We had originally hoped to be able to bring Willow to this gathering but alas thanks to the late Easter the dates didn’t work out: James needed to be back at work on the 22nd. So we went by car instead.
We arrived on Saturday just in time to go parading on the boat where we’d be staying the night: Richard’s converted BCN dayboat Squire, built in 1898.
After the parade, we headed over to the village hall where the weekend’s events were based. We were on bar duty from 3-5pm, serving real ale (Langton’s Inclined Plane) and popcorn to people who’d come to watch films about historic boats in the village hall.
In the evening after there were burgers and chips served, and a musical evening, with many boaters singing and playing instruments, including bloggers Neil and Kath from Herbie and Halfie. Neil and Kath’s version of Boots of Spanish Leather brought tears to my eyes, and Neil’s ‘Bacon and Eggs’ song, a musical rendition of A.P Herbert’s 1931 poem, brought the house down.
This last verse gives a flavour and the full brilliant poem can be found here.
“Oh breakfast! Oh breakfast! The meal of my heart
Bring porridge, bring sausage, bring fish for a start
Bring kidneys and mushrooms and partridges legs
But let the foundation be bacon and eggs”
We slept well in Squire’s beautiful new back cabin, noting ideas for when we get Willow‘s back cabin fitted. A tiny sink in the corner seemed a particularly good idea. We wandered up to the cafe at the locks, stopping numerous times to catch up with boater friends, and on the way back popped in to Jubilee to see the “Halfies”, John and Jan. Then it was time for the “tat auction” – lots of boaty bits and comedy items for auction amid much cheerful banter. We sucessfully offloaded the lump of clunch we’d acquired for 10p at the last HNBC auction at Droitwich, as well as a few other bits and pieces. We bought a semi rotary hand pump for £5.50, of the type which Willow used to have for emptying the ballast tank under the back cabin floor, a nice green cast iron trivet for £1.50, and a willow pattern plate for 50p.
The evening’s entertainment was in the form of a waterways quiz. We haven’t done a lot of travelling of the more far flung waterways, but were able to answer a few questions for our team, which thanks to the vast knowledge of some of our members, came 4th overall. There was even a question about Cambridge!
We drove home afterwards, as we had lots to do on Monday, but it was a great weekend. Many thanks to those who organised it. We hope we can bring Willow to the next one!