So the crowds were out in force, thronging the banks and cheering, yelling even. On the water upwards of a thousand passed by, meandering with the current, urged on by the rising swell of the tide of encouragement from the masses. And the sun shone.
The annual Duck Race that forms part of Gala Week took to the water. It is an event beloved by the community, brought together in a common cause of celebration; and all to watch a raft, a mighty one though, of plastic yellow ducks, paddle down the burn through the park. Each one has a number and the first home has a price of £100 on its bill. The pipe band plays, drowned out by the euphoric crowd. And this year there is no school the next day so the children can enjoy the long, bright night as we get ever closer to midsummer. Next up the Tug-o War.
It was of course the second water borne event of the weekend, for on Sunday the big boys got out to play. Yes it was the Raft Race, and it started from the brewery. Now there’s a dangerous mix if ever there was one. I missed that one, otherwise engaged, for there was a Postcard Fair in town, the equivalent of my second-hand books to she who makes the decisions in these parts. We had to go. Strange places postcard fairs, strange people, and noisy with it. Time soon to be book my train for York and the peace and quiet of the book stacks.
Meanwhile The Urchins have been busy with the Window Spotting. Local traders dress their windows and the odd-one-out has to be found, and the list completed. With 68 the current total it’s good exercise walking around, and we covered most of the ground on Saturday. Urchin the Younger called out a cracker. One window had flags for the upcoming Euro footie bash and of course there will be no saltire on display there. But he spotted the oddity, a yellow banner with a green centre. I’m not sure if he knew why, but Brazil definitely will not be competing. He’s taking his football seriously these days as I found out yesterday. “You’re in goals,” dictated he, then proceeded to pepper me with shots that Jairzinho would have admired, my legs stinging as they had not done since the days of a Mouldmaster on a black ash pitch on a cold frosty morning.
We got home from the Duck Race just in time, jammies and bed, just as the Bond movie was starting. Pageantry and flag-waving. Siena and The Palio. Now that’s how it should be done. History, all 750 years of it, and no public expense. Oh it takes me back, all Solace and no Quantum. The hairstyles; the costumes; the horses; and those flag wavers. The crowds filling the piazza, multi-national, excited, colourful. The bells of the Torre del Mangia ringing throughout the procession; the Race and the Winner.
There will be more pageantry this weekend, when Gala Week draws to a close with the parade of floats and the crowning of the Gala Queen. We should have our trailer tonight, a bit more painting to do. Tractor and driver still a bit of a hit or a miss, but silage cutting his happening, under the stars too. And Dimblebore has his staff.
And so June flames, soon it will be the turn of the annual barbecue, coupled this year with the Bogey Race. All around carties are being built, bikes trashed for their wheels, brakes even. The marquis will go up, strong drink may be taken. Then all of a sudden, school’s out; tent packed; ferry sails. Only three weeks to go. Anything being happening down your way to bring the community out together?