We weren't planning on going to the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival this year, which was just as well because my nephew chose this weekend to get married in rural Carmarthenshire in deepest West Wales. That involved us in a 600 mile round trip for an all too short family reunion. Actually I would have liked a bit more time to speak to some of the bride's family, especially her father who apparently works on the pilot boats on the Mersey. We could have shared our boating tales (or not.....)
The journey there turned into a marathon with Friday night traffic jams in Cheshire and a succession of caravans and other slow vehicles on the long and winding roads through mid-Wales. Not as bad a journey as one of the guests though: After leaving Margate at 10.30am (fortunately the day before the wedding) poor Brian endured five hours of hold-ups on the M25, another 3 hrs of delays on the M4 and after arriving at the outskirts of Carmarthen at 10 O'Clock at Night found his SatNav had stopped working. Not knowing which way to go he made three circuits of the giant roundabout on the A40 outside town before being stopped by the police. Asked where he was going he could only reply "My mate's wedding" after which he was breathalysed. Having survived that he was promptly told that the police computer said his insurance had run out and they would have to impound his vehicle! Undaunted, he walked into Carmarthen and arranged a taxi to cover the last 25 miles to the village. Unfortunately, the taxi driver was Polish and had about as much idea of where he was going as Brian did - they eventually arrived at 2.25 in the morning!
Although not expecting anything as bad as that we knew we had another lengthy journey ahead of us to get home today, but Middlewich is not far off the "direct" route (not that there is a "direct" route) so we thought that if we had a chance to do so, we'd call in at the Festival. More winding roads and more slow vehicles as well as a road closure and poorly-signed diversion around the back streets of Crewe meant it was well after 4pm by the time we got to Middlewich and half-an-hour later by the time we found somewhere to park. After all that though, just about the first person we saw on the towpath was Sandra of AreandAre (aka the Home Brew Boat) who had set up her Facepainting stall
and was busy with a queue of young customers. And just along the cut was Barry who seemed just as busy
Despite being busy we found time for a chat - and Barry even made us a cup of tea - after which we walked a short distance along the towapth and met up with Andy and Helen on Wand'ring Bark - and of course the famous Jam Butty. It made the journey much more bearable, although I could help wishing just a little that I was staying in Middlewich for a while - on a boat naturally!