Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Ducks everywhere!

Anyone who has read my comments about poultry (chiefly Scandinavian poultry, admittedly) recently, will be relieved to hear that I have just returned safely from a Duck Festival. Not any old duck festival, I hasten to add, but Ballater Duck Festival.

Ballater was hit by thunder showers on Friday that once more had the inhabitants reaching for their sandbags, but today was hot and sunny - not exactly weather for ducks, I must admit, but excellent for the ice cream vendors in the town. Everyone was out to celebrate the occasion, the Third Duck Festival, a tradition instituted the summer after the flood to, as it were, rebefriend the River Dee. The Quack Quaich was donated by the local masonic lodge as the prize for a duck race on the river, and the festival was born.

The town was pretty crowded, with stalls and events on the Green.

People were selling ducks.

There was a duck tote, for the big race, and business was brisk (proximity to the Mountain Rescue ambulance may have caused a distraction).
The most trendsetting dogs sported duck kerchiefs - this is Isla, by her owners' permission.

Nearby at the church the band was preparing for their key role in the festivities.
The crowd began to move from the Green to the river, massing on the bridge.
Others collected at the water's edge for a more action-packed view (skimming stones while they waited, anyway).
Downstream, the river was quiet.
The commentator was in a prime (if slightly hazardous) position below us.
And the moment arrived - the ducks appeared (no, really! Look harder!)
The suspense was palpable as they advanced towards us.
The field spread out.
Jostling for position, they surged towards the finish line (grounds for a stewards' enquiry?)

But No.4 slips ahead, and wins!
Others are still trailing behind.
The last of the field.
No. 6 finally paddles home (I think the crowds made her shy!).
The winner is piped back through the village, coincidentally passing its sponsoring hotel on the way.
Borne triumphant on the crowds!
No. 4 watches from  the prime position as the band plays.
We sensibly go and spend some money on ice cream and, er, stones.
End of a slightly surreal day - Hippolyta would have loved it! (and she would probably have taken No. 6 home with her).

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