Saturday, 12 June 2010

Visiting Stoke Bruerne

Saturday 12th June 2010 - Stoke Bruerne
We should have been getting on with things at home, but who's going to let that get in the way of a visit to a canal festival?

Alan and I (and Charlie the dog) set off (far too late) to go to the Stoke Bruerne 'Gala Weekend'. We were further slowed down when 'Mavis' (the Sat Nav) directed us via Gawdknowswhere. Mavis does get things spectacularly wrong sometimes - including directing us down a cart track in North Wales that resulted in major damage to our car wheels and tyres.

However, we eventually reached Stoke Bruerne and parked up near to a garden with a reasonably large specimen of a Giant Redwood, or Sequoia, tree, sometimes called Wellingtonia (wiki link) in the UK - which is always a good idea, they are usually twice the height of any other tree around and are visible for miles, so you can then find your way back to the car easily from some distance away without having to remember the route.

Daniel (modern boats, like this, were in the minority)

As we approached the middle of the village, by the canal, we could hear the merry sound of 'canal folk music', played on accordions by men in waistcoats with red spotted neckerchiefs. Unfortunately (hmmmm...) we were too late to see the morris dancers. I do actually have a bit of a problem with some of the 'canal oriented' stuff that gets served up at every boat rally and festival. I know that the crowds need to be kept entertained, but I'm not aware of the traditional association of canals with morris dancers. I have been told that Irish dancing has its origins in the small space available in Irish cottages - but boat cabins were much smaller. Why morris dancing?

Then there were the pirates. No, sorry, why pirates, FGS? Why this persistent association with canals and pirates? Someone needs to explain it to me some time. They arrived on "George", an interesting old boat, accompanied by extremely loud explosive bangs, vigorous fiddle playing, and smoke producing orange flares. The dog was terrified so we walked up the canal towards the tunnel entrance to distract him.

On our way we stopped off to sample goods from both 'the Cheese Boat' and 'the Fudge Boat', deciding to make any purchases on the way back again.

There were some interesting boats up towards the tunnel, and we were pleased to meet up with Jim and Sue on Owl; who provided us with tea, beer and good conversation for some considerable time.
Victoria winded in the winding hole near Owl.

A boat had recently moved from its mooring at the end of the winding hole, the owners said that when the big boats winded there wasn't enough space.

Almost around.

It was a very warm afternoon, and we sat canalside watching the passing trip boats and a few passing hirers who seemed to be a bit confused to have found themselves in a Johnny Depp movie. Eventually we decided that we needed to move on, so we took a look at a few more boats, chatted to a few more people and then headed back towards the museum, where the stalls were.

There were fewer boats than expected, but there were still quite a few there. Many of which seemed to have been newly painted.




Archemedes and Ara were fully laden, the bows very low in the water.

We went for a drink and got chatting, once again, to people about Charlie. We were told by the rescue centre that he would attract attention, but we have genuinely been surprised by the number of people that want to stroke him, talk to him or about him.

When we got Charlie from the rescue centre we kept the name that we were told that his previous owners gave him - it was easier that way. We've now discovered that huge numbers of dogs are called Charlie - now it seems that boats are too.

We went back to the Cheese and Fudge boats, and made purchases - once again sampling all the wares first. Then we decided that it was time to go back home. We found the car quickly by a quick scan of the horizon for the distinctive silhouette of the Sequoia tree. A short(ish) day out, but a very pleasant one.


Anonymous said...

The pirates were there for god's sake to help raise money for the museum, because people enjoy pirates, and if having pirates at the canal brings in money to help keep the museum open and the old canal boats going what's your problem?

The Pirate Captain

Alan said...

As, I guess would have managing to keep the museum shop open whilst there were still large numbers of people milling around, and who (like us) might have made purchases.

Surprised to see it shut so early when it might have been doing good business.

Cath said...

My problem isn't with the pirates at Stoke Bruerne, I'm sure that they raise money for the museum. I just don't understand why there is an association of pirates with canals. I've seen many boats over the years bearing skull and cross bones, even with crews dressed as pirates. Why?

Anonymous said...

Well it's probably 2 things that keep causing pirates to appear.

Firstly to do with the large numbers of the general public who visit canals who are not boat enthusiasts. So for events like this to have people dress up as something the public can accept as loosely related to travelling upon water and are familiar with through today's multiple media sources perhaps helps to connect us with the public.
For example using stoke they've had Pirate weekends before which has led to young children (and so therefore there parents who have the money) wanting to come to the canal museum and get involved in activities there and to spend time there, achieving several things not only bringing in revenue but involving young people in the canal whom might not have otherwise wanted to spend time there.

Secondly I think for a lot of people it's just a harmless bit of fun, which gives daft folk like myself a good chuckle and an excuse to dress up like a silly bugger and get some mates together for a laugh, and in this case to help out my village.

The Pirate Captain

Anonymous said...

Yarrrrrghhhh !

Nice one captain !

Anonymous said... for the morris men. There is a morris side based at the Boat Inn, Stoke Bruerne called strangely enough "The Rose and Castle Morris". Sadly they didn't muster enough men to dance at the Gala Weekend but 'nuff said?