‘The Wizard of Oz’ turned out to be a very appropriate theme for the Buxworth Community Gala. There were times I wondered if Dorothy herself had returned, and the storm-like conditions were taking us to a magical ‘… there’s no place like home‘ destination.
Barry’s newly constructed canopy (see above taken Friday evening) came a cropper during Friday night, entailing a hasty escape from the warmth of our bed to the howls of wind and rain outside to rescue the mangled equipment. It’d looked so promising – a more robust mark three is now being seriously formulated.
He was amazed how many people braved the adverse conditions and visited The Home Brew Boat to chat and buy – he even had to stop a couple mid-sentence; apologising profusely that he needed to escape under cover whilst hastily moving stock out in the elements into the boat before it was ruined.
Much of my time in the Fantastic Facepainting gazebo, when I wasn’t painting, was spent hanging on to it’s billowing sides to stop them either folding in on themselves, or being violently wrenched from the ground and flying away. I was enormously grateful to another lovely Barry, Jan’s partner on The Art Boat, who heroically strapped a pole to one side that began to bend menacingly, and safely secured it. I was also very thankful to many of the parents of the adorable children who continued to visit and have their faces painted, despite the atrocious weather, who also made valiant and thankfully successful efforts to keep me grounded.
Another gazebo wasn’t so fortunate, and we saw it flying up from the towpath and landing a few yards away from mine. Scary stuff! Luckily it avoided injuring anyone.
We experienced wind, rain, squally showers with sudden gusts, hail, occasional glimpses of blue sky, and teasing hints of sunshine. Apparently it snowed yesterday nearby too, though we didn’t witness it.
I donned my thermals underneath my warm clothing, and kept my NZ bought in 2011 (expensive but SO worth it!) sheepskin lined leather boots firmly on my feet, to keep the cold and wet from entering.
We certainly worked hard for our money as Donna Summer used to say (though for a rather different profession I recall!) – we also had a wonderful weekend meeting many friendly, optimistic and fearless people.
Rekindling friendships with some fellow traders we haven’t seen for a while also helped lighten the cold, soggy conditions, as well as meeting others for the first time.
I suspect if people knew the extraordinary efforts that go into trading from a narrowboat, and managing to make a modest (or more realistically meagre) income from it, few would venture into this madness.
But then those that do are possibly already a little crazy and just crave a life less ordinary than the expected ‘nine-to-five then sit by the TV each night’ that seems to be most people’s daily grind, and used to be most of ours too. It’s the freedom and flexibility that attracts us, the variety, the fresh air, the challenge of making it work.
There’s no doubt that routine isn’t something we encounter much living and trading on the cut – and we (mostly) love it!