The adventure started here one year ago….at the Crick Boat Show. I remember entering the grounds and not having a clue what to expect. What a difference a year makes. I’m still a novice, but at least this year I knew what questions to ask relating to everything narrowboating. And I went prepared. But before I tell you about that, I hear you asking, “What in tarnation is the Crick Boat Show?” Well, I’ll tell ya.
It’s a boat show held just outside Crick, a little village about 66 miles north of our marina….66 miles of canal, not road. Up the Grand Union, up a flight of 7 staircase locks and along the Leicester branch of the Grand Union to Crick….with two long and dark tunnels along the way. If you want to know more about the village of Crick, go back to a Blog I wrote in May of 2015 titled ‘Up to Crick’. A photo of the Wheatsheaf Inn, in Crick, heads this year’s Blog.
I didn’t know how to post photos on this site back then. So, this time, I’ll show you those photos because I was so busy buying stuff for the boat at the show, I didn’t take one photo. But seeing that nothing has changed in the village or at the show, you’ll get the idea. My best friend said to me, “You walked around all weekend with that damned camera and didn’t take one shot?” I replied, “But everything around here is the same. I already have all these from last year.” She just shook her head. “Lazy bugger,” she was thinking.
But not too lazy to spend money and give my opinion on things I had no idea about a year ago. Like toilets. Every visitor to our boat has to take a course on how to use a boat’s toilet. It’s the same principle as in a house trailer. So, if you’ve been on one of those, you don’t need to take the course. Unless you have a big poo holding tank in your boat, you have to have cassettes. I’ve talked about this and provided a picture elsewhere (See ‘The Shitter’s Full’ from 10 months back). The technique takes some practice. Not for the faint-of-heart.
But this year, the company we buy these cassettes from decided to put wheels and a steel fold-out arm for transporting the full unit to the Elsan (where you dump everything out). The word comes from the guy who came up with the idea of portable chemical toilets back in the 1930s. Very thoughtful to put wheels and a handle to save my aching back….except it just ain’t practical. The wheels take up valuable waste storage space and have to be cleaned after every trip or risk mucking up the toilet. That renders the arm useless. I challenged the rep at the show. He agreed but said politely, “People want it”. I said, “I don’t. Is there an option to have one without?” He said “No.” I said, “Will there be?” He said, “Not likely.” End of interrogation.
I moved on. Our multifuel burning stove is knackered (broken, kaput). Long story, but if we had continued using it, the damned thing would have exploded, leaving bits of us all over the place. Something about capping off where the backboiler was removed creating a bursting balloon effect. A balloon made of steel. Live and learn. I had taken photos of the stove to show the rep. His jaw dropped when he saw them. “Did you burn all winter?” he inquired. “I did,” I said. “Sometimes night and day.” “You’re lucky to be alive,” he replied. Gulp I went.
Next, we went to look at new fridges. We had a freezer when we got the boat, along with a fridge, but didn’t need a whole freezer. So, I gave it away while we were moored at Crick marina last July….£500 worth. What did I know? But its removal gave us ample storage space where it had stood. After a few months, it became clear that we needed more fridge space. My best friend went up to the Shoreline rep at the show, told him we needed a new fridge with a small freezer compartment. Saw the right one. Bought it on the spot and it was delivered that very week. It should all be so easy.
We talked to the River Canal Rescue (RCR) about rescue insurance (what else?). Settled that. Toured a Dutch barge wide beam worth £250,000. Forget that. Got lunch at an Indian Food stall. Ate that. Looked at multi-coloured lights that go under the gunwale….remote controlled. Thought about that. Found the stall that sold non-slip rubber matting for the outside back. Bought that and a cart to carry our full cassettes at the same stall.
My best friend purchased a few items from a chap who makes his own designed jewellery. I bought a cagoule (rain coat….Regatta no less) for a very good price. I’m the practical one….not really. We talked to folk and chatted about all things narrowboat just like we knew what we were talking about. Because this year, we actually were boaters. And not just part-timers. This is our home.
Only one trip to the beer tent. This was the year that honoured one of the founders of the canal enterprise, James Brindley.
You can see by the photo that he lived a long time ago (1716-1772). He was the brilliant engineer who came up with the way canals were to be built. Some guy dressed up as James, walking around the show and gaving talks during the day in the events tent. Never saw the guy over the whole weekend and never heard him. But I did drink a pint of Brindley ale in the beer tent. It was brewed especially for the show in honour of the great man. I said, “Cheers Mr. Brindley.” Maybe he heard me.
It was the only time we visited the beer tent over the two days we attended the boat show. Far too busy buying boaty stuff. And wouldn’t you know it. Of all the entertainers lined up to sing and play in the tent, we ended up with the same guys we saw last year on the only other occasion we were in the beer tent, singing their ditties about life on the canal. Didn’t like them then and this time I noticed no improvement. To each his own.
There is a third day at the show, Bank Holiday Monday. But we were as knackered as our stove by Sunday evening. And we had blown the bank as they say. We still have to order and pay for a new stove….Bring Out Another Thousand. Probably won’t go back next year. Give it a pass in 2017. You can only take so much of guys singing their canal ditties.