Bedford River Festival, Day 1. 23rd July

Priory Marina

As my phone and I woke up this morning panto emails arrived. A 10:30am meeting was possible with my director and she gave me a new route to head down for the troublesome scene. I sipped my tea in bed whilst looking at pictures of Alice in Wonderland Operas and Ballets. A quick squiggle in my puzzle book and I had a whole new look. This was then redrawn to match my storyboard, photographed and sent to Abi ready for our meeting. Thankfully things just started to click with this version and so long as other things can be made to work we have a solution and I can crack on next week.

Time to head in to see what the Festival was all about. We decided to keep to the south bank of the river, ended up missing a one way bridge onto the islands and had to walk up to the weir, but at least that brought us to NB Cleddau.

Ken, Chris and Sue

Here Ken and Sue has set up gazebos for friends and family to take shelter in, there were plenty of chairs to sit and chat. We joined Jennie and Chris who used to own NB Tentatrice, so lovely to see them again and have chance to chat rather than a quick snippet as our bows crossed.

Jennie, Mick and Heather

A while later Heather Bleasdale joined us, she’d come for the day, had already spent time with other friends, had a good walk round and was in need of a sit down just in time for the Motor Boat display. About twenty or so boats processed behind the Harbour Master and Lord Mayors launches. This years theme was pirates.

Some boaters had donned costumes and hung skull and crossbone bunting, others had gone that bit further and decorated their boats. One cruiser going the whole hog with smoking cannons and the white boat hardly visible under the corex pirate disguise.

The Viking Kayak Club had also done a fantastic job creating a small galleon that they paddled along in the procession.

After plenty of chats Heather, Mick and myself headed off to have a look round some of the stalls and vintage car display on the High Street. Blimey the town was heaving! We’d been warned that on some of the bridges we’d be packed in, shuffling to cross them. But being outside we didn’t feel too covid claustrophobic.

At 4pm it was the turn of the Narrowboats and Widebeams to process. NB Cleddau had by far the most bunting and flags of all the boats and plenty of passengers to wave at the crowds.

Two boats had created cannons in their portholes. One had used black buckets, the other black flower pots along with the occasional spurt of smoke which was very effective. An Owl sat on one boat was quite happy with a chick in it’s beak, keeping an eye on everyone.

Hope it got best in show

WB Black Pearl got top marks from us as we stood and waved back to them.

A walk down to the Vegan area where there were some nice things to buy and lots of interesting food items, although we did refrain from buying any Mexican Lollies at £3.50 a go, no idea what made them Mexican, unless you got to cover them with chilli sauce!

We had a brief look at the cars, some lovely specimens. A walk along the Embankment and then we tried to return in time for the Dragon Boat final, but there was simply too many people about to make it in time.

Ahh! Sitting down and a cuppa

A sit down and a cuppa were required so we headed into The Swan hotel to find space. Heather managed to convince a lady to allow us to sit in an area reserved for afternoon teas, but as it was empty we were sure they’d like to make us a brew, which they did and at a reasonable price too.

Taco bowl

Taco bowls of vegan chilli and salsa were very tasty, we don’t know how they smuggled the chill beef nachos into the vegan village, but Mick didn’t care and enjoyed them.

We sauntered along the north bank and into Russell Park where tens of thousands of people were eating, drinking, heading down helter skelters and listening to Oh My God, It’s The Church! singing about shoes! Each to their own.

Thousands of people!

A dance stage was further up and thumping away. Some people getting a little bit boozy and the aroma in the air didn’t shy away from the police. As we were so close to the boat now, Mick and I decided to head home for a quieter glass of wine on board and to feed Tilly. So we said our goodbyes to Heather as she needed to head towards the station. Hopefully our paths will cross again in a few months time that’s if we can get our boats to London with the lack of water around on the system.

What a busy and lovely day. More tomorrow!

0 locks, 0 miles, 15 baked cookies, 1 new solution, 2 bloggers, 1 guide book author, 2 jet boots, 100 cars, 2 pots of tea each, 2 processions, 1 dragonboat race missed, 2 taco shells, 1 nachos, 1 owl, 178634 people, 1 busy day.

2 thoughts on “Bedford River Festival, Day 1. 23rd July

  1. Jaqueline Biggs

    Lovely post Pip! I am so pleased you and Mick caught up with Ken and Sue, and Jennie and Chris. It really made me smile all day knowing some of my favorite boaters spent time together, and what a great fete! With the background in theater you both share, it must’ve been grand watching the parade of boats and checking out the decorations and costumes. Terrific pictures too–oh and no rain! Yay!!
    Love to you both and Tilly too,
    Jaq xxx

    1. Pip Post author

      It was a lovely weekend catching up and getting to know people.
      Yes the rain stayed away, but we really really need it. The system is starting to close due to the lack of water, even places that you wouldn’t expect to be short will soon have restrictions and more lock flights will close. Tilly is doing a rain dance every day, think we may have to join her soon. Xxx

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