoke on Saturday morning but at least it was dry. We took a walk around the marina and waited for the official opening before we returned to the back deck of Phoenix III where we positioned ourselves on a pair of high chairs from where we could watch the parade as it made its way through the marina. After a while we took a walk up to the village to do some shopping before returning to the show. We then took a walk around the various stalls at the show, renewing aquaintances with the Redshaws who worked on Phoenix’s original engine and with Eddie who supplied our Boatman stove and from whom we bought a new set of fire irons. We drifted into the beer tent, a bit of a habit forming here, and listened to some more live music, first of all from singer songwriter Junal and then from ‘Four men in a boat’ who sang a variety of traditional folk songs. We returned to Phoenix III where we relaxed and carried out a few essential jobs which included varnishing some woodwork.

We had a lazy start to Sunday and after fortifying ourselves with a bacon roll, we took a walk up to the village shop. We had another wander around before sitting on the back deck of Phoenix III to watch the parade of boats again. We had a talk with some people looking at boats for sale and invited them inside to show them what ours looks like. Cliff and Liz joined us at two o’clock and after a bit of lunch we all went and listened to some more live music. All too soon it was five o’clock and the show was over and by the time we had packed up the things that we wanted to take home it was seven o’clock. We had enjoyed the show as well as we had expected and the weather had been much better than the BBC had forecast so we pronounced the weekend a success and we’re looking forward to doing it all again next year.

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November 2017
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