Sophie came up to stay for a couple of nights this week. She was breaking her journey each way on a trip to Nottingham where she was giving a talk at the university there. Buddy and I met her at Stratford station on Wednesday and it was really good to have some time together; we played a bit of crib too as is our custom when we are on our own.
By the way, just in case you were wondering, Buddy is fully recovered having missed meals for two and a half days last week. On Friday, Buddy and I caught the train with Sophie as we had an errand to do in Oxford whilst Sophie carried on to Reading.
For some reason none of us remembered to take any pictures so there’s no photographic record of Sophie’s visit apart from a rather suspect one she took on one of the trains.
On our way to Leamington to change for a train to Oxford – Buddy was in his element having to go on five trains in one day
Matt and Marie had bought their wedding rings last time they were in Oxford so I was going down to pick them up for them. It’s so much cheaper to buy most things over here so a lot of their wedding sourcing has been done in the UK. Karen and I are off to Norway soon to meet Marie’s parents for the first time before the wedding so we will loaded up with items Matt and Marie have already ordered from over here.
When we left to get the train we bumped into Brian and Ann who were walking their dog on the park next to where we were moored. They were mine and Karen’s bridge teachers and apparently walk their dog there every day. They had noticed our boat but not realised it was us – it seemed amazing that we hadn’t bumped into them before as we had been there for two weeks.
On Saturday our plan was to go to the Beltane Bash at Preston Bagot; we were going to drive their but Karen convinced me we should get the boat up there as it was only nine miles and 18 locks. It meant going back onto the Stratford canal for a couple of days before coming back to the river again. As we had lost over a week because of my back we have extended our river licence by a couple of weeks so we can do some more exploring.
The Beltane Bash is a weekend festival organised by The Horsedrawn Camp; people dedicated to the horse and cart culture. It has also become popular with families like those who live in converted horseboxes and furniture vans etc. so the events are frequented mainly by modern day hippy types.
We set off at about 11 and first we had to get through the five locks that took us out of Stratford. When we got to the top of town Karen and Buddy went off to get the car and do the food shopping and I carried on towards Preston Bagot. By the time Karen had done her chores, moved the car to a village on our route to avoid parking charges for the weekend and walked back to meet me I had got through another seven locks.
One of the tight bridges coming out of Stratford…
Only on our fourth lock and Buddy is taking advantage to relax
When we crossed Edstone aqueduct we realised it was the sixth time in as many weeks that we had been over it. We had been moored at one end of it for about three weeks and whenever we needed water we had to cross it to get to the nearest water point.
Crossing the aqueduct for the sixth time in six weeks
We moored up at Preston Bagot about six o’clock and decided to have dinner before venturing to the festival. We were quite pleased as it had only taken us seven hours to cover the nine miles and 18 locks. Another good reason for coming up to Preston Bagot is that wild garlic grows in abundance round there and we hadn’t used any yet this year.
Signs to the festival
Liz, one of our boater friends, was playing in her band, Dissident Noise Factory, on the Saturday and Sunday evenings so we wanted to get there to see her. There was no sign of the band appearing at the planned time of 8 o’clock but we bumped into her partner Blair who explained there had been some sort of technical hitch but they would definitely be playing on Sunday at six – so we will be back.
It was great to be at such a large gathering that was totally self policed – no sign of outside authority at all. We did wonder what would happen if one of the many camp fires got out of control and set light to a wagon or something. It could also be problemattic if you wanted to get your vehicle out early - without organization people could pitch up and park anywhere so it seemd many people were boxed in for the weekend.
Buddy has been fast asleep so far this morning as he missed out on a good few hours coming to the festival with us on Saturday night.
|Catching up on his sleep
|Our mooring at Preston Bagot