It’s November; it’s Carnival time!

There is a long tradition of carnival in this area dating back, allegedly, to Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot of 1605 to blow up Westminster Palace and the entire government in an attempt to overthrow the Protestant King and reinstate a Catholic monarchy. The burning of old unusable boats boats in Bridgewater symbolised the unsuccessful attempt and reinforced protestant power and was performed each November 5th for many years until they ran out of derelict boats and started on viable ones; a halt was called to the proceedings. The event now is not limited to its Bridgewater beginnings and encompasses 7 towns in 14 nights commencing in Bridgewater on the first Saturday in November and the finale in Glastonbury on the third Saturday. (There are other autumn carnivals around the county but we like this one best.)

The modern carnival reinterpretation of this event started in 1881. It has evolved over the years into the Somerset County Guy Fawkes carnival season. Local carnival clubs spend many thousands of hours throughout the year (and up to £40,000 funded by their supporters) building carts (never call them floats here) up to a maximum of 30 metres long. These largest carts have a tractor unit (literally a tractor in some cases) , a trailer and then a third unit containing the generator needed for the vast number of lights and moving parts. These units are decorated to whatever theme the club chooses quite often something topical, this year’s most moving cart for me was the one depicting scenes from the first world war. This tableau (where the human occupants dressed according to the theme, remain unmoving except for short relax breaks at designated points) headed the procession of more than 40 carts of varying sizes. Not all carts are tableaux, other categories include the ones that literally bounce up and down whilst the dancers perform a routine repetitively whilst the cart is moving …  The decorations, if you can call them such a frivolous word, are works both of art and engineering – roundabouts, swings, moving “animals”, spinning stuff, moving side to side, up and down stuff. This year’s stand out engineering for me was the cart with the car whizzing round a track that ran a circuit built above all the other scenery where the performers were dancing. The performers costumes are spectacular too. I often worry about the performers getting cold, it was brass monkey weather last night, but of course each cart has thousands of light bulbs belting out heat that you miss once each cart has passed.

In amongst the carts are solo performers, dancing troupes and bands all well worth a good clap and a whoop!

This year K, The Smart One and I were among roughly a hundred thousand folk, including our weekend guests a couple of first timers, boogying, clapping and cheering kerbside , duly impressed by the 2 hour parade, and donating money for local charities. K and I, delighted to be back after an absence of several years, both thought this year’s entries were the best ever.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Photos from previous carnivals.




On the move …

I’m hoping that the awful weather for the start of of the 2015/16 European tour is in no way indicative of weather for the whole Eurotour …

Week one has been spent doing some visiting. D&N in Glastonbury, P&S in Taunton, coming across some yarn bombing in a park, then up towards the Midlands. Having paid the entrance fee to get over the border into Wales, the overnight campsite provided superb views of the R Usk at Caerleon. For 200 years Isca (Caerleon) was the home of the 2nd Augustan Legion in one of only 3 permanently manned Roman fortresses in Britain. So what did the Romans do for Britain? Well, built the first leisure centres – hot, warm and cold baths, a gym and open air swimming pool – it only took us nearly 2 millennia to reinvent them!!

Ever onward, and an overnight stop at a Hideaway site in an orchard, off the grid, just north of Worcester arriving at Norbury Junction on the Shroppie (Shropshire Union Canal) to spend a couple of days with Big Bruv, Blue Buzzard moored on the cut and R0X1 parked in the pub car park.

Day 2 by the cut and I decided to ask in the chandlery the price of Calor gas as my emergency cylinder was empty – when it came to it I couldn’t tell by looking which size cylinder I have, so with much ribbing from the older brother we went back to the van to find out. After friend S fitted the gauge to the tank (Croeso y Cymru) we did’t actually switch it on and so when Geoff switched on we discovered it was still a third full. I was well pleased as it meant I didn’t have to get my purse out … Back to the boat we went and later that evening Geoff started cooking chilli con carne, he’d just put the rice on the hob when his gas cylinder ran out. “Ah” he says “I’ll show you how to change a cylinder” Eager for my lesson (I haven’t had to change the emergency cylinder yet) I followed him to the cratch and he proceeded to demonstrate and I now know what to do when my emergency cylinder is empty. There was however a slight problem – both his cylinders were empty and the chandlery had shut for the night!

We trudged over to R0X1, him carrying the pans with the half cooked meal, and finished off cooking it on my gas! I wouldn’t ever mention it again … but I’m just not that nice a sister …

🙂 🙂 🙂