Blimey ! The canal through Cropredy is pandemonium this week as every nook and cranny along the canal bank is occupied by boaters attending the Cropredy Festival. Passing through the next bridge below the village was particularly entertaining with boats moored on both banks and traffic coming the other way on a narrow bend. We didn't hit anything but we were only the thickness of a cigarette paper away at several points.
The sun shone and we tootled down to Banbury for lunch at the Reindeer before turning back and mooring in the peace and quiet below Slat Mill lock, for a bbq, a 'spot the intro' music quiz and rather too much wine.
Next morning, feeling somewhat hung over, we set off for the mile or so return to base, as boats coming the other way warned us of the chaos ahead. The pound above Slat Mill had dropped several inches, which is not good news as the bottom is too near the top along there at the best of times. Along the crowded stretches the boats coming the other way were on the shallow side and I suspect a good few of them ran aground. I handed over the tiller to our old friend Phil who hadn't driven a narrowboat for a few years, but he brought us through without a scratch. Well done that man. Approaching the village we were flabbergasted at how much the scene had changed in just 24 hours. Farmers' fields that were empty only the day before were suddenly busy campsites and car parks, people were thronging the towpaths and the bridges and bunting had appeared on many of the boats and the little yard behind the winding hole had turned into a market. What a difference a day makes.
We scurried on to the safety of our marina berth and settled in to hopefully listen to the festival music carried on the wind across the fields. Sadly for the festival goers, after weeks of lovely warm weather, the skies greyed and the wind got up and by the time Brian Wilson and his Pet Sounds band were blasting out their Beach Boys hits at half past nine, it was pretty chilly. I sat in Herbie's cratch cupping my ears to hear the music come and go on the changing wind. They sounded pretty good to start with and they churned out some of their old surfing and car hits, then as the wind dropped, they were drowned out by the frequent trains on the line that passes behind the village, so I only caught snatches of God Only Knows, and never got to hear them do Good Vibrations.
Now on Friday morning it's cool and raining. I do feel sorry for the festival crowd, but I suppose we have endured similar and much worse in our past, notably the great Towersey festival hurricane in nineteen eighty something when even some of the marquees came to grief. Hundreds of tents were flattened or blown away. Miraculously ours stayed up, but only just. Aah those were the days.