Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bideford Water Festival

This was a blast from the past. Many years ago, when I was a mere slip of a thing, the Bideford Water Festival was a big thing, a fund raising event run by the Rotary Club that drew people in droves. Then for some reason unknown to me it ceased. Today, after a gap of 25 years, it was back, pretty much as I remember it, but with a few twists.

Pictured above is the Greasy Pole competition. It does what it says on the tin, and people have to try to get to the end of the pole without falling off. The new organisers haven't quite got the measure of it yet, as half way through the competition they had to re-grease the pole because it got too easy to reach the end. I used to love watching the Greasy Pole (although I have to admit I remember it mostly from the Appledore Festival) and my kids loved it too.

There were plenty of other events organised for the river - a display from the lifeboat people, a gig race complete with the teams coating each other in flour after it was all over (known for some reason as Miller and Sweep - if someone can tell me why I'd be most grateful), and a raft race. I was expecting home made rafts but these were little inflatable boats. Teams of eight had to row from one side of the river to the other and back again, stopping on the east side to get out in the mud just to prove they'd made it. Nobody sank, but several people fell over trying to get back into their rafts, much to the amusement of the crowds.

There was due to be an East v West tug-of-war across the river but health and safety put a stop to that on the grounds that one team would obviously be pulled into the river. Another slight change to the traditional was the Pram Race. In my youth the Pram Race involved grown men, dressed either as babies or women, rushing from pub to pub, with the baby being pushed in a pram, and downing a pint in each pub. Today this became the Sedan Race, the reasoning behind which was that not many people have prams nowadays. The pub thing and the drinking stayed the same: we didn't stay long enough to see if the contestants still dressed up. I hope they did though.

As well as all this there were the usual stalls designed to part you from your well earned cash and - I was most impressed with this - THREE Hockings ice cream vans! All this and the sun actually shone for once.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Woolacombe Sandcastle Competition

I've been trying to get to the Woolacombe Sandcastle Competition every year for ages now but I've always had something else on or its been rained off. It was looking a bit dodgy this morning and the sandcastle building didn't start until the afternoon because of rain. We drove over and paid the exorbitant £5 parking fee then went for a look round. Thank goodness they can't charge you for walking on the beach.
There were some truly amazing creations. Some of my favourites are above. I also liked a very realistic dolphin and a reindeer. Each team of six gets about 3 hours to finish and the entrance fee goes to the North Devon Hospice. We had a good look round and stopped for an ice cream, but didn't stay long cos of the weather. Just look at the people in the photos - they're in jumpers and jeans. It's July! We should all be wearing shorts and t-shirts, sitting on the beach in wind-free conditions sipping beer and eating strawberries and turning slowly brown (not blue) !