Friday 21 June 2013

Pelsall come rain or shine

Pelsall Boating Festival 2013
June 2013

As a trader as canal festival we become a bit obsessed with the weather. When boating a general overview of the day is fine but as we start to set out our stall we want an hour by hour forecast to give is time to protect our rain sensitive stock.

Pelsall Boating Festival 2013

Today the ides were not too promising - a ruck of heavy rainclouds bowling up from the south west. We have played this game before and its almost inevitable that one will hit sometime, and so it was.

Wild side sheltering in the lee of the IWA

The first debate was to trade off the boat or from a land based gazebo. Our mooring was  bit uncertain and no one was sure if our overnight spot opposite the Cannock Extension junction was ours to trade from or the spot for the Ikon trip boat. We never found the harbour master to resolve the conundrum so after discussions with the interested parties resolved it ourselves.

Wand'ring Bark at Pelsall

With rain threatening and strong wind blowing into our faces a boat based stall was not a great idea. What was more, the trip boat needed a good bankside location for safety so we swapped after unloading and we moved to the offside of Andrew on an ABC demo boat.

Setting up the festival

No sooner had we started than Helen was struck by a migraine and went off to have a sleep leaving me to man the fort for a few hours. It was during this phase when the rain struck. I had been watching the arrival of a big black cloud and had sorted out a side panel just in time. The rain hammered down and about 10 souls crowded in to get some shelter. The poor old £40 gazebo from Tesco's was stretched to its limits, flogging in the wind like a serpent held by the tail. The deal was : you are welcome to stay, but you have to hold onto the gazebo! The storm passed but its clear that this is the last outing for the canopy - the only place for the frame is the skip.

Cannock Extension Canal

I would like to pay a particular thank you to the IWA who were our greatest supporters on the day, quite literally. With the winds threatening to blow our gazebo away we anchored our supports to their sturdy cabin which really saved the day. Many thanks IWA!

Can I adopt him as my grandad please?

The day was marked by the appearance of many blog readers, who dropped by to make our acquaintance. Several of these were land based locals who have enjoyed my posts on the lost canals of the area which was particularly gratifying. My apologies for not listing you all, there were a lot!

The wind continued to blow but the afternoon was drier and from what I could tell in the bar afterwards, trade was good all round.

Wild Lupins

This is a great location, a real gem of the BCN backwaters. Its hard to believe that this green area was once a hive of heavy industry. Blast furnaces have given way to bats and foundries to ferns - what was once a vision of hell is now a place of much peace and tranquility. 

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