Monday, 6 May 2013

Ely Eel Fair

Well, it all started fine; Skylark was in tip-top condition and raring to go, my cupboards were full of good grub, my cocktail cabinet was brimming over with good plonk, but then I bent over while untying my centre rope and - plop - my reading glasses fell out of my top pocket into the drink. No, not into my G&T, into the River Great Ouse. I wouldn't have minded if they had been one of those £1.99 pairs you get from Pounds R Us but these were the expensive ones I got from QD for £3.99. Oh well, I thought, mustn't cry over spilt milk, worse things happen at sea, mustn't let it spoil the whole trip but I do hate losing things.

Anyway, off I went, undeterred, and the river and that great Cambridgeshire sky did all they could to take my mind off it. They were both looking particularly lovely.

Being the day before the May Day Bank Holiday, Ely was already busy and I found only one mooring spot near the Bridge Boat Yard.

By the way, for the benefit of our American cousins, the May Day Bank Holiday is one of our eight (paid) public holidays designed to keep our cost of production higher than most of our international competitors. For the unemployed and retired (like me), they are a bit of a non-event because we would have had the day off anyway. In fact, they are a bit of a pain in the arse for us really because most people who work will decide to do something over the weekend rather than just sitting around worrying about deadlines or budgets. And, this weekend, most of them decided to go to Ely to do something. So...

My mooring was fairly close to the railway line and, therefore, a bit noisy at times but it did have a good view of the water meadows.

Ely Eel Fair celebrates the city's early trade in the humble eel. It started with a procession from the Cathedral led by the Ely Samba Band. Why such a historic event is led by a bunch of gaily dressed people banging drums to the beat of a Brazilian dance tune defeats me, but there you are, that's the multi-cultural society we live in today.

Anyway, behind the Samba Band, there were, perhaps more understandably, lots of little children dressed as a long colourful eel, the honourable Mayor with his gold chain of office around his neck and his good lady on his arm. There were assorted Town Cryers ringing their brass bells, a troupe of jolly Morris Men playing their accordions and banjos, lady Morris Dancers jigging, tapping and prancing about, various hangers-on and loads of procession-watchers...including me. 

After holding up the traffic for 20 minutes, they arrived at the Jubilee Gardens for a day of frivolous festivities and hilarious activities including folk music, dancing, archery, historic re-enactments, competitions, face painting, looking at real eels in a tank of water, drinking real ale, eating real burgers and much, much more, Such fun!

I particularly enjoyed listening to the choir of ladies (and a few men) singing a variety of well-known songs. They were a bit like the Military Wives - but without the BBC hype.

I spent Sunday pottering about on Skylark doing a bit more painting, maintenance and improvements and then headed back to Lazy Otter in the late afternoon to avoid being hit by the Ely Mooring Police.

I'm quite pleased with the photos I took this weekend, especially the next one, as I couldn't see anything on the little preview screen on my camera without my reading glasses.

That's a funny looking duck. 

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