Finally left Loughborough at 7am on Friday and enjoyed last day's boating of the 2009 Summer tour to the IWA festival at Ratcliffe on Soar. Surprisingly few boats queueing at the locks so we got onto our moorings in good time. I nearly stuck Tyseley across the river winding round to face upstream but mercifully she just squeaked round and we pulled in with no more trouble than being lightly rammed amidships and shouted at by another boater who didn't realise that my turning round was more important than his progress up the river.
The WRGies (Waterways Recovery Group) very crestfallen that there wasn't more rain, mud, tempest, flood and fire for them to contend with. Everyone has a beard, a beer paunch, shorts, big boots and a cowboy hat. Crossing the arena between the theatre and the toilet in costume I passed unnoticed as Itchington Scratchit complete with badge encrusted tattered waistcoat, flat cap and kerchief but got many strange looks when wearing my Fair Trade costume of black trousers, white shirt and black shoes as if to say - "who is this weirdo?" Short shorts prize goes to Mike Palmer of the WRGies and show sponsor of our show at the Tom O'Wood.
We had three sell out shows with minimal disruption from the blaring musack from the fairground, the marching band and the public address system and a great response from our home crowd.
Sad to say goodbye to Tyseley (and difficult to know how to say goodbye to a boat) but good to know that she is in Gandalf's safe hands on her journey back up to Leigh. It has been a real privilege to have been boat captain on such a beautiful boat all summer. Final thanks to Pete Toon (General Manager of Mikron) who has supported us all the way and to my long suffering colleagues Gemma, George and Rachel. I attach some pictures from Steve Morley which have all four of us together on stage. See you on the Autumn Tour.