Dear Reader: All at sea with music legend + 'civil war' in Knaresborough!

Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser.
Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

The boat was rocking a bit as I chatted to multi-million selling Harrogate musician Chris Simpson last Friday afternoon on the narrow boat he lives on these days on-and-off.

Chris Simpson of Magna Carta.

Chris Simpson of Magna Carta.

What a beautiful setting. Berthed on the tranquil waters of the Leeds-Liverpool canal outside Skipton amid rolling hills, brightly-coloured kingfishers and, oh, the village pub.

Having parked the car, I’d strolled across the stone bridge to meet the veteran songwriter as youngsters trotted past me on their way to the nearby riding school.

All was quiet save for the sound of hooves and the whirr of pale brown dust being thrown into the air by the occasional Range Rover.

Once aboard the floating home of this incredibly gifted singer-songwriter and author, we shared tea and toast and his memories of golden days in the music business.

With the waves lappping on the canal, the years began to slip away as Chris relived the exciting times of the 60s and 70s when he’d taken his band Magna Carta from smoky pubs on the London folk circuit to headlining shows at the Royal Albert Hall.

On the way his path had crossed with Bowie and the Beach Boys and The Beatles.

Maybe it was the shimmer of sun light on the rippling water.

Or it might have been the fact that while the boat we were sitting in was stationary, the water outside was clearly moving, but I started to feel a little dizzy and disorientated.

It was as if the boat had lost its moorings.

Or maybe it was me?

Muskets and cannon in Knaresborough's feva festival

The cannon was primed, the muskets at the ready but peace must have broken out at the time I visited the Civil War Day in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle on Saturday afternoon.

I’d clearly picked the wrong moment to inspect the assembled forces of the Sealed Knot regiment who’d marched into town (by car and van) as part of Knaresborough’s feva festival.

A skirmish was promised in half an hour but, well, it’s hardly a muster (that’s a battle to you and me).

I left the breeches and pikes for the bustling Market Place which had a seaside feel of fish n chip wrappers and bus trips.

Feva is a truly fantastic community-led feast of the arts and it’s always full of life.

An acoustic singer-songwriter was performing under a gazebo just across from the famous Blind Jack statue.

The town’s mayor could be spotted scurrying around, looking cheery as ever in his civic chains.

Here and there, volunteers were handing out programmes in their pink feva vests , trying to lure the public to this or that event.

It was the bellow of the town crier in his blue regalia which drew me back to the Civil War Day at the castle and – whammy – just in time to feel the whizz of an arrow coming my way.

Fortunately, it missed. It was just a couple of kids playing with a bow and arrow and, well, if truth be told, the arrow had a rubber tip.

If it had hit me, what would have hurt most was the fact this harmless projectile was clearly historically inaccurate.