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Utterly Autherley
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2008 IWA National Festival
 
        A few days before we were due to leave for Wolverhampton my "Festival Mole" reported the condition of the site as being "Not as bad as St. Ives".  Well....it wasn't the same but in it's way it was as bad and for us even worse.  Whereas at St. Ives the ground condition was extremely wet, muddy and badly chewed up we had a comparatively dry spot to pitch the tent.  This year the ground was also wet and muddy, but not so badly churned.  Unfortunately our spot was a three inch deep mud bath; not the best of places for pitching our tent.  After a long delay (John M. waited for nearly five hours) we eventually got on to the site.  If you ever get a chance to erect a tent in a mud bath decline the offer.
        Tent erected it was decided that there was no point in putting the display out that night - maybe it would be a bit better next day.  It wasn't but the display went up and we continued to beg for chippings to help soak up the muddy water.
        The first day was surprisingly busy, although the visitors also tended to be surprised by the squishy stuff they were walking in.  All of our volunteers turned up for their allotted shifts manning the tent, which they did marvellously in spite of the conditions.
        (At this point a big round of applause for Rachael, Di, Roy, Barbara, Chris, Dave, Jean, Vic, Jan, Nigel, Frank, Heather, Tony, John M., John H. and Jenson.)
        The show itself was not one of the most inspiring.  We did talk to a fair number of people all of whom seemed impressed with our work.  It was also a good time to renew old friendships and make new contacts.
        By Monday evening we were all ready to pack up and get home.  To avoid another long wait to get the cars on and off the site we carried everything back to the car park.  The bit I had dreaded was driving home on a Bank Holiday, but surprise, surprise the M6, M42 and M40 were all running well with fairly light traffic, so the journey home was not too arduous.
         
NWF 2008 000 John M. expressing his delight at having got the tent erected.

It did take us several minutes to extricate him from the mud.

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NWF 2008 002 What can you say about the conditions - the pictures tell it all.
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NWF 2008 004 Everyone had to wait until all unloading had finished and then back off the site.
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Floating in mud even before the public were admitted.

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NWF 2008 008 Not sure what good it does to use a roller on a sponge!!
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NWF 2008 010 Saturday morning and there was a good turnout from the public.  As always most were good humoured and accepted the conditions and appreciated the efforts made by WRG and IWA.
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NWF 2008 012 We manage to borrow a length of flooring so people could at least get into the tent - but no chippings yet. 
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NWF 2008 016 Ooops!!
 It looks like we had no visitors, but that's because I waited for them to move so I could photograph the tent.

The crowds were there really!!

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NWF 2008 020 But where were those wood chippings???

No good asking him. This is BW Chairman, Tony Hales, officially opening the Festival.

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NWF 2008 022 Never did get my "Free Gift".

The ground refused to dry.

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NWF 2008 028 No excuses for this series of pictures.
The Chesterfield Canal Society have invested in a custom made trailer for their events.
We drooled over this.
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NWF 2008 034 He refused to be impressed by anything.

Always a reliable source of food.

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NWF 2008 036 There were plenty of boats on the canal for visitors to view.
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Mike Palmer, WRG supremo, instructs potential new WRGies.

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NWF 2008 046 Jerry, IWA marketing director, and long time WBCT member, always smiling as usual.

Traders were still arriving after the Festival opened.  A very unusual occurrence as moving vehicles are not normally permitted when the public are about. 

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But Sunday would turn out better, the sun would shine, the wood chippings arrived and John M. and I were off duty after 12 o'clock.

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NWF 2008 052 There's that grey sky again.

John M. and I decided to visit the Anderton lift.

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NWF 2008 054 The lift trip boat.
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Whilst bemoaning the fact that we couldn't get near enough to the lift to get some good pictures we got talking to the boat owners moored on the Weaver.
We were pleasantly surprised when Dave offered us a ride up the lift in his boat as he was due to ascend within the hour.

 

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A few quick snaps then back to Dave's boat.

 

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What can be said? An amazing experience.

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Our thanks to Dave for his typical boaters kindness.

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NWF 2008 070 A stop at the Bunbury Staircase on the way back.
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NWF 2008 074 And another at Audlem.
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NWF 2008 076 Monday morning. Dry but still very muddy.

Another very good place for food.

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John H. and Jenson take a well earned break.

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If you haven't been - go!

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NWF 2008 084 The wind got up Monday afternoon and some tents learnt the hard way about not pegging down.

I thought boats were waterproof - never seen one in a tent before.

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NWF 2008 086 I think this probably sums it up.