Gloucester held their inaugural Tall Ships Festival this Whit bank holiday, featuring “the brigantine Morgenster, handmade schooner Atyla, Baltic trawler Keewaydin and topsail schooner Vilma”, according to the City of Gloucester’s website. Aside from the tall ships, the quays played host to numerous stalls selling local wares and food, although the great majority of this seemed to centre around fudge. As mentioned elsewhere, the Bespoke Brewery had a stall selling their lovely, locally brewed forest bitters. The two quayside museums, the National Waterways Museum and Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum waived their admission charges provided you had a blue or gold wrist band and there were countless troops of people dressed sea shanty garb. It made for a great day out for children and young families but was a bit too busy for my liking.
Having walked some 30 miles the day before, I decided to take it a little easier on the Sunday and ventured to Gloucester to do a little shopping (boo) and spend a lot of time traipsing around the quays looking at the glorious tall ships. The day in question was a little hot for the clothes that I went out in, having failed to take a small rucksack or handbag with me on my volunteering expedition. As a result I’m often to be found wearing a fleece around my waist because it happens to have zipped pockets, which is a little inconvenient but I digress!
The site was quite small and heaving with families, all of whom were having a fantastic day out but it, combined with the warmth of the sun, made for a stifling atmosphere. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the regimental museum, which was stuffed to the gunnels with rather sweaty humans! That shouldn’t have detracted from the experience but in such conditions it is a little difficult to soak up new information. Normally I love spending hours looking around museums of this type, but I wound up rattling around in order to get outside and feel a bit of a breeze on my face! The museum was fascinating in spite of it’s small size and definitely one worth crawling around and savouring – perhaps I will return one day and give it it’s due.
I didn’t visit the National Waterways Museum this time around, returning home on the Sunday evening to stir up enthusiasm amongst the other volunteers, whom I thought might like to accompany me back to Gloucester the next day. We drove back into town because Kyra was due to fly in the afternoon and needed somewhere to leave her rucksack during the day. The second day was shorter for this reason, and we spent a considerable amount of time in an old inn having breakfast and a cup of coffee. Everyone was uncharacteristically sombre whilst we looked around the old quays; we took touristy photos but people were tired I think and ready for some alone time and a good meal. We escorted Kyra to the station to say our goodbyes, then returned for an hour or so to listen to a couple of bands in the last of the sunshine before heading ‘home’.
It wasn’t that I was disappointed by the event per se, it was a lovely family event. I think I had expected there to be a higher concentration of tall ships on show, however; there was no presence from the likes of the Jubilee Sailing Trust for example and I had envisaged a lot more information and a lot less pirate costumes. Perhaps it will gain momentum as the years go by and will attract a larger number of lovely boats in the future, who knows! Definitely well worth a visit but there was certainly room for improvement.