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Bathtub challenge

August 20, 2012

Lunacy is the only word that does it justice. Where in the world would you find 30 people prepared to make boats out of bathtubs, dress in silly costumes and then attempt to row up the second fastest flowing tidal river in the country? Answer, the Arundel Festival Annual Bathtub Challenge. Actually, most of the craft had two people or more on board, so the real lunacy count was considerably higher.

The “race” is one is the highlights of the Arundel Festival, an annual event which we witnessed yesterday. I have so many pictures of it but none do it real justice so this one will have to do. You will notice that one of boats has. Two.  People dressed in blue telly tubby like outfits. It capsized just as the race got under way. As far as I am. Aware nobody frowned but that was more by luck than judgement.The only other annual event of which I am aware that has a similarly lunatic element is the Todd River Regatta which is held in Alice Springs in Australia. That involves teams of people putting their feet through the bottom of boats and running 10 miles down the Todd River which is dry at that time of year. However, when I was there a few years ago it was cancelled as there had been some vicious thunderstorms the river was flowing. Imagine, a regatta cancelled because of unexpected water.

Jolly Boating weather

With people prepared to do such stupid things to entertain others, it would have been rude not to have taken the best seats in the champagne bar, set right beside the River Arun, an achievement helped by being the first through the doors as 12.30. We figured we should get those seats as we were going to be their best customers. This was a near certain fact as we were joined by our old friends the Savins who had struggled through the wintery wastes of Buckinghamshire into the comparatively equable south of England yesterday morning. After a journey like that they were understandable in need to alcoholic sustenance.

Some 30 entries were received for the race up to somewhere near the Black Rabbit pub and back, but by the time we left only 2 of the bathtubs were back in view. I expect to see debris going up and down the river on the tide for the next few days at least. The spectacle was oddly enhanced by a brief but loud thunderstorm just before the start. It crossed my mind that it might be quite dangerous to be in a metal bathtub on a river with lightning around, but I guess the entrants were already resigned to the possibility of dying whilst taking part, so what did one more risk factor matter?

A light lunch of barbecued fish at The White Hart was followed by what seemed to be the briefest of siestas but probably was not, then in the evening after a couple of resharpeners we walked up to Osteria, an Italian brasserie in the village for some frankly underwhelming lasagna, although to be fair in complaining about my meal I was in the minority. The restaurant I wanted to go to upstairs was closed. It always closes on a Sunday, even during the festival. This is such commercial nonsense that I think it could be run by a French man.

There are 5 or more bands playing again this afternoon and evening at the Jubilee Gardens, and again, I feel it is our duty to support the Festival which is actually run by a charity. There is also an art tour where you go and visit various local artists in their studios, an attraction I am seeking to avoid, a ghost tour which I am frightened of taking and Shakespeare plays at the very imposing Arundel Castle. I have heard that we are going to see The Tempest at the weekend, weather permitting as the plays are staged in the open air. Rather apt don’t you think if The Tempest is cancelled due to a tempest?

Finally, no mention today of the benefits of opening an account with Currencies Direct due to lack of space.

Chris France

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