Sunday was the day of the boat rally, whereupon loads of people came down to the Wharf to look at the assembled boats, drink real ale, watch Morris dancers and other such pointless pursuits. More importantly, the sun shone, so Biggles could spend lots of time in the cratch area or the rear deck being admired by an adoring public.
Song & Dance was moored up between the ice cream “ferry” and the trip boats layby (where the new John Pinkerton II looked a lot smarter than its predecessor seen last year on the Kennet and Avon). The rather odd looking Taurus was pottering around all day: a small outboard motor (sort of installed inboard IYSWIM) and apparently some loudspeakers occasionally broadcasting big engine “putt putt putt” sounds. But there was nothing really to compare with the unmistakeable sound of Finch’s Bolinder engine thumping away as she arrived in style.
The “chain” ferry (more an “old rope” ferry) carrying foot passengers across to the boatyard cafe was a work of art, saving a 400 yard walk across the bridge to get an ice cream. We would have been interested to see the risk analysis documentation…
The steam launches looked most impressive, even if there was a fair amount of soot in the exhaust, and there were even boats displayed on the ground, so to speak.
The boat rally was honoured by a visit from King John, who was judging the “best dressed boat” competition, although we understand from another King John up at the Castle that this one was an imposter.
As some of the rally boats were breasted up, and hence not very visible from the towpath, an inspection from the water was necessary. We’d seen the pea green Owl & Pussy Cat moored up somewhere in the Fleet area on our way up; rather weirdly about a quarter of a mile up the canal was a Tupperware cruiser called Owl & The Pussy Cat. They seem a bit unimaginative with their boat names in Fleet…
The local canoe club played Canoe Polo, while Biggles decided that even allowing for his antipathy to dogs, this chocolate Lab was frankly nuts.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in the sunshine, and Biggles received several visitors, including Joe (our Crofton guide from last autumn) & Sally, and several members from Jackstraws Morris who were out for the day rather than dancing.