None for ages, and then two at the same time....
The Tidy's are exiting 2012 with a bang, or perhaps you could better describe it as both barrels of a proverbial shotgun.
Not content with another of my "lost canals" articles in Waterways World (January edition) Helen has found fame as a page three girl, oops - sorry I meant a three page girl in Canal Boat. The difference is both subtle and profound, if you know what I mean?
Lets deal with my lost canals item first. Having recently completed the BCN Marathon Challenge (again) and having slogged my way along the Walsall Canal (again - twice) I started to wonder if it was possible to write something passably interesting about such an obscure waterway, one rarely travelled and generally unloved. I am not sure that even us BCN die hards get too excited by the prospect of another trip along the Walsall.
But then I took a fresh look at its line and reflected on the huge number of abandoned sections which link into it, lines which I have painstakingly researched and walked in the last few years. And so an idea which was conceived during the Olympic opening ceremony, gestated during the water events at Eaton Dorney and delivered kicking and screaming to life as the lovely Miss Ennis bounded to a triumphant gold medal on the middle Saturday.
The result is a two parter which will conclude with the northern arms (Gospel Oak, Toll End, Bradley Locks, Anson etc) in the February edition.
But if we view the above as the entre, we now move onto the main course.
You many of you will be well aware, Helen has established Wild Side Preserves making jams, jellies and chutneys and using, wherever possible, wild ingredients foraged from the hedgerows and towpaths. A goodly number of you will also be aware that her rather scrummy end results are hitting a sweet spot with the public at boating festivals, craft fairs and on the internet. And before any of you raise the point - yes she does have written permission to forage from the Trust!
We have been bowled over by the enthusiasm shown for her business, and there is a growing band of customers who are returning time and time again for further sticky fixes.
This interest has captured the imagination of several journalists and it was really exciting to be joined by Helena Lightbody in the summer who was writing an article for Canal Boat. That article, all three pages of it, is in the current January edition.
Wild Side has evolved by leaps and bounds, on reflection possibly a little faster than was desirable. We started the summer wondering if anyone would buy her preserves and ended wondering how to make enough to satisfy a burgeoning demand! So for 2013 you will be pleased to learn that we are going to be a bit more focused in our sales activity, and will view the boat festivals as our core market. For us, the preserve business is all tied in with boating and, if we are absolutely honest, they are the events we enjoy attending the most.
So, for next season, look out for Wild Side at:
Droitwich 4 - 6 May
Crick 25 - 27 May
Pelsall (BCN) 15 - 16 June
Chesterfield 29-30 June
Linslade 27 July (TBC)
Blisworth 10 - 11 Aug
Windmill End (BCN) 13-15 Sept
Banbury 6 Oct
Botanical Gdns (B'ham) 17 Nov
If you cant get to these events and just cant live without that hedgerow fix, there is always the website with its mail order service. We have had a late run on the oh so pretty "mini hampers" which make the perfect gift for the person who seems to have everything and there are a few days left before the last posting date.....