canal path

Day out at Banbury Canal Day – 10th Birthday

Banbury always puts on good local events, and the Banbury Canal Day (which later moved to a whole weekend) is one such event. N’s been a bit partial to canal boats whenever we’ve seen them (and why wouldn’t you, I still love watching them going through locks!).  Last year he was a bit young so I thought this year we’d try and get on a ride on one of the boats, and he might last a bit longer going round all the stalls and rides.

With amazing weather (again, second year on the trot), it was always going to be busy and I wanted to avoid too many of the crowds so we arrived early.  The canal sides are always crammed with stalls and pedestrians so I was pleased we didn’t get too caught up in it.  We walked alongside the Banbury town Mayor’s boat as he opened the day (quite amusing hearing some of the town crier’s comments).

town mayor
canal path

A quick wander round the craft fair part – I was thinking about potential Christmas gifts (or just to treat myself), but one toddler wanted to rush through back to the boats.

metal sculpture
This was only the top of this tall sculpture…it was a huge plant with fronds. Amazing

We hauled up to Sovereign Wharf, via the dry dock and Tooley’s Boatyard which I’ve never been to before.  N loved the mini steam engines, although I’m not sure he quite understood that one was powering the light bulbs!

mini steam engines

Although we were at the wharf fairly early to catch the boat trips (there was one back up through the event, and one which was a 20 minutes round trip north which I was hoping for), we were told there was about a 20 minute wait.  However, it turned out that with each boat only able to take about 10 people, that would have meant we were about 3 boats back, and there was no way N was going to wait that long, especially as it was a real sun trap there.  He said he was fine, but I felt a bit iffy given I’m still full of cold and not quite with it).  The trips were free so no wonder there was a big queue – in my opinion the demand was ridiculously high, so they should really be charging for charity, and maybe they should have timed tickets – the queue predominantly comprised elderly, families with young children, and a few people in wheelchairs, so I’m sure time tickets might have helped these people who really wanted a trip but were turned off by the queues.

Luckily on the way back we walked past some owners who’d opened their boat up for people to wander through and see what it was like. This did the job for N, although I shall look for some wharfs which do trips out for him next year.

boat engine
Watching engines

By the time we walked back down through the increasingly busy canal path, we sat for a while eating some lovely baklava we’d bought from the European food market and listening to the folk bands.  I remembered N loving the music last year (although this year’s lyrics were more appropriate to toddlers than last years!), and he enjoyed it again.  He’s definitely a real music fan.

Soaps, not fudge!
Soaps, not fudge!
chocolate stall
This guy really didn’t look like he should be selling expensive chocolates
Stop it with the ‘selfies’ mum

Getting close to lunch we found our way to the park where there were lots of stalls (mainly charity fundraising, with a few local businesses interspersed selling or doing demos) and activities for children.

N’s not yet at the age where he wants a go on everything, so apart from a soft play bit (bargain for £1.50), and lunch, it was quite a cheap day out for us.  He did head and point towards the go karts, but it was over 3s only, and I’m not sure his legs would have been long enough anyway.  Maybe next year.

He did get cajoled by me into getting the balloon modeller to make a balloon sword, which of course he ended up popping – he couldn’t understand where it had gone!  As it was Canal Day’s 10th birthday, the theme was balloons so there were lots of modellers walking round creating cool balloon creations.

balloon models
En garde…N likes hacking people to pieces with swords and cutlasses at the moment!

We bumped into a couple of NCT friends so it was nice to see them, although with toddlers and babies involved, we’re always being dragged off in different directions.  That’s what’s great about local free events like this one, you always end up bumping into people you know.

We didn’t catch any of the displays as when we were at each of the 2 areas, they hadn’t started yet, but in my experience, we’re never that excited by displays in general.  N has too short an attention span, and I’m just too critical a lot of the time.  But the programme suggested there was lots going on from musical to dance, and everything in between.

N did enjoy watching the heavy horses doing rides on the cart round the park.  He also seems to be a horse fan (a current Tractor Ted favourite is Meet the Horses!) so we’ll have to pack him off to his aunt so he can have a ride on some of their ponies.

Banbury canal day

We had a lovely day out at Banbury Canal Day, despite not getting to ride on a canal boat, and N was exhausted afterwards.  These days out are really made with the weather – and this year’s definitely not put the spoilers on any events we’ve been to.

Find other ideas for family days out in Oxfordshire.

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