It’s been fascinating watching the preparations for the upcoming Fairport festival this week. When we arrived on Sunday there was little different to normal apart from the fact that there was already about two miles of moored boats. By Tuesday evening there were toilets in all the camping and festival fields, lighting had been set up along the lanes to the site and marquees were going up. By Thursday there will be over 20,000 people milling around.
We have been so fortunate to get a mooring right in the centre of things thanks to Mike and Lesley who have a vacant mooring as their boat is still being built.
Moored on the offside (the left) for the next week or so next to the house our friends are building - and, yes, that's Buddy on the towpath
Karen leaves her car on their drive and only has a 25-minute journey to work so that’s nice and easy. Although coming home on Thursday will be fun because the festival will be in full swing with people everywhere. We’re a bit hemmed in because of the building work going on and have to negotiate around a fence that doesn’t quite reach to the water fortunately.
Our route round the fence to and from the boat
I’ll just make a quick mention of my back: it’s still not good so I’m spending the days alternating between resting it and having little strolls around the village.
On Monday, I finally met up and had a coffee with Helen on her boat Pipistrelle. We have been arranging getting together off and on since I borrowed some root ginger from her back in January when we were both moored in Lapworth. Although we have seen each other several times since it has always been in passing so it was good to have a natter, mainly about our boating lives of course. Helen is moored opposite us and about two boats down so she also has a prime position.
Kate and Nicky, on their boat Mr Perfick, are moored opposite Helen – theirs is a permanent mooring and they have been living there about two years. There is not quite enough for two boats to pass on this stretch but whilst we were having coffee, two boats tried it. Neither driver had wanted to give way and the boats were jammed between Helen’s and the girls’. We had to go out and help and with some rocking of the boats they both managed to reverse out. One guy had to reverse back to a wider section and you could tell he wasn’t happy. I know it must be frustrating trying to get through a place full of boats but it’s meant to be a tranquil pastime and waiting a few minutes for a boat to come through shouldn’t be the end of the world.
As I said, I’ve been taking little walks around the village to ease my back and found a few interesting things. We are moored near the church and the alleyway leading from the lane to the church is called Hell Hole which I find rather apt!
The River Cherwell runs through the village on its way to Oxford to meet the Thames (or Isis as it’s known at that point). There are marks for various flood levels but I don’t quite understand them as they quote the level as being 1m above a given line. Seems odd not having the mark where the level was – I’ll have to investigate further to make sure I’m understanding it correctly.
Old boundary stone
The boundary stone above was found in 2001 buried about 5 feet under the ground. It is reputed to date from the 15th century and can be seen on the way out of the village to the festival site.
I regret it now but I couldn’t be bothered during history lessons at school. Apparently, the battle of Cropredy Bridge is quite famous as one of the first English Civil War battles in the mid-17th century. There were 18,000 men fighting in Cropredy which seems an amazing number of people to have congregated in such an out of the way place. Hmmm, I suppose that's a bit like the annual Fairport festival which, incidentally, is in its 40th year and not 50th as I mistyped the other day.
I’ll probably come across some more snippets of local history over the next couple of days.
On Tuesday evening Karen got home early as it was our wedding anniversary and after dinner we went for a drink with Mike at The Brasenose Arms. The fringe festival has already started so there was a live band playing and the pub was packed out even though it was two days before the main festival.