We rose earlier than usual in order to complete the last remaining lock and arrive in good time at the boatyard. As there were more moored boats than usual - it was the Linslade Canal Festival - we were slower than expected but still managed to arrive at our final destination with ten minutes to spare.
Then came the frantic transfer of all our belongings from the boat to the car - the cleaners were already waiting to prepare the boat for the next hirers. There was panic when we realised that, compared with when we came, this time we had to leave room for Ellie. Although the upright part fo the rear seats is divided the seats are not, so it was a tight squeeze but eventually everything fitted in.
So it was time to bid farewell to Poppy - who had served us excellently for the past six weeks - and settle our account with Wyvern Shipping before going into Leighton Buzzard town centre for coffee and cakes.
We planned to have lunch on the way - Joanna and Adrian needed as much space before Ellie returned as their cleaner was ill on Friday and Adrian had also been redecorating her bedroom in her absence. Alas, Bicester Shopping Village failed to offer anything suitable so we pressed on to Summertown where Christine recalled a rather nice lunch place she had been to before. Alas, no more so we checked out the available options and it soon became clear that the ladies wanted a 'proper' lunch. Thus it was that we chose an Italian restaurant which provided us with excellent food, despite the somewhat off-putting maitre d'. Ellie says that the food is so good she will put it on her recommended list of places to go!
Andrew and Joanna were treating us to an evening at the Battle Proms as a celebration of our anniversary - it would be something that the girls would enjoy as well. However, the gates opened rather ealrier than we had previously understood so there was not long to check in to the Travel Inn and shorter baths than perhaps might have been the case!
Before long Andrew arrived to pick us up and transport us to Blenheim where, in the grounds of the palace, the concert was to take place. The Oxford family arrived first and staked out a picnic spot. The time before the entertainment began at 6.30 was devoted to picnics - it was a good humoured crowd that was gathering but it soon became clear that there was a definite class hierarchy: At the top were those with gazebos (even though they were banished to the Gazebo Zone), the came those carrying tables, followed by those (like us) with just chairs. Finally, some groups opted just to lie out on rugs on the grass.
Cavalry demonstrations were provided by a re-enactmnent society as well as providing plenty of photo opportunities and Alice was delighted to be able to pet one of the mounts.
The main concert itself started promptly at 7.30 (just as drizzle arrived!) and contained all the expected pieces for a promenade event, especially with lost of bangs and fireworks! The 1812 overture was the first opportunity for the gunners to show off. The rain clearly did not affect them The rain was not heavy and no-one was prepared to concede defeat to the elements - even if sales of large umbrellas rocketed!
After the interval, Beethoven's Battle Overture was another chance for lots of noise - the amount of smoke as well as noise made us realise (just a little) what it must have been like on a battlefield a century ago where the quantity would have been multiplied many times and the ground very much muddier. (We were quite surprised how well the grass stood up to the occasion, even the car park)
With Alice already asleep we decided to set off for the cars whilst the final items were being played, but not before Ellie danced to the Sailors Hornpipe.
In fact, we had an even better view of the last fireworks session by being a little further back and with the palace as backdrop. All in all, it was a very good evening and a great chance to spend time with the family!