Sunday morning saw the Boys and I up early and heading out of London to Banbury and the annual Canal Day.

It was one of those stunning Autumnal mornings when traces of Summer linger. Blue skies, dramatic skyscapes laced with vapour trails, and a regular feature of the M40 as it snakes over the Chilterns at Stokenchurch, thick banks of fog.

Between the fog were islands of bright sunshine and silhouetted against the blue were numerous colourful hot air balloons. Balloon-spotting engaged the Boys all the way to Banbury. They delighted in spotting them over the crest of each low hill and above (the still heavily in leaf) treetops.

We parked in Wickes’ car park and wandered down to Grimsbury Wharf to check on Eileen. The gloss coat has hardened up well in the mild temperatures of the last few days. She continues to lie under the tarpaulins of the poly tunnel, awaiting her next phase of painting which will begin next week.

From the wharf we crossed the Hennef Way and joined the towpath into town. A towpath busy with strollers heading towards the Canal Day.

The Oxfordshire Narrowboats Cherwell Voyager day boat acted as a hugely popular free boat trip from Sovereign Wharf. Here she’s turning in the winding hole at the entrance to Grimsbury Wharf.
Along the towpath Fin and Joe entertained themselves with ‘plonk!’ (or throwing stones into the canal to you or me…) and challenged each other to find a stone that made the smallest splash… Oh, and collected feathers. Joe was adamant that I should record his finds.
A fine Autumnal late morning. Warm and mild and sunny. The canal bustling with walkers and boaters. It was good to be out and about…
Ah, the theme of the day – BALLOONS – festoons of them everywhere! The Visitors Moorings on the sharp bend opposite Sovereign Wharf were crowded with boats, many decorated for Canal Day with balloons.
At Tom Rolt Bridge under a bright arc of balloons Canal Day and the inevitable crowds began in earnest…
Helium balloons linked together forming arches, a lovely idea, linking the two sides of the canal and forming a ‘gateway’ into the event.
Beneath the bridge the Christian Fellowship had bedecked their mission boat ‘Sunflower’ with colour co-ordinated green and white balloons
The towpath on both sides were crammed with people, hardly room to move, over-crowded in places.
The Canal Day’s an odd mix, neither boat rally nor traditional Wakes Fair, a confection of traditional and contemporary boats lining both sides of the canal and forming a narrow corridor for moving boats… a few floating vendors… a merry-go-round or two… and lines of market stalls and food stalls on the off-side. There was a noisy Folk Festival outside the old General Foods Social Club and a ‘pop-up’ theatre in the dock at Tooleys fighting for space with weavers and model engineers…

Tomorrow I’ll share a few of the highlights for me and the boys.



2 thoughts on “Banbury Canal Day 2013

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