Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The day before the festival, and things are hotting up!

Friday morning at Pelsall, and a sunny sky greeted us. The sun shone brightly as more boats arrived, more campers, more traders and other exhibitors. A steward arrived with a festival brochure for us, which includes a full programme. We were going to be having fun!

As we wandered around the site, we saw a number of boaters decorating their craft with bunting, flags, lights. We didn't know about this tradition, but we were glad to see we weren't the only ones. Many of the stalls were soon ready for trade – craftwork of all sorts, clothing, boating bits, bric-a-brac, food and confectionery. We registered our presence at the IWA tent, in exchange for which we were given a goodies-bag, and wristbands for admission into the evening events. Then we went into the village to buy food, and patronized the charity shop, buying some DVDs, and books for Grace, who gets through books at an incredible rate.

After lunch, I got down into the engine compartment and finished cleaning up the oily, dieselly mess in the bilges. It was good to be rid of it. The smell was hanging on for too long, and it wasn't pleasant. I found a mystery object under the engine, looking strangely new, yet clearly nothing to do with the work done down there recently. I couldn't imagine that the engine would be running so smoothly if it were something that had dropped off. I took a photo of it, and sent it to Ian for identification. He came back later with a reply that he had no idea what it was. And he's had 30 years' experience of engines!
As I write, a man in a neighbouring boat is singing Fiddlers' Green in a dull, tuneless voice. I'm hoping he's not going to be taking part in the open mic event on Sunday evening. He really ought to listen to Said the Maiden's version.

At 7:00, we went to collect our supper, which we'd paid for in advance when we booked. It was a “special”, prepared for boaters by one of the catering companies on site throughout the weekend – faggot in gravy, with mushy peas, and potatoes baked in duck fat. Absolutely delicious, washed down with a pint of porter for me, and scrumpy for Grace. We sat and chatted with Janet and Stephen, and swapped stories. They'd arrived in a camper van. Lots of people have, and there's a good number in tents, too. It's good to see just how many non-boaters there are.

From 8:00 till 11:00, there was a quiz. The four of us joined another couple to make up a team at a table in the events marquee. Tony and Enid are boaters, been on the canals for 25 years.

We've been to better quizzes. Three of the six rounds were about canals, so those who weren't boaters were seriously disadvantaged. One round was all about the Olympic Games, and none of us had been particularly interested in them. So we did badly. But it was all a bit of a laugh, and we enjoyed meeting new people. And the porter and cider were excellent – and only £2.50 a pint, too!


  1. Well, I've caught up with you again now, Roger. So sorry you've had all these engine problems! That aside, your journey to the IWA has been lovely. I'm not sure I'd have so much patience as you with all those processions of boats though. We're not used to traffic jams on our waterways :) If we ever bring the boat over, I think it had better be off season!

  2. I think your boat would be too big for our canals, Val. Best to hire a narrowboat to REALLY appreciate the life!