Monday, 6 September 2010

Shackerstone 2010: Boats, bacon, butties and Brasso

James and I spent the weekend camping at a festival. But not your ordinary, pitched in a muddy field, surrounded by tents type camping! We set up camp in the hold of the Ling, Sarah E's ex BW working boat, which was moored on the outside of the Fullers' Ibex and Ilford at the Shackerstone Family Festival (and working boat rally).

Camp site
Shackerstone is on the Ashby Canal, in Leicestershire, and it's pretty much the middle of nowhere. However, to get there by hired car would have been very expensive, so we looked into public transport. It turned out that not only was there a bus to a nearby village (Market Bosworth) but that a friend of ours comes from another village also close by and was happy to offer us lifts both to and from the festival. Sorted!

Ibex and Ilford
We arrived at dusk on Friday night, and set up our new tent for the first time. We had bought it the day before in a sale at Blacks for a mere £30, but it is a fairly good quality Vango. It was the only one we found which was narrow enough to fit in the hold of a working boat and not too expensive! However, as it is a tunnel tent and not a dome tent, it didn't stand up by itself and needed to be in tension at both ends to keep the arches in place. Attaching one end to a spare battery, and the other to the chain across the hold seemed to work well, and the porches at either end were fixed by string to the Ling's knees and shuts.

We were welcomed by the Fullers: Rebekah and Joe, their parents Teresa and Roger, and Roger's brother Martin. Rich was also there, and after introductions, us 'young people' headed off to the Rising Sun for a drink. We had met Rich at Braunston, but it was great to finally meet Rebekah and Joe.

YWBS banner, and the pair loaded with limestone

Map of the working boat display

On Saturday morning we arose at about 8:30, to be greeted with cups of tea fresh from Ibex's range. We were finally able to see the boats in the daylight, and had a look inside the lovely back cabins of the two boats. Sarah E arrived later on, so we were finally able to thank her for the use of her hold! Tom, another member of YWBS also showed up. We spent most of the day on the canal, either hanging out on Ibex, Ilford and Ling eating sausages and chatting or wandering down the towpath looking at the other boats. We did venture into the Festival itself, full of stalls, displays and vintage vehicles of all varieties, but didn't quite feel that it was worth the steep entry fee! One of the most exciting 'displays' was the sudden appearance of the Air Ambulance! Visitors were warned that the rotors' downdraft might cause stones or 'heavy grass' to be flung into the air, which had us all in stitches! There was a display by a Spitfire, which got all the boys standing up on the top planks of Ilford to watch.

One of the highlights of the day was a visit by a little dog, who had seemingly escaped from her owners and decided to take up residence on Ilford. We adopted her as a temporary YWBS mascot and named her Brasso! After half an hour of playing with her, we decided to ring the number on her collar tag. This got through to the rescue centre from which she had recently been adopted, who gave us the number of the current owner, who turned out to be from the pair Monarch and Grimsby, just a few boats down. But they were adamant that they'd not lost a dog, until we insisted that they most certainly had! Little Brasso (actually called Betty) had evidently found a way to escape from the butty without anyone noticing! We were sad to see her go!

James, Rebekah and Brasso

In the evening, we went for a ride on a steam train on the Battlefield Line with Sarah and Tom. Although it was fun, and a snip at £3, I nearly fell asleep after the fun of a day on the canal! When the train got back to Shackerstone station, we headed back to the Rising Sun, where we enjoyed their delicious cider and perry while listening to some folk music. Then, we headed over with all the YWBS lot to the Beer Tent at the festival for drinking, more loud music, and some dancing. It was about 1:30am when we finally crawled into our tent.

On Sunday morning, we awoke to a delicious breakfast: Joe was cooking pancakes on the range in Ibex. He even managed some very skilful back cabin pancake flipping! Unfortunately it wasn't long before the weather closed in and the rain started. However, we were all very cosy, huddled in the warm back cabin of Ilford. Teresa made tea and some lovely bacon butties, and we provided cake. Eventally the rain stopped. We headed back into the fair with Tom and Rebekah. On the way we noticed that the signwriting on the famous wooden butty Raymond had been altered. Whether it had been done by the crew of the butty, or by some prankster, we didn't know, but it was pretty funny, and very well executed, with the shadow in the right place! On the festival field, we particulatly enjoyed loking at the old and model traction engines, as well as peeking into a lovely living van, with a similar interior to a back cabin, albeit more spacious.

Nutfield and Raymondo?

Back at the boats, James began to take on the role of tour guide of the back cabins, which were open to intersted members of the public as part of the festival, particularly when there were primary school aged children interested. He enjoyed doing the teacher thing!

All too soon, we heard from our frield Nicola who was very kindly going to pick us up and take us all the way back to the station at Leicester, saving us a bus and taxi ride! So we said our farewells to the Fullers as well as the other YWBS people who were still about, having had a thouroughly enjoyable weekend. Both of us are becoming more and more determined that we need to get our own working boat when the time is right, although probably not for a good few years yet! Moving onto the canals in the future is also becoming more and more tempting, every time we go!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great weekend. I expect the Spitfire was on its way to/from Duxford. They had 16 flying together for the Battle of Britain Memorial air show this weekend.