Celebrating volunteering!

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Yesterday I took a sunny appreciation canal trip down the nearby Grand Union Canal with other sailing volunteers.

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(One of our crazy volunteers – there are so many great folks involved!)

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Passing through some of the 18th century locks (the wood etc. has of course been renewed over the years).

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This canal was a means of transporting goods during the industrial revolution till later replaced as railways took over. It’s now more of a recreational heaven and home to many travelers and retired folks that wend the waterways enjoying the natural lifestyle.

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I often walk or cycle this route enjoying the scenery and exchanging a few words here and there with some of the many colorful characters that populate it (England is well known for its eccentric characters lol!)

Grand Union Canal trip.

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Many of the barges are brightly decorated reflecting the colourful characters of their owners. Some are for hire, or holiday use but many are full time homes, some with permanent moorings.

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My first lock since I was a child. Try to spot the “tiger”. Yes, even the dogs dressed up! The photo is not so good he looked splendid!

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Inside the lock gates ( a little claustrophobic with high walls all around and water pouring in lol!)

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Open water. It was a beautiful 1 hour trip.

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Many barges have pot plants on top like mobile gardens (not to mention, wood, bicycles, and even a motor bike!)

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Flags, flowers, and bright painted tankards and pots lent a carnival vitality.

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This was one of the barges featured in the tug of war which was great fun requiring many spectators to climb on board and act as ballast and featuring some slightly inebriated colourful characters (I decided against “just in case”  for my camera’s sake.

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They waterside folige gave some beautiful views. (We also “collected” a bit on the bows after a tight turn lol!)

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Returning to the lock gates. Our “skipper” had a sense of homor having volunteers help heave the gate bars open. We were all chuckling since he put them pushing the wrong side so they couldn’t understand why one old guy could open his gate so easily when two young ones couldn’t move theirs an inch – they caught on eventually.

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Why I didn’t blog yesterday.

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It’s that time of year when folks from all around flock to my tiny town for the Grand Union Canal boat festival. For two days every year its as if we’ve been transported back to the 70’S (or even earlier). Folks with flowers, smiles, feathered hats and colourful costumes abound, (and that’s just the spectators!) There are three stages for live events, historic re enactment, craft stalls, fun fair, boat rides and much more. Here’s a glimpse of what I was up to yesterday.

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I always fancied a knight in shining armor, these were all very realistic though – not so shiny! There were several contenders (tourney winner announced today). I also watched as they armed the knights etc.

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Wouldn’t be a country festival without Morris dancers! They also roamed around enjoying the festival between performance together with Star Wars personalities.

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Kids petting zoo (we English love our animals) with goats, lambs, rabbits, etc. I didn’t actually do this one, though I’d have loved to if I could pass as a child.

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This one I did do – free speed boat trips round the lake perfect for a hot day – feel the spray!

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Walk along the canal to watch the barge tug of war and admire all the canal boats in town for the festival decked out for the festivities.

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Couldn’t get a good picture of this (due to the crowds of people) but she playing a boat song.

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My favourite (and smallest) music venue featuring folk and river songs. I spent an pleasant hour here while waiting to catch the final trip up the canal.(see tomorrows post when I’ve sorted the photos – guess where I’m off too?.)