I am not in the habit of publishing football (soccer) scores in my Blogs….although Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 to win the FA Cup this year (naturally). So, don’t be misled by the title of this Blog. It’s no footy result. But there is a winner involved. And not a likely winner at that. I am referring to the 2 canal/boating events we have attended for the past few years leading to a decision to live aboard one of these fine narrowboat craft.
Both functions occur near the end of May. They basically kick-off the boating season as far as I’m concerned. The first is the Rickmansworth Canal Festival and the other is a week later, the Crick Boat Show. The first is affectionately known as Rikky. “Going to Rikky this year?” We all know what it means. A number of boats went from our marina as it’s only about a 6-7 hour journey by boat (10-15 minutes by car). Every January you have to apply to have your boat there. Only so many boats are selected. Your best chance is to own one of the Historic boats.
A chap we know, who moors his 4 boats near our marina, takes all 4 of his and his partner’s boats to Rikky because every one is a historic boat. The oldest is 134 years old. Lots of upkeep on that one. Another is a pump-out barge. It takes the poo and pee off your boat (if you have a poo tank under your boat….we don’t, we have a cassette and dump it ourselves) and transfers it to tanks on his boat. Where it goes from there I dare not ask. Then he has a boat for living and one for arts and crafts.
The rest of the boats at Rikky are regular boats like ours and some are artisan boats selling everything from cheese to jewellery. Boats are usually 3 abreast, leaving a narrow lane for boats that want to continue cruising. Then there are the artisans on land. The last 2 years we attended, the same bunch sold the same old stuff and the fairground (midway) catered to the young. The food was expensive, as it is where a captive audience is found, though a good variety was offered.
But we didn’t go this year. We had planned to. Just didn’t work out. The weather was dodgy and the rum on our boat tasted good. Besides, we’d been to Rikky the last 2 years, as I said, and the novelty had worn thin. Our good neighbours, Eddie and Mimz decided not to go. Other boat neighbours who had a spot for their boat at Rikky decided to forego the pleasure and so we all stayed put, looking at our gardens by the boat and drinking our rum.
We had tickets for the next Sunday at the Crick Boat Show. We had decided with Eddie and Mimz to go together and stay overnight, returning on Bank Holiday Monday. Crick’s boat show is a more practical event. You can get stuff for your boat, not just clothing, baubles and beads, jewellery and crafts. And you can get that frivolous stuff too. Boats to view and experts to talk to, a beer tent and entertainment all day. All of the acts were stirling. Very folky and very good.
We had been for the past 2 years and had originally decided not to go this year, but we had questions for the stove man and other marina representatives there and a gripe with the Thetford cassette toilet guy. “Why,” I asked, “did you put plastic wheels on the cassettes (where the poop and pee go)?” Info brackets there dear reader….I didn’t actually say poop and pee.
He looked at me oddly. “Well,” he said, “it seems to be a practical solution to getting your cassette to the Elsan point.”
“To what?” I asked, “What solution? You’ve put on wheels that have to be cleaned off before you put the cassette back under the toilet.”
“Why would you have to do that?” he asks, as if bubbles were floating out of my ears from my brain.
“Because none of our marinas or towpaths have carpeted walkways. It’s all grit and shit and you can’t put that in the tray below the toilet.”
“Well, it can’t take that long to clean,” he said. “Just a quick wipe I’m sure.”
“That’s not the point.” I retorted, clearly annoyed that he didn’t understand, as most English people working in retail or the public sector suffer from, and ready to punch the twit in the nose. “Look, we use trolleys with bungee cords to get the cassettes to the Elsan point and back. We don’t need wheels.”
“Is that the only complaint?” he asked, a little smugly I thought.
“As a matter of fact, no.” I said, oh so politely with an edge. “Because you put wheels on the damned thing, it cuts back capacity in the cassette.”
“Only by a half litre.” he replied.
Now I was getting riled up (North American for pissed off). “Look,” I began, “when you have to empty the damned things, that extra half litre gives you that extra time between cleanings! We don’t want wheels, we want capacity!!!”
All he said was, “Sorry.” and turned to the next customer. Useless twit.
The rest of Crick went well. It was a very hot and humid day. Even the beer tent was more like entering a sauna than anything remotely comfortable. But my cold pale ale went down very well. And the music was good. All the marquees were hot. The poor folk working at the booths were wrung out. No fans in these large tents. Usually the weather during the boat show is miserable. Not today or the day before apparently.
The thing I look forward to the most at the boat show is the giveaways. Cloth bags filled with boating trinkets and such. A little info sheet on the product offered….sure….but pens and sweets, water bottles, boater key fobs, even a small torch (flashlight). I have a collection of boating cloth bags I cherish. Never use them but I love them.
Just one snag. We were in the Canal and River Trust (CRT) members tent and CRT cloth bags with water bottles were laying on a table. I took one for me and one for my best friend. No one was around to stop us. Then I saw them. Little gloss covered books on canal walking paths. I took one.
“Sorry.” I heard a voice say as I was putting the book into one of my bags of freebies, “Those are for new members only.” I had to grudgingly return the stolen item. How was I to know? Officious little twit. I slunked away, tail between my legs. It was hot. We decided to leave. Never got back for the evening show featuring Fleetwood Bac, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band endorsed by Mick Fleetwood himself. Everyone was too tired. That I would never have allowed if the real Mac had been there.