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Location: Ware boat festival; Ware; River Lea/Lee
Today I have been to Ware boat festival, advertised in all the canal magazines. Although I had a great day out I think I would have to say that it was a fair/festival in a place where there is a river/canal rather than a boat festival. I was really excited to go to a new boat festival because the others that I had been to were so good (Crick and Rickmansworth). Ware festival is a lot like a smaller version of Rickamansworth canal festival.
Saying that, it was a lovely day, a chance to explore a new place, (Ware is amazing), and enjoy the festival atmosphere. The day really kicked off with a procession of floats through the town which was nice to see. It reminded me of my childhood being on a float for the NSPCC when the carnival came through my town. (I did that float for years, my childminder used to sign up me, my sister and her two kids to it every year).
Wondering around the fair there were a lot of school summer fair type stalls, (you know the type, general bric-a-brack, books, raffles). I don’t know about you but I love browsing through school summer fair type stalls as there is always so much variety while always including the same stuff (crockery set, trays, matching figurines, and another bunch of random stuff. I had four goes on the tombola stall but did not win anything. There was also a mini fairground and an arena where there were several performances. Also there were the fairground type games like shoot a ball in a goal (I managed, amazing for someone with two left feet), test your strength bells and stuff like that.
Walking along the canal side I encountered lots of happy-looking people, a few stalls on the bank-side mainly just with information and handing out leaflets. On the water there I met the Jam Butty, a canal boat that travels around selling jams and chutneys, oils and vinegars. (They were interviewed for Waterways World magazine once so they are semi-fameous). There I tried several jams (he was serving a dollop of each with crackers) and talked to the man on the boat and eventually brought a jar of my favourite; strawberry, raspberry and raspberry gin jam.
A mouthwatering display of jam
Also when walking along I came across a very friendly couple, Karen and Brett. They live on their Dutch barge, and she has written a book about it, called ‘Isn’t it cold in the winter’ you can get it on Amazon as a kindle book or a paperback you can get a copy here. They answered a lot of my questions as they are a self-sufficient boat for power and water (they have a water purification system from Australia).
Here are Karen and Brett, a very friendly couple
After walking through the Ware boat festival and past the line of boats I took a walk along the river and found out that the Canal and River Trust rent out winter moorings very near to Ware, something definitely worth considering at some point as it would be lovely to be able to take some time to get to know this town as it seems so nice and taking a winter mooring would be a way to do that.
As I walked along the canal/river near the edge of town you see a long row of 18th century gazebos, there is an information board on the towpath side and it tells you that this is the largest group of gazebos on a riverside anywhere in Britain. They were built in the 1850’s as the high street was getting dirtier and muckier as more and more trade was going to London and the streets were being filled with carters and their horses (Ware was the granary of London) so the people built these gazebos at the end of their gardens to try to escape the dirt and have an area of peace and tranquility near to the river, and a nice place to fish and punt.
I love these little pieces of local history, for me it is part of what makes this such a fascinating country. There is always something new and unique about each area, in every town and village there is something individual that marks it out as unique. It may be the largest collection of bicycles in a single building (I made that one up, but it may be true somewhere) or, (as in this case) the largest group of gazebos built along a riverside.
Here is a pictures of some of the gazebos
Walking further along I saw my first coots nest (sorry I didn’t take a picture) it was really lovely to actually see one for the first time. There were loads of birds on and around the water and as I walked I saw ducks, geese, moorhens and, of course, all their babies at this time of year.