In some ways, this year's Braunston might have been a bit underwhelming - public attendance was certainly down considerable, following the doubling of the parking charge to £20. A couple of long-established traders have decided to call it a day - the fabulous brass stall where I got Chertsey's copper urn being one I knew about; the absence of the hippy clothes stall next to the toilets came as a surprise (fortunately I have sufficient supplies of patchwork trousers for now. Just.)
I don't know the final number of boats, but it felt very quiet and low-key on the Friday. Quite a few familiar faces weren't there - but then some new ones were - Gort, Daphne, Pintail, Seaford, being just a few I can think of off the top of my head.
But we had a fabulous time. Many aspects were excellent - David Daines's commentary on the parades was extremely knowledgeable and very professional (although we still weren't tempted to parade - the heavy handed marshalling has somewhat spoiled it - and does nothing to reduce the chaos - if anything it exacerbated it. Some people were complaining at a two and a half hour parade - should have been there in 2010, I say.). The beer tent music just might have been a bit less over-amplified (although we have long learnt our lesson and sat a long way away). The beer tent and surrounding seemed less crowded than in previous years and I thought that people might have made good on their threats to go to the pub instead. They still ran out of beer by Sunday evening though, so either they planned well for reduced numbers, or there were more people than it looked.
Our mooring by Butchers Bridge - right by the bridge, towards the marina main entrance - was lovely. It was the last available bankside space when Jim moved the boat last Tuesday - another reason for staying put. It was nice and shady, which was great for Jim and Ricky, but a bit frustrating for me, seeing the sun shining down on all the other boats but having to wait until about four o'clock before it got to me. The weather was fantastic, absolutely amazing. We had ice creams and a beanburger, Bass and cheesy chips. We had an impromptu Friday night towpath party (the very best sort) with Sarah and Andy on Enceladus (and the musical accompaniment of 78s of course), Pete of Renfrew and his old friend Mike, and Alan and Angie on Purton, with beer, G&T (thanks Angie!), nibbles and then, thanks to Jim, fish and chips from the village. When Pete Harrison stopped by for a chat, my weekend was complete - and it was only Friday night.
Other visitors included Bones (with Boots); Vicky and Craig whom we haven't seen for ages, but just happened to be on a hireboat holiday that week, the Moomins, Sarah from Little Venice and probably someone really important that I've forgotten.
This is how I described the weekend to my workmates: 'Basically a lot of people bring their old boats to a village in Northamptonshire. We spend the first day polishing our brass and dressing the boats up, then we spend the following days buying more brass, comparing the brass things we've bought, counting each other's rivets and sniffing each other's engines, drinking beer and complaining that the music in the beer tent is too loud. Braver souls parade their boats round while the rest of us catch up with friends and acquaintances (and drink beer).' Does that about sum it up?
|Hard work, this socialising|
This was the 13th Braunston in a row that I've attended - and I discovered with surprise when I read the programme, that's thirteen out of just sixteen that have been held in total.