Monday, 13 June 2011

Tring Canal Festival 2001

We recently passed through Bulbourne and Tring. It reminds me so much of all my old boating friends, James Hopper Bissett, The Yorkshireman, The Rufty Tufty Biker Bloke, Lina From The Lock, Nancy-Moo, The Marine Engineer and The Original Boat-Wife. In 2001 I’d been living aboard for nearly a year and this was my impression of my first ever canal festival. 

Tring Canal Festival 2001 

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 2001 Tring Canal Festival.

For eleven years you have been supporting the famous Wendover Canal Festival run by The Wendover Arm Trust (or WAT) to fund the restoration of the Wendover Arm from Tring to Wendover.

I am pleased to announce the joining of this festival with the Bulbourne Waterways workshops weekend (usually held in July) and from this day forth the festival shall be known as The Tring Canal Festival!

We are opening with a Punch and Judy Show and Big Foot and Furry Foot the Clown, followed by
Leighton Buzzard Youth Theatre and the tale of the carrying boatmen. Please don't laugh at the little boy at the front who sings loud but out of tune.

Bob the Builder will be appearing in the arena to announce the winners of the under fives painting competition but he can't actually speak with that great big costume on so someone else is gonna do the talking.  In between his public appearances we're hoping that Bob remembers to turn up for his shifts on the canal restoration project.  There's a retaining wall that needs finishing and I don't want to hear that he's in the studio again. We had to build Little Tring Bridge without him this year following the success of his Christmas number one, ‘Can We Fix It? (Yes We Can)’.

There's a gentleman here who has lost his friend somewhere near the classic cars exhibition.
He's got tattoos and a waistcoat and his black hat has got two feathers and canal festival badges on it from Wendover 95, 96, 99 and 2000.  What do you mean everyone's dressed like that?

But talking of those types come on, why have some of you got A4 paper taped to your back saying that 'This is the Wendover Canal Festival 2001 NOT Tring'?

The three men dressed in sacking each with a box hanging around his neck are actually Ye Olde Fruit Apparatus, a human fruit machine. Dip into each box and if you find three pieces of matching fruit it's the jack pot!

The band in the beer tent tonight are The Geezers. They will be playing both kinds of music, rhythm and blues, and the real ale will be served by volunteers from the Lion Hearts Cruising Club.  In the craft tent there are opportunities to buy sugar mice and coconut ice. There are also watering cans, coal scuttles, Buckby cans, mugs, coasters and wooden spoons  all with traditional roses and castles painted on them.

As you wander around the festival you will notice that there are many different types of boater.

There is a group of lads who are spending the festival by their tent in the car park so that they can listen to their car stereo really loud. These people are normally hire boaters but maybe no one would hire them a boat this weekend.

Note that the boat with flower pots, a bicycle and fire wood on the roof with washing hanging off the tiller is a live-aboard boat.  These people do not like fishermen or Rosie and Jims.  Rosie and Jims have got really shiny expensive narrow boats with two rag dolls in  the window and are also known as Brass Polishers.  They only take their boats out on very sunny bank holiday weekends, drive too fast past moored boats and try to tell other people how to operate locks. People who don't have boats but wish they did, stand at locks and watch boaters struggle with lock gates, but don't help. They ask three questions. Is that your boat? Do you live on that? And; Isn't it cold in the winter?

The sun tanned people with neckerchiefs and brown cords on are from working boats. These are seventy two foot historic boats that travel with a butty of the same size selling fuel to live-aboards or doing contract work for British Waterways.  These people have very beautiful boats decorated traditionally and have the ability to squash themselves up very small so that they can live in a tiny boat mans cabin.

Tomorrow the festival will open with a Punch and Judy Show and Big Foot and Furry Foot the Clown followed by Leighton Buzzard Youth Theatre. And time becomes a loop. But if you sample enough of the Real Ale in the beer tent tonight you won’t remember a thing about today, and can enjoy the same festival all over again tomorrow.


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