Sunday, 30 June 2019

Blazing brilliant Braunston

This morning, about 6:30
This was my 14th Braunston, of just seventeen that have been held in total. I've been by car in 2006, 2007, 2008 and (for reasons I can't remember), 2016; on Warrior in the fateful year of 2009, and with Chertsey in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

It's changed over the years, and I've changed too, so each year is different. This year seemed quiet again, like last year, in terms of the number of boats there and the public footfall. The marquee had a very different feel to it without the HNBC bookshop and the brass bits stalls, now mainly being occipied by commercial trade stands. We spent most of the time on the boat (partly because of the dogs), popping over to the beer tent just briefly on Friday and Saturday evening for a quick pint (and the traditional beanburger) before the music got under way.
Friday evening

But this year was brilliant because of the weather and the people. If you're going to have a really, really hot day, what better day to have it than the one day of the year when you don't have to do anything but sit on a boat all day. We had a fantastic spot by Butchers Bridge again, with plenty of shade for Jim and the dogs (who were, in the end, remarkably sensible about laying down in the hold in the back end rather than on the deck) but a constant spot of sun for me, and so many people came by for so many brilliant conversations, including the Moomins, the Ducks and Duckling, Bones (with Boots), Pete Harrison, Jane on Clypeus and Richard, Victor Vectis (to pick one of his many aliases), Jim and Sue Owl Hampton, and today Ron Withey and Ronnie Dell, plus our lovely neighbours on Renfrew and Stanton.

The classic view from the stern end, 6.30 am, with a very smart Cepheus behind
I went straight from work on Thursday afternoon to get the train to Rugby, where Jim picked me up. We spent Friday tidying, cleaning and polishing the boat and then went to the Nelson for tea with Cap'n Pete (Renfrew) and his friend Mike, where we were joined by Jane and her little dog Marcel. On Saturday we did very little indeed, but finished the day with a pint, a beanburger and cheesy chips outside the beer tent. Today was cooler but we still didn't do much - both days we watched the parade whilst clinging jealously to our bankside berth.

So many people now seem to be saying that they prefere Alvecote to Braunston, but I just don't get it. Alvecote is great, but it's so full-on. At Braunston there's trees and shade and (usually) some peace and quiet. At Alvecote there's one pub; at Braunston a choice of four, and at Braunston there's the village and the bottom lock shop should you need provisions. Even though it invariably clashes with exam boards and creates all sorts of logistical difficulties, Braunston will always be the 'can't miss' event of my boating year - as it has been since 2006.

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