A little while ago I discovered a whole new (for me anyway) festival category: canal festivals! I had a look at a long list of boating events being held this summer in the UK and decided the Crick Boat Show would be a good start. Luckily a volunteer slot became available last minute, so I packed my wellies and my little tent, got on the train and my first canal boat festival adventure was on its way.
The festival site consisted of a display of narrow and wide beam boats on and off the water, various tents with vendors and chandleries, a food court and bar, a kids playground and a seminar tent. My first shift was helping in the Waterways World tent with talks and competitions. My fellow volunteer was a father of five girls (see four of them below) who also happened to be my neighbours on the campground. Everyone was really friendly and they either already owned a boat or were planning to buy one.
I also went on a half hour cruise in a tiny narrow boat called Lazy Days courtesy of the LNBP and viewed at least a dozen shiny new boats moored at Crick during the festival. Best of all though was the variety of friendly and down to earth people I met all weekend. By the second night, having dinner at the cosy The Moorings pub down the road, I pretty much knew everyone who came through the door. This included the couple who owned my favourite dogs of the show, this lovely threesome (see pic).
The only real challenge of the weekend was the weather and the fact that my tent really wasn’t made for non-stop rain that lasted for two nights and the day in between. Water started collecting on the inside edges during the first night. So I had to mop it up every so often, cover my sleeping bag with a plastic sheet and could only hope the howling wind wouldn’t blow me away completely. Luckily the volunteer family next door came to the rescue by filling my hot water bottle. Phew.
I have only recently become interested in boating and being at Crick confirmed the impression I got from reading various blogs, forums and websites on the topic. It is a unique community of people of all ages and backgrounds and a fascinating and often hidden world well worth exploring. There are canal pubs, book barges, even a floating hair salon. Do you know where your nearest canal is? It may be just around the corner, so get on the towpath and get chatting to the boaters.