Friday, 14 December 2018

Aylesbury (getting ready for Lauren’s big weekend)

A very happy Sophie walking up to receive her PhD on Thursday

A big advantage of mooring right outside Waitrose is that we can wander over and get free coffees whenever we want one.  I know we have to buy something to get a free cup of coffee but it's easy to buy one thing at a time when we're so close! We have been taking our china mugs with us and have only just realised that we are meant to use cups with lids which I assume is a health & safety thing.  Still, no one stops us, and it definitely tastes better from a proper mug. 

Another advantage is that Judith & Nigel live just around the corner so are able to pop into the boat to see us for coffee and cake every so often.  Judith & Nigel and a group of their friends meet in a coffee shop in Aylesbury every morning.  The group regularly take walks around the Aylesbury area where one of them takes the lead and explains points of interest whether they be geographical, historical, architectural, natural or some other topic that takes the leader's fancy.  We think this is a great idea as it helps spread knowledge and there is nothing better that being taught by someone who is enthusiastic about their subject.

My middle daughter, Lauren, is marrying Lewis at the weekend so Karen and I popped into a hairdresser on Tuesday morning to have our hair tidied up.  What with Sophie’s graduation on Thursday and the wedding we’ve got some good family times coming up over the next few days. 

On Wednesday I joined the ‘coffee shop’ tour where Peter led the group out to the deserted medieval settlements of Quarrendon which are a couple of miles to the west of Aylesbury.  We didn't both go as Buddy wasn't well so Karen stayed on the boat to look after him. 

On the way we walked through Aylesbury old town and Julie explained the history of some of the old buildings including the original grammar school.  The brick wall outside the school was covered in marks where the children used to sharpen their slate pencils which they used to write on their slates.

Marks where schoolchildren sharpened their slate pencils
Quarrendon was really interesting and consists of two deserted village sites.  The first site was believed to have inhabited from around the sixth century and, in the medieval period moved to a more suitable location practically next to the original site.

Aerial view of the first settlement (from Buckinghamshire Conservation Trust)
It was fascinating as the layouts of the villages in terms of streets and building plots can still be made out. Between the two settlements was a large Elizabethan manor house which, in itself, was also interesting.  The house was built by Henry Lee, the founder of Aylesbury grammar school and a respected figure in Queen Elizabeth’s court.  As part of the manor house he built elaborate water gardens surrounded by high walkways which can still be walked along today. 

A further feature of the site are earthworks from the Civil War which were used during the Battle of Aylesbury in 1642.

Looking up one of the streets of the second settlement to the Civil War earthworks
The whole area, covering 25 acres, is now protected and being looked after by the Buckinghamshire Conservation Trust.  Clearly, Peter explained far more than I have covered here but if you're ever in the area then it's well worth paying a visit.

The name Quarrendon is derived from the Old English, Cweorndun, meaning ‘hill where mill stones were found’ (mill stones are also called querns). We have always thought that millstones were made from millstone grit which is generally found in the hill ranges like the Pennines so it was odd to find this derivation in a relatively flat landscape where millstone grit doesn’t feature.

We were leaving for Sophie’s graduation on Thursday morning when we found out that CRT were finishing the works on lock 16 a couple of days early.  This means boats can now leave the basin and we know that at least two of them will go whilst we are away for the next few days.  It’ll be interesting to see if they are replaced by other boaters by the time we return.

Sophie’s doctorate was entitled, “Representation of Contemporary Feminist Protest in Germany and the UK” and was the result of three years hard work following receiving her Masters in German Studies.  After the graduation 14 of us celebrated with a good meal in a local Lebanese restaurant.
I can’t resist including this happy picture 😊
By the way, Buddy is now nearly recovered having had gastroenteritis and therefore not eating anything for three days.  He must have found something dodgy on the towpath but a visit to the local vet for anti-vomiting injections etc. seems to have sorted him out in time for the wedding 😉





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