Thursday 16 August 2012

Blisworth Canalside Festival

Blisworth Canalside Festival 2012
August 2012

Another weekend and another festival for Wildside Preserves. This time it was destination Blisworth on the Grand Union, a two day event which is now into its fouth year.

A busy Blisworth waterfront

This isn't exactly a canal festival, more a village festival with a focus on its canal side. Blisworth is no ordinary village, it is a community with a huge civic pride which has led to it winning the best kept village on Northamptonshire only last week. The locals are justifiably proud of their village and are keen to show it to approx 10,000 visitors who throng to their festival each August. 

Its a big event in the boating year too, an arguably one of the finest. As the event covers the entire village entry has to be free, as does parking. By the same token, charitable stalls gain free access and traders pay a modest £30 for a pitch, so there are plenty of things for all those visitors to look at during their time in Blisworth.

So how was the festival for me? Well, from a Wildside Preserves perspective we had a record breaking event under a glorious summer sky, with visitors clamoring for Belle's preserves. Wow, have those people got a taste for chutneys. Maybe the Cheese Boat got them in the mood.

But to measure the success of an event in terms of takings misses the point. The event was packed with a great crowd of traders and it was lovely to sped some time with friends old and new, especially the Allotments Society who occupied the stall next to us and who are a core part of the organising committee.

All the recognised trading  boats were there, Cheese, Cookies, Fudge to name but a few, serving their customers direct from their boat windows. Then there were the historic boats including Raymond, proudly displayed by her many friends.

But perhaps the moment of the weekend for me was one of those unexpected meetings. I was making my way along a heaving towpath when I was met with a trumpet blast from a little elderly gentleman and there beside him sat a dignified little lady with a few old books and a model of a narrowboat called Bix. I stopped, paused, and turned back. Didn't I read of a boat called Bix and her adventures on the 1970's? Didn't it end with the author moving afloat to a house in Blisworth where she could  watch the Grand Union from her kitchen window? Could this really  be Iris Bryce? Indeed it was, and she shared some of her recollections from cruising back when I was a teenager. What was, more it turned out that I had read one of the few copies of her third book so I promptly bought a reprint of the first and her last copy of the second to complete my set. Watch out for a book review or two review here!

Iris Bryce - author

So all in all I was very taken by Blisworth Canalside Festival, and Blisworth as a village. Its a lively place and certainly hosts a festival which is well worth a vist.


KevinTOO said...

That's an amazing dog looking out of the port side porthole on nb Canopus... it must be at least 4ft long... LOL

Northern Pride said...

Hi Andy
Thought I recognised the cover of the book Iris is holding in your photo. I have just recently read it. The copy I have belongs to Phil Robinson here is Gisborne NZ who spend some years cruising in UK and then Europe. Might have to borrow your other two copies when we get there. We've just booked our flights for 19th March, so it's all go now.

Northern Pride said...

Ahoy Captain! Barry loved this post and tried to post a comment, not sure if it made it? He has a copy of that book on his shelf at ezimade here in Gisborne, lent to him by a friend here. How wonderful that you got to meet the author. And of course Blisworth was where we moored on our final few days on Northern Pride, so it was lovely to see the photos - fantastic shots too! And well done Helen, what a thriving business she has produced - awesome!

Andy Tidy said...

Kevin - I didnt see that dog till you pointed it out!
Barry - I am mid way through No1 and enjoying every page. I am told that No 3 is quite rare. Happy to lend you the others when you return "home". March - not long now.
Sandra - I know a bloke who told me a thing or two about photo's....

Nick said...

Delighted to hear news of the Bryces. I never met them, but devoured the books when they came out, and we passed Bix a couple of times shortly after we'd got Mintball - they were always ready with a smile and a wave.