Huddlesford – for us a final 2017 gathering of registered traders

Last weekend was our second time trading at the Huddlesford Heritage Gathering as it’s a bi-annual event. I’ve even got a photo published on their 2017 write-up – a terrific tiger! It was a fortuitous final festival of 2017 for us, as it’s nearby geographically to where we’ll be spending the next 15 or so weeks on board Areandare.

My Funtastic Facepainting pitch was just over the footbridge to the Lichfield Cruising Club, which thankfully our mooring was very close to. Initially we’d been a fair distance away, but we’d each emailed our protestations to the organisers having specifically requested a mooring as close to the festival field as possible. It’s hard work for me to carry all my kit there and back from boat to land-based pitch, two days in a row. Even better was I discovered it was possible to leave most of it in-situ overnight on Saturday which was amazing.

Unusually this year, the weather was on our side, despite the dull appearance on the images below – we were extremely grateful that during the trading times it actually DIDN’T RAIN which is something to celebrate this year after many dismal and wet weekends.

Trading wise, we both did marginally better this year than in 2015, which is always encouraging.

On Saturday evening we’d paid our £15 each and booked tickets for the Hog Roast supper and entertainment. We chose to miss out on the latter, as we wanted to chat with fellow traders so stayed outside to eat and drink rather than sitting in rows within the compact music marquee.

On Sunday morning I messaged the other traders we knew to suggest a gathering in celebration of the final festival of 2017 for most, if not all of us. Someone suggested going to the local pub, The Plough. However it’s hard to hear conversations in such venues, or get enough space for us all. Plus, and most importantly, we’d rather not deposit our hard earned cash behind a bar when possible!

The Sunday evening it was forecast to rain. Luckily The Hippie Boat was moored snugly under the railway bridge, so we all brought our chairs and beverages there! It was actually a great venue for an impromptu party.

We’re not sure if we’ll be at Huddlesford again in two years’ time – there’s likely to be a number of changes to our trading schedules and businesses in future that we’re still considering.

It was a pleasant weekend, and we applaud those who spent an immense amount of time organising such an event.

We’ll miss spending time with our trading colleagues who all now travel in very different directions until the spring. Some will be taking on paid employment, or like us running a Calendar Club outlet. Two traders we know are doing so – one in Tamworth and one in Redditch.

We’ll both continue with our voluntary ‘work’ for the Roving Canal Traders Association (RCTA), though in a much more subdued form than of late.

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Anticipating our final festival of 2017 at Huddlesford

September has been full of festivals! On my one weekend at the start of the month without a facepainting booking, I was asked to fill-in for a Silver Wedding Anniversary party after their facepainter let them down at the last minute. Rather weirdly, the event took place at a canal-side pub!If you’re interested, you can read all about it on my Facepainting Blog.

Black Country Boating Festival (BCBF)

Our fourth year trading at the BCBF, though only my second facepainting – they introduced extra attractions on the canal arm last year which enabled me to participate. The lovely Painting Pixie Louise Walters is a regular on the main field.

A feature of being a weekend trader is unfortunately being at the mercy of the vagaries of mother nature. She chose to provide a mostly miserable weekend weather-wise at Bumble Hole, and our takings reflected this as did other floating traders we know. In fact Sandra Willis, of the Doggie Boat, was so fed-up putting her stuff out and covering it up/taking it in, that on the Sunday she gave up and went to enjoy the festival instead – taking her Golden Boys to the Dog Show and winning two rosettes! Continue reading

Oh so much to catch you all up on!

This year has felt far more frantic than any other since we’ve been travelling on the canals beginning in 2009. I’ve put this blog to one side, along with a few other things, to reduce my sense of overwhelm and chaos!

Apologies dear reader. I’ve been meaning to write, it just didn’t happen. I’m going to keep this post as brief as possible, it’s likely I’ll miss things out (there’s so much to say!), but here goes …

An unexpected take over

I was chatting to Barry recently about why it got to this. “RCTA“, he said. “Aha!” said I. “Of course, that’s the biggest difference this year.

In October 2016, I decided to put my hand up to volunteer to help out the Roving Canal Traders Association, along with about a dozen other boaters. Many people had been critical of how the RCTA had been functioning last summer, and as I’ve done many times in the past, I decided that the most constructive way of moving forward is to help out rather than moan.

Little did I realise how much it would take over my life. Continue reading