Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival – how much fun can you have with your clothes on?

Boats at MiddlewichMiddlewich Folk & Boat Festival enjoyed its 23-year on 15th – 16th June 2013, attracting over 50 folk and roots music bands on stages and outside traditional pubs by the Trent and Mersey Canals. 

The tiny almost-mythical English market town of Middlewich in Cheshire was packed causing longish queues at the bars.  The event also included many narrow and heritage boats, craft stalls and other entertainers – all free, except some well-known performers charging £10- £15.

Middlewich Folk & Boat FestivalBabajackFolk Artist at Middlewich F&B FestivalOne of my favourite artists was Babajack, an acoustic award-winning blues trio, and being a Dylan fan Bob On Our Side.  Highlighting the main stage were the BackYard Devils, a young fast-fiddling bluegrass band from Canada.

craft tent at Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival 2013The festival was full of many different dance teams like the all-blacked-faces of the Boggarts Breakfast morris dancers from Sheffield. 

Apparently blackened faces date back to the 18th-century when unemployed farm-workers disguise themselves while dancing for tips at a time when busking and begging was illegal.  Then, lead poisoning was common, but today stage makeup is used.

Camping at Middlewich Folk & Boat FestivalWe camped over the weekend in the official sports centre site. MiMi tells her friends I make her sleep in a field – but the truth is, it was a great pitch and facilities close to the main stage and canal.  Despite rain at night, most of our stay was dry.  I love to sleep under the sound of a downpour!  I’ve noticed in the UK it rains a lot in the West and the East has more sun.  This was not the event for a Travel Lodge.


Nigel Mckay at MiddlewichWe exhibited in the craft tent, but takings at our MrBead stand were poor despite a few online customers visiting.  However, I booked for the music and atmosphere and the experience was well worth the trip.

Next weekend I’ll be going to Xi’an in China for Alan and Sarah’s wedding on Saturday 26th June.  It’s sure to be fun and all are welcome – details here. Xi’an will be dry and very hot – although the beer with be wet and very cold!  From Guangzhou flights are about 3-hours and 300-klms/hour trains make the 1,000-mile journey in 8 hours, including stops and change at Wuhan. However, cost is about the same as the cheapest flight – around RMB 950 with tax one way.

If you’ve never been to Xi’an before you’ll be impressed. Many go for the 2,000-year-old Terracotta Worriers, but Beijing has pumped billions into the city and preserved the ancient architecture and completely rebuilt the 14-miles of the old wall.

More at the festival’s official site: http://www.midfest.org.uk
YouTube video to follow soon
See my personal site at NigelHayMckay.com

Tough in the UK!

Tough this autumn in the UK!

This trip was a rush – 33-days were not enough.  Although we did only four bead shows over two weekends, I was working every day we weren’t on the boat, and we only took Rosey out twice.  Too cold, despite extra bedding – 6-degrees on the water!

I’ve found the time and inspiration to write this on the early-evening Emirates flight to Dubai, with the help of L’ostal Cazes.  There is something about travel that inspires creativity.  And so refreshing to use Gatwick rather than Heathrow – more airlines should take advantage of cheaper fees and better customer access.

The second leg of this trip, from Dubai (where a can of beer is almost US$10 in the airport) to Hong Kong is on an A380 with wifi for all at just US$5 for 30MB.  Bargain, but I guess this will be on all airlines in the near future. If it wasn’t in the middle of the night I’d snap it up. 

I’ve been reading on a new toy: Kindle Touch, just £115 in Tesco.  Fantastic, I wish I brought earlier.  But you never know with gadgets – many don’t last longer than unwrapping.  I’m amazed at the ease to find, pay, and download writing to the device.  Thousands of books are free, the battery lasts a month, and you can even e-mail documents to it. Plus I’ve found a new income stream, by uploading content to sell.

My four bead shows were at Luton, Uxbridge, Sandown, and Norwich.  Edinburgh and Lakeland were cancelled because, I assume, the Government got the better and drive the organizers out of business.  Pity, because I love it up North. Thanks to all those who visited us, it’s so appreciated. 

Luton was a little quiet, although a couple of wholesale orders made up. Uxbridge was bad again – buyers were thrifty, and being in the “shed” didn’t help.  However, despite the £400 expense, Sandown was brilliant.  Not as good as it used to be, but it kept us flat out.  As usual, our best show was Norwich – with a queue 45-minutes in advance and non-stop until 3pm.  I apologize to those who couldn’t push through the crowds, and hope that more tables next year will give better access.

I was impressed by how many at the bead shows were following my tweets at MrBead@UKMrBead, and my personal tweets on Nigel@NigelMckay.  Thanks for your commitment – I’m really in the dark at this end.  If you have any requests or comments, just click the “Leave a Reply” link at the blog’s end.  All feedback is much appreciated!

On that note, could you guide me on how you would like me to write:

  • More personal content?
  • More business content?
  • More pictures?

I’m off to Cambodia on Sunday 4th November – so that trip will be the next blog.

See a video of these bead shows here
See my peasonal site at NigelHayMckay.com

Report of MrBead Spring Bead Fairs 2012

MrBead Spring Bead Fairs 2012

This spring we exhibited at six shows, with the Lakeland Fair being cancelled.

Beads Up North! – 29th April
Gordon always does a grand job organising this fair with good marketing and road signs.  Very busy almost all the time.  There is lots of light in this beautiful location in Haydock Race Course, close to the M6 motorway, and many exhibitors from down South. 

It was easy for MiMi and I to set up early as we were still suffering from jet-lag after arriving in the UK only three-days previous.  I always find it strange that everyone is speaking English after just arriving in the UK!

Edinburgh Bead Fair  – 6th May
This is one of my favourites and I love the drive high up on the M6 and the Scottish culture – we always stay a few days in the Highlands after this one.  The show was as vibrant as ever with many visitors, although slightly less than usual.  The Corn Exchange is a great venue with a large hall, easy parking and a large catering section.

As usual we stayed the Saturday evening at a Travel Lodge and left right after the show for B&B at a Highland Village, Dunfeld, Perthshire.  Great place with great views, and I enjoyed the snow on the high roads there.

MrBead Luton Bead Show – 12th May
Our first in my home town at a small hotel close to junction 10 of the M1 motorway, less than half-an-hour from London.

Although not as busy as I hoped, we did very well with some very large purchases – returning for another show here on 6th October.

Norwich MrBead Show – 13th May
Our second time in Norwich and the busiest show we have ever sold at – every second was flat out! 

Although we marketed for this event well, a lot of credit is due to Lorraine Cannell of TheBeadQueen.co.uk for her extensive campaigning, especially on Twitter where she has over 11,000 followers.  Lorraine will be back with us in Norwich showing her original bead jewellery on 21st October.

Cheshire Bead Fair – 20th May
Mark & Sharon of Silver Orchid saved the day at this one, after the previous organisers done a runner with exhibitor’s deposits!  Without them re-organising the event it would have been cancelled.

As always at Nantwich the show was very busy with a good turnout of both exhibitors and visitors. 

BeadyFairs.co.uk have booked the same hall for another bead fair later this year.

Norwich Bead Society – 14th June
The second time we have exhibited at this twice-weekly beading group in Norwich in an excellent local church hall. 

As before, there was a good turnout and we will be back in October. 

If you would like to join this group just off the Ipswich Road, reply to this blog.


To see all our bead fairs booked click http://www.mrbead.com/beadfairs2012.html

If you have a bead fair or beading group you would like MrBead to call at when we’re in the UK (next trip 18th September to end-of-October 2012), please reply to this blog.

More on my personal site at NigelHayMckay.com

Read my own book on selling your hand-made crafts:
For the British version click here or the US version here.