Dining at the crowded Folly Inn last night, at one point we heard a voice stand out from the noise saying “…it’s usually quite good, apart from the inevitable Morris Dancers” but we didn’t know what the chap was talking about.
Saturday morning, and we turned left at Napton junction onto the Grand Union canal as planned, passing the several marinas, and soon came up against the flight of locks at Stockton (GUC = wide locks). We buddied up with another boat, operating single crew and started downhill through the eight or so. Our chum was positioning his dad’s boat back to Warwick and was determined to reach Long Itchington – a couple of locks beyond the Stockton Flight – that afternoon. Apparently a beer festival was going on there : small village, six pubs, go figure…
At Stockton bottom lock, our buddy’s engine died, and defied all attempts to restart and stay running. We towed him out of the lock, whereupon he just banged in a couple of pins, tied his boat to them, rang his dad to say he was abandoning ship, and headed off down the towpath on foot: such dedication to a cause is rare these days. We’d heard from a boat heading the other way that there weren’t any mooring spaces left at Long Itchington, so we shortly tied up too and settled down for a quiet Saturday evening.
Mayday’s plan (plan!) was to head on towards Warwick, popping in to Long Itchington if we could moor anywhere suitable, to raid the local Co-Op. A suitable mooring presented itself, so we walked into the village for a quick coffee and shopping expedition, past the house that QE1 stayed in many centuries ago, while admiring the Muscovy Duck on the village green.
Before reaching said Co-Op, we stopped at a large but rather empty pub advertising decent coffee. Eschewing the interior, which stank of industrial strength pine flavoured cleaning stuff, we sat outside, enjoying the aroma of yesterday’s cigarettes. We were some time, as there seemed to be some technical difficulty with the coffee machine.
The Chief Cook suddenly became very excited: “There’s some Earlsdon Morris Men” and indeed there did seem to be one or two walking down the road way across the other side of the village green. Herself dated an Earlsdon chap several lifetimes ago, and so heading off in search of her old pals, we reached another pub, where indeed Earlsdon Morris were dancing along with some more old friends Chinewyrd and Seven Champs. It was nice to meet up with several chums we normally only see at Sidmouth these days.
Chinewyrd were as good as always, although, we’ve never seen a team numbering a colour coordinated clarsach player amongst their musicians before. And if any folkies care to click on the photo to take a proper look, they’ll find Dave Hunt (aka Dr. Sunshine) and Will Pound playing melodeons, too.
Tool, founder member of Earlsdon and the renowned Peeping Tom Ceilidh Band lived 17 paces from the pub (going) or 34 (going home), as one can see from the Blue Plaque.
The local ladies caused consternation in the ranks of the road closure stewards helping the teams process from pub A to pub B: half away along outside the church was a sign saying “Free Tea and Cakes: Everyone Welcome”, at which point the procession hung a quick left, then descended on the cakes like a plague of morris dancers. Tea, cakes, and an impromptu hymn-tune session ensued, rather delaying the arrival at the next pub, even though free beer had been promised…
We did make it to the Co-Op, and eventually back to the boat, somewhat the worse for wear. The Captain enquired politely why our quick trip had taken more than five hours before confining us to the brig. Not quite the May Day we’d planned: must listen more carefully to overheard pub conversations…