On to Linslade
Most years our festival season is dogged by bad weather and I think there was only one weekend in the 2017 year that we didn't have to have the back on the gazebo. This year its all so different and instead of sheltering from the rain we find ourselves casting anxious eyes heavenwards fearing wall to wall sunshine.
Passing trade - Wessex Rose pauses to buy.
For the benefit of non boater readers, living in a steel tube in the height of summer can be a tad uncomfortable. You can always get warm or dry, but you cant escape the heat.
Our run from Cosgrove to Linslade was during the hottest week of the year and we started to spend our days seeking out shady mooring spots, even making our moves before 11.00am when the heat really builds up. We were not alone as most of our fellow traders were similarly preoccupied by the heat, and we kept leap frogging each other from one glade of trees to another.
One side effect of all this heat is that we are getting behind in our jam making. The thermometer in the boat is regularly nudging 30c and if you fire up the oven and preserving pan you can easily add another 3 or 4 degrees to that. Preserving is therefore either delayed or undertaken before the sun get hot. In reality not a lot gets done....
The Duck Garden
It was our 30th wedding anniversary on the Monday after Cosgrove and whilst we had a plan to visit the Barley Mow, in the end it was just too hot to be an attractive proposition. So we delayed our celebration till we reached The Globe at Old Linslade and ate outside in the relative cool of the evening.
From there it was just a short hop to Leighton Buzzard and a restock at the highly convenient Tesco store which is right next to the canal. Then it was in to the Festival site at Tiddenfoot Lake on Thursday ready to assemble the butty before the rains which were forecast for Friday. The problem with festival moorings is that you have to go where the harbour master tells you, and there is no shade at this one. Friday was the hottest day of the year with the thermometer reaching 32C in the shade. We assembled the core structure of the butty, including the gazebo to shade the stock in the hold, and then sat under a hedge to wait out the sun. Our shady grove disappeared soon after 2.00pm, so for the next four hours we hid under the gazebo till sanity returned with the setting sun after 6.00pm.
Then, just as we could stand no more, thunder arrived and cleared the air, knocking 10c off the thermometer in a matter of an hour or so. Bliss.
The event is just for one day and is something of an adjunct to the activities on the adjacent field, with customers crossing the canal on a footbridge. The problem is that the organisers created a gap to the south before the trade boats began and people couldn't see us and footfall suffered. That said, the event was after the hottest day and before a day of non stop rain and the crowds really turned out to bask in the fresher 2C! Whilst we saw lower footfall our sales were within 10% of last year so we were happy (again).
Sunday was both wet and windy which made turning the boats below Grove Lock a bit of a challenge, complicated by the boat which decided to moor opposite. We returned to Linslade / Leighton Buzzard to use the service point and as luck would have it one of the three highly prized visitor moorings by the bridge was free. We spent the night on the mooring and on Monday Helen said goodbye, catching the train to Birmingham.
This left yours truly with four days on his own. It seemed a shame to fritter my time away in Leighton so I decided to make my way to Aylesbury and meet Helen there, but more of that another day.