Advantages Ideal for boat dwellers and weekend boaters looking for boat gear
Disadvantages I bit of a 'miss' for the rest of us
|Is it worth visiting?|
Crick Marina was opened in 1996 and is one of the most popular in the East Midlands, partly due to its quiet, rural location, but undoubtedly also due to being only a mile from Junction 18 of the M1, making it easily accessible to weekend boaters. The Crick boat show has been running since 2000, taking place at the end of May or in early June. I suspect (but am not sure) that it's normally the late May bank holiday but this year the show ran for four days over the Jubilee weekend. There are hundreds of parking spaces on the grass fields next to the arena and when we arrived at noon on the third day we had no problems to find a space.
The marina is the heart of the fair – or more accurately I should say 'part of the marina' as well over half of the moorings are closed off to the public. The others are filled up with boats which are for sale or demonstration boats allowing designers and builders to show off their craft. If you are seriously in the market for a canal boat - whether a narrow boat or a wide beamed converted 'Dutch barge' you can make appointments to see most of the boats and save a lot of time driving from one boat yard to the next checking out different builders. If you're not buying but you've got a boat of your own, it's probably a bit like going to the Ideal Home Show, checking out the latest in interior designs and gadgets for your boats. Or if you're just tagging along like us, you may well feel a bit awkward asking to look around. My sister and I had a good look around a boat run by a waterways charity from Dudley and learning about the work they'd done to clean up some old canals in their area, but we skipped the commercial boats.Three vessels offer short boat rides from the marina but that didn't appeal to us so we set off to get some lunch, to listen to some live (but rather whiny) music in the beer tent, and to plan the afternoon's shopping. If you've got a boat and you want to buy something, it's highly likely that you'll find it at Crick. From miniature twin tub washing machines, exotic portable toilets, brightly painted engines and maintenance items through to kitchen widgets and bandannas for the dog who seems a compulsory boatie companion, there's something for nearly everyone. Just possibly not for us. Our visitors were happy to discuss the pros and cons of different pump out toilet systems and the efficacy of running a boat fridge off a solar panel (you can't - you'll need an invertor or something like that) but there are limits to how much excitement your average man or woman on the street can drum up about shower cubicle sealant and ventilation systems.
Talking of dogs, I was very impressed to see so many having a day out with their humans. My sister's dog Finlay was socialising with the other mutts as much as his mums were with the boat people. It did seem that having a dog is pretty much compulsory if you want to live on a boat - hopefully a dog with more sense then Finlay who has a bad habit of falling off the boat. And talking of the people, my husband commented that we were very much in the minority as under-50s because the demographic was very much towards retirement age and above.There were several large marquees including one set up to entertain young visitors, another with mostly food, and quite a few with boat supplies. Aside from picking up some Union Flag cup cake cases for my mother (she's competing in the village flower and produce show in a few weeks and is VERY competitive), I didn't buy any of the items on offer. Yes, I had some noodles and a coke for my lunch, but other than that there was little to tempt.
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