Saturday 29 August 2020

Slow Progress

Slow Progress

August 2020

2020 isn't a year when we are going to set any records for travel distances.

In fact our weekly tally currently averages less than 10 miles as we make sedate hops between canal side villages or junctions, cycling back after each boat movement to recover the car which we use to shuttle to and from Aldridge a couple of times a week.

As Scottie from Star Trek would probably have said "Its boating, but not as we know it".

If truth be told, this year's boating has more to do with keeping the preserve business alive than the pleasures of leisurely cruising. With all festivals and gatherings cancelled we find ourselves over-blessed with stock, particularly jams and marmalades, so we have turned our attention to informal towpath trading, a style of trade we have never really paid much attention to in the past.

That said, there is a lot of pleasure to be derived from mooring up for a weekend and passing the time of day with the steady trickle of towpath users, selling the odd pot of jam here and there.

This weekend (August Bank Holiday) we find ourselves at Alrewas, with the steady chimes of All Saints Church clock marking the passage of time. Next weekend (5th and 6th Sept) we will return to Fradley and then its back to Great Haywood (12th and13th Sept) before we make a return to the BCN and have the bottom of the motor blacked at Hockley Port.

These static weekends do mean we have scope for some planned socialising with friends using our boat as a destination for a days outing, and because we are to the east of the city, we have seen a lot of our grandchildren, which is lovely.

As we make most of our stock in the winter months we increasingly find ourselves looking forward to the 2021 season, and trying to figure out what and how much stock we need to make. At the outset of the current pandemic we optimistically figured it would be over in the summer and life would have returned to normal by July (festivals included), but clearly this hasn't been the case. As things are shaping up we are coming to the conclusion that 2021 could well hold limited scope for mass gatherings, and that will define what our season looks like.

In the absence of being able to provide tastings people tend to buy the more familiar and predictable flavours and our making plan will probably need to reflect this. As for the quantities needed, thats anyones guess. 

Like many businesses, our primary aim is to live to fight another day, and if that means new ways of selling and an altered product range, so be it.

Sunday 2 August 2020

Out and about

Out and about
August 2020

Who would have thought that our boating season would have started in July!

After a test run to Pelsall Common and back, we finally embarked on our 2020 travels last week.

Great Haywood Junction

The lack of boat movements on the Wyrley and Essington have resulted in some rather weedy conditions along its 25 mile length, but overall the passage to Wolverhampton took about the same time as normal and most of the submerged issues were addressed with some reverse gear rather than trips down the weed hatch.

Our summer 2020 will not involve any far ranging travel and so far we have pottered our way to Great Haywood, where the Staffs and Worcs Canal meets the Trent and Mersey and have paused for the weekend for spot of towpath trading.

The easing of lockdown has seen a massive surge of activity on the canals, with huge numbers of private boats out on the move and every hire boat away from their bases. It's my hope that the pent up demand for UK based holidays will see the hire fleets booked solid through till the end of October and that this will be enough to compensate for the losses they incurred so far.

All this canal activity served us well and we were delighted to see so many customers stop and purchase our preserves, especially so many passing boaters who saw us moored at the junction bridge, stopped and came back for their jammy treats.

We will be making a slow passage to the Athestone area and if you want to know exactly where we are our location will be on the Wild Side Website.