A super successful time at Alvecote Floating Market – thanks to RCTA

Being unsure what the next four days would bring as we moored up at Alvecote Marina late last Thursday afternoon, we’re pleased as punch (excuse the pun!) to report any expectations we had were met – and surpassed.

Michael, Alison and Sandra, part of the collective of ‘The Roving Canal Traders Association‘, organised and advertised widely an event that saw hundreds of people, from near and far (we even had visitors from Germany), making a special journey to discover more about our alternative lifestyle.

Sadly, not all visitors were impressed, highlighting once again the place our individual ‘stories’ reside and give meaning to the value we place on life, love and possessions.

A mixed bag of boaters

There’s a gazillion reasons why people choose to leave the confines of the ‘rat race’ of the 21st century, take a tentative but purposeful step off the merry-go-round of materialism, and live aboard a narrowboat. Some of us are even aiming to make a sustainable living whilst doing so.

I find it fascinating, and love to regale interested friends, family and strangers, of the journey Barry and I have experienced so far to be cruising and trading on the Inland Waterways. If someone had told me ten years ago this is what I’d be doing in 2014, I’d have never believed them.

Other (mostly) liveaboards we’ve met along our meanderings include:

  • (Happily) divorced males with just enough to buy a boat and cruise away comfortably with no-one to ‘nag’ them
  • Retired couples who sell up, buy a boat and live off their accumulated savings topping up their meagre pension – spending the children’s inheritance wisely
  • People in their fifties who’ve had health scares and suddenly wake up to the reality that life is short and don’t wish to risk waiting for that magical and invented age of ‘retirement’ before they ‘live’
  • Couples from the southern hemisphere who come for six months of the year and then return ‘down under’ in order to avoid the winter and have ‘the best of both worlds’ (indeed we did that ourselves for two years but affordability excluded it from our list of options)
  • Youngsters in their twenties and thirties who realise early on how shallow the corporate world can be
  • A myriad of other reasons too numerous to all be included here

Tasteful or tasteless?

On Sunday, a fellow trader was heartbreakingly hurt to overhear a woman, whilst walking past their trading boat, exclaim “What a load of tat”.

Wow! We humans can be horrible can’t we?

I considered the dictionary definition of ‘tat’ – ‘tasteless or badly made articles’. Hmm, that wasn’t what I saw over the four days.

I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you all a handful of my opinions and feelings about such thoughtless and tactless talk – it may just encourage someone else to stop and consider the effect before opening their mindless mouth in future:

  • There was nothing on any of the boats that could be described, in my opinion, as ‘tat’
  • Every single item was tasteFULL and appropriate to the event, individually and expertly made with loving care
  • The products available from trading boats are mostly unique, making them even more special and priceless
  • I’d rather look for individual items such as these, than buy the mass produced ‘cheap crap made in China’, purchased from the conglomeration of chain stores found in the massive shopping centres across England
  • It’s well known a handful of people have a negative association with narrow boaters (such people refer to us disparagingly as ‘water gypsies’ – not that I’m personally offended by this term in any shape or form), for whatever reason or story they’ve chosen to embrace and believe.

Subsequently I’d suggest this woman saw exactly what she expected to. She would’ve subconsciously disregarded, or had no interest to discover, the items were extremely professionally, and painstakingly handcrafted.

No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Eleanor Roosevelt) springs to mind here.

Enough said – feel free to add your tuppence worth in the comments below if you feel moved …

Trading at Alvecote were …

Sandra and her 'Golden Boys' boat full of a vast range of doggie treats - including doggie popcorn, easter eggs and hot cross buns

Sandra’s Golden Boyz boat which was full of a vast range of doggie treats – including doggie popcorn, easter eggs and hot cross buns. I couldn’t believe how many canines led their owners to the market, and persuaded them to buy lots of treats and toys

Alison and Lou trade as 'Da Vinci Crafts' selling intricately carved wooden boxes, plaques, jewellery, fine art photography, canal ware and heaps more

Alison and Lou trade as Da Vinci Crafts selling intricately carved wooden boxes, plaques, jewellery, fine art photography, canal ware and heaps more

Jennie and Paul with Fred the Fender below - selling ropes and fenders of course, made by Paul and selling like hot cakes

Jennie and Paul with Fred the Fender below – selling ropes and fenders of course, made by Paul and selling like hot cakes

Fred the fender

Fred the fender

Lesley and Ray 'Morgana" with hand-made jewelry, head bands, hats, and scarves

Ray and Lesley, ‘Morgana’, with hand-made rag-rugs, jewelry, head bands, hats, and scarves

Michael and Krystina – an assortment of products including  hand-painted canal ware, garden figures, second-hand books, … – I coveted the purple box below, but couldn't justify it on our current budget ...

Michael and Krystina – an assortment of products including hand-painted canal ware, crocheted blankets, garden figures, second-hand books. I coveted the purple box below, but sadly couldn’t justify it on our current budget …

IMG_5825

Guess who? Barry's Home Brew Boat of course - selling a multitude of mixes to magically make your own alcoholic beverages

Guess who? Barry’s Home Brew Boat of course – selling a multitude of mixes to magically make your own alcoholic beverages

And finally, Ronnie and Yogi selling hand made shoulder bags (I bought a purple one, I've been looking for something like it for a while), tea towels, wall plaques and heaps more

And finally, Ronnie and Yogi selling hand made shoulder bags (I bought a purple one, I’ve been looking for something like it for a while), tea towels, wall plaques, pictures and heaps more

The vagaries of the weather

Trading outdoors, we were subjected to almost every extreme of weather over the four days of trading. Warm sunshine graced us with his presence intermittently, cloud covered the sky for much of the time, the rain was kind enough to mostly stay away, but trickled down occasionally on Sunday when the wind also howled in a vain attempt to blow us all away.

That day I asked Malcolm, the owner of The Samuel Barlow, if I could venture under his eaves with my face painting table. He was kind enough to agree and moved a couple of items to make space. However, after three hours of painting just one face, I’m not ashamed to admit I decided I was worth more than £1 an hour, and returned to Areandare to better occupy my time. Three good days out of four was brilliant.

The Samuel Barlow and an assortment of wonderful working boats in the marina

The Samuel Barlow and an assortment of wonderful working boats in the marina

In contrast, on Saturday afternoon and evening there was a Christening party at the pub, full of families, so that made up for the quiet Sunday. I even had a woman in her thirties have her face painted as a pink and purple butterfly. She’d never had her face painted before, and the look on her face when I’d finished was priceless. If only I’d been assertive enough to ask if I could capture and publish it. Next time …

One of the consistent comments Barry’s heard over the four days was ‘I haven’t got time to brew my own’. I’m imagining the same people have enough time to sit and watch the TV night after night, and to work endless hours in order to pay for their frequent nights down the pub where they spend shed-loads of money to donate to the government in taxes. It’s all a matter of choice and priorities. Barry will have talked to them in his gentle kiwi manner and described how little time it takes for some amazing results. I suspect many will have left considering it as an future option – we had an on-line order for a beer kit yesterday and I’m certain there’ll be more to come.

Facepainting is an incredible privilege. To witness children (and a couple of adults) as their faces light up incredulously at the transformation of their selves has been an honour. It won’t ever earn me a fortune, but at the same time it is priceless and very precious.

Painting Sandra to match her doggie costume (the things we do!) - thanks for the photo Michael

Painting Sandra to match her doggie costume (the things we do!) – thanks for the photo Michael

Our next trading event is at St Richard’s Festival in Droitwich, so we’re now travelling south to arrive by Wednesday 30th April. Do come and visit if you can – just to say hello, buy a brew kit – or maybe you secretly want to try face painting and release your inner child? It’s a marvellous excuse for me to paint mine every day …

A little easter bunny on Sunday - blessed with a visitor I hadn't seen for many years

A little easter bunny on Sunday – blessed with a visitor I hadn’t seen for many years

Advertisements

2 Comments on “A super successful time at Alvecote Floating Market – thanks to RCTA

  1. So pleased that you enjoyed the occasion at Alvecote, even if you didn’t make much money. Malcolm is very accommodating, but don’t cross him! He lets the NBT boats, Brighton and Nuneaton, moor there for nowt and is a great aficionado of working boats. I used to pass by that pub in the early days of boating, thinking that it’s a modern pub and not conducive to my taste. However, since working on the NBT boats there a few years ago and being introduced to good food and a fine selection of beers, I changed my mind and would always stop there now, as I will later this year at sometime.

    Like

    • We did enjoy it, and we did make an acceptable sum of money over the three days – it’s so uplifting to actually put money IN the bank lol! Yes, Malcolm did ask if I could paint anything, in which case could I ‘paint him a kind face’ bless him. There’s some breathtakingly beautiful working boats there, you can close your eyes and imagine how it must’ve been – nothing like the traders of today – we’ve got it easy in comparison.
      We didn’t eat there, we can’t justify spending when we’re trying to replace our savings, but we did have a very pleasant evening on Friday with fellow floating marketeers there (no-one even thought to take a photo sadly).
      I’m hopeful we’ll meet up sometime this year Ray, would be lovely.
      Take care and happy boating 😉

      Like

We love to receive your comments, please talk to us ;-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: