Blisworth Canal Festival
We have been attending Blisworth Festival for three of the four years it has been running, watching it grow from a large village fete to the monster it became this year. Sadly Blisworth is too far to reach by boat so we fall back on the good old gazebo and a night in a bed and breakfast.
A busy Blisworth waterfront
Exhibitors have been quick to spot the free festival and this year there were over eighty stall holders and the number of trade boats doubled as well. But all this extra size puts a strain on the village infrastructure with last years nearly empty Festival Field becoming a sea of tents. This year every nook and cranny of the village was occupied and with the best of the weekend forecast for Saturday over 20,000 visitors flocked in.
The ever popular face painter
But all this growth isn't entirely good news. Not only do a lot of stall holders and trade boats find themselves in less than great positions, the event is in danger of losing the "villagey" aspect which has made it all so special in the past. That said, the people of Blisworth have come to know and appreciate our preserves, coming back to buy more year after year. As a result we had a near record day with preserves flying off our stall all afternoon.
Our long association with Blisworth has also provided a great source of ingredients. One customer bought two jars of Meadowsweet with Mirabelle Plum jam and told us that she had a tree laden with these yellow plums in her front garden, and we were welcome to pick them. Half an hour up a ladder resulted in 14kg's of fruit ready for more jam and chutney. And then there is the allotment society who had some surplus fruit so we returned home with raw ingredients for our next few batches.
An night in Stoke Bruene
It would have been nice to follow this up with a second day of busy trading but the remnants of hurricane Bertha had other ideas. For once the forecasters had it right - rain, serious rain all morning followed with storm force wind. We returned to a dripping gazebo at 9.00 am and it was clear that even if we did set the stall up there would be few customers wading along the towpath which had more than a passing resemblance to the canal it tracks.
So along with most of the other stall holders we threw in the towel, folded up the dripping canvas and headed back to Birmingham.
The Willows and Moomins
But all was not lost as we discovered that the Willows and Moomins were moored in Cambrian Wharf so we all trouped over to the Piano and Pitcher for a chat and coffee whilst we watched the rain fall one a sodden Brindley Place. Its better when viewed from the warm and dry!