We couldn't find the time to get the boat to Braunston, but I had a lovely weekend nonetheless, staying with Mike on Banstead. It was Mike's - and as far as anyone knows, Banstead's - first time there.
I don't know whether it was seeing it from the angle of a non-boater (although I spent so much time hanging around Banstead that two people shouted 'change boat!' to me) but it felt quite quiet and flat. There were 66 boats there - not many joshers, perhaps observing the 'Grand Union/Blue Line' theme more strictly than usual - which is still a decent number, although many had gone to Lymm instead. The weather wasn't great for bringing the public out. I think we were all relieved at the last minute decision not to participate in the Saturday morning parade, nor indeed the afternoon one, but we did go on Sunday, with sunshine all the way. Mike had somehow arrived in the prime spot along the very end of the arm - exceedingly handy for the toilets and hippy clothes, but last out for the parade. Nonetheless we were back within two hours. Compared to the five hour epics of previous years, I felt quite short changed. I sense that this swifter execution was more to do with the small number of boats than the increased organisation - I have a hypothesis that the more people with hi-viz waistcoats and walkie-talkies there are directing operations (and they multiply year on year) the more chaotic it gets. Co-ordinating the boats around the turn and into the marina, they tend to make boats stop to allow others to move, when at least a few times I saw, the steerers, knowing themselves, their boats, and each other, would have done better to work things out for themselves and manoeuvre around one another. Trying to keep boats stationary is a recipe for obstruction and collision.
For the last few years boaters in the show have voted for a 'best boat in show'. This year voting was clearly a bit sluggish as they kept coming round twisting people's arms to get their votes in. But as someone said, 'I already voted once this week, and that turned out badly.'
I managed to take no photos. I meant to take my big camera, but forgot to pick it up at the last minute. I made some purchases, at least one of which I will photograph later and show you. That's not the two bottles of blue I got after asking Jim if there was anything he wanted me to get from Midland Chandlers.
I also found myself stopping people with lurchers/greygounds/whippets/other long thin dogs and saying how lovely they were (the dogs, not the people) and telling them about Rocky, just like people do to us when we're out and about with him.
Anyway, it was really lovely being back among the boaters.