AWCC Rally at Black Buoys, Knowle to Warwick
The Black Buoys Cruising Club / AWCC festival organising committee had a desire to use the event to attract more community interest in the club and therefore made a specific attempt to "connect the towpath to the club". The ten floating traders were therefore located on the towpath side of the canal, next to the Black Boys pub. This policy certainly ensured that the towpath traffic became engaged in the event as the 800 yards of floating market was something of an obstacle course!
All this narrowness did have one crucial snag - there was no room to erect our gazebo awning so we had to trade unprotected from the elements and hope for the best. The other snag was an inconvenient ledge 18 inches underwater which the club overcome with the aid of fat tyres. A good approach for mooring but it left us with a leg sized gap and a real health and safety hazzard. I rounded up all the tyres I could and stuffed them into the gap which mitigated the risk to acceptable levels. The weather helped and confined the wet stuff to the night and early morning on Sunday so we were able to trade uninterrupted.
Business was steady on Saturday but frantic on Sunday afternoon, during the three hours when Helen decided to take herself off for a "20 minute nap". She who owns the stall likes to keep it fully restocked at all times was horrified when she emerged bleary eyed at 4.30 to see a virtually empty table and was disinclined to believe that I had sold it all till she saw the cash box with the coin tray balanced precariously on a pile of notes!
The event concluded with the other traders in the Black Boys pub. I have to confess that the traders have been lovely to us. Most of them are full time on the task but they have welcomed us part timers into their number displaying a real generosity of spirit.
We left Black Buoys along with the throngs of departing festival attendees but its amazing how, with four option to follow, the assembled boats dissipate. The butty attracts attention wherever it goes and we fell into conversation with a couple of dog walkers / boaters who soon wanted to see our stock list. We pulled over at the tap they were using and in the time it took me to refill the tank another £20 sale was concluded. That's the diesel covered for the trip so far.
Then it was on to Hatton Locks and by a stroke of goof fortune we saw Sandra of Golden Boys coming up behind us. What is more she was in the company of Richard, a muscular chap well suited to the demands of the next three hours as we ground our way down the 23 chambers, the boats sliding along side by side.
With the moorings at The Cape of Good Hope full we carried on to Kate Boats in Warwick which offer a secure in somewhat unlovely mooring.